19 Nov The top 5 ways to start running
If you are looking to start training, running is one of the best and simplest exercises to do. There are so many wonderful benefits to running:
- Helps to build strong bones as it is a weight bearing exercise,
- Strengthens muscles,
- Improves cardiovascular fitness,
- Burns plenty of kilojoules,
- Helps maintain a healthy weight.
Plus it is one of the cheapest forms of exercise to do – you just go outside and hit the road.
Whether you’re born to run or being forced to by more enthusiastic friends, we all begin at the starting line. To ensure you are moving safely and effectively for days, weeks and years to come, read my top 5 tips to starting a new running program.
1. Talk to the experts
I would suggest seeing one or more of the following specialists before you start tying up your laces:
Local, trustworthy and the best port of call for a general health check-up. Your GP will be able to measure your BMI, blood pressure and ask the right questions to understand where your health is. Use this a benchmark for your goals, which we’ll get to later.
You don’t know your body as well as you think. A physiotherapist will be able to take you through your posture, the muscles that need development, what stretches and exercises to aid your running and what pain points to watch out for.
Don’t forget your feet! A podiatrist can guide you through what kind of support your feet can benefit from, show you how to correct your stride, and give you walking and running advice.
2. The perfect set of shoes for you
Active wear, headbands and fancy smartwatches are all great pieces of equipment but they’re not going to protect your feet from impact.
Consider what your health professionals told you – your doctor, physio, and/or podiatrist would all have an opinion on what kind of shoe you might look for. Keep that in mind when making your purchase.
All running shoes aren’t created equal – there’s a lot of specialisation in running shoes. Some are better for pavement, long distance, sprinting, cross-country and so on. Check out the features and descriptions of the shoes before deciding on what pair is right for you.
Buy from a sports shoe store – sports shoe retailers are staffed by people who know their products. Being able to get instant advice and reasoning on what shoes will suit you and why is the best way to purchase with confidence.
See if they’re comfortable – running for any length of time in uncomfortable shoes is going to feel like torture so be sure to get properly fitted and try out any pair you’re considering. Ideally they should be ‘snug’ – not loose or so tight they’re pinching your feet.
3. Get your technique right
It’s just one foot in front of the other right? Well, yes and no. Your feet and legs must coordinate with your whole body to ensure you’re:
- Lessening your chances of injury,
- Not wasting energy,
- Improving on your time and stride.
For beginner runners, there are a few basic principles to remember. Good posture makes good runners – stand up straight, chest out, shoulders back and head level.
Land your foot under your body – instead of reaching out to gain ground, striking with your heel, aim to strike the ground mid-foot and under your body. This will lessen the direct impact to your heel, maintain your balance, and give your stride longevity.
Steps per minute – also known as ‘cadence’. To figure out your cadence, see how many times your foot lands in a minute, and then double it. An easy run is around 170-180 steps per minute. Knowing your cadence can help you figure out a breathing pattern and get you into running rhythm faster.
Relax your wrists and hands – there’s no point karate chopping the air as you run. Keep your wrists and hands relaxed and in line with your waist as you run.
Move from the shoulders – keep your elbows in and relaxed, moving your arms with your shoulders. Your arms should feel like pendulums as you run.
4. Setting your goals
Big goals, little steps!
Your new adventure into the world of running should have a big, exciting goal. Running a half or full marathon, beating your sprinting time by seconds or getting the most out of a hiking holiday overseas.
Accomplishing these feats can be achieved by incrementally increasing your training. The best way to do this is with the 10 percent rule.
In your first week, you might find you can only run for a minute (60 seconds) straight before getting puffed. Next week, you can try for 66 seconds. The week after, you aim for 72 seconds.
In a single month, you’ll be aiming for around 86/87 seconds of straight running!
The same goes for distance, increasing 1 km to 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so on.
Increasing your training in these small, achievable increments helps by:
- Giving you an achievable, demonstrable goal every week,
- Shows clear progress being made,
- Lets your body adjust to new demands,
- Can reduce the chance of injury,
- Provides time to discover the strengths and weaknesses in your stride.
5. Hit the road
Once you get the all clear, you have the right shoes, your technique is good and you have your goals, now you just need to start. You have a few choices:
- Buy or hire a treadmill and run at home – good when the weather is not the best and good for pacing your progress,
- Run at the gym – if you are already a gym member, there are usually a lot of running machines to jump on plus you save on buying one yourself,
- Run outside – there is nothing like getting out in the great outdoors plus you have greater variety and challenges as well – plus no money needs to be spent on a treadmill or a gym membership.
Whatever you decide, just keep moving and keep improving.