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Running is without a doubt one of the best cardiovascular exercises for your body. It is a great way to get into shape and the benefits it has on one’s health and well being is undeniable. Not only running reduces the risks of cardiovascular disease, but it also keeps your mind and body lean. The thing about running is, you either love it or you hate it. The idea of carrying your body weight, step by step for 3, 5 or even 10 km can be daunting. However, if done right, one can easily develop a passion for this sport.
I run at least 5 km daily for most of my adult life. I love the effectiveness of running in weight management and maintenance. For me, running can be done anywhere, it releases stress, it is free and burns lots of calories. Here I have put together 11 extremely useful running tips for beginners which will help you smash that goal and those calories!
Invest in the Right Tools
Protect yourself from injury by investing in running items such as good running shoes, proper running bra, the right clothing, and running socks. Nothing puts you off running than blisters, back pain, and sore heels. With running shoes, they need to be stable and doesn’t move around too much when running.
Another helpful tool to have is a heart rate monitor. A heart rate monitor allows you to track how hard you are running so you can continuously make an immediate adjustment to ensure get the greatest benefit from your runs. Running within your target heart rate is essential in achieving maximum impact. Why is this important? Because believe it or not, there is such thing as unhealthy heart rate for running. If you are new to running, going higher than your maximum heart rate for long periods of time could be dangerous for your health. You risk poor rates of recovery after exercise as well as cardiac discomfort (chest pains, etc).
As a beginner, it is best to start your running journey with a target heart rate of 50 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. Follow the table below for a general guide of your heart rate.
I am a bit of a running freak so I do strap on a heart rate monitor either on my chest or my head (yep, like a headband , yes a bit geeky). I swear by the Moov Fitness Tracker. It is one of the better fitness tracker I have tried (and I’ve tried a few). I have moved on from the chest strap heart rate monitor to the Moov Fitness Headband and I am very happy with it.
But if you don’t want to go with either, your regular fitness tracker should do the job. Just make sure it has a heart rate monitor function. If you are looking for one, the best ones are new generation tracker from Fitbit or Polar.
Tip: It is helpful to get your shoes fitted properly by a professional
Looking for running shoe? Check out my review on Nike AirMax Running Shoes
Sure, your final goal might be to ‘Run 5km in under 30 Minutes daily’. But we also need to set small goals along the way towards achieving that final goal. Small goals such as ‘running for 5 minutes non stop today’ or ádding another 500 meters today’ will continue to motivate, until you reach your final destination.
Running can be boring, especially when you are by yourself. Distracting yourself while keeping the focus on your run is important. While running, your mind and body will give you 1001 reasons to give up. The burning sensation, the tiredness, time constraints – so many!. Distracting the ‘making excuses’ part of your mind with things you like, such as music or podcasts, will help shift your focus to one thing and one thing only; complete the run as you first planned.
A lot of people would start their runs confidently, only to stop after a few days due to injury and fatigue. The most common one I hear is ‘I think I ran too fast‘. Why? Who are you trying to impress? Start slow, starting fast at the start will only cause unnecessary injury which will demotivate you. Aim for longevity and moderation. Stay on the pace you are comfortable with until you have enough stamina and confidence to pick up your speed.
Over time, slowly increase your speed. Increase your intensity at a small amount each time. Eg : 2.5 km to 3 km the next day or the next few days, rather than 2.5 km for one day to 10 km over the next
Adequate hydration is essential in maintaining your performance while running and helping you to recover. Pre-hydrate by drinking at least 500 ml up to 1 hour before your run, top it up with sips of fluid during running if its long distance and post hydrate with more fluid.
Improve your Techniques
Follow and remember basic running techniques. Keep yourself checked as you go along as it is so easy to revert back to old posture while running, which can cause injury. A proper running form is not something that can be achieved right away. When a good body position is maintained whilst running, running can be relaxing as we tend to use less energy.
Tip: Give your body a chance to adjust to the techniques.
As a beginner, running around the same track and surface provides you with the consistencies you need to obtain confidence and strength. You are looking to build a foundation to start off with. As you get better, push yourself by adding new challenges, e.g incline, various tracks and new surfaces.
Run at the Right Time
Running early in the morning or right before sunset gets you away from the harsh sun. Sun exposure could dehydrate you faster which results in loss of energy. This means you will not achieve your personal best in these circumstances.
Avoid static stretches prior to running. The best way to get your muscle to warm up is by walking and moving your arms. Keep all the stretches at the end of your run. After a run, 10-minute stretches will assist in preventing injury. I find doing nice long lower half stretches after a run reduces tightness and sores around my quads, glutes, and hamstring. All areas which are prone to soreness.
Track your Progress
Ensure you are on top of your goals by tracking your running progress. There are many apps out there that are great at serving this purpose such as the Nike+ Run Club App. Some app lets you connect with other runners all over the world where you can share your progress with one another. You can also use it to celebrate your milestone and achievements with other like-minded runners!
I use the Moov Fitness Coach app together with my Moov Heart Rate Monitor. The app does an excellent job to guide me with my workout based on my movement and heart rate. After a run, I can review my performance to see which areas of my running to improve.
Rest and Recovery
Resting is a good way to allow recovery on your body to normality. A well rested and restored runners body, prepares itself to bounce back and ready to do the same and more the next day. Steps such as eating well, continuous hydration, regular massages and plenty of quality sleep are the best, sustainable strategies for speedy recovery and performance improvement. Your body will thank you for it.
If you incorporate these tips in your running, as a beginner or even a regular runner, you will find running addictive and enjoyable. You will also see changes in your body and stamina in no time. Good Luck!
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