There are so many great reasons to become a runner: it’s one of the best ways to get fit and healthy, it makes you feel like an epic champion, you can be more smug in general, you need to eat more, it’s totally free, you can do it anywhere, it reduces stress, it can be social or solitary and again you need to eat more. The list goes on. But the first steps are not always easy and getting started can be overwhelming. If you’re struggling to make the transition from thinking about running to actually doing it, we are here to help.
Charlie Watson is fitness blogger and running enthusiast. She has clocked up a number of marathons over the years, alongside countless other races and can be found running or doing some other form of badass exercise around London Town. We asked her to share her best advice on how to get started.
Start small. You don’t need to run a marathon to be a runner, set yourself a small, realistic target such as running for two minutes then walking for one minute, running to the end of your street or doing one lap of your local park. You’ll be surprised how quickly you will build your endurance and confidence.
Go slow. Lots of people make the mistake of setting off too fast and tiring quickly. Start slowly and you can always pick up the pace throughout your run.
Sign up to a race. It might sound scary but having an end goal to work towards can be great to keep you motivated on dark mornings. Choose a race that’s 8-12 weeks away and start training. Whether it’s your first 5K, a 10K or half marathon, setting a challenge is a fun way to track your progress too. Free weekly parkruns in your local area are also a brilliant place to start.
Find a training plan. It can be scary starting to run, but there are lots of plans out there, like Couch to 5K that will take you from zero to 3 miles. Starting with only 1 min running intervals is doable for everyone.
Have your gait tested to make sure you’re wearing the right shoes for your run style. You might over-pronate and need a stability shoe; for those that land heavily or heel strike, a cushioned shoe could help protect your feet/knees/hips.
Take your run outside. If you’re used to trudging through 10 minute treadmill workouts at the gym and hate it, try switching to an outdoor run and you might just find that the miles fly by. The mixed terrain, interesting scenery and fresh air add an injection of energy.
You don’t have to just run. Crosstraining, fitness classes, and stretching will improve your running too.
Join a beginner’s running group. Being part of a community of people in the same place of you can help encourage you to keep up with your training, ask each other questions and to chat with as you run. But don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other runners - focus on your run.
All the gear, no idea? When you start a new hobby it’s exciting to go out and buy all the new kit, but really all you need is a decent pair of trainers and a well fitting sports bra. The rest is up to you, with so many high street shops making their own fitness ranges, it’s possible to deck yourself out without spending a fortune.
Enjoy it. Download your favourite podcast, make a new playlist or just zone out on your run. It’s a hobby, great form of exercise and brilliant way to de-stress. There will be days you don’t want to run, that’s OK - you don’t have to. (Although I promise you never regret a run,. Unless it’s pouring with rain.)
For more from Charlie, check out her blog The Runner Beans.