Are You Ready to Start Running? My Top 7 Running Beginners Tips
If you’ve decided that running could be the starting point in your new health plan that will turn you into a fitter, leaner and faster human machine with healthier blood pressure and cholesterol levels, stronger heart and clearer mind, then I cannot complement your choice enough.
But then the questions arise on how to start running? Am I ready to start running? And if so, where to start? Do you simply just open the door and start running, or is there a bit more to it?
1. Am I ready to start running? (is my mind ready to say yes? and why?)
I can give you at least 45 elaborate answers as to why I would say ‘No’ to skiing. There’s nothing wrong with mountain slopes but I know where I would end up if someone attached me to a pair of skis and gently pushed me from behind. I can imagine that tree getting bigger…
If you think about running, indoors or outdoors, rain or shine, alone or in a company, and it feels just right, then, yes, that’s a good start… but before you start splashing out on all sorts of expensive, trendy and cool running clothes and accessories that will make you look, well, very trendy and cool, do make sure all your ‘Yes to running’ boxes are ticked.
The first one of my running beginners tips is to ask yourself ‘Am I ready to take up running, as in mentally ready?’ Think of the reasons why you’d say ‘Yes’ to running, why you might like it (or at least why you would not hate running).
Also ask yourself if there are any strong reasons you might dislike the experience of running? And if yes, are there ways of getting around those reasons? For example, if you don’t like the idea of running around the park all by yourself, you might want to consider joining a running club and running in a group instead.
2. Are you ready to start running – is your body ready?
One of the first rules on how to start running is that you need to make sure that all engine parts are in working order before you hit the road. Your legs, lungs and heart will carry you along when going gets tough, so it would be a good idea to seek advice from your doctor first.
You should never do what I did and ignore previous troubles, they just might come back to haunt you.
So, WHEN are you ready to start running? Whenever your body – your heart and your lungs, but also the knees, ankles, hips… any lower part of your body – is in a good working order and not recovering or struggling to heal from a past injury or damage.
3. running beginners tips on what to wear when you start running?
Ok, so you are good to go and would like to venture out looking like those pros on TV. Don’t. They are pros and they are being sponsored. You are just starting out, and you are yet to figure out if running is really for you.
People change minds months later and end up trying to flog their gear on eBay, the gear that nobody wants to buy. So put on some t-shirt or any light top, some shorts or leggings, or a track suit, and your old trainers. No trainers? They will end up being the most important part of your gear so go buy them.
No need to spend loads, for now just get something that fits and makes your feet feel comfortable. You can always upgrade later.
4. Then what? should i start running by following running beginners plan?
It’s good to have an idea about what you are going to do. A running plan.
I followed ‘Couch to 5K’ program by downloading the app. It is easy to follow, and if you stick with it for 9 weeks you will eventually be able to run for 30 minutes, three times per week. You simply will be. It may take you longer to run 5K but you can cross that bridge later.
Do your research, find a program or a plan that suits you and go!
5. How should I run in the beginning – are there any special rules when you first start out?
This largely depends on how long it has been since you last ran. You will be waking up entire muscle groups that have been dormant, and they will rebel. It will feel hard an awkward. It’s like trying to use your arm that only laboured to lift a glass of wine, to exercise a single arm push up.
In order to make your life easier and your new found muscles happier and stronger, you will have to run very slowly when you first start running.
Many people start running as fast as they can but that won’t take you far in this game. You cardio won’t cope, your muscles will seize up and you’ll start to believe that running is not for you. Wrong.
Slow down, take walking breaks if you must, and just keep moving ahead in a gentle way.
6. Listen to your body! Always!
This is probably the most important of my running beginners tips. Well, they are all ‘important’ but this one might help yo avoid injury and downtime (and possibly losing interest and running motivation, which more often than not lead people to quit running altogether… which is not what we want!).
In the beginning there will be niggles and aches. You are waking up those muscles and working on your cardio, remember? Niggles and aches are expected but pain is not.
Pain means that something isn’t right. Something, somewhere has gone wrong.
Do not, ever, run through pain. Stop. Go home. Rest up. Put some ice where it hurts and don’t attempt to run again until all is fine. Before you run again, try and find out what’s causing that pain.
Most running injuries are caused by one of the following simple reasons:
You had pushed your body before it was ready
You had been running hard and fast before your body got strong enough. Go gentle instead, no rush. Fast and hard will take you faster to a hard injury table.
You have not been taking rest days between the runs
When you run there will be micro tears in your muscles and tendons, that’s why you need to rest up lots in the beginning. It takes time to be able to run daily, sometimes even a year or so. Listen to your body, it will send you signals that don’t feel right.
Running shoes that do not agree with your feet
I made a mistake of not doing gait analysis once I decided that I wanted to carry on running. My shoes were inadequate for the shape of my feet and instead of giving me support, they led me to a knee injury. Expensive running shoes do not mean they will fit you right. Money and fit aren’t always linked.
Try as many shoes as you need, seek good professional advice from gait analysis guys and only buy what feels right.
While it is not advised to spend a long time deliberating on what to wear when you first start running, or spend more than absolute minimum on new clothes and accessories, do not attempt to run in an old pair of canvas shoes. You need something decent with a good fit.
Bad shoes = bad runs.
Running shoes without insoles
Many people run happily without insoles but you may need to get some and you may want to have them custom cut for that perfect fit. I needed the insoles but ran without them in the beginning.
My body was out of balance as a result and more pressure was put onto my left knee, leading to a bad injury.
Running through pain
Pain means you have already got injured. Running through pain means that you are simply aggravating your injury. Don’t do that. Ever.
7. moving forward – Find you own way to run
The final one of my running beginners tips goes back to the beginning – it involves asking yourself questions about your own likes and dislikes. In short: start exploring and find what works best for YOU.
So you have now successfully started running – you can run three times per week, your shoes are very comfortable and you are moving injury free. That’s a great start. You can even go and buy some of that cool gear, like the pros wear (the sponsored! pros, so mind those price tags). You may even want to start exploring running in groups, perhaps even join a local running club.
You will discover where you’d like to go from here.
In order to figure out whether you are you ready to start running ask yourself some probing ‘like-dislike’ questions. Examine your motivations and your reasons to take up running. And if there are any mental or practical barriers you might encounter.
Next, examine your body: are there any unhappy parts that might strain and suffer more if you start running (if yes, sort them out first). If you are starting to run for the first time in your 50, 60 or older, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor first.
Once that crucial ‘Am I ready to start running’ question has been answered, you can start making plans and decisions on where to run, when and how often, and what to put on your feet and body – what to wear when you start running. Decent running shoes are essential, but do not spend too much at this stage.
Next, decide how often to run – some people are happy with three easy weekly runs, some decide to run more often and for longer, some become long distance runners (check out my journey from an ex-smoker couch potato to a long distance runner).
All options are good if the body feels good and everything comes together naturally. The key to how to start running is to take time and enjoy yourself.
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