The fitness hub

Going On the Run? Ė 12 things you need to know before you begin

By Colin McEndoo of Irish Fitness

1. Consult your GP

As with starting any physical activity this is a recommended step. It sounds boring, and I donít like putting up barriers to exercise, but for certain people it can be important and will put your mind at ease.

2. Warmup Properly

A Dynamic warmup will serve you best here, which simply means taking your joints through a range of motion. Think leg swings compared with a standing stretch. Your aim is to increase your body temperature, heart rate, blood flow and increase your joint mobility before you start.

3. Make a plan and start slowly

If youíve never really run before make a plan and schedule. How many times per week? What route are you going to run etc? Start by adding some small light runs to your walks and increase them slowly. A simple trick is using lamposts as markers. Walk to one lampost and then lightly jog to the next and repeat according to your level. If youíve really no idea where to start though there are plenty of online beginners running plans.

4. Get the right gear

Specific shoes and fit are essential, running is an impact sport and running shoes are specifically designed to cater for this. Itís a worthwhile investment getting assessed and fitted for the right shoe for your body and the terrain. The right clothing can also help wick moisture away from your body. I probably donít have to point this one out, but waterproof or resistant breathable gear is a must here. Thereís no fun running drenched but if youíve got the right gear, a shower or too shouldnít be a problem.

5. Breathe and Relax

Run tall and relaxed with short strides to start. Try to regulate your breathing, this ties in with point 3, your training ought to be challenging but if youíre huffing and puffing you may have taken a step too far too quickly.

6. Listen to your body

Starting any new exercise regime can cause some muscle soreness, this however should diminish as you become accustomed to the movement and training, expect this from your quads and calves in particular. Listen to your body for pain outside of this though, and deal with any injuries should they occur at the time and include some extra rest if necessary.

7. Be safe

Make sure to run in well lit areas and invest in gear that allows you to be seen at night, especially in winter. A lot of running shoes and specific clothing are made with reflective fabrics now, so choosing your favourite colour will be the hardest part. The surfaces you run on and your route are also something to consider.

8. Tighten up on your nutrition

Try to eat more than an hour before you intend to hit the run/walk. If youíre running with the goal of fat loss then your nutrition is going to play a very important role. If you are overweight, then leaning down will help lighten the load on your joints and make your running easier. See our nutrition article here for more information though.

9. Donít get lonely

Consistency with any new exercise (and nutrition) is what ultimately determines your results, so anything that helps improve that will stand to you longer. Finding a partner or running group helps push you, stops you skipping sessions and thereís safety in numbers.

10. Challenge yourself

Nationwide almost every weekend different events are cropping up tailored to different levels. Everything from fun runs to adventure races. Setting the goal of an event feeds into the challenge and helps push you to another level. Start with a small fun run and then build your distance/challenges from there.

11. Be prepared

Within the guidelines above, make your plan failsafe and pre-prepare as much food as you can ahead of time. Tupperware containers and batch cooking are your friends. This means you always have an option to steer you from that microwave meal for lunch!

12. Donít beat yourself up

If you slip up donít worry too much about it. A common mistake is having something like a biscuit, thinking youíve blown everything and then eating the whole rest of the packet. What was a tiny blip has now turned into more of an issue, so take it easy on yourself.