So, you decided to start running? Great choice! Running is a fantastic form of exercise to burn calories and not only is it free, you can do it anywhere. Making it a regular occurrence will give you plenty of benefits such as boosting your mood, keeping your weight under control, and reducing your risk of long-term illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and type II diabetes.

This guide is designed to help you start running in a safe, enjoyable and effective way as well as advise on maintaining this great fitness habit in the future.

 

Start slow

Running is a high impact sport which is associated to various stresses and strains your body needs to get used to. Therefore, it is vital that you slowly ease yourself into running and gradually increase your pace and distance in order to avoid frustration, over-exertion and even injury.

Start each run with a warm-up of at least five minutes to prepare your muscles. This may be done by marching on the spot, quick walking or climbing stairs. Subsequently, start running at a moderate pace and maintain it throughout the whole distance. You may be able to run faster, but it is important to stick to the same pace and let your body adjust to the demands of this sport before pushing yourself. As your body adapts, it will develop the coordination to perform the sequence of movements required to running with the right form. Therefore, you need to make sure you start with short and easy steps for your body and brain to register what needs improving. Additionally, make sure you give yourself some time to cool down after each run by walking and doing a few stretches.

Schedule your training in a way that allows recovery time. This is essential to recuperate from the new stresses experienced by your cardiovascular system, and to prepare your muscles and bones for the next run. Alternating days is an efficient way to optimise training, so try to operate on a ‘one day on, one day off’ basis.

 

Try interval running

As a beginner, you should not plan on running an entire distance in one go. Break your route down into short running and walking intervals. This is called the Run-Walk Method, which is highly effective for beginners to effectively start running and improve their results over time. Walking will allow your body to recover, which will help you cover a greater distance and run longer.

Start by alternating two minutes of running with two minutes of walking. Gradually increase your running intervals (for instance add a minute to your running intervals each time you run) and then aim to also reduce your walking intervals until you can run the entire distance without needing to walk.

 

Choose the right surface

The surface you choose should be contingent with your goals and personal abilities since different surfaces offer different advantages:

While keeping your abilities in mind, try and mix your training around different surfaces to gain from each extra associated benefit.

 

Cross train

Running is a cardio-intensive full-body workout. In order to sustain and improve performance, you will need a strong, healthy and stable core in addition to well-conditioned muscles. This will help you avoid injuries through overuse or compensation, and will help you running light to reduce the stress caused to the spine and joints. Additionally, including other types of exercise in your routine is a great way to add variety and stay motivated.

Low-intensity weight training is particularly recommended to develop your muscles while giving your cardiovascular system a rest.

 

Stay motivated

Having company can be vital to keeping you motivated and committed to running. You can start running with family and friends, or even join a running club. There is no need to worry about your abilities as most clubs offer a number of different running groups to cater for all levels including beginners. They are also a great platform to find running partners to pair with outside of club sessions.

Picking a race is by far the most efficient way to stay motivated and improve your performance. Sign up for a race to establish time-constricted goals and keep your focus. Having a clear goal to strive for will keep you motivated as long as you give yourself enough time to train for it, so make sure the race you sign up for is realistic and achievable.