Beginner Running Tips

Beginner runner

Beginner running tips to help you get started. Every single runner started out as a beginner so if you are feeling a bit stressed on how to start and how to stay motivated, read on to hear what tips real runners have to offer.

Top 10 Beginner Running Tips

1. Have a goal

I took up running to escape the business of city life. I was feeling closed in and really needed some fresh air and head space. Having a goal gave me a focus to continue when I sometimes felt like giving up. - Nicola, Hanoi.

Having a goal and working towards it can be really motivating. Whatever you goal is, whether it is to increase fitness, weight loss, preparing for a race, to meet people and so on, bear it in mind when you feel like giving up.

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2. Invest in proper running shoes

When I started running, I wore what I found in my wardrobe. In other words an old pair of cheap, everyday trainers. I quickly learned after getting terrible blisters and heel pain, that you do need trainers slightly larger than your everyday shoes and that trainers don't last forever. - Ellie, UK

You don't need to spend a fortune on running shoes but you do need shoes that can support and protect your feet as otherwise you may well get injuries. Here's a guide to choosing running shoes.

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3. Start slowly - Training is not a race

When I first started running, my aim was to get from A to B as quickly as possible and to get faster each time. It made me feel like a 'real' runner. It worked a treat for the first few weeks but then I couldn't keep it up and I felt like a failure. I've come to learn that training is not all about speed and that you have to build a strong base first. - Marie, MA

Many runners gauge their success on how quickly they can run in training. This is not the right way to go about it. It is vitally important to build a strong aerobic base first in order to strengthen you joints, ligaments, heart and lungs. Only then should you start introducing small amounts of speed work. MAF training is the perfect way to increase your aerobic base.

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4. Don't worry what anyone else thinks

When I first started running, I always tried to go where I wouldn't meet anyone that I knew. I was really slow and a bit overweight and I felt like I wasn't a real runner until I reached a certain speed. When I finally got the courage to run with others, I realised that in fact there are runners of all abilities and I enjoyed being able to run with others who were going at the same pace as me. - Caroline, Woking

Feeling inadequate or embarrassed is a big worry for many new runners. Please don't let this be an issue as you will see that there are ALL types of runners out there. Here's some advice if you are worried about being a slow runner.

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5. Eat and drink properly

I took up running to lose weight. Guess what, I put on weight!! I'd come home from a run and think that I deserved to eat anything that I liked. I started eating all sorts of quick food reward snacks and thinking I could drink more beer. These were full of sugar and so in the end I was actually eating more calories than I had used up running. - Jon, London

Yes you use up calories running but you need to fuel your body with healthy foods that allow your muscles to refuel and repair. If you start piling in the junk food, you are doing neither but instead ingesting useless calories that just contribute to weight gain. Here are some nutrition tips to set you on the right path.

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6. Training = Running and REST

I never thought about the importance of rest days. To me the important days were the days that I ran. This meant that I sometimes ran every day. It took its toll and I got a knee injury which meant that I couldn't run for a month. - Alex, Cornwall

Many new runners think that they only gain fitness from the days that they run. That is just part of the fitness equation. You actually also need rest days in order for your body to adapt to the run training that you do. A rest day allows your muscles, joints and ligaments to repair from any damage and to absorb the benefits of your training. If you don't take adequate rest then you are more likely to get injured and each workout will become harder and harder.

 Fitness = Training + Rest/Recovery 

7. Don't Ignore Pain

It took me an IT band injury, and Achilles injury and a hip flexor injury, to learn that I shouldn't ignore pain. Each time I thought that I could just 'run it off' and each time, I ended up taking several weeks off running because I ignored the warning signs. - Lisa, US

Pain is your bodies way of making you take note that something is not right. Maybe you are over doing it, maybe you need to adjust your running posture or maybe your running shoes are not right for you. Whatever the reason, don't ignore pain and try and see what the cause might be. It might mean that you simply need to take an extra days rest or maybe you have the beginning of a running injury. Nip it in the bud early and you'll less likely have to take a big chunk of time off running.

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8. Don't just Run

I started running about 5 years ago and for the first 2 years my only exercise was running. I got faster and fitter and life was good. But then bam, everything stalled. I  started getting injuries,  my race times declined  and I realised in photos,that I was all scrunched up and looked nothing like I imagined that I looked. I was advised to do strength training and it seems to have really helped. - Bill, SL

You may think that when we run, all we need are strong leg muscles. In fact you need to have a strong core (think of your abdomen and lower back) and hip abductor muscles too. When we run, we should be using our core as the central pivot to support our legs and our upper body. This helps to take the strain off your knees, helps prevent injuries and helps you maintain a better body posture.  If you strengthen your core and hips, you can say bye bye to those shocking race photos!

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9. Weak bladder

I have a problem with a weak bladder (thank you kids!). I love to run but for a long time I was too worried to join my local club as what if I needed a pee or what if I had an accident? Eventually a good friend persuaded me to go to my doctor. My practice nurse has given me some pelvic floor exercises to do which has made a huge difference and now I can join in on club runs. If you are like me, go and get advice as it is way more common than you think. - Claire, Kingston

Bladder weakness amongst women, especially after childbirth, is a very common problem. In fact nearly 50% of female runners have some form of urinary incontinence. The trouble is, people are too embarrassed to talk about it and so don't go and get any help. However there is help out there which can make a huge difference. 

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10. Don't become a running nerd

I was so excited to take up running that I thought everyone else would be excited for me too. They were to some extent but then they quickly got bored of me going on and on about 'me talking about me' and my running routes, running gadgets, pace, trainers and so on. Basically I was boring them to tears. I now try to only talk about running to other runners. - Raph, 

It is very easy to get absorbed and excited when you have a new hobby and there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes though you just need to remember that not everyone is as excited as you and not to let running talk dominate who you are.

Your Running Tips

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