Top 10 Tips for Beginners
Having read a lot about running in the early stages of my interest, I have picked up a number of top tips which have helped me along the way. These have enabled me to run when I never thought I could. In fact, if I was told 2 years ago that I could complete a 10K race in under an hour.....in fact, at all, I would never have believed it. Here is what I consider to be the top ten tips that have helped me to achieve this:
1) Always Stretch. Before you run, complete a sequence of dynamic stretching to warm the muscles up (cold muscles do not like static stretches). When you have completed your run complete static stretches to reduce the tension in them.
2) Analyse Your Gait. One of the most common contributors to injury (especially in beginners) is an ill fitting running shoe. To avoid this, visit a specialist running shop which offers a gait analysis service. This involves filming your walking or running motion and identifying whether your feet roll inwards (overpronation), outwards (supination) or neither (neutral) when your move through from heel to toe. The shop should then supply a shoe which corrects your gait.
3) Have a Plan. To give you stability and to encourage you to get out regularly have a programme and map it out on a calender. Cross each session off once you have completed it to keep you motivated.
4) Develop a Routine. Some people might struggle with this one, but if possible, run at a regular time on regular days. For example at 6 o'clock every Tuesday. Make sure your loved ones know your routine so that other things don't get in the way of it. Everyone will know that 6 o'clock on Tuesday is your running time.
5) Pair Up. If you think you might struggle to motivate yourself then pair up with somebody and develop your running routine together. Make sure the person you pair up with is of a similar ability to you so that you progress at similar rates. You'll find it easier to get out on a wet, cold evening if there is somebody else depending on you.
6) Stay Hydrated. Muscles work best when they are hydrated, and this doesn't happen by simply having a drink before and after a run. You need to be sipping water to the tune of 2 - 3 litres per day, throughout the day. You will find that if you don't already do this, it is a habit which will give you an energy boost.
7) Don't Eat. Well, at least not for an hour before a run. If you eat too close to a run, the food you consume will not be digested properly and will still be sitting in your stomach. This creates two problems - you won't fully benefit from the energy released from the food and the weight of the food will pull the ligament that attaches to your diaphragm which is thought to be a cause of stitches.
8) Run and Walk. There is no shame in walking. Normally, if you are starting from scratch you should be completing a session of 1 minute running, 1 minute walking intervals for maybe 10 minutes depending on your overall fitness level.
9) Build Up Slowly. Make sure you increase both the length of each session, and the running time within those sessions slowly. The 10% rule is a good one to follow in that, from session to session, you should only increase the length of your session by 10%.
10) Check Your Breathing. Try to get into a pattern with your breathing by counting your steps. For example breathe in every four steps and breathe out every four steps. Regular breathing will ensure regular and steady delivery of oxygen to your blood. Also, by breathing in and out when the same foot strikes the ground (I normally do it on my left footstrike) it is thought to reduce the chances of a stitch. It works for me.
I hope that by following these tips you'll find it easier to progress and maintain your motivation.