I recently wrote about why I love running. That post has ended up being quite popular here on EatsLeeds, so I thought I’d share some tips to help beginners start their own running journey.
Now, I’m starting to feel like a broken record as I talk about my current stresses in life (completing the purchase of our first home + getting married next month + hustling away at my freelance business besides my day job = much stress-eating and middle-of-the-night panicking. Not good).
But here’s the thing: even after life calms down a bit, there will always be stress. And my go-to reaction (eat too much and sleep not enough) isn’t terribly healthy.
That’s kinda the reason I run. It helps me to work out the stresses of daily life, helps me to sleep and reminds me that I need to fuel my body properly, and not eat a bunch of junk on top of my regular healthy(ish) meals.
I never thought I’d enjoy running.
But I guess I was wrong.
If running sounds like something that might help you to manage your stress too, here are my top tips for beginner runners (from a relatively recent beginner runner myself):
Want to refer back to these tips another day? Pin it so you don’t forget!
Ten Tips for Beginner Runners
Get the Right Clothes…
Most of my running kit was purchased on the cheap – high-street chains have decent sports leggings, shirts and socks nowadays (do check for stretch in leggings though – I’ve had a few cheap pairs with thin fabric that didn’t entirely hide my bottom…).
If you are a well-endowed lady have big knockers, a proper sports bra is an essential investment. Go to a sports shop, try on a whole bunch of different styles, and jump around until you can find one that keeps everything (mostly) still. This isn’t a looks thing – running with boobs, sans sports bra, is pretty uncomfortable.
…and trainers too
Another piece of kit that requires a little bit of investment to make the whole process a lot more pleasant are your shoes. Badly-fitted, worn-out shoes are a shortcut to injury. You don’t have to break the bank, but go to a sports shop (keep an eye out for sale season, try a branded outlet at a clearance retail park, or go somewhere like Decathlon that sells decent quality, off-brand sportswear) and pick out a pair of shoes designed for running. I spent a shocking (to me at the time) amount on my running shoes, but I’ve never had an injury (touch wood), and that pair are still going strong over two years later.
Fuel Your Body
Its good to get into the habit of eating properly around your runs. Make sure to leave a few hours after eating, before you go for a run. As a beginner, you won’t need to eat any kind of specialised diet for running, but consistently eating fresh, wholesome, filling foods is the best way to make sure you have all the energy you need.
Get your Apps Ready
I’ve used a few different apps over the years to track my running, but there are two I come back to time and again. RunKeeper (on Android or iOS) tracks stats like distance, time and average speed, and I’ve found it really motivating to be able to look back and see my progress.
I also use C25K by ZenLabs (also on Android or iOS), which is an 8-week training course that starts week 1 by alternating 60-second runs with 90-second walks and, via three runs every week, talks you through to running 5k at the end of week 8. I use the free versions of these apps and together, they’re a great motivation to get out of the door.
Have a Distraction On-Hand
Sometimes running is tough, especially when you’re first starting out. I love to have a little distraction up my sleeve when I run, whether that’s singing along to a Spotify playlist, getting lost in a good (audio)book or catching up on my favourite podcast, lining up a distraction is a must.
I know that technically nobody needs a bottle of water on a short, beginner-level run (and it’s totally okay and normal if you find that you prefer to run without) but I always take a little water bottle with me, to quench my thirst. Even if you’d prefer not to take a bottle out, making sure that you’ve kept properly hydrated throughout the day is important to fuel your running.
Stretch It Out
Though there is some debate about whether a stretch is really required before a run, I find that it loosens me up and gets me raring to go out. I’m definitely no expert on this, but a short pre- and post- run routine like this one from Active.com should do the trick.
Go For A Run
Like, obviously, yeah? To paraphrase Nike: Just get up off your arse and put your bloody trainers on and do it. I’ve regretted not going for a run, but I’ve yet to regret going for a run.
On days when I really don’t feel like it, I can usually talk myself into getting my kit on. I tell myself that I’m just putting on my running kit, and if I really want to take it right back off and not go for a run then I can. By the time I’ve wrestled my way into a sports bra it usually feels like the trickiest part is over, and I might as well go the whole hog and get out for a run.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
It’s tempting, when you start to see and feel your progress, to think ‘this is getting easy’ and push yourself way harder than is necessary… and then burn out (or worse, injure yourself) and end up out of action for weeks. Just take it steady, there.
And Keep Going
I know, easier said than done, right? Keep up the pace. Keep going when you feel knackered. Plan when you’re going to fit three runs into your week and go out when you planned to, even though its raining/its too hot/you want to finish up that Netflix series you were watching.
That sense of achievement that you feel when you finish a run, when you complete a week in your app, when you run a bit further or a bit faster than you ever have before? Just bottle up that feeling, and remind yourself of it the next time you look at your trainers and think “maybe I’ll just go tomorrow instead”.
Seriously, if you’re thinking about taking up running, my best advice is to just go for a run.
Let me know how you get on with your running journey! What advice do you have for new runners?