I Already Know How To Run… Why Do I Need To Learn How?
In the area around Aflete HQ it feels as though you can’t walk two feet without being overtaken by a runner. A focused frown, a slick sheen of sweat, that hearty red face, fists pumping and headphones firmly attached to their ears they always seem in their own little world, running away the stresses of the day. Wouldn’t you like to be one of them? There are hundreds of benefits to running, including increased cardiovascular health, healthy weight loss, reducing cancer risks and general better mental health. No wonder so many people do it!
It can be daunting deciding to begin running and sometimes difficult to find motivation for something you aren’t confident about so here are a few tips to get started.
1. Enter a 5k Run
Ever heard of throwing yourself in at the deep end? The best way to get some motivation is by giving yourself an end goal to work towards. Signing yourself (and some friends) up to do a 5k run is an excellent sure fire way to get you running, whether that’s because you don’t want to be the only one walking past the finish line, completely out of breath, or because you want to run for charity and get others to sponsor you. Running for charity is even better because it gives you that extra reason to want to do well – and often a free t-shirt!
2. Run with a Club
If you are really nervous and have no idea about pacing yourself or stretching then a running club is perfect. London does a few free run clubs so check your area and see if there is a local one close by. It is a great way to meet others in your community and make some like-minded friends – ones that can enter into the same fun runs with you! If you want some more professional running clubs then look towards central London. Nike in Oxford Circus and Asics on Oxford Street both do free running clubs run by professional coaches for a range of abilities so you can feel confident you are getting the best advice on your form.
3. Use the C25k App
Change4Life have released an app named ‘couch to 5k’. The name is self-explanatory and the reviews on the app store are enough to convince the biggest couch potato they need to download it. The app uses a helpful system of slowly introducing longer runs. So you begin with alternating between walking and running and end with running up to and beyond 5k in one go. The friendly female voices guides you through the whole process so you barely have to think about it – the easiest app on the market and clearly already helping thousands.
4. Run with a Friend (or a Dog)
Running alone can be a peaceful experience that leaves you feeling calm and refreshed. However, for the more sociable amongst us it might be lonely and slightly boring. So we advise those people to find a friend who also wants to get fitter and run with them. Simple. The best pace to run at is one that still allows slightly breathless conversation so you can chat away knowing you aren’t running too fast. All your friends are lazy Netflix addicts? Get a dog and wake up early for a run with the most enthusiastic running companion. Once you taste the benefits of a crisp early morning run you can’t go back.
5. Walk Instead
Ok, it sounds like a bit of a backwards way of getting into running, but walking is just as effective, if not more so, at improving your heart health and fitness levels. Easy on the joints, walking can be a good way for beginners to get themselves off the sofa initially. We aren’t talking about ambling along with your hands in your pockets, kicking stones as you go, we mean serious fast walking, fast enough to get your heart racing and arms pumping. Once you feel comfortable with a fast paced walk then do some interval jogging and see how it goes. If you prefer walking longer distances to running short ones then that’s fine, keep going and enjoy what you do!
6. Stop Running
I mean stop running every day of course. When you start something new the temptation is there to ignore the good advice and just do as much of it as possible. But resist! You will gain nothing from trying to rush the results except injuries. Becoming fitter is a slow process so embrace it. Take days off and allow your body to recover whilst focusing on stretching and relaxing. Common injuries from initially overdoing it on a run include shin splints, runners knee, pulling muscles and blisters – ouch! So take days off between runs and watch your body improve slowly, but surely.
7. Find the Perfect Route
There is nothing worse whilst on a run than finding yourself along a main road, constantly stopping to cross roads with your heart rate dropping each time you are forced to pause and dodge between people. Take the time to do your research and find a route that suits you. Parks work well and other runners will surround you, which is great motivation. Another good picturesque option would be rivers and canals, because having something nice to look at makes your run more pleasant. Seafront runs are one the best because they usually provide a long straight way devoid of cars and wide enough to avoid too many people, plus an abundance of fresh air. Find one that suits you and don’t forget to mix it up every so often.
8. Don’t Force it
It is generally undisputed that running is great for your health and mental wellbeing, but that doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Some people simply don’t enjoy running so if that’s you then don’t force yourself into it. There are plenty of ways to get fit and have fun at the same time and you will find yourself improving far more quickly if it doesn’t feel like a chore. So try running, but don’t stress if it isn’t for you. Just keep trialling workouts that interest you and you will find your niche sooner or later.