Start Running - 20 Steps To A Fitter You
Running is one of the most popular physical activities in the UK today, and with a little thought it can be very beneficial in terms of your health and wellbeing. We've put together a quick 20 Step Guide to getting your running habit kick started and then maintaining it!
Don't Cry - It's Hard For Everyone At FirstEveryone who has ever started running tells the same story - the first time is the hardest. Many people who couldn't manage half a mile on their first run go on to complete marathons so don't let the tough intro stop you.
Phone A FriendLots of people run quite happily on their own, however running with a friend or in a group can be a real motivation on the occasions when you can't really be bothered and the sofa and TV are beckoning. Running with a buddy provides a good discipline - you won't want to let someone else down. And it's good fun to share your struggles and successes with a sympathetic ear.
Buy Decent FootwearIf you're going to be a runner you need to wear a bona fide pair of running shoes. Once you get into it you may be running 15 or 20 miles a week - that can add up to 1,000 miles a year. Scary! However contemporary running footwear is a journey into leading edge science. Fabulous materials and technology combine to create shoes that are comfortable and will help keep you injury-free.
Book A Regular SlotWe're all creatures of habit so why not develop a couple of good ones instead of adding to that long list of bad ones. Decide times, twice or three times a week, when you are going to go for a run. Find suitable slots in your working and domestic routine and then stick to them. After a few weeks Tuesday evening and Saturday morning will be your natural running times - you won't even have to think about it.
Get Some Comfortable ClothesAs with footwear, modern sports clothing makes running a much more enjoyable experience. Forget about those old cotton t-shirts which get damp and uncomfortable. Head to your nearest specialist runnning shop to find a wide range of efficient jackets and tops which wick moisture away from your body keeping you dry and cool.
Get A Regular Copy Of Northern Running GuideNorthern Running Guide is an invaluable tool for runners at all levels. Our easy to follow Race Listing is a key feature and you should make full use of our Running Log to keep note of your efforts and to inspire you to stay on schedule. We also include lots of advice concerning both technique and running gear. Check out where you can pick up a copy, or e-mail us about getting a subscription.
Drink! Drink! Drink!Running is a much more comfortable activity if you stay well-hydrated. As a general rule drink lots of water on a daily basis - 2 litres a day and drink plenty on the days you go running. Specialist sports drinks before, during and after exercise can provide a good combination of liquid and carbohydrate replacement. Try drinks like Lucozade Sport and find one that suits you.
Before & AfterInjury is the bane of all runners. Avoid injury by developing a pre and post race routine of stretching and warm-up. Before exercise, in the warm-up, you want to prepare the muscle for activity. The best time to stretch is just after a short easy jog and to hold each stretch for 10 seconds. After exercise, in the cool-down, you want to reduce or even prevent post exercise muscle stiffness. You are now trying to lengthen and loosen the muscle back to its pre-exercise level. Hold the stretch for a longer period, say 30 seconds. Check out some streching advice here for some ideas!
Think About What You EatRunning can be the start of a virtuous circle. It is a tough cardiovascular work out and running for say one hour can use up around 700 or 800 calories. Eating and snacking at the right time and on the right foods can really help your overall running strategy. Try to eat something light (a sandwich or a banana) an hour before exercise and make sure you eat shortly after a hard run to help with your recovery. Check out our nutrition advice for some helpful tips!
Give Yourself A Pat On The BackRunning can be challenging but it's very rewarding - there's no better workout. However it requires determination and application. If, after a month or so, you are heading out a couple of times a week and running for more than 30 minutes you are well on your way to becoming a genuine runner!
Run A RaceIf you are running a couple of times a week you'll soon build up stamina. It's then you'll be tempted to enter a race. Go on do it - there's nothing quite like it. Don't go overboard, there will be plenty of 5k or 10k events near you and those are nice distances for beginners. Remember start slowly don't let the adrenaline at the start of the race carry you off too quickly.
Do Some Fancy TrainingIf you do run in a race you'll find out the level you're at. Next you'll want to get faster. You don't just need to train more, you need to train smarter. Vary the lengths of runs you do - make some long and slow and others shorter but faster. Find out about interval training where you run fast for short periods, recover and run fast again. This helps build up your ability to maintain a race pace and it's fun to vary your running.
Have A RestRunning can be addictive and a frequent problem for new runners is that they pick up an injury. Try to avoid this by building in regular periods of rest into your programme. Take a week off every couple of months, plan a break for a longer period say when you go on holiday and generally break up your routine and give your body a chance to recover from all the hard work it is doing.
Join A ClubLots of people have taken up recreational running in recent years and that's meant the emergence of a new breed of running club which has more of an emphasis on participation than elite performance. Check out some local running clubs here.
Get Some Really Fancy GearIf by now you are training regularly and running in races you will want to make sure that you are kitted out properly to feel comfortable and to enjoy yourself as much as possible. Visit your nearest specialist running shop and they will advise you about different types of shoes (trail, performance, spikes for cross-country), wind and water proof jackets, high performance socks, compression clothing, energy drinks and heart rate monitors and lots of other products that will help you get the best out of your running. Have a look for some local running stores here.
Run Up A HillUnder the heading of even fancier training comes hill training. Most running clubs will do sessions which consist of hill repetitions - running up a steep street or a series of steep streets near their club house. For runners who enjoy the countryside then there is the option of trail runs or runs up gentle hills. The latter is a great way of developing both strength and stamina. So if you have a nice little hill near your house, you know what to do!
Build Up Your TrainingAs we've mentioned running has this habit of getting under your skin and it is rewarding to slowly build up the number of miles you do. The long slow run is a traditional part of the routine of experienced runners - this will usually be 10 miles or further if you are training for a half marathon or beyond. You can include a steady run, a tempo run (pace just below your target race pace), and speedwork to vary your programme. Soon you'll be pulling on your trainers 4 or 5 days a week.
Do Something DifferentAn excellent piece of advice for runners is to cross train. Cross training is simply doing other types of physical activity like swimming or cycling to vary the stresses that you are placing on your body. Weights at the gym are good for building all-round body strength and activities like yoga and pilates are brilliant for flexibility. Building these other activities into your programme will definitely make you a better runner.
Have A MassageMany runners swear by sports massage particularly after a big race. Massage provides stimulation to the tissues and promotes better circulation that flushes out toxins. As scar tissue builds up in a runner from either injury or intense training, massage can help break up this tissue and move it along. It can help realign muscles. restore drained energy, and help ease soreness after a tough race or workout. Another benefit - it makes you feel great!
Admire The ViewOK, by now you've spent a small fortune on shoes, a fancy breathable jacket, steaks and energy gels. Not to mention entry fees for races, and 25 quid on a massage. Why? Well, now you feel great. You've got much more energy than you had before, and a more positive attitude to life. And best of all - you look great. The flab is melting away and that extra chin has disappeared. So go look in the mirror and admire the view.