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The best tip ever about starting to run

photo of a group of runners taking a walking break

Most new runners try too hard, and end up giving up or getting injured

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One of the few reasons for being outside during lockdown is to exercise. The evidence shows that the number of people exercising is well above what would normally be the case, so it stands to reason that a lot of people are exercising – including jogging or running - for the first time in a while, if not the first time ever.

There’s one tip above all that we would give to new runners – "take it easy". It’s very easy to get a bit over-enthusiastic and carried away with a new activity. But therein lies the danger. If you do too much too soon, you’re liable to pick up an injury. Same with going too fast too soon.

Most new runners try too hard, and end up giving up or getting injured

The biggest danger is getting injured. Even in a training group where your activity is controlled and monitored, some new runners are prone to injury. Normally, this is a condition known as "shin splints", which can be a pain up the front or side of the lower leg. Others get a pain in the sole of their foot (or the heel) – a condition often called "plantar fasciitis". Both of these tend to be caused by the same thing; a weakness in the foot, ankle or lower leg. When you start to use the muscles and tendons, they take time to get used to the new activity. They need time to build up strength. And, if you don’t give them that time to adapt, going too fast or too far will end in tears.

The result is time spent in recovery, and it’s highly likely that you’ll never have the confidence to start again.

So the first rule is TAKE IT EASY!

Warm up before starting

Another major cause of injury is heading out for a jog or run without warming up. It’s essential that you spend just a few minutes getting your muscles ready for work. At the start of your journey to fitness, they’re likely to be pretty tight. That’s mostly down to our sedentary lifestyle – sitting down most of the day means that your muscles & tendons become short.

Imagine bending a piece of dry spaghetti – up to a point, it’ll bend. But then it snaps. Take that same piece of pasta and warm it in some water, and you can turn it into tight little circles.

It’s the same with your muscles and tendons. If you suddenly ask them to stretch too far, they’re going to complain!

You can reduce the risk by doing some simple and gentle warmup exercises before you set out. It’ll take less than 5 minutes, and those minutes will be the best use of time during ANY workout!

Stop for a walk

It might sound like being a wimp, but breaking up your run is a great idea. It’s essential when you’re first starting out … and even some seasoned marathon runner swear by taking a break every so often.

In your first few sessions, you should actually walk more than you jog – one minute jog, 90 seconds to 2 minutes’ walk.

If you do this, your body will find it easier to cope, your breathing will be under control, you’re much less likely to become injured … and you’ll enjoy the experience much more.

As you become more comfortable with the idea of exercise, you can extend the jogging time and take fewer walk breaks. After 6/7 weeks, you should be ready to take your first non-stop jog/run.

Remember the best tip ever about starting to run

It’s pretty simple – just remember to take it easy!

a close up photo of a pair of running shoes

“Take your time to build up gradually”