For beginners, running can seem like an intimidating sport designed for uber-fit and healthy. But it’s important to remember that everyone starts somewhere.
So whether you’re sick of the home workouts and want to try exercising out in the fresh air, or you’re new the world of exercise altogether and want to make some changes in your life, there is plenty of advice out there on how to start running.
What distance should you aim for? What’s a good speed? What do you wear? So many questions about running are googled every day, especially at the moment as many of us are taking up running for the very first time.
There’s training plans available online and apps galore, encouraging you to connect with friends and make exercising a social activity too. But all this when you’re just a beginner can seem daunting. So we’ve put together this guide to give you all the best expert advice on how to start running.
Tig Hodson is the Co-founder of StrongHer and an all round running extraordinaire.
She tells GoodtoKnow, “Running at any time is a saving grace, but especially now given lockdown it’s benefits are highlighted.” Tig says, “Even if you are not going for any particular pace, the mental clarity it gives to be in your own company putting one foot in front of the other is second to none.
“It has the power to completely reshape your day, not to mention it’s low impact cardio, which can help towards keeping our daily movement, heart health and stress levels where they need to be to thrive. I personally have found running as a tool to manage bouts of depression or feelings of being over overwhelmed at bay.”
How do you start running?
Starting at the basics, Tig says that the best place to start would be selecting a time that you want to run for, i.e. 20 minutes, and seeing in that time how far your can run.
“It can be daunting to think about 3K, 5K, 10K so let’s select a time that feels ok with you for now and see what you can do in that time.”
She suggests, “If you are more triggered by distance, I would suggest starting at 3k and aiming to hit a pace of between 6-7 mins per km, then from there take it to 5k at the same pace. When you are comfortable being at that pace for 5k then we can start to build on your pace per km.”
So when you’re learning how to run, be sure start off slow and keep to a pace that suits you.
How to start running: Your weekly plan
It’s understandable that when you start a new sport or activity, you want to see some improvement early on. Studies have shown that seeing ourselves develop and achieve something increases our self-esteem and gives us the motivation to continue.
Tig advises, “If you were to start running now and wanted to see some improvement in a month, obviously look at how many times a week you are willing to commit.
“My advice is 3-4 [runs a week] and of these runs you only do 1 longer run. The other runs would be made up of sprints, pacework and maybe some hills or technical strength work.”
Tig’s given us a rough guide on what this might look like:
Monday: 20 minute easy-pace run
Wednesday: 6 to 8 20 second sprints, 40 seconds rest
Friday: 20 minute medium-pace or hill runs
Sunday: your longer run day, i.e. your 5K day
For a longer running schedule, check out this training plan.
If this still seems like too much, Tig suggests, “Break it down and remember running like all other fitness is about you – your pace, don’t feel you need to be a certain speed, but make sure its serving what you are doing it for!”
While it’s natural at first to feel some discomfort, especially as you add distance and increase intensity, but at any signs of pain that cause you to run differently you shop should immediately. If the problems continue, consult your GP.
If you’re interested in getting stronger and improving your fitness, Tig Hodson’s new London studio opens soon with classes especially designed for improving running technique. Go to the StrongHer website to find out more and get involved with some of her online classes.
What about stretching for running?
It’s tempting not to bother stretching, especially if you find it hard to motivate yourself to do exercise, as you want to just go as soon as the mood takes you. But, warming up and more importantly, warming down is essential in preventing injuries and reducing stiffness the next day.
Three simple rules of stretching:
- Don’t bounce as you stretch
- Stretch gently
- Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds
For a step-by-step stretching guide, check out this video from The Run Experience.
What should I wear to run?
One of the best parts of starting a new hobby is getting kitted out in all the right stuff. But when you’re starting to learn how to run, there’s no need to get all the most expensive clothing.
Tig says, “Essential kit for me is a decent pair of leggings that have the phone pouch in the side of the leg, Under Armour Rush leggings are great for this.”
An essential for running, Tig says, “Everybody’s feet are different and [they] are also the source of many of our postural problems. So having the right footwear is essential, and as a side note [they] should be updated every six to nine months.”
She suggests, “A solid pair of running shoes that support how much running you will be doing and what your feet need.
“My personal recommendation is the Under Armour Machina they are very comfortable and have the technology within to help improve your trajectory as well as bluetooth technology, so all your running data is in your feet including foot stride!”
Loving running? There are hundreds of events across the country with charities like Race for Life where you can putting your fitness to the test.