Running is a great way to get fit, reduce your risk of heart disease and boost your mood. Even better is the fact it’s free, and you can do it anywhere. Just follow our advice to make running a safe and enjoyable experience for you.
If you’re recovering from injury or worried about an existing condition, see your GP, physio or health professional before you start running.
Follow a realistic plan
Regular running means getting out at least twice a week. Your running will improve as your body adapts to consistent training. It’s far better to run twice a week, every week than to run six times one week and then not run at all for the next three weeks.
So, plan your runs. Work out when and where (the exact route and time) you’re going to run and put it in your diary. The NHS’s Couch to 5k programme is for complete beginners and is a tried and tested way to get you running 5km in just nine weeks.
Listen to your body
Muscle soreness is normal and nothing to worry about. But if something hurts for more than a couple of runs, get it checked out as soon as possible.
Wear the right shoes
Your running shoes don’t need to be expensive, but they should be the right ones for your foot type and running style. You can get expert shoe advice by having your gait analysed at The Forge Clinic
Ease yourself slowly into running and increase your pace and distance gradually. Try alternating between running and walking during your session. Then as time goes on, make the running intervals longer until you no longer feel the need to walk. Don’t overdo it. Around 80% of running injuries are from doing too much too soon.
Warm up and cool down
Start each run with a gentle five-minute warm-up. This can include quick walking, marching on the spot, knee lifts, side stepping and climbing stairs. To cool down, walk for a few minutes and do some stretches – focus on quads, hamstrings and calf muscles and hold the stretch for around 30 seconds.
Try this post-run stretch routine.
Set yourself a goal
Everyone struggles with motivation and finds running hard sometimes, even the pros. Don’t give up after your first, second, or even third run: they are the hardest runs you’ll ever do.
Try using an app like Nike+ Run Club to help you run better and reach your goals.
Keep a record of your runs
Note down the route, distance, time, weather and how you felt. Then, when your motivation flags, you can look back and be encouraged by how much you’ve improved. Do keep your running interesting by varying your routes too.
Make it social
Training with a friend can boost your motivation and progress. Just find someone with the same fitness level and goals as you. Or you could find a running partner on fetcheveryone, realbuzz or JoggingBuddy.
Think about joining a running club as this could help you commit to running regularly. Find a club near you using RunTogether. The Runners World site also has a useful beginners’ forum.
Professional advice and treatment for runners at The Forge Clinic
Our Sports Clinic and therapists offer a wide range of services from manual therapy and injury prevention to improving running technique and performance. Please get in touch if you would like more information. Just call us on 020 8332 6184 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.