If you’re thinking about getting into running, there are some things you should know. Firstly, we recommend joining a local running club. It might not be for everyone out there, but they’re a great source of camaraderie and expertise. It’s also an easy way to schedule your training in, knowing you’ll have some company.
If you think you’re not good enough to join a club – stop worrying! Running clubs are full of beginners and women returning from injury or pregnancy. Most running clubs have a strict ‘no one is left behind’ policy in their runs too. Besides, many clubs actually have track sessions at an athletics track so you’re never more than a few hundred meters away from someone! There are some websites that list places and clubs you can train with.
Before getting started, it is advisable to get your basic fitness level up. Try and lose a few pounds of excess weight you’ve built up and do some bodyweight squats and lunges for a few weeks in order to strengthen your legs up! If you’re more advanced, get squatting under a barbell or do some box jumps.
Building up your strength is never a bad thing. Even the slimmest marathon runners in the world do some form of weight or ‘resistance’ training. If you’re doing distances of 5 to 10k, resistance training should form part of your core training programme.
Whilst nutrition is incredibly important to your performance, training, lifestyle and bodyweight, it can be kept relatively simple. If you are overweight, reducing your excess fat will absolutely help you be a better runner and more healthy day-to-day.
The simplest way to ensure you’re eating the right amount is to find a BMR calculator on the internet (Google it!). This tells you how much dietary energy you should be eating each day to maintain your bodyweight. Ensure you fill in the details accurately (gender, weight, activity levels) and try three or four different ones to get an average.
If you need to lose weight, reduce that suggested calorie intake by 200-300 per day and monitor your weight for the next couple of weeks.
If you don’t need to gain weight, try and hit that calorie goal with the best possible foods possible. Eat lots of vegetables, wholegrain carbohydrates and lots of protein. Try to eat at least 1g of protein per kg of bodyweight, spread throughout the day, if possible. If you find that difficult, consider buying a protein supplement.
Whether your calories should come from carbohydrates or fats is more contentious, however, just be sensible and eat a good balance.
To be brutally honest, if you’re just getting started, the kit you wear is not a priority. The most important piece of kit is your footwear, but that doesn’t mean a pair of trainers should cost the earth.
You simply need a pair that fits well and provides enough support in the right areas of your feet. There is plenty of information on the internet about this kind of thing.
If you have a history of join pain – ankles, knees, hips or back – seeing a specialist first is advisable, in case you should look for something specific in a shoe. Otherwise, get out and buy a decent pair and get running. After a few months, you’ll know what to look out for in the next ones you buy!
Safety and security
If you’re planning to go running with a club, there’s not much to worry about. If you’re going to get a few miles under your belt on your own or with a friend, take these simple precautions.
- Run in the daylight when possible
- Wear something fluorescent if running in the dark or twilight
- Avoid isolated areas with no one around
- Tell someone your approximate route and estimated time back
- Don’t stop in one place for too long – always keep walking, at least
- Avoid running exactly the same route and the same time every day
Most importantly (because it seems to be a trend!) – stop posting your route to Facebook! Tools like Strava are great for tracking performance and progress but don’t share that information publically. If you run similar routes and similar times, everyone who can see your records has this information. This is important information if in the wrong hands!