Your footwear is by far the most important thing to think about for running. To start running any distance; you need a comfortable, well-fitting, not-too-old pair of trainers. And if you enjoy running and want to continue; you need to think about buying a new pair of good quality running footwear that is right for you. Unlike all-round trainers, running shoes are designed to allow your foot to strike the ground properly, reducing the amount of shock that travels up your leg. A reputable specialist running shop will be able to advise you after reviewing your running style.
It is also important that you don’t run in worn out shoes. Most running shoes usually last between 400 to 500 miles before the cushioning inside no longer performs efficiently, although from the outside they may look fine. You shoes life expectancy varies depending on the type of shoe, your weight, your foot-strike pattern, and the surfaces you run on. Don’t wait until your only pair is worn out.
For some, the first question to ask is…”What shall I wear?” Well, the clothes are not too important when you are starting out. You don’t need the latest branded Lycra, you just need comfortable clothing, such as t-shirt and joggers. You will get hot, so easy-to-peel and tie around your waist tops are good. And for safety a reflective top is a good idea, but not essential to start off but come the winter months, it’s something you ought to be thinking about.
Women often choose Lycra shorts or tights; and non-cotton clothes help you stay drier. Women should buy a high-support sports bra (the more comfortable you are, the more you’ll run!). This one comes down to a personal choice as to which one suits you the best.
Don’t overdress in cold weather. If you pile on the clothes whenever it is chilly you will feel nice and warm in the first part of the run but then you will get too hot which will make the remainder of the run feel as if you are running in a sauna. Wear enough to keep yourself from freezing because within a mile you will soon warm up.
If you would normally wear sunglasses on a hot sunny day, wear them when you run as it’s just as important to protect your eyes when you’re running.
do i need a special diet?
It is important to have a good and well balanced diet. Training for long distance runs can take a lot out of your body and it is therefore important that you replenish you body’s reserves. The fuel for runners is carbohydrates which are found in pasta, potatoes, and bread to name but a few.
A good source of energy most runners have before a morning run for example is porridge. This provides you with slow release carbs, aids digestion and is gentle on the stomach.
The rule is to only eat something you’ve eaten before a training run. Never try anything new, as you may regret it and end up feeling unwell. Stick with what you are used to.
Another important tip is you should wait for about two hours after a meal before running, as this will allow for the food to empty from the stomach, especially if it’s high in carbohydrate. If you don’t wait long enough, you run the risk of cramps, bloating and even vomiting.
Side stitches are common among beginners because the abdomen is not used to the jostling that running causes. Most runners find that stitches go away as fitness increases. Also, don’t eat any solid foods in the hour before you run. When you get a stitch, breathe deeply, concentrating on pushing all of the air out of your abdomen. This will stretch out your diaphragm muscle (just below your lungs), which is usually where a cramp occurs.
Probably the most important thing is to drink lots, and we don’t mean the alcoholic type. In normal conditions you can lose about 2 litres a day through the body’s processes. So get in to the habit of drinking plenty of fluids, not just while you are running but all the time. Your body needs time to absorb and store the water that you need when running. Waiting to drink until you feel thirsty or until you start exercise is too late.
On all your long runs, carry a water bottle, or plan your route through areas where you can find water.
build steadily – the 10% rule
To become a better runner you will have to increase the amount of time or mileage you do. To push hard too soon will only lead to injuries and exhaustion: this will not help help you improve. It is recommended by many to not increase your overall weekly mileage by more than 10 per cent (or 2 – 3 miles). This 10% rule applies to experienced runners too.
Warm up and cool down
Running and exercise stretches your muscles and to stretch a muscle that is unprepared (cold) could cause an injury. It is therefore essential to perform a light aerobic warm-up prior to a run. After completing your run, be sure to cool down with a light jog/walk for another five minutes. At this point you should stretch to prevent excessive soreness from occurring. Also remember to drink lot of water to cleanse lactic acid out of your muscles.
After warming up or cooling down is a good time to stretch your muscles. Having flexible muscles is one of the best ways to stave off an injury. A lack of flexibility is a major contributor to several of the most common running injuries. Stretching also helps to ease those stiffening muscles at the end of a run. Have a look at our Club Training page for particular stretching exercises.
Speed work usually takes the form of sprinting short distances or up hills. This helps to increase your pain threshold, stamina and speed for those longer runs. It is considered a vital part of the training for any long distance runner!
It is never too late to start running
Some decide to take up running later in life as they know the true benefits it brings. I started running last year at the age of 45 after avoiding it all these years and have never looked back. Go to the library and read as much as you can about running. Start slow, train smart and get the right shoes and clothing. Good luck!
Start with a run walk routine when you start off, especially when you are completely untrained as you need to know how your body is going to react initially to this new activity.
It is very easy to get carried away when you begin running as you start to see the benefits almost immediately. So take things gradually, enjoy the running experience and be patient.