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Beginners' running guide

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Woman running/jogging

If the sunny weather has inspired you to get your trainers on and go for a jog, then you've come to the right place. We might not make a marathon runner out of you, but we'll certainly get you started on the road to regular exercise.

And the best thing about running is that anyone can do it. Even if you get out of breath speed-walking for the bus, our introductory guide will ease you in really gently. You'll see and feel the benefits of jogging within a few weeks and we promise if you stick with it through the tough bit at the beginning, you'll be hooked in no time.

The beauty of running is that it's free, you can step out of your house and start exercising immediately and once you've found your pace, you can go with family or friends and gossip as you jog!

Bones
Running regularly can help strengthen bones. Sitting in an office all
day weakens our bones, but the resistance they have to endure while we
jog helps make them stronger.

Heart
30 mins of cardiovascular exercise a day strengthens the heart which will help you live longer, sleep more soundly and handle stress better.

Weight
Running can burn up to 100 calories per mile and is great for overall weight loss and toning.

Your soul!
Running outside in the sun (hopefully) will get you loads of fresh air and vitamin D, which is good for your skin and health. Even if it's cloudy or raining, being outside will make you feel great, especially if you have somewhere like a park or a beach nearby as you can enjoy nature as you jog.

 

As a beginner you don't need to buy any fancy Gortex shorts or vests, just wear something light and comfortable.

It is worth investing in a decent pair of running shoes, though. Loads
of sports shops can help you choose the right pair by watching the way
you run. Some of us have flat feet, others high arches. The correct
shoes will help you run comfortably.

Go to a proper sports shop (not just somewhere that sells football
shirts and fashion trainers) and talk to the staff about the surfaces
you want to run on as well.

Pictured: Reebok- Premier Trinity KFS IV, rrp £70

 

Sports teachers at school were always going on about the
importance of stretching properly, and we're afraid to say, they were
right.


It's tempting not to bother, especially if you find it hard to motivate
yourself to do exercise, as you want to just go as soon as the mood
takes you. But, warming up and more importantly, down, is essential in
preventing injuries and to reduce stiffness the next day.

Three simple rules to stretching

  • Don't bounce
  • Stretch gently
  • Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds

Every time you go for a run, you should do at least these three stretches before and after.

Groin stretch

Sit down and bring the bottoms of your feet together. Put your elbows on
the inside of your knees and gently lean forward, pushing your knees to
the ground.

Calves

Lean against a tree with one leg extended out behind you. Push your back
heel to the ground and stretch out the back of your leg. Swap and do
the other side.

Thighs

Standing on one leg, leaning against a tree if you need to, hold the
other leg up behind you, pushing your foot into your bottom, stretching
out your thigh muscle. Swap and do the other leg.

Your head is pretty heavy, so running with it hanging down is
going to put unnecessary strain on your neck and your spine. Try to run
with a fairly upright posture.

Your arms are an incredibly important part of your running technique. They help your body propel forward and give you balance.

Find a stride that feels comfortable for your legs. It's really worth experimenting with this while you're out running, as changing your
stride as you jog can make your legs feel like they're being given a
bit of a rest every now and then.

Preparation before you start the one-month running plan

Start by walking every day. Just 15 minutes at a time to begin with is
fine. Once you can walk easily for 30 mins, add 1-2 intervals of light
jogging into the session. As time goes on, add extra intervals, and make
them last longer.

If you're nervous of starting to jog outside, a treadmill in your local
gym can offer an easier starting point. This is because you won't get
thrown about by the wind and the running band that pulls the ground from
under your feet is usually padded, lessening the impact on your joints.


It's normal to feel some discomfort at first, especially as you add
distance and increase intensity. However, if you experience pain that
causes you to run with a limp or worse, you should stop running
immediately as you might have injured yourself. Rest for a few days to
give yourself time to recover. If the pain persists, consult your GP.

WEEK 1 Run for 15 mins, 3 times a week. Give yourself a rest day in between runs.
WEEK 2 Run for 20 mins, 3 times a week. For the first run,
include two, 1-min walking breaks. For the second run, include one,
2-min walking break. For the last run of the week, try to run with no
breaks. Give yourself a rest day in between runs.
WEEK 3 Increase the time to 20 - 30 mins, 3 times a week. Try to
reduce walking breaks, but if necessary, allow yourself just one.
Challenge yourself and stay positive. Mental discipline plays an
important part in helping you stay focused. Give yourself a rest day in
between runs.
WEEK 4 Now you can run 30 mins straight with no walking breaks! Try this twice a week to begin with, or 3 times if you feel able.

Remember: You should be able to hold a conversation while you
run. Listen to your body and respect its boundaries. Everyone is
different. Don't be afraid to repeat a week if you're not ready to move
on.

Tamaya Ahmad
Reebok Master Trainer - UK

There are loads of Race For Life events across the country every year. They're 5K and 10K races that raise money for Cancer Research.

If you fancy signing up, find out how to train sensibly.

If you've really got into running, you may even want to try and take on a half marathon. Fitness guru Nell McAndrew's given us all the training advice and tips you'll need!

Where to next?

Continued below...


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