What you need to run
Running is arguably the best way to exercise as you don’t need any equipment. Sure there are plenty of nifty gadgets and apps you can get to track and enhance your run, but when it comes to starting out the only things that you really need are your trainers and yourself.
Get a good pair of running shoes
Even though trainers are the only equipment you’ll need to start running, it’s important that you spend time to get this right. A good pair of running shoes will make your feet feel lighter and absorb some impact each time that your foot hits the ground which will help to prevent ankle and knee injuries.
Selecting a running shoe comes down to the physiological movements of your body while you run. Watch out for pronation, which is the degree your foot rotates inwards as you run. If you are unsure, one of the tell-tale signs is flat feet and no visible foot arches. Over-pronation can stress the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the foot and can negatively impact the ankle, knee, and hip joints.
Try looking in stores that emphasise selling running trainers as most have staff that are knowledgeable about running. Many of these stores now also have treadmills that you can do practice runs on and allow you to try before you buy. It is also important to remember to replace your trainers on a regular basis – Asics recommend changing running shoes every 450-550 miles.1
Wear clothing that you are comfortable moving in. If you are prone to overheating opt for lighter clothing, shorts and vest tops rather than longer sleeves and trousers. Running outdoors in colder weather hats and gloves can help protect you from the wind and retain heat. If you are running at night, you might want to invest in reflective clothing or a head light.
Why do you want to start running? Your reason for running is your motivation, whether it is weight-loss, to run a 5K, or to improve fitness and stamina. Your reason for running has to be strong enough to keep you going those extra miles! Setting yourself a goal or signing up and paying for a race is a good way to keep you running as you have a fixed date and distance that you are working towards.
Listen to music to enhance your run
Music can have an incredible effect on mood and the body. Studies have found that well-chosen music can improve exercise performance. Listening to motivational songs can help lift your mood and encourage you to go just that little bit further as you try to build up endurance.
Find a running buddy
Finding a running buddy is a great way to help you get started running; you can set a pace for one another and motivate each other to go further. You could also join a running club to meet fellow runners of the same intensity and speed level as you. Search for running clubs in your area to find the clubs that are nearest to you.
Running with a dog is a great way to build up speed and stamina. Try a few runs without your dog first before introducing them to your routine. Many companies sell hands free dog leashes which allow you to run free from worrying about runaway dogs.
Who can start running?
You can start to run at ANY age! You are never too old or young to start running. Run for you! Adjust your intensity, speed, and distance to suit you. Running should be enjoyable and completely tailored to your own fitness levels and what your body is asking you for.
If you have an existing health condition it is always a good idea to double check with a doctor before starting to run. I have a couple of tips for those who suffer from asthma and arthritis.
If you suffer from asthma, particularly exercise-induced asthma, running outside might aggravate symptoms. Try breathing through the nose rather than the mouth as this will warm the air slightly before it enters the lungs. Check out our blog on breathing tips for long distance runners for more information on warming up the lungs before running. Alternatively, it might be worth switching running outside for running in an indoor track or gym.
Finally, peppermint, whether inhaled through the nose, or ingested through the mouth, helps to reduce irritation and decrease shortness of breath. Peppermint contains menthol which makes it a useful decongestant, and it also has antispasmodic properties, which means it helps to relax the muscles of the respiratory tract, and opens up the airways.
If you suffer from arthritis, take time to warm up the muscles thoroughly. Running on softer surfaces such as grass, trails, and paths will be gentler on the body and decrease the impact on the joints caused by running on hard surfaces. Listen to your body, and adapt to what feels good for you.
How to start running when you are unfit
Less is more - interval training and regular breaks
If you haven’t exercised for a while or feel unfit or overweight then interval training might be for you. Interval training alternates running and walking, and it will help to build up endurance and fitness levels. It works for all fitness levels and is very popular with runners who are complete beginners as well as experienced and professional athletes.
If weight-loss is your goal interval training could help. One study found that an hour of interval training resulted in a 36% increase in fat burned2 compared to one hour of continuous training. Taking regular breaks before you feel you need is a good way to pace yourself as well as prevent fatigue.
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How to start running if you don’t have time
If you are passionate about running then you have the time! There are 168 hours in a week. In the UK, on average we spend around 37 of those hours a week at work3, take off our recommended 8 hours of sleep a night, and we are left with 75 hours a week! If you lead a busy lifestyle careful planning could be key to fitting in your runs to get you started.
Planning short, manageable runs in advance can be a useful way to get started running. There are great apps like MapMyRun that can help you plan and navigate the best routes to run. Start small with one short run a week and build from there. Setting a routine and running at the same time every week will help you to keep you on track in the long run.
Running is a great way to exercise, but it is important to make time for recovery. If you are just starting out you will probably find that your body will need time to adjust after a run. You might have heavy, sore legs after your run, but don’t worry, this is completely normal and will pass!
Check out our blog on why we suffer fatigue after running for information on how to recover from fatigue post-run. Try going for a hot bath or apply our arnica gel after your run to soothe achy muscles.