If you’re new to running, here are 31 tips to help get you started
1. Get the right running shoes
Having the right running shoes can make all the difference to your running. Get your gait analysed in a running shop (trust me it’s not as scary as you imagine) and they will recommend the best support shoe for you based on your running style which will help keep injuries at bay.
2. Find a running buddy
Running with another person can be rewarding, you have someone else that you’re accountable to and you can both push each other to go further than you might if you were running alone. Don’t fall into the trap of doing more gossiping than running though!
3. Be safe
If you’re out running on your own, your safety must be paramount. If you have a Garmin, you can add an email address into Livetrack which will send an link to the receiver when you press start and they will be able to track your location. If you’re running in the dark or dim light, make sure you’ve either got reflective gear on or if you really want to play it safe you can use a head torch which will also help you see where you’re going.
4. Don’t do too much too soon
A sure fire way to pick up an injury is to attempt to push yourself too hard too soon. It’s recommended that you increase your distance by a maximum of 10% each week to avoid injury and, if you’re a real beginner, keep your distance the same for around a month while your body adjusts.
5. Warm up & cool down
This is definitely something that runners of all abilities neglect but it really does help you avoid injury and recover quicker. To warm up I’ll usually dance around my living room to an upbeat tune, walk with the dog or add a short walk before my run. Once I’m done with my run I’ll spend time doing some lower body stretches and foam rolling.
6. Track / log your runs
How do you know how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you’ve been? Sometimes it’s difficult to see how much you’ve improved but looking back at your fastest times from 2-3 months ago, you’ll be surprised how much progress you’ve actually made. Keep a running log or journal and refer back to it frequently.
7. Multi train
While it’s easy to go out and pound the pavement to get those miles in, if you’re looking to improve your run times you’ll need to incorporate different styles of running such as tempo runs, speed work and fartlek which will help make you a stronger and faster runner.
8. Don’t underestimate rest days
It may seem tempting to go out running every day but you’ll quickly find that your enthusiasm waivers and you’ll lose interest a lot quicker (you’re also more likely to pick up an injury). If you really don’t want to have a complete rest, go for a walk, swim or gym class to vary up your routine.
9. Sign up for a race
While this may seem daunting if you’ve never run a race before, it will give you the motivation to keep training even on the days that you don’t feel like it. Put up a sign somewhere prominent that will remind you why you’re doing this and how you want to feel on race day. There’s nothing worse than standing at the start line of a race feeling like you should have tried harder in training.
10. Joining a running club
This may seem really scary if you’re a beginner but if you want to be part of your own little running community, learn tons and make friends then this is the place to go! There are so many different running abilities at running clubs, you don’t have to be an elite runner to join one.
11. Try all different types of running terrains
Just because it may be easier to run on the pavement, don’t be afraid to mix it up and try different terrains. There’s a whole world of trail runners out there and they get to run in the most scenic parts of the country. So head out to some trails and give it a go, you never know, you might like it and it will give you another dimension to your road running.
12. Take your dog
If your 4 legged best friend is up to it, take your dog with you (please make sure that you don’t overtrain your pup and stop immediately if you think they’re in any discomfort). Dogs can be a great addition to your runs, they keep you company, they keep you motivated (you have to take them out anyway) and they are just awesome. While you may have to stop for a few sniff and bathroom breaks, that’s not a bad thing, just think of it as interval training.
13. Get new running gear
So you’ve got your running shoes sorted, it’s time to overhaul your workout wardrobe. Nothing screams ‘take me out for a run’ more than getting new workout clothes that you really want to wear. There’s no time like the present, put them on, go out for a run and smash it looking fabulous.
14. Listen to some music
Studies have shown that listening to music helps you work harder. So create an amazing playlist especially for your runs of upbeat and motivational tunes (think Rocky here).
15. Dress for the weather
While it may be chilly outside, make sure you’re not dressed like the abominable snowman. You’ll soon warm up so have a couple of layers that you can take off as you go. If you suffer from painful ears or sinuses in the wind, invest in a head band which protects your ears from the elements.
