Beginner's Guide to Running

So, you've signed up for your first serious race; whether that's a 5k, 10k or more, you've committed to upping your fitness game and achieving your goals - amazing!

However for those who don't run regularly, running even 1km can seem like a daunting challenge. 

I myself am very familiar with this feeling! Let me set some context. I used to be a very keen runner. It was an escape for me; a way of blowing off some steam whilst at University. I would run at least 10-15km each week at the gym, and ran the Bristol 10k in 54:10 which was an awesome achievement for me, and a personal best.

Then I went travelling... queue lots of exploring, lounging in the sun and tasting different cuisines... needless to say, my fitness regime took a back seat.

Getting back into fitness can be just as hard as starting.

When I attempted my first run after getting back from travelling, I couldn't believe how slow I was... I thought that the distance on the treadmill must be measured in miles rather than kilometres - surely my fitness hadn't declined so much?! Sadly, it had.  

Realising that you're not as fit as you once were is at first a difficult truth to face. However on reflection, it 1) made me appreciate how truly fit I used to be, and 2) showed me that my fitness level is something that can be improved over time and with practice.

With this in mind, I began to set myself small goals to achieve on a weekly basis to get back on my fitness track. I'm still on my journey and I wanted to share with you some top tips for if you're just starting out, or if you're getting back into running.

8 tips for new/ returning runners

Invest in a pair of decent running trainers

Seriously, this is the most important piece of advice I can give you. Running in ill fitting trainers + bad form = injuries and permanent damage to your body. Visit a shop that specialises in running gear where the staff can watch you run, either on a specially designed treadmill or outside, and advise which trainers would suit you best. It's definitely worth a visit if you're serious about achieving your goals.

 Don't do too much too soon

Trying to go all out giving it 100% of your energy despite not having run in a long time will likely lead to injury, exhaustion and ultimately, a lack of motivation. Instead...

Set yourself manageable goals

This is equally as important as having good shoes. Setting yourself a challenge of running 5km in half an hour on your first run back is just not going to happen. When you don't reach this unattainable goal, you will likely be left feeling deflated and demotivated. Instead, set yourself realistic goals that make you work but are within reach. For example, start by jogging for 10 minutes, walking for 5, then jogging for another 10 minutes. Then build it up to a 20 minute jog, or a thirty minute jog. Once you are comfortable jogging, up your pace to a run and see if you can do 30 minutes of a mixture of running and jogging without stopping.

Cool Down!

I know it can be tempting to skip the cool down when you've just completed a long and intense run, but this is the worst thing that you can do! Slowly bringing your heat rate back to it's usual speed is much better for your body than suddenly stopping all together. Similarly, make sure you stretch out your calves, thighs and side body - you will thank yourself the following day.

By "Mike" Michael L. Baird, CC BY 2.0,

Keep a record of your progress each week

I find this really helps me to see my improvement in real terms.Whether it's keeping a record on the notes section of your phone of how far you ran in what time, or you do a weekly park run and have an online record of your time, this will help to motivate by physically proving that you are making progress.

Don't force it.

Contrary to some advice, if you don't feel like going, don't. Running can be an enjoyable and therapeutic source of exercise, however, if you force yourself to go when you really don't feel up to it, you'll only end up hating it.

Just do it!

At the same time, realise that getting yourself out the door is the hardest part! The amount of times that I have over-analysed and talked myself out of running before even getting my trainers on is embarrassing! Try not to think about it and (without sounding like an ambassador for Nike) just do it.

Hydrate yourself

Take a bottle of water with you so that when you feel parched and like you cannot go on any longer, you've got water there to re-energise and keep you going. Also, be sure to replenish yourself post-run with plenty of water as you lose lots of electrolytes and goodness as you sweat.

Are you a returning runner? Or a first time runner? Let me know how you get on with following these tips!

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