I always wanted to enjoy running, but I found it hard to get into.
I took more of an interest in it when I moved to Australia back in 2011. It’s very popular here—we also have the nice sunshine to complement it—and you can’t walk further than 10 metres before you see someone jogging along. Mothers running with their prams are everywhere. I don’t think I have ever seen this in England.
I began slowly and with a lot of walking breaks. It’s hard at the start because after about 30 seconds you feel like you really need to stop, but after you begin to push through the pain barriers you will improve with each run, which is encouraging.
It helped me to run on a treadmill, to gauge a comfortable speed, measure distance and see overall fitness improvements as the weeks went on. Not everyone would agree with this because it can be boring when you have no scenery.
It took about six weeks before I could manage running 5KM in 34 minutes, and it was hard. My fastest 5KM now is 27 mins and my goal is to do it in under 25, so I’m going to keep pushing through those uncomfortable runs until I can.
I’ve realised now that a big challenge is the psychological barrier – being held back by the belief you have hit your limit and can’t push through.
However, I’ve also learnt the importance of training properly and not doing too much too soon. Your fitness improves faster than your body’s strength and ability to cope with harder, longer runs.
With this in mind, I thought I would compile a few tips I can vouch for that are helpful for getting started. I’m by no means an experienced runner, but I can comfortably run for an hour or so.
Stick to a plan, no matter how simple
This simple Couch to 5k Running Plan is a good place to start. It incorporates lots of walking, while slowly introducing running.
Never increase distance more than 10% each week
Now this is debated amongst the running community, but the principle is correct. Increase slowly, do your research and be sensible (the first goal is to be able to run non-stop for a period, then you can think about this one).
Alternate between two pairs of trainers
A recent study has found that rotating two different running shoes reduces injury amongst runners – but that’s not the only reason. Running shoes only have on average 500 KM of life in them before they should be replaced, so alternating between two pairs means each pair will last longer.
The importance of cross training
I try to swim, use the elliptical and attend at least one spin class per week. It is good to train the rest of your body and reduce the stress on your knees – running is a high impact exercise. It will still benefit your overall running fitness to do cardio on your non-running days.
Think in minutes, not miles or KM
When you first start out it can make you feel defeated when you realise how slow you are. By incorporating minutes instead of miles or KM into your training, you can focus on building up your aerobic fitness, rather than stressing about your pace and the distance covered.
Consistency over distance OR time
So what, you had a bad day? At least you went. Reaching your full potential in running takes a few years, and there are no shortcuts.
Listen to your body
Muscular pain is normal after exertion through exercise. You know when the pain is not just that, so see a physio if you encounter new persistent pain and rest sufficiently. New runners are prone to injury if they don’t do this – it was true for me.
Try running without music
I always used to run with music, but as I’ve run more and more I have found it can be nicer without. It means you are more connected with your surroundings, and improves safety because you are aware of traffic and other people.
Sign up for organised events
I really think this helps you to stay focussed on your training program and keeps you accountable. I used to dabble in running but only since I have been doing events have I been consistent. This year I’ve done two events so far – the Sydney Harbour 10K and the City2Surf, then in five weeks I have signed up for Blackmore’s Half Marathon. When I feel like sleeping in, I remember I’ve paid for and committed to whichever event is next and it motivates me.
Remember that euphoric feeling at the end of a run
It gets me going every time!
Do you run? What tips would you give to a beginner runner?