Learn to run this month

Six fail-safe tips to turn you into a runner, even if your previous ‘experience’ is limited to running for the bus

Running is great for your physical and mental wellbeing, it’s free, and it’s something you can do virtually anywhere. But it can seem very daunting if you’re a novice.

However, if you follow these simple tips you’ll soon be clocking up those miles, and will see that running isn’t just for natural athletes or gym bunnies.

Don’t run too much too soon

This one is crucial. It’s natural to want to try to ‘go for it’ but it’s very important to start slowly and build up, otherwise you risk injury (not to mention putting yourself off completely!).

Alternating between walking and running is a great way to build up your fitness and you can even refer to it as interval training if you want to sound fancy!

Remember not to go too fast as well. You should be able to hold a conversation.

Allow a rest day between runs, as this will give your muscles a chance to recover. And, talking of muscles, know the difference between an ache and a pain. An ache means your muscles are responding to a new challenge and you need a hot bath and some muscle-rub. A pain needs complete rest until you’ve recovered.

Find a plan that works for you

There are lots of plans out there designed to help get beginners up and running. Most well-known is the NHS’s “Couch to 5K”, but just find one that most appeals to you.

Make time for your training

We all lead busy lives and it’s all too easy for an exercise routine to slip. But it’s called a routine for a reason, and it’s important that you try to commit to it as much as possible.

Some people find that putting their running slots in their diary helps. Or what about making it part of your day by running to and from work? Either way, aim to run three times a week.

If your do fall off the running wagon for a bit, don’t beat yourself up. Just pick up your schedule as soon as you can.

Get kitted up

Running is not an expensive sport and you don’t need to be head-to-toe in Lycra. However, you do need a decent pair of running shoes, and it’s worth visiting a specialist running shop and getting them to analyse your gait. They’ll get you to run on a treadmill and look at what your feet are doing. Many people over-pronate, for example, and so need shoes that offer extra support.

The jury is out on whether you need special running socks, but as you start to run bigger distances, you could well find they help you to avoid blisters. One thing all women should invest in is a good-quality running bra.

Make sure you warm up and warm down

Whatever you do, don’t burst out of your front door at full-speed, or collapse on the sofa the second you finish. Your body needs a chance to warm up and warm down.

Whether you do this by walking briskly, stretching, or a combination of the two varies according to what plan you’re following, but the principle of not giving your muscles too much of a shock remains the same.

Make it fun

You’re much more likely to keep running if you enjoy it (same as everything else really).

How about finding a running buddy, for example? Not only will it turn your run into a social event as well as an exercise session, but it’ll provide extra motivation on those days when you don’t want to drag yourself off the sofa (because you don’t want to let someone else down).

Prefer to run alone? How about sorting yourself out with a killer playlist or downloading that podcast you’ve been meaning to listen to?

Set yourself a goal

We all need something to work for, so how about signing yourself up for a 5k run in a couple of months time. Yes, you will be ready!

Mix things up

There’s no rule that says that once you start running, you can’t do any other exercise. In fact, not only is variety the spice of life, but other forms of exercise can enhance your running regime. Pilates is great for core strength, for example, whereas yoga or swimming will help stretch out those tight muscles.

Check out five ways to revamp your fitness regime and how to dance yourself fit with Zumba.

Do you have any running tips to share? Let us know in the comments section below.