How To Start Running for Beginners
So, you’re on a mission to get fit. Any exercise is good but when it comes to losing weight, it’s hard to beat running. It’s one of the most efficient ways to burn calories. But if you're new to running then you may be looking for a few hints and tips on how to begin. The good news is there are ways to maximise your endurance while limiting your risk of injury. Leaving you feeling more confident, healthier and in better shape.
Below are some questions new runners often ask. I hope the answers will give you the confidence to begin running. If you have any questions after reading the post, please add them to the comments below.
Environment – Where Should I Run?
Choose somewhere safe and enjoyable. Map out several scenic routes in which you will feel comfortable at different times of the day and in various weather conditions. Running in areas with reduced traffic is advisable. Always run facing traffic because it's easier to see oncoming cars. Wear bright or reflective clothing in the evenings but run in day light where possible or find areas which are well lit.
TIP: Wear a sports armband or running belt with light reflective material. Listening to music while you run will keep you motivated. If running in areas with traffic, keep the music volume low or use just one earphone so you can hear passing vehicles.
Is it Better to Run on a Treadmill or Run Outside?
This is down to personal preference. The treadmill is essential for those who live in harsh weather environments and can be easier as there is no wind resistance to deal with. They’re also padded so if you’re injury prone it can be a safer option. You can adjust the settings on the treadmill to a slight incline if you wish to increase the intensity, as well as increase or decrease the speed.
Running outside is a lot more interesting than running on a treadmill. Run somewhere scenic, choose different routes and increase the intensity by running on steps or uphill. You will also save money on gym membership fees.
How to Begin
Start walking for an amount of time that feels comfortable. This can be anywhere from 10-30 minutes. Once you reach a stage where you’re walking easily for 30 minutes, add one or two running intervals into your walking. Increase the running intervals as time goes on.
Should I Wear Trainers or Running Shoes?
The good news is you don’t need to spend a fortune on sports accessories or gym membership fees to begin running, especially if you run outside. One thing you do need to invest in, however, is a good pair of running shoes. These differ to trainers, they are designed to reduce the amount of shock that runs up your leg, reducing the risk of running related injuries. And they are designed to fit snug on your feet to prevent slipping and rubbing which creates blisters.
Should I Eat Before I Run?
It's important to nourish yourself properly before engaging in vigorous aerobic activity such as running. However, running directly after you eat can leave you with a bloated, sluggish feeling which will have a negative impact on your performance. An early morning run of 30-60 minutes may not require any additional carbohydrate. For a run longer than an hour but at a relaxed pace, a small breakfast bar or a few slices of toast will suffice. For a long run, wake an hour and a half early or more to prepare a small meal. Consuming a 300-500 calorie breakfast will fuel you for the greater glycogen demand these types of tougher runs require.
How Long Should I Wait to Run After Eating?
How long you should wait to run depends on how much you've eaten and your own digestive system. As a general rule, wait 30 minutes to two hours after a small snack, or two to four hours after a large meal before running. This will allow enough time for your food to digest.
Is it Normal to Feel Pain While Running?
A little discomfort as you increase your intensity and distance to your running is normal. If the pain is severe or causes you to limp then you could be injured. Stop running and rest for a few days. If the problem persists, seek medical advice from your doctor.
Is it Normal to Have a Stitch when I Run?
Stitches are common for beginners because the abdomen is not used to the bumping around that running creates. They can be irritating, as well as painful. Side stitches could be a result of your breathing technique. Read the last step to learn how to breath while running.
Should I Always Feel Out of Breath?
Some amount of heavy breathing or puffing is normal because running causes you to breathe harder than you usually would. This reduces as your fitness levels increase. If your breathlessness seems abnormal or persists, seek advice from your doctor. If you have asthma keep your inhaler at hand.
Should I Concentrate on any Breathing Techniques?
You should breathe in and out primarily through your mouth to feed your muscles the oxygen they need when running. Breathing through the mouth is the most effective way to inhale and exhale oxygen. Avoid “chest breathing” in favour of “belly breathing” (diaphragmatic breathing). Chest breathing is too shallow to bring in maximal oxygen and doesn’t fully expel your lungs when you exhale. You are more likely to experience a side stitch if you breathe through your chest.
Instead, inhaling and exhaling should extend down into your stomach. Your stomach should expand and contract as your diaphragm forces air in and out of your lungs. Your chest should remain mostly still, but you’ll take in more oxygen with every breath.
Has this post given you the confidence to begin running?
If you have anymore suggestions for beginner runners I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Why not also download our free travel fitness guide? It includes 133 exercises you can do anywhere, nutrition, HIIT vs Circuit, abs, yoga, cardio, muscle strengething and more!