Are you a new runner? Have you decided to start running to improve your fitness and mental health?
check out these 10 extremely useful running tips for beginners.
1. Start off with short running intervals
As a new runner, you shouldn’t plan on running the entire distance in one go. Break it down into intervals and try to keep them short at the beginning. Don't be ashamed to walk between the intervals so you can recover a little. After some time, you can start lengthening the running sections and reducing the walking: begin by alternating between 2 minutes of jogging and 2 minutes of walking. Increase your running intervals by one minute per workout until you can run the entire distance at a stretch without having to walk.
2. Don't start out running to fast
Your body has to get used to the new stresses and strains of running. Many beginner runners start out jogging too fast and pay the price for this mistake within just a few minutes. Start running at a moderate pace, you should maintain the same pace for the entire distance. Only those who give their body time to gradually get used to the new demands will have long-term success.
3. Your body needs time to recover
Your first run went well and you want to head out again right away? Great!
But you should wait a day before attempting the next workout: your body needs to rest so it can recover from the first running session. It must adapt to the new demands on the cardiovascular system and prepare your muscles and bones for the next run. Schedule your training so you run one day and rest the next. This simple training plan can help beginner runners achieve the greatest training effect and avoid overuse injuries.
4. Run easy and take short steps
Many beginners don’t have the proper technique and make jogging harder than it has to be by wasting a lot of energy. Your body develops the coordination necessary to perform the complex sequence of movements with every kilometer or mile that you run. Try to run relaxed and with good form. Short, easy steps are more effective than long, powerful strides that act as a brake, slowing your forward momentum with every footfall.
5. Choose the right surface
Many running beginners wonder what kind of surface should they be running on. That depends on the particular workout. As is often the case, a mix of different surfaces is the right choice:
- Running on pavement is ideal for fast running – there is very little danger of turning your ankle. “However, it’s hard on your joints because the pavement does not cushion your steps.
- A forest or park floor is soft and provides excellent cushioning. However, the risk of injury increases due to roots, rocks and bumps.
- A sandy surface trains your muscles and makes you lift your feet. But be careful because it’s easy to overwork your calf muscles.
- Tartan (an all-weather synthetic track surface) is springy. One drawback: it puts a lot of stress on your achillies tendon.
- The treadmill allows you to train year round with good cushioning. This type of running training requires you to alter your form because the belt moves beneath your feet.
6. Side aches
Many people suffer from side aches when jogging. Avoid eating anything solid about two hours before your workout and only drink in small quantities. When a side ache does strike, take a break and walk. Press your hands against the side that hurts. Don’t start running again (and then only slowly) until the pain has gone away.
7. Get the right kit
Running can be a very cheap sport – what more do you need but shorts, a T-shirt, and some trainers? Of course, you can also spend a fortune on top-of-the-range gear, fancy GPS watches and expensive race entries.
But one thing that is worth investing in is the right shoes. These don’t need to be expensive or the coolest new model, but they should be the right ones for your specific running style, or gait. Good running shops will analyse this (free) on a treadmill for a couple of minutes before recommending shoes for you. Many people over- or under-pronate – pronation is the way your foot rolls when it lands on the ground – and they will generally require some support in their shoes to counteract those forces. Others will be “neutral” and require less.
Once you know what you want, shop around – running shoes are updated every year, and sometimes you get bargains online just by buying last season’s line, identical in everything but colour.
8. Making running social
The idea of talking while running might strike fear into you, and leave you feeling breathless with mere anticipation. But running with a friend can make a slog seem like a jaunt, even if you save all the actual chatting for afterwards.
Find a running buddy, or join a running club – British Athletics has a “find a club” feature online. These clubs aren’t just for speedsters: many have beginner-friendly sessions and runners of all levels and ages.
You might also strike up friendships at your local parkrun – runners love to talk about running. And surrounding yourself with people who love running, and are positive about it, is contagious.
9. Fuelling your run
An entire industry is devoted to selling you products that promise to make you run better and recover quicker. The reality is that for most recreational runners, a decent diet is more than adequate fuel.
Generally, your body digests simple carbohydrates (toast, porridge, cereal) faster than protein, so a bagel with peanut butter a couple of hours before a workout is ample. And unless that workout is an epic sweatfest, you don’t need any magical protein shake afterwards. Just make sure your next meal is fairly soon after the run, and that it contains some healthy natural protein, such as eggs, yoghurt, nuts, or lean meat.
For long runs, your body has enough carbohydrates stored to fuel you for around 90 minutes, after which you may find it necessary to take some gels (or jelly beans, or gel blocks – all the same thing, just in different forms). Running “fasted” – before breakfast – is also a good way of teaching your body to use its almost-limitless fat stores efficiently.
10. Age is no barrier
No one is too old and you might just live longer if you start running. There is some evidence that people with a very high physical activity level have longer telomeres. These are the protective caps on the end of your chromosomes, and are considered one marker of biological age. Endurance exercise has been shown in studies to preserve telomere length.