Running is huge. Tempted to join the hype this year? It’s a great idea, but starting off can be daunting.
There’s so much information online about where to run, what to wear, how to train, what to eat. Lucky for you, we’ve done the hardwork and compiled Auro’s ultimate beginner running guide. From head to toe, we’ve got you sorted.
Get kitted out
If you’re a new runner, chances are you’re slightly bewildered about what to wear when running. Luckily, running is probably the most inexpensive form of exercise out there. You don’t need fancy equipment or swanky clothes to be a good runner.
Let’s get back to basics. All you really need is a solid pair of trainers. There are tonnes of big names for running shoes, but honestly the best way to find the right shoe for you is to go to a running store. They’ll watch you run on a treadmill, analyse your gait, and then recommend the best trainer for your style of running. You’re also looking for a shoe with plenty of toe room, a comfortable flex, and a supportive heel. This will help prevent injury, blisters, and minimise strain on your joints and muscles.
All of this means nothing if you don’t have the right socks. Dump your old cotton ones for something synthetic. Cotton absorbs moisture really easily, which will cause friction in your shoe leading to blisters and irritation. Find something in a synthetic blend or Merino wool to wick away moisture, leaving your feet happy and dry.
You’ll need a top (or more) in a wicking fabric as well. Just like for your feet, it’ll draw the sweat away from your skin leaving you cooler and drier. If you’re just starting out, you can always use a T-shirt from your wardrobe.
On your bottom half, you can opt for shorts, leggings, or tights. They come in an array of lengths, material, and styles so you will easily find something you feel super comfortable wearing.
Pick up a water bottle to keep you hydrated while you train. You can reuse a plastic one from the supermarket when you start off, and purchase a sturdier one as you run more. You can find ergonomic ones which are easier to hold while you run, or even smaller bottles attached to a handy belt.
Another useful item is an arm band to hold your phone while you jog, leaving you handsfree. You can also find runner’s belts to hold other small items like keys, money, anything you need to take with you while you’re out.
Pound the pavement
Now you’re all kitted out, where to begin? Kick off your training with short running intervals, walking in between to recover. Try jogging for one minute and then walking for one minute, repeating this ten times in one session. Slowly increase your running time by one minute and reduce your recovery walk for each session, until you can run for thirty minutes without stopping.
Don’t start out running too fast as your body needs time to adjust to this new exercise, try to keep to a moderate pace (where you could still hold a conversation) to gradually improve your stamina.
We’ve all got to start somewhere. Most marathoners complete their mammoth course using a combination of running and walking. If it’s good enough for them, it’s great for you, so don’t beat yourself up if you find it hard at the beginning.
You need to build up your strength and stamina to enable you to keep on going for longer. This means starting from scratch by doing slow, short distance runs. Before you know it, you’ll be able to do longer stints like a proper champion runner. As a beginner, the focus should be on duration rather than a particular distance. One to three miles as a novice runner would be perfect, but again the goal is to slowly increase your strength and stamina over a few weeks so don’t worry too much about the numbers in the early stages.
If you want to start racing, it’s best to start small and work your way up. Sign up to a 5K, and give yourself two or three months of consistent practice and training so you can comfortably complete the route.
Once you’ve achieved that, what’s stopping you from working towards a 10K, or half marathon?
If this gets a little boring, you could try surge running once you’ve found your feet. This is a shorter running workout at a high intensity – think shorter spurts of running at a quicker pace. This is great for improving your endurance and will keep your training sessions fresh and varied.
Remember to rest! If you don’t allow your body to recover you run the risk of burning out, injuring yourself, or falling off the fitness wagon completely from being too tired.
Stretch it out
Bookend your training sessions with a warm up and cool down.
Warm up pre-run actually raises the temperature of your muscles, making them more flexible and efficient. This is really important if you like to run first thing in the morning – your body may be stiff and cold from sleep. Warming up also slowly increases your heart rate ready for more strenuous exercise, so actually puts less strain on your heart when you begin your training.
Start off with some light aerobic movement to loosen up, like jogging on the spot or walking briskly. Try some walking lunges, star jumps and toe touches to get your body warm – these dynamic stretches are great for this.
Post-run, do a 5 – 10 minute slow job or walk to reduce your heart rate. Stretch out your legs, targeting those problem areas which often feel tight and sore.
A great one for this is a quad stretch. Stand straight, lift one foot up behind you and hold onto your foot, pulling your heel towards you, trying to keep your knees as close together as possible. A low lunge is also ideal, helping to open up your hip flexors.
Fuel your body
We all know it’s important to stay hydrated, but don’t chug water just before you train or race as it may make you feel nauseous while running. It’s ideal to sip water throughout the day, and it’s fine to have tea or coffee before you run if you know they don’t upset your stomach.
Food wise, there’s no need to carb-load for a race shorter than 90 minutes. Eat something light before you run at least 2 hours before you start off.
Try experimenting with foods while training to see what works best for you, and stick to it on race day. If you are a little peckish on the big day, have a small snack like a banana for an energy boost.
You’ve started running, absolutely smashing your first training session, and then you wake up the next day and can’t walk downstairs. This soreness is DOMS, a common affliction following exercise. But should you continue running when sore?
Shorthand for delayed onset muscle soreness, DOMS is a common problem for runners. It’s that feeling of tightness in your muscles, or a reduced range of mobility.
It normally rears its head around 6 hours after your work out, and is at its discomfort peak around 24 to 48 hours later. It settles down usually after 72 hours luckily, but it can be pretty tough.
DOMS is typically caused by doing a new activity, or introducing a higher intensity to your usual work out. The discomfort is caused by microtrauma to your muscles, which in turn causes inflammation.
If you’re a new runner, your muscle soreness is most likely because your body is adjusting to this new exercise. As you gain more muscle strength, DOMS will ease off over time.
There are many ways to help ease the pain. Foam rolling is an incredibly popular method of reducing stiffness. Epsom salt baths is also a great way of relaxing sore muscles after exercise. If you don’t have any Epsom salt to hand, you can also simply alternate between hot and cold showers.
Otherwise, doing dynamic and static stretching respectively before and after you exercise can help improve your stiffness overall, but doesn’t actually reduce DOMS.
The best way to try and reduce it is to just ease up on your activity. Don’t push yourself too hard too soon. Be sure to rest in between work outs to allow your body to fully recover.
The idea of running when sore may be tempting. DOMS is often thought of as a sign of a good work out or a hard run, which is wrong, but it’s also nothing to cause concern.
After a hard work out a short, easygoing run can actually ease your soreness. It gets your blood moving to your legs which will make you feel a little better and ultimately help recovery.
Of course, if you’re in pain, this is not a good idea. If you haven’t had a rest day in a while, it’d be a smart move to put your feet up and let your muscles recover and heal.
There you have it! All you need to know before you set off for your first run. If you have any more questions on our beginner running guide, ask us them on our member page — our expert PTs are at hand to help you out!