There are plenty of studies emphasising the importance of activity for your physical and mental health, but for many of us exercise can be an intimidating prospect. I have never been one for sports, and have always regarded the gym with suspicion, but running is something that I found rewarding in many ways. Here are my top 10 tips to get started on a running regime- if I can do it then anyone can!
Top 10 Tips to Start Running
Here are my top 10 tips to get into running- if I can do it anyone can!
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Top 10 Tips
1) Buy yourself the kit
The mistake I made when I went on my first ever jog was wearing fashion trainers with absolutely no support. As a result, 10 minutes in and my ankles were burning and every step was jarring up my legs! So the first thing you should do before embarking on a running routine is to buy yourself a decent pair of trainers from a proper sports shop. In addition, kit yourself out in some lycra- you may feel like a novice but there is no need to look like one, and you will actually find your first run much easier if you don't have heavy, sweaty cotton hanging over your body. (Plus, once, you've spent money on the kit you will be less likely to back out at the last minute!)
2) Make a running playlist
Having music playing whilst you are running is a fantastic way of keeping you motivated. Unfortunately running can be a little bit dull if you are by yourself with no distractions, but by blaring out your favourite tunes you will find it easier to keep going. Most people prefer upbeat, energetic music, but I personally prefer something soothing to relax me as I jog!
3) Drag a friend along
If you don't fancy going on your first run alone, why no coerce a friend into coming with you? Having somebody to run with means you are a lot less likely to back out, and you can encourage each other to keep going if you find it tough. Try and find someone at the same level of fitness as you so you can train together- going with a frustratingly fit friend may actually put you off before you even begin!
4) Expect pain
I'm not going to lie to you, running is by no means an easy form of exercise to get started with. In fact, running downright hurts when you first begin. But I promise you that while you may not enjoy the actual running process, it is all worth it for that feeling when you finish- you will be on top of the the world and feel EXTREMELY smug! As you get better at running you will enjoy the actual jogging part more and more, until you find yourself 'in the zone'- this is the point at which your breathing levels out and you feel as though you can keep moving forever. But don't have any high expectations of enjoying the wind in your hair and feeling free when you first start- chances are you will be a red sweaty mess (but a happy one!)
5) Wear sunglasses
If you are self-conscious about how you look when you run, I can highly recommend investing in a pair of sunglasses. These are excellent for hiding your red face, and give you the feeling of protection from the outside world. Plus, they help keep the sun out of your eyes, and can even be used in the rain to protect yourself from the weather. My sunglasses aren't special ones, in fact they were very cheap from Primark, but they are so big they hide my very ruddy skin and sweaty forehead from any passers by!
6) Map your route
Don't have high expectations for your first run, aim to go out for about 10 minutes or a mile. Before you get going, set yourself a goal for the run- whether that be a particular loop around your neighbourhood or park, or simply making it to the end of your road. By having a goal, you will be much more motivated to keep going, as well as having something to be proud of at the end of it. And by mapping your routes, you will be able to mark your progress in the future- Google Earth is an excellent tool for measuring how far you've run if you don't want to splash out on a GPS system.
Seasoned runners know when they have not hydrated enough because their body simply won't cooperate on a run. Before you go out, drink a pint of water slowly over the hour before you leave, and pack a bottle with you in case you get thirsty on the run. Water is the best thing you can drink- caffeine simply won't hydrate you enough. But don't drink too much! Having water sloshing around in your belly is very disconcerting and you could actually do yourself more harm than good.
You may not be planning great distances for your first run but that doesn't mean you shouldn't stretch. Take a look online for some simple exercises to warm up your muscles- you will regret it the next day when you can't walk up the stairs if you don't! Remember not to bounce when you stretch- this can risk tearing the muscles. A proper warm-up and warm-down are essential for making your first jog a success.
9) Don't walk
Once you are all kitted up and ready to go just get out there and start running. I know that some people recommend breaking up runs with walking when you first begin, but personally I have found this actually makes it harder. If you start running your heart rate will speed up, and by walking you are bringing it back down- this way your breathing never stays constant and you never get 'in the zone'. If you are finding it hard to keep going just slow your pace right down so you are doing more of a gentle jog- this will keep your heart rate raised but will give you the break you need to keep on going.
10) Reward yourself
After you have done your first run, reward yourself! Whether that means boasting to friends, having a piece of cake or just relaxing on the sofa, it doesn't matter- the point is you have got out there and got the worst part over and done with.