Running tips for beginners
Find your running motivation
Finding the motivation to run – and keep running – will undoubtedly be one of the most important steps on your running journey. Of course, the simple pleasure of running can become the only motivation you need. As a beginner, you should probably be prepared for a bit of a slog. Hopefully, as your fitness improves, so will your capacity to enjoy the experience.
In the meantime, you’re probably going to struggle through some pain and exhaustion. It will be all too easy to give up before you’ve given your body a chance to adapt to the stresses and strains of running. Try to keep in mind that your first few runs will be among the hardest you will ever experience. Persevere and push through them and you’ll soon find that your body has begun to adapt, and running is becoming more effortless and enjoyable. As a beginner, the knowledge that things will get easier if you stick at it can be a very effective running motivation.
Have a running plan
Finding a running plan that suits you and sticking to it can help to ease your progress by introducing some structure. After all, a good beginner’s running plan will have been designed by experts who know how to navigate those hard early miles without overdoing it and burning out. Well-established running plans for beginners like the NHS’s Couch to 5K plan have been road tested by many thousands of aspiring runners. That way, you know you’re following a tried and tested method that can get you to where you want to be if you stick to it.
Pick your running gear
On the face of it running requires very little kit at all – there are no rackets, bats, or balls to buy – but you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of quality running gear for beginners. You don’t have to spend a fortune but kitting yourself out with some specialist running shoes and clothing will make for a far more comfortable running experience and help you to improve your performance. It’s a struggle to maintain your motivation if your clothes are overly heavy or chaffing and your trainers aren’t designed for running. Getting the right gear is another way to remove obstacles and really begin to enjoy running. Check out our collection of running clothes and running shoes for beginners to explore a selection that’s carefully tailored to meet the specific needs of runners.
How to breathe when running
Getting your breathing right when running can make a big difference to your comfort and capacity to keep going. It’s likely that your breathing pattern will instinctively change as you run in response to your level of exertion. This is natural but it’s also possible that your breathing habits are hindering your performance.
Ultimately, getting enough oxygen into your blood while performing any exercise is vital so it’s worth experimenting with your breathing habits while running to see what works best for you. A lot of runners find that the most natural way to breathe at relatively low levels of exertion is in through the nose and out through the mouth. However, picking up the pace often triggers your body to switch to inhaling and exhaling through the mouth to increase oxygen intake. There is a third way that many runners find to be beneficial - breathing through your nose and mouth at the same time should maximise your oxygen intake and improve your performance.
What to eat before running
The question of what to eat before running has the potential to get very complicated – all sorts of specialist food products and supplements are marketed at runners. To avoid delving too deep, there are some simple principles that are worth keeping in mind.
First and foremost, you want to ensure that your body is fuelled with enough energy to get you through a run. Your muscles require energy, which is pumped through the bloodstream in the form of glucose. When glucose levels begin to deplete your muscles will start to fatigue and your energy levels will fall through the floor. Therefore, before a run, it makes sense to eat foods that will burn quickly in your body to give you energy. Loading up on carbs, which do exactly that, is therefore a good idea.
Bananas are a well-established source of quick burning carbs and have the added benefit of being quick to process, making them a solid pre-run choice. Toast with peanut butter, porridge, yoghurt with honey, or cereal should all help to keep your energy levels up.