If you’ve been thinking about taking up running, now’s the perfect time get out there and do it.
Running is a fantastic sport – it’s free, has loads of health benefits and you can get going straight away.
Working out in sweaty gyms isn’t for everyone. The open road and crisp, fresh air can be far more appealing to many people.
If you want to shed a few pounds before your summer holiday, are looking to improve your general health, reduce your risk of serious illnesses, or you just want to pick up a new hobby – running ticks all the boxes, and then some!
You might be wondering how to get started? What equipment do you really need? How often should you run? There’s a lot of information and running jargon out there and it can be quite confusing.
So, if you’re ready to start pounding the pavements and sculpting a new and improved you, keep reading – this is our ‘Non-Runners Guide to Get into Running’.
Benefits of running
- Reduces anxiety and depression.
- Helps to relieve stress.
- Reduces risk of chronic illnesses
- Keep you in shape
- Strengthens your bones
- Increases energy levels
- Adds years to your life
- Increases joint strength and stability
- Improves confidence
Choose the right shoes
You need to pick the right pair of running shoes, otherwise you risk picking up all sorts of nasty injuries.
Spend accordingly. If you’re going to be pounding the pavements two or three times a week, then it’s worth investing in a good brand that will stand the test of time. A good pair of shoes will usually last between 300 – 500 miles of running before you need to buy new ones, so it’s worth the extra money.
Make sure you choose the right fit, don’t just go for the best-looking ones.
Go to a local sports store where they will do a ‘Gait Test’ to see what shoe type you need. They analyse your running form you on a treadmill to see how your feet land when you run. They can then recommend the type of shoe that will suit you best.
Before you buy your new shoes, don’t forget to check for deals online. As a member of Health Service Discounts, you can get a 10% NHS Discount at Under Armour, who do some fantastic and very popular running shoes.
‘All the gear, no idea!’
You don’t need to buy the most expensive clothes and gadgets to kick off your running journey. And you don’t want to be THAT person who looks like a sports shop has thrown up all over them!
Here’s the basics:
- Shorts or Tights – not ridiculously short shorts and don’t wear them on top of tights, you will look silly. One or the other.
- T-shirt – choose a polyester t-shirt or a performance top to wick away sweat. Cotton retains the moisture and sits heavy when it’s wet.
- Running socks – choose a few decent pairs of running socks which will support your foot and allow them to breath.
- Phone carrying case or belt – get one that you can strap to your arm or a belt that goes around your waist.
That’s it. Seriously.
Protein and supplements
A common misconception is that taking supplements and eating more protein will turn you into the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, but that’s certainly not the case.
Your muscles need protein to rebuild and become stronger, reducing the risk of injury. You also need to keep your energy levels up so you’re not walking into work every morning like a zombie.
It’s important to eat the right foods to fuel the increased workload that you’re putting your body through. This means getting the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats into your body every day.
Getting this right can be pretty difficult, especially if you don’t know a great deal about nutrition and diet.
Adding supplements into your diet is a great way to increase your daily intake of all the vital nutrients that you need. It’s very easy to get carried away buying supplements and you end up with a shelf full of powders, tablets and gels that you will never use. Go for a high-quality whey protein or a blended mix which has carbohydrates in it too. These shakes are a quick and effective way to refuel your muscles after a workout.
As one of our members, you can make some great savings on supplements with these deals:
- MyProtein – 15% NHS discount
- PHD Supplements – up to 60% off + extra 20% NHS discount
- The Protein Works – 15% NHS discount
Hitting the road
No more excuses, it’s time to get out there and do the business.
If you schedule your runs into your calendar it will help you stick to your plan. Eventually it will become part of your routine, rather than a chore.
Ease yourself into it, don’t push it too far, too soon. You don’t pick up any unnecessary injuries, or get sick of running before you’ve really got going.
Warm up before your run with some jogging on the spot and some dynamic stretching.
Start your run slow and build up the pace as your muscles warm up. This will also prevent any lactic acid building up in your muscles early on, making you feel like your legs are going to fall off.
After your run, make sure you do a short cool down and stretch-off.
Most importantly, listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel right then stop and rest for a few days.
Useful Running Apps
If you’re a beginner, a training app like Couch to 5K is a great place to start. This is perfect for building up your stamina and get you used to running. You begin by alternating running and walking. As you progress you cut down your walking time and gradually increase your running time. Before you know it, a 5k run will be a walk in the park.
Alternatively, you can keep track of your progress using an app like Nike+ Running, Strava, Endomondo, or Runkeeper. These running apps track your run by GPS, showing you the distance, time, pace and calories from your runs. These are a great way to keep motivated.
The most important thing about running is to have fun. It can be hard at times to stay motivated, especially if it’s blowing a hooley outside.
Enjoy your running, push yourself, find a friend to run with if you need to, or join a running class – whatever you do, have fun with it!
Do you have any tips and advice for someone who wants to take up running? Let us know in the comments.
Andy is our Social Media & Community Coordinator, bringing you helpful tips, useful information and NHS news.
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