Running tips: I haven’t run before, so how can I start?

Are you thinking of running but you don’t know where to start? Are you worried about injuring yourself? Here are 3 tips to help you prepare for your first run:

1. Avoid doing too much too soon

Running, like any other skill, needs practice and time to develop. Once you work into your running program, your body will begin to adapt, and you will find you’re able to run further and/or longer. But how much do you start with? Unfortunately there is no one single answer. This will vary from person to person and depends on many factors, such as your age, medical history, and exercise background.

Particularly if you’re a beginner, aim to start small, even as little as 10 minutes, and gradually increase your distance or session duration. If this is too much, remember you can also break up these minutes into intervals – for example, running for 1 minute and walking/jogging for 2 minutes.

Always remember to listen to your body and monitor its response to your new program. After cooling down from your run, do you find you’re still so breathless you can’t string together a sentence? Are you getting intolerable levels of soreness the day after? Are you experiencing significant pain? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, your body is likely not tolerating the level of running and your program may need to be adjusted. Some soreness after the run will obviously be expected especially if the activity is new to you.

2. Allow your body to rest and recover

When we exercise or run, we need to find an intensity or level that is challenging in order to drive physiological changes in our body. Therefore, your run should be somewhat difficult but manageable. If you’re running for 10 minutes and find that you can easily run another 10 minutes, your level of running may not be challenging enough.

Once you find the right challenge, it is normal to feel mildly out of breath straight after your run, and likely you will feel sore muscles in the next day or two afterwards, particularly if it’s your first time. Therefore, it is important to give your body 1-2 days to rest and recover before running again. Avoid running on consecutive days. Instead, you can try different forms of exercise at a lower intensity, such as cycling, swimming, strength training, walking or pilates. Light-to-moderate intensity exercise in between the running days has been shown to help with recovery. 

3. Stay motivated

Running needs to be consistent in order for your body to strengthen and adapt. Therefore, it is important for you to find something that will encourage you to go for the next session. This could be setting running goals, such as the distance or duration you’re running for, or the number of steps you do. It could be finding a running coach, partner or club/group to enjoy your session with. It could also be finding a location with good scenery to keep it interesting. Outdoor running in nature can make you feel focused, energised, resilient and relaxed.

To summarise, find a level of running that your body can tolerate, give yourself 1-2 rest days to recover, and ensure your running sessions are consistent so that you can gradually improve.

Who can help me set a running plan?

Still need some help getting started or improving your running? Come visit our exercise physiologists. They will be able to assess your current exercise capacity, provide advice and help develop a running plan with you that is suited to your needs and goals. We’re more than happy to help you so book with us today!

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