Beginner runners top tips in isolation

Beginner runners are beginner runners for a reason. Perhaps this period of ‘lockdown’ has provided the opportunity to run for the very first time or you are returning to activity after a long term ‘sabbatical’ for your daily allowance of exercise. Running is the most popular form of exercise and has been continually growing, year on year, with more participants than ever.

So, with even more beginner runners giving it a go, here are some top tips to help you get started with your government advised, one form of daily exercise… especially now that most of us will have a bit more time on our hands.


Getting started for beginner runners


Motivation

Whether you want to lose weight, get fitter and be healthier or have a specific goal in mind – motivation is key.

For some this easy… but for most this isn’t always the case! There needs to be value in what you’re doing when you’re doing it – a belief that running is good for you. Too often a physical goal is set and never reached. Hence the classic sporadic endeavour into running.

The beginner runners who I see who are truly motivated… and most importantly stay motivated… do so for mental health reasons. Relieving the stresses of daily life, clearing their mind, just getting some quality ‘me time’. It can make such a difference!

In a world where people are under increasing stress – now more than ever – the motivation to stay fit and mentally healthy is now of course accompanied by the clear Government advice to exercise once a day. So initially… just give it a try. You might just get motivated!


Plan & Routine 

We are creatures of habit and for most people, it is the little routines that enable us to function day to day, week by week. Routines are the short term habits that help to maintain momentum when getting going. In these days of social distancing, working from home, being on furlough, home schooling, the list goes on – our routines have been torn apart. Running is an excellent way to re-establish some routine. Try running at the same time each day or on the same days to introduce some routine. Have some regular routes for your run – this can help you see how your running is improving.

Setting out a basic structure will ensure you start to feel and see the huge benefits that running can give when getting started. Also, and most importantly from our view point, it will help to keep you injury-free. As physios we know only too well that the biggest reason for beginner runners getting injured is doing too much, too soon.

Walk-Run programmes are the best way to get you conditioned ready for the regular impact of running as well as the extra demand on the heart and lungs. Couch to 5k and Runners World Beginner Runners Schedules are well trodden (sorry – excuse the pun!) and popular plans to follow.


Effort

Beginner runners often put too much importance on pace or distance. Forget about it for now! The best way to get started is to set a length of time to go out running, and simply see how you feel.

How long?

Classically 20 mins is a good place to start. Be prepared for more walking than running initially. Just like the C25K programme. You can then progress the time or frequency of your runs… but adjust only one of those variables at a time. I would advise sticking to 3 times per week as a beginner runner and steadily increase your time on these days. You should never run on consecutive days either.

How hard?

The initial struggle for beginner runners is getting the heart and lungs used to kick starting quickly, and get into a settled breathing pattern. A good way to help set this is by rating your perceived exertion – a simple, effective way to set your own pace.

When starting out the vast majority of your runs should be an easy to steady pace. You can use a simple ‘talk test’ to gauge this.

  • Easy run – able to talk in full conversation while running
  • Steady run – able to talk for 1-2 sentences at a time while running

Once you’re into a running rhythm the benefits begin to kick in. Your heart and lungs get used to kick starting quickly and settle more effectively allowing you to run more easily. Soon you’ll be feeling fitter and getting fitter!


Form

Form is one of the 3 key elements to keeping beginner runners injury-free. The most common form fault for beginner runners is a slow cadence (the number of steps you take on average in a minute as you run). Keeping a quicker, shorter step is more efficient and prevents certain body parts getting overloaded.

Watch our video on how to check and improve your cadence:


Progression

Once you are up and running, and doing it regularly, the next step is to progress. A common time for beginner runners to get injured is when they take on the challenge of running beyond 5k. In order to help reduce this risk check out our blog on the 6 Golden R’s. Simple, effective ways on how to progress, incorporate rest and recovery days into your plan, as well as conditioning sessions such as our 7 Series strengthening workout for beginner runners.

If at anytime you do experience pain during or after runs here are some helpful pointers on what to look out for and judge whether it’s okay to keep going. Alternatively contact us directly for a virtual consultation.


STAY SAFE AND STAY WELL


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Remember…

Running is Evolving. Keep up with the pace!