A beginner’s guide to running! What should it involve?
Running is one of the most natural, beneficial and convenient forms of exercise available. It’s relatively cheap, requires very little specialist equipment and can be done virtually anywhere at any time. Running burns calories, strengthens the heart and improve lung capacity whilst reducing the likelihood of suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart disease.
Running has many benefits to offer, but making the successful transition from inactivity to regular pavement pounder can be difficult. This article will show you how to go from complete novice to regular runner in an easy, structured and progressive way.
“Prior planning prevents a pretty poor performance” as we used to say in the Royal Marines! All this means is that before we go off half cocked, we need to make sure we are ready to begin our new routine and that any possible obstacles are removed. To make the early stages of running training as easy as possible, let’s address these essential points:
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The correct footwear is essential for safe and comfortable running. The wrong shoes can make running a nightmare! This doesn’t mean you need to rush out and buy the most expensive shoes you can afford. Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean best. Sure, you can spend £100+ ($200) on a pair of top of the range shoes, but will they really make you a better runner? Probably not! As a novice runner, we don’t need ultra light racing flats, or shoes built for speed, we merely need shoes that offer good cushioning and support. When buying a pair of running shoes, try them on wearing the socks you expect to be running in, jog around the shoe shop to make sure they feel okay, wear them in your home for a day or two to make sure they don’t cause you any discomfort and don’t be afraid to take your unused shoes back to the retailer if they aren’t right for you. It’s also worth noting that running shoes have an expected lifespan of 4-6 months. After this period the cushioning starts to degrade and the support may diminish. Replace your running shoes often to avoid lower limb injuries. When buying running shoes, make sure you get the advice of a professional sales person but be aware they might well be on commission and their recommendations could well be influenced by that fact.
Whatever you are comfortable in will be fine for running, so long as you can vent when you get hot or add layers when you feel cold. For cold weather running, long sleeves and leggings might be useful, as might a hat and gloves. In the heat, a sun hat is vital, and shorts and a t shirt might be more appropriate. If you run at night, it’s worth investing in a high visibility top to avoid becoming a traffic accident statistic and a light rain jacket might be useful for those damp days. Finally make sure your running socks are snug fitting and won’t rub to give you blisters.
It’s worth having an idea of where you are going to run before you head out the door on your first workout. Running on the roads is okay, but would you enjoy running in the countryside more? Is your “home patch” very hilly, and consequently, going to make your early days as a runner harder than necessary? Is your running route relatively free of traffic, well lit at night, avoids passing through any unsafe areas? We want to make your initial foray into running as easy as possible so by eliminating as many potential hazards as possible. Seek out places that will be a pleasure to run in, not ones that make you dread starting!
If you are the sort of person who really likes to buy other odds and ends to enhance your exercise experience, the following might be useful, but are by no means essential: A heart rate monitor to measure how hard you are working, a watch with a timer to measure the duration of your workouts (and ordinary watch will suffice) a GPS to measure how far you have run, an MP3 player to entertain you while you exercise, and a Camel Bag – a drinking system worn on your back ideally suited for people who want to keep their hands free while exercising. There are plenty of other running related products on the market, many of which are touted as essential but remember, some of the world’s best runners come from the most impoverished of countries and often run bare foot so don’t feel you have to buy ever running product available to be a good runner.