The thought of starting out running can be quite intimidating. However, I’ve worked with countless beginners and charity-inspired runners, and rest assured, you will be amazed and thrilled at what you can go on to achieve.
Before you start…
To be on the safe side, pay your GP a visit and outline your plans. You don’t need to invest in much gear, but a good pair of running shoes is a must! Unlike all-round trainers, they are designed to reduce the amount of shock that travels up your leg. ASICS specialise in running shoes, visit their website to find the pair for you.
If you want to invest in professional sports gear, running leggings are great and provide heat and moisture control to keep you cool and dry. Adidas have a range of running gear, including these Response 3-Stripes Long Tights.
Your first session
Don’t push yourself too hard! Ease yourself in gently; jog for 20-50 yards then stop to take a recovery walk. Build up your regime patiently and set yourself realistic targets – even as basic as 5-10 minutes for the first few weeks.
Be sure to run in well-lit areas like parks and coastal paths. It might help to find a running buddy so you can encourage each other. Why not see if anybody in your LighterLife group fancies running with you?
Can I run if I’m still overweight?
Yes. If you’re overweight and haven’t done any exercise in a while, you can still have a go at running. To help get you started, download a NHS ‘Couch to 5k’ running plan and podcast – click here to download.
Your running technique
Avoid straining. Keep your body straight and relaxed, and try not to bend forward too much. The first few steps are always the hardest. Don’t be surprised if you become a little breathless – even Olympic champions are when they start! Stretching Runners have long believed that stretching will help obtain a smoother stride and avoid injury. In recent years, research has failed to prove either point. However, stretching after your run is important and will help avoid muscle ache.
Breathing through your mouth while running allows more oxygen to get to your working muscles. That out-of-breath feeling eases as you become fitter. However, if it doesn’t seem to ease up over time, consult your GP. If you get a stitch, breathe deeply, focusing on pushing air out of your stomach. This will stretch out your diaphragm muscle – below your lungs – which is usually where a cramp occurs.
To help you along…
Music can be a great motivator. The Apple iPod nano (£129) is ideal to take running as it’s light and can be strapped to your arm.
Bud Baldaro is one of the country’s top middle and long distance running coaches, with more than 20 years’ experience in coaching athletes at all levels.