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Comprehensive running guide for beginners

Written by Fiona

January 29 2021

Running is a great way to stay fit and healthy and has both mental and physical benefits. But where do you start? If you’re new to running and keen to get started, this guide will give you an overview of why you should run and what you’ll need in terms of kit.

Benefits of running

For inner peace

Time running, is also time to relax, spend time with friends or to be on your own. It’s great for giving your mind a break from busy lives and stresses.

Running also causes your body to release hormones called endorphins, which give you what is called a “runner’s high”.

To lose weight

If you want to reduce body fat, running is among the easiest ways to do so. You will not only burn calories while exercising, but you are also going to accelerate your metabolism because boosting muscle strength helps to burn even more calories.

Improves your health

Running regularly helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol, strengthen bones and also boosts the cardiovascular and immune systems. 

It also can raise your energy efficiency and, if you run, you are more likely to have a good night’s sleep.

The right running shoes is vital for avoiding injury. Credit: Kristian Egelund

What to wear for running

Regardless of your abilities and distance, the essential items to get started are the right running shoes (it is a good idea to get these fitted by a recommended sports shoe outlet – and if you are female, a high quality sports bra.

The right running shoes

No matter how far you run, it is important to have running shoes that fit well, offer you balance and stability according to your own gait and are also fit for purpose. Even across one brand there are many different types of running shoe, for both road and trail.

A good retailer will offer video technology to analyse the foot’s response to each step to assess the degree of forwarding flexion, the degree to which the foot naturally rolls inward while running, and its position on the ground.

After briefly reviewing your running history, past injuries, and future running goals, it can use the motion analysis results to recommend the most suitable shoes for you.

One other important part of your shoes is the insole. If they are not giving you enough support and stability the insole might be worn out or just of lower quality. With Protalus you can easily find your perfect insole online. 

Running clothing

It is a good idea to wear breathable, quick-drying fabrics for running. The aim is to feel cool when the weather is hot, or warm and dry when the wear is cold.

Look for airflow mesh ventilation clothes and UV protection to shield the body from the sun’s damaging rays.

Avoid cotton because it not only absorbs heat but also absorbs sweat, trapping moisture close to the skin and increasing the risk of chafing.

Get a good pair of technical running socks to keep your feet cool and skin dry.

Running with friends can be good for motivation. Credit: Fitsum Admasu

Running: How to get started

Couch to 5K

So you are all set, but how long will it take? Getting started is the hardest part. Most people prefer to follow a training programme and there are plenty available on-line. A couch to 5k plan is a good one to start with.

Another great idea is to use an app or smartwatch to keep track of your progress. many people find this offers great motivation.

The easiest way to remain focused and concentrate on your preparation is to set targets.

Warm-up first

Traditional static stretching methods stretch cold muscles and increase the risk of injury. Instead, try dynamic stretching to increase the blood flow to muscles. 

These stretching exercises include lunges, squats and high knees, fo example. The aim is to use your natural movement to increase blood flow to active joints and muscles, causing them to warm up.

Let’s run

Running Skills: Simply start to run spontaneously and be sure to maintain good posture so that you can breathe freely:

  • Keep your back straight and relaxed
  • Shoulders down
  • Chest should be pushed up a bit.

Running inside versus outside

Running on a treadmill indoors can have benefits, but it generally depends on personal preference. 

Running on a treadmill provides a more comfortable pacing experience and allows you to control speed and distance easily. If the weather is bad, this is a more popular option. 

Running outdoors allows you to enjoy the fresh air and has the advantage giving your body a better workout because the ground will be less consistent than a treadmill.

Stay hydrated

While running, you need to stay hydrated. Many runners prefer to carry water in a hydration pack. Here is an in-depth review of the best hydration packs for running

Warm up and cool down. Credit: Emma Simpson

After running

Rest and recovery: Leg pain in the hours and days after the race is completely normal but goes away relatively quickly. Adding a stretching and cooling programme after your run is the best way to reduce stiffness and prevent injury. 

Tight muscles are a leading cause of common running injuries such as tibia splints, plantar fasciitis, and ITB syndrome

Stretching these muscles after a run can improve flexibility and your natural range of motion.

Rehydrate

You should restore the fluid you have depleted, even if you do not feel sweaty and dehydrated.

Once you start hydrating, you can start thinking about stretching and eating after running. You want to target 4: 1 carbohydrate to protein snacks, such as peanut butter on toast or a banana milkshake.

Also sports massage can be very beneficial for the muscles and body.

Conclusion

Whether you are starting to run or resume jogging after a long rest, it is important to start easily and grow gradually to avoid injury.

Staying motivated is the biggest challenge for many but once you start to reap the mental and physical benefits the chances are you will continue.

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