How do you start running?

I am very excited as one of my very good friends who has always been a ‘non’ runner asked me for some tips on how she should start. How far, how much and generally just HOW.

I am not a trainer, I haven’t spent years at college learning about these things, but the only advice I can give her is by telling her how I started and that was a long time ago.

I was rather bigger than I am now and one of the girls that I worked with at the time invited me to run a 5k run to get us fit. 5k seemed like a huge distance to me who had never really wanted to step near a treadmill for any long period of time but I took her up on her offer, never being one to shy away from a challenge…I remember the first time we ran – it was for two miles and I almost threw up a lung when we finished. I am thinking we must have been running maybe 14 minute miles  back then and it felt like I had raced Linford Christie! But I persevered and carried on and followed a 5k training plan to get ready for the race. Well I remember the race day I felt like I was carrying the world around my stomach but I finished – I was compltely unprepared for what I felt crossing the finish line – complete elation! I found that running improved my mood and made me generally feel a happier person too.

After I did the 5k, we then decided to train for a 10k, then that turned into a half marathon and then for me it was the challenge of the full marathon. 20kg lighter and still running today I can look back and say it was the best thing I ever did. I found something I love and am relatively good at in the sense, the only person I challenge is myself and I can do it anywhere be it in a gym or outside.

So the suggestions I will be giving my friend about how to start running, how often and HOW are:

Prepare – first things first, make sure you have a decent pair of trainers. I am not encouraging you to go out and spend loads of money but running is quite harsh on the joints and I have had my fair share of injuries. I went into Nike and bought the prettiest looking shoes I could find and then found that they were  not at all suitable and struggled with blisters and rubbing all over my foot. Kit wise, something comfortable – I  run in running tights as I am not blessed with thin thighs and they rub together but I see other runners that are very happy in a tiny pair of shorts so it depends on what you are comfortable in.

Also, remember I am not a trainer – I am just giving advice based on what I did – so please ensure you consult a doctor or trainer before you start running if you have any medical conditions.

Location – Decide where you are able to run, are you planning on running outside or do you have a gym membership?  I used to run mainly outside, then went for the gym option and now do a mixture of both.

How far and how much – Start small, and just go by time. I still do this now. So many people are fixated on distance but I figure if I could run for 3 hours in a training run then that was fine – it didn’t matter to me whether that was 18 miles or 22 miles – time on legs is what my training friend back in the UK drummed into me. Maybe a 15 minute session, building up to 30 mins is a good start or just as far as you can do without being completely puffed out, this is where your training plans and trainers at the gym will be able to help. How much, well how long is a piece of string, depends on you and how much you want to do. A couple of times a week and then incorporating other exercise too to balance your training out – again – ask at your gym or use a training plan.

Follow a plan to help you see progress – the great thing about runing is you will see progress. You will find that running a km initially is the hardest thing you have done but a few weeks down the line you will be able to look back and see how far you have come.

If you haven’t run before you may need to start very slowly and start by walking and then work up to running for a while and walking for  a while each time you train to build up to be able to run without stopping. I know a few of my friends that started that way. Don’t go crazy if you haven’t run before!

Persevere – keep going. Everyone has bad days and when I was first running I found it so hard (I still do often) I wanted to quit many times. But it is so worth it and on those days when you feel great it makes you appreciate that sometimes you might have a bad day but you are able to pick yourself back up and do better next time.

Please see some websites that have beginners training programs which may be of assistance:

About.com running training plans

Coolrunning.com

Runners World

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