10 essential tips every new runner needs to know
Decided to take up running? Here are our essential tips to help you fall in love with running and achieve your fitness goals.
Running is an excellent form of exercise that has a range of benefits for both your physical and mental health, something we all need to prioritise at the moment. Research shows that cardiovascular exercise, such as running, can improve your mood, help you sleep, enhance your sex life, and better your overall wellbeing (1). However, with our busy work schedules and hectic home lives, it can be hard to keep to an exercise routine, particularly if you do not know where to begin. Here are our ten essential tips that will help you get started on your running journey. You will be running marathons in no time!
1. Start with a plan
Failing to plan is planning to fail. As with most things in life, it is best to start with a plan in place. Before you even go on your first run, there are quite a few things to consider – where you’ll go, how often you’ll run for, what you’re going to wear, on which days you’re going to run and what your first goal is. Careful planning will not only help you stick to a running routine, but it will also keep you motivated throughout your fitness journey as you see yourself improve.
While you’re a beginner, try doing just three 30-minute runs a week and then slowly increasing this as you improve. Remember to incorporate rest days into your routine so that your body has a chance to repair and keep any goals or plans realistic and achievable to avoid being disheartened.
2. Invest in the gear
Your running gear is likely to depend on the weather, and for the most part, you don’t need to buy anything expensive, just as long as it’s breathable and comfortable. Start with the exercise clothes you already have in your wardrobe. Then you can invest in some performance clothing once you've been running consistently for a while.
However, it is vital to wear the correct shoes as you don’t want to risk impacting your joints. Many brands are marketing the perfect running shoe, but what works for one person may not work for you. We recommend going to a running shop for assessment and specialist advice when selecting your shoes. Be mindful of natural wear and tear in the future as experts advise you to replace your shoes every 300-400 miles (2).
3. Always warm-up and cool down
Remember, warming-up is essential before doing any cardio. Start with 5-10 minutes of light aerobic exercises such as marching, a brisk walk, or cycling on a stationary bike. A proper warm-up will dilate your blood vessels so that oxygen can reach your muscles more efficiently; it also increases your muscle temperature, making them more flexible.
End your workout with a cool down to avoid any light-headedness or a rapid drop in blood pressure. Reduce your run into a walk or slow jog for the last 5-10 minutes until your heart rate has returned to normal.
4. Be an early bird
There are many benefits to exercising early, so if you can, try to run in the morning for the best results. It will help you to be consistent, as you’re less likely to skip a run in the morning than after a busy or stressful day. The endorphins keep you alert and stimulated so that you’re energised and ready for the next task of your day. A morning run also boosts your metabolism, helping you to burn calories during the day, and a healthy breakfast afterwards will aid in repairing your muscles.
5. Consistency is key
Starting a new running regimen can seem quite daunting at the start. Try to establish an exercise routine as you’ll be more likely to stick to it. As outlined in tip number 1, having a plan will help you to create a habit. Build up your mileage steadily to benefit your muscles without injury, and try to avoid having long breaks in-between exercising, so you don’t lose any well-earned progress. Even if you’re not as good as you hoped to be at the beginning, stick with it and eventually you will see improvements. Consistency in training separates high performers from the rest.
6. Pace yourself
When motivation strikes, it can be tempting to give it your all immediately, but it's important to pace yourself. Don't try too much, too fast, or too soon, as this will lead to overtraining and injury. A constant, steady pace from start to finish is much better than going too fast for short periods. Learning to pace yourself properly takes practice. Listen to your body and monitor your breathing so that you can understand what’s comfortable for you. Allow your body to adapt to the training over time, be consistent, and avoid getting tired out quickly.
7. Try a walk-run
Although ‘running’ is the ultimate goal, don’t underestimate the walk-run technique, particularly when you’re new. It’s a useful tool that helps you to improve your endurance safely (3). Including walk-breaks in your cardio has many benefits; you can control your fatigue, break up the mental challenge of the run, and strengthen your muscles with short intervals.
Alternate three minutes of running with one minute of walking and continue until you’ve completed your route. Remember to end with a walking segment so that you can cool down efficiently.
8. Stay inspired
Once you’ve started running, the motivation can ebb and flow. Here are some tips to stay inspired and sustain your running routine:
- Run on Mondays: start with good intentions and set the tone for the rest of the week. It can also give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your motivation to do it again.
- Create a training log: when you lack inspiration, you can look back on your mileage and see how far you've come (literally and figuratively). Your achievements can be a great source of encouragement to keep going.
- Run with a partner: exercising with a friend is an excellent way of staying motivated as you're able to encourage and challenge each other.
- Hire a trainer: if you have the budget and you’re in desperate need of motivation, a personal trainer may be the answer. They can create a customized running plan and hold you accountable for your goals.
- Listen to music: create a playlist that you find motivating; it can keep you going for longer. Or perhaps you could use this time to listen to a podcast/audiobook that you haven’t had the chance to enjoy yet.
- Explore new scenery: running the same route multiple times can become dull and tedious, try to break up the routine with some new scenery. Travel to a different location or even just run the opposite way around your usual route.
- Track your progress: here at Medichecks, we offer a range of sports performance tests that allow you to establish your baseline health levels so you can track your progress over time. What better motivation is there to stick with your running than seeing how it has improved your overall health?
9. Find the balance
Although running is the primary focus, you may not experience all its benefits unless you find the correct balance between rest and nutrition. If these areas are lacking, you may not progress as much as you hoped. Rest and nutrition are essential for helping your body to recover and regenerate. Although the balance may never be perfect, try to have a healthy, balanced diet and at least two rest days a week. Medichecks offer multiple tests that allow you to check your energy, nutrition, and stress levels to ensure you aren’t wearing yourself out.
10. Step out the door
You can spend all the time preparing and researching, but nothing will be as beneficial than just getting started. The first step out the door is usually the hardest, but a couple of months from now, you will thank yourself for doing it. Now you have the essential tips for a new runner; the rest is up to you.!
A great way to track your fitness journey and improve your performance is to understand what's going on inside your body with a simple blood test. Our Baseline Fitness Blood Test is a simple at-home finger-prick test that measures your fitness starting point. You can track changes to your inner health as your fitness levels improve, and learn how informed changes to your diet and lifestyle can help improve your overall performance and recovery.
Or if you are after a more advanced profile our Endurance Fitness Blood Test covers all the bases, looking at blood levels which can help identify overtraining and injury as well as those that could cause a lack of energy and motivation.
1. Robinson, L., Segal, J., and Smith, M. (2019). The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise. [online] Help Guide. Available at: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm [Accessed 20/05/20].
2. NHS (2019). Running for beginners. [online]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/running-tips-for-beginners/ [Accessed 20/05/20].
3. Luff, C. (2020). How to Do the Run Walk Method. [online]. Very Well Fit. Available at: https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-the-runwalk-method-2911203 [Accessed 21/05/20].