Things You Should Know Before You Start Running

They say it's pretty easy to learn from your mistakes - what if you could avoid making mistakes by learning from others who have already made those mistakes?

Running isn't for everyone, but it's very easy to put one foot in front of the other at a rate quicker than walking pace! However it can become a lot more complicated - Do I need special shoes? A coach? How do I build endurance and or speed? How do I prevent injury?

The good thing is that the running community is willing to share the collective knowledge it has accumulated over the years with newbies. Here are some of those bits of knowledge.

  • Take it seriously - but not too seriously - Don't expect results to come quickly as this will put stress on yourself. Learn to enjoy running.
  • Get some gear - yes having the correct footwear and clothing will make a big difference to how you run and feel.
  • Start now - don't put it off because it's too difficult now or you're not ready. Regret and hind sight will plague you.
  • Don't force it - take it easy and stay relaxed. Running should feel natural and not forced, so slow and steady is good and that way you won't force it to happen.
  • Find (and follow) a good training program - if you are unsure what you should be doing check the web as there are plenty of good running programs for all levels of runners and distances.
  • Enjoy the process - understand the purpose of your training session, respect it, work at it but more importantly enjoy it.
  • Start slowly - don't rush in with gusto and expect results to happen immediately. Small steps will go a long way.
  • Run for time instead of distance - in your early running days distance can be the enemy. It can be mentally and physically tough, so start by running for time as this will make your runs less stressful mentally and physically.
  • Not every run has to be fast - trying to run fast all the time will not just burn you out but open you up for injury. So run at a pace that allows you to breathe comfortably and able to converse.
  • Be consistent - they say practice makes perfect, so make your running consistent and stay committed to your program.
  • Don't play the comparison game - if you compare your times or distance to anyone it will play with your head and undo all your hard work. Compare yourself to yourself, and if you are coming back from an injury or illness don't compare what you once did - get your fitness back first and go from there.
  • Strength train - it's easy to become addicted to running. I certainly did! It took me years and an injury to realise the importance of strength training for running and that it's ok to factor in other activities - pilates, yoga, cycling etc.
  • Sign up for a race - having a race goal to aim for helps keep your motivation up, even if its only a fun run. Much better than having a vague goal of running.
  • Prioritise nutrition and hydration - if you get into long runs or train in a warm climate, hydration is very important and drinking an electrolyte fluid is key to replenishing your glycogen levels and aiding recovery. Food too is important as your stamina will suffer without the right amount of fuel in your body.
  • Never give up - if things get too hard and you feel it's a struggle to do your run, don't give up. Usually when this happens it's your body telling you something is wrong and it needs a rest to recover, or it's in need of nutrition and or hydration. Listen to your body - it's very smart.

Happy running.

Martin McKone