16. Be social on social media
If joining a running club is just too daunting for you, you can always join the online running community by signing up for either a Twitter or Instagram account. These social media platforms are not for narcissistic runners who love posting about themselves it’s about making friends with other runners, sharing tips and new races with an endless amount of people.
17. You can’t out train a bad diet
You are what you eat. Clean up your eating habits and you’ll reap the rewards in your running. There are so many resources on Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube that will help give you some new food ideas, which will not only be better for your health but will also give you tons of energy (think of fuelling for those long Sunday runs).
18. A bad run doesn’t mean you’re a bad runner
Just to put things into perspective, every runner has a ‘bad run’. Bad runs make you grateful for all of your easy runs so try not to dwell on them too much. Sometimes it’s worth abandoning your run, doing a shorter route than first planned, trying later on the same day or perhaps do some cross training instead. Some days you just don’t feel it but don’t give up.
19. Try out a couch to 5k training plan
If you’re really not sure where to start there are lots of Couch to 5k training plans out there to help you get started and give you an idea of how often and how far you should be running.
20. Don’t compare yourself to other runners
Theodore Roosevelt was right when he said “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Always remember, the only person you are in competition with is yourself. Look back to your running log frequently and remind yourself how hard you’ve worked, how far you’ve come and how far you’re going to go! Try and follow other social media accounts that are around the same level as you are (while following people who are running 6 minute miles are inspirational, you need to find your ‘tribe’).
21. Fun runs
Fun runs can be a nice way to break up your training and add more spark to your routine. These races are less about the PBs and more about the experiences (look out for Pretty Muddy, Race for Life, Survival Run and Obstacle Courses to name a few). Not only are you getting fit, expanding your running repertoire and having a laugh with your friends you’re putting the fun back into running.
22. Running technique
There are lots of running resources out there to help you work on your running technique, it’s not always a ‘train hard or go home’ mentality. The more you can improve your running technique, the less likely you’ll get injuries and you’ll be an overall more efficient runner (and who doesn’t want that).
23. Don’t forget to have fun
Running shouldn’t be a punishment it should be enjoyable. Running has taken me to some amazing places, I’ve met some amazing friends and it’s made me realise that I’m much more capable than I ever thought I was.
24. Foam rolling is your new best friend
While it might look (and at times feel) like some kind of torture device, foam rolling is going to help you work out all of the kinks from sore muscles. If you’re not sure where to start, check out some YouTube videos that will help you get the basic moves down.
25. Get to know the difference between physically exerting yourself and pain
Running sometimes hurts… fact! At times your legs will feel like lead and you can’t take one more step and you have to learn to suck it up and power through. But if you’re feeling sharp pain or any pain that doesn’t ‘feel right’ you must stop.
26. Don’t neglect core work
Having a strong core helps runners with posture, speed and endurance. Don’t neglect those abs and planks and say hello to that rock hard stomach!
27. Keep your toenails short
There’s nothing worse than the feeling of your toenails poking into the insides of your shoes while running. I especially make sure I trim them before a race but always make sure you cut straight across the nail to avoid getting an ingrown toenail.
28. Keep hydrated
Being dehydrated kills your energy levels like nothing else. Keep a water bottle on you during the day and drink from it regularly. If you’re not that great at remembering to drink water, you can now buy water bottles that have a countdown to the times of day you need to have drank up to and you can even get apps that will send you reminders.
29. Slow progress is still progress
So you only shaved a couple of seconds off of your PB? Add all of those seconds up and eventually it will be a minute, then two and then who knows! Just keep at it.
30. Cross Training
It’s not all about the running… try and incorporate yoga, other forms of cardio like swimming or spinning, strength work and sports into your routine. This will help condition your whole body by using different muscles from running.
31. Train hills
Most beginner runners consider running up any sort of incline pure torture but don’t neglect running up hills, they’re great for building stamina and strength in your legs and there’s less impact on your lower body. You know what they say ‘it’s just a hill, get over it’!
I hope you’ve found some of these running tips helpful and I’d love to hear any more tips that you may have so please leave any comments below.