Now more than ever it’s important to prioritise your wellbeing, both physical and mental. These articles are to help you stay active and look after your wellbeing during this unprecedented time.
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But how do you get into running? Here are 5 tips on how to start running for beginners.
1. Be patient
The key thing to remember about learning to run is that building up your running fitness requires, planning, patience and a positive mindset. Starting your run by walking and then gradually picking up the pace into an easy jog is a good running plan for beginners. It allows you to build up your total amount of running over time.
Once you feel comfortable with this, you can then make it slightly harder and let your body find its natural running pace, even if it's just a little faster than your walking pace.
Try not to worry about being slow or comparing yourself to other runners out there. Running is all about pleasure, so focus instead on finding the right speed for you.
2. Always warm up & cool down
Take your time and be sure to complete a proper warm up and cool down. Warming up will make your running easier as it helps to boost blood flow to your muscles and lubricate your joints.
Doing some dynamic but controlled movements can help improve your range of motion, increase your heart rate and get your blood flowing which all helps to get your body ready for running. Some warm up ideas include jumping jacks, air squats, skipping and high knees.
Cooling down allows your body to gradually return to a resting state. Just a few minutes of walking after your run is all you need to let your heart rate return to normal.
But you might also want to include a few static stretches to improve your flexibility, release any stress and tension in your muscles, and promote relaxation.
3. Set yourself achievable goals
Having running goals can keep you focus and motivated. But it’s important to make goals which are safe for your health and fitness level. If you’ve not been running before, take it slow and give yourself manageable targets.
Try not to give into temptation of quickly increasing your mileage dramatically, even if you feel fit enough to do it, as doing this can increase your risk of injury. Instead, try to progress your training gradually.
If you’re a complete beginner, one example of a running plan you could try is to complete 1 minute of walking, then 1 minute of running, and repeat this for 10 minutes. Then for your next training session you could aim for 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, and so on.
You could also choose a distance target, like running 5km. Then you can work your way up to that distance week by week. Apps like Couch to 5K can be helpful in guiding you step-by-step.
4. Respect recovery time
It’s important you allow enough time for your body to rest, recover and adapt to this new change of running for exercise. It’s good to avoid building your weekly volume of running too quickly, because you may experience a reaction from your body.
The most likely places where runners feel pain/tension are the knees, calves or hamstrings. Listen to your body and whatever information your body tells you and be sure to pay attention and adjust your running schedule.
It can be tempting to run frequently when you're making progress, but recovery time is crucial to your continued success. A helpful running schedule might be running two or three times a week and resting for 1-2 days in between.
5. Fuel yourself
What to eat before a run is often the most important question for new runners. Your body requires various fuel depending on your goals and the type of training you are doing.
Everyone has different levels of comfort regarding eating around training, so it's important to find what works best for you.
In general, waiting around 2-4 hours before running after a large meal should be enough time to fully digest your food. And for a snack, 1-2 hours should be enough, depending on how large the snack was.
A good rule is to eat food mostly high in carbohydrates, but that aren’t too heavy in your stomach. If you eat food that you’re used to and it makes you feel fuelled but comfortable, you should be good to begin exercising.
Dorota Woloszynska Class Instructor, Warwick Sport
Dorota is a "fitness fanatic" and is passionate about running, promoting an active lifestyle and healthy eating.
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