So you kind of think you might want to start running. But where on earth do you start? From kit (what you actually need) to training (that's just what people who run a lot call running a lot) I've got you covered.
Firstly wahooo if you've been thinking about taking up running for a while then you're in great company. There are more and more people trying running than ever previously. Before we kick of with my top tips for new runners here's a quick bit about why running will help you lose weight and feel great (it actually does this I didn't just write it because it rhymes)
The health benefits of running
I mean this in a totally non-patronising way but running is good for you. Yes okay, great for keeping your heart and lungs in good working order. Running for long distances over time can cause impact injuries to knee and hip joints, but overall the benefits of running outweigh. Did you know that running isn't just good for your heart and lungs? The Telegraph wrote a piece last year stating that running is great for hearing, preventing cancer and it helps to make you happier. You can access the Telegraph article here.
Right now for the important stuff:
Being new to any sport any be pretty overwhelming. You sort of know what equipment you might need but there are so many different variations of the same thing it's enough to put you off trying.
Things you actually need
- good underwear
- chafe free clothing for the lower body
That's it really. Yes there are lots of things that are amazing to have and will really improve your running experience but let's not get too carried away.
Those things in a little more detail.
Trainers: a good pair of trainers is essential to protect and cushion your joints in your legs and also to prevent injury to your ankle and back. Many running stores offer you the opportunity to go for a run on a treadmill at their stores so that they can complete a gait analysis. I know that this sounds scary but they are professionals and they see hundreds of new runners all the time. If you don't want to complete a gait analysis I would opt for a neutral shoe. I would also go for a shoe which says that it is good for the road. Trail shoes are good but they are often less cushioned and less comfy.
Good underwear: okay so this is particularly important for women. New Balance recommend that you should replace your sports bra every six months to a year! I am not sure anyone I know does that but the important message here is that good running underwear makes the whole experience waaaay more comfortable. I'm talking pants too and I'm talking from experience. I wore ill-fitting bras when I first started running and used to get rubbed raw in the centre of my chest. Going in the shower after that stings like hell. It also stings if you don't wear the correct leggings .. see below. My recommendations for running bras are ShockAbsorber and for pants its Runderwear.
Chafe free clothing for the lower body: wear what feels good. If shorts fit you best wear shorts, if they don't and they ride up, don't wear them. I would love to wear shorts to run in the summer but I always feel so uncomfortable in them. Wearing cheap leggings is not a saver here. You can rub the insides of your legs red raw if you aren't careful. You don't have to spend a lot of money on running tights and can most likely bag a bargain from Start Fitness.
Stuff that's fun to have but you don't want to invest in yet because running might not be for you
A technical tee - sweat-wicking tops are great but a bit pricey. It's the kind of thing to request for your birthday
A running watch - download Strava for free until you are sure that running is for you. Or ask someone you know if you can borrow their watch just to try it out.
Gloves - winter running makes my hands lose all sensation. You don't need fancy running gloves though, you could just wear regular woollen ones.
You're kitted out and you're ready, what do you do?
Two things - firstly please tell someone that you're heading out for a fun and where you're going. This applies to all runners all the time but it is probably more important for new runners, there is a chance you'll be running down a hill with the wind in your face and the sun on your back rocking out to Christina Aguilera Stronger and you might get a bit ahead of yourself. Keep safe.
The second thing which you need to keep in mind for the first few weeks is you're going to have to walk. This isn't me not believing you, it's reality. In preparing this post I spoke to a few new runners and they all said the same thing. Something that they didn't realise was that you don't start being able to run big distances. In fact, it is hard to run far at all when you first start out. If you're new to running part your training plan will involve walking. Understanding this requires a big mindset shift. You are not failing if you walk. It's part of the plan. One of the main reasons people think they can't run is because they give it a go, they set off, feel okay but get tired quickly and need to stop. Walking is not stopping. Walking is slowing down so that your heart can get oxygen around your body easier. Please don't give yourself a hard time if you have to walk. One of the things I love most about running is how quickly it improves your fitness. Within a few weeks you'll be able to run for consistent blocks of time but until then follow the plan, when it says walk, walk.
Finally, follow the plan to reach your goal
If you're new to running the fastest way to improve is to follow a plan. One of my favourite plans is the Couch to 5k It's a plan which will get you from not running to running 5k in just under 9 week. What's so important about 5k? Well it's a quarter of a half marathon and an eight of a marathon. It's a little over 3 miles and a commonly recognised marker for sustained running. The final thing - set yourself a goal. Find your local Parkrun, a timed 5k free run and set a Saturday morning Parkrun as your 5k goal.
I really hope this helps - happy running.