13 all-important running tips for beginners

Want to get serious about jogging (for the first time ever)? Well, check out these expert tips to nail your technique...

1. Have the desire

‘One of the most important elements when you start to run is the reason,’ says celebrity trainer Matt Roberts, who has worked with everyone from The Saturdays to Tom Ford. ‘Why are you motivated to put on your shoes and pound the pavements? Is it to complete a 10k, get fit, lose weight or just to get some time away from the stresses of daily life? Everyone’s reason will be different but the more compelling the rationale the easier it will be to keep it up.’

2. Stick to the plan

‘You do not have to have great technique, be super fit or have a particular body shape to start running, but it does help if you are committed,’ says Matt Roberts. ‘Set yourself a realistic goal of how many times you plan to run and stick to it. Remember to not put too much pressure on yourself at the start either. After all, running is meant to be enjoyed.’

3. Get the right kit

‘You don’t need much kit to be a runner, but there is one item that I would suggest you don’t compromise on and that is footwear. If you are running a fair amount, then get trainers specially fitted to correctly support the way you run. A well-fitting pair of shoes will prevent injury and be more comfortable over longer distances,’ says Matt Roberts.

4. Start slowly

‘OK, so you’ve followed the advice so far – got your reason, blocked out the time and bought some shiny new running shoes – yet you can barely make it to the end of the road without having to stop to catch your breath. The trick is to start slowly. Set out for twenty minutes and break it down into a run, walk, run cycle until your time is up. Go home, have a stretch and a bath, and enjoy the feeling of completing your first run. Once that becomes easier, then run for 30 minutes and gradually built it up.’ says Matt Roberts.

5. Get some help
‘If you want to take your running more seriously then seek some professional advice. You could join a running club and learn techniques from experts to improve your performance and help you complete longer distances. Running with others can make the whole thing feel easier and more enjoyable, too. Finally, a good training plan cannot be underestimated. Your body needs to be prepared correctly, and time spent in the gym will make a huge difference to your ability to perform,’ says Matt Roberts.
Matt Roberts has trained The Saturdays’ Mollie King 

6. Start small

‘Be a minute girl instead of a mile girl,’ says Race for Life‘s fitness expert Lucy Wyndham-Read.’If you’re a beginner, a really good tip is to just build up your training in minutes rather than trying to run miles.’

7. Unclench your hands

‘Don’t crush the butterfly – a lot of women tend to clench their fists when they run,’ says Lucy Wyndham-Read. ‘Relax your hands and imagine you’re cupping a butterfly, as that takes less energy and stops any neck stress or tension.’

8. Relax and find your rhythm 

‘Apply the two Rs – always relax when you’re running and find your comfortable rhythm. If you’re uptight and running too fast you’re not in a comfortable rhythm. So when you’re running, make sure you keep doing a quick check and think: rhythm, relax, rhythm, relax,’ says Lucy Wyndham-Read.
9. Don’t run heels first

‘Avoid striking the pavement with your heels, as this can contribute to back and knee pain,’ says Fitness First personal trainer Andy Hall. ‘Landing on your forefoot instead will allow your muscles to catch your weight and reduces the impact on joints.’

 

10. Watch your stance

‘Leaping forward and striding too far while you run is inefficient and will drain energy fast,’ says Andy Hall. ‘Instead, make sure you stand tall and lean slightly forward, so when you feel like you’re going to fall, step forward just enough to catch yourself. This should be the length of your stride. Less motion also means less wear and tear on the joints.’

11. Keep hydrated

‘Being dehydrated can seriously affect your performance. An intensity of 50 per cent effort when hydrated can feel like 70 or 80 per cent when dehydrated,’ says Andy Hall.

12. Warm up

‘This can increase performance by up to 17 per cent. Keep your stretching dynamic, keeping away from static stretches as these can make your joints unstable,’ says Andy Hall.

13. Cool down 

‘This allows your body to gradually work down from the state of high exertion. It also allows your muscles to remove waste products and they will be better prepared for your next training session,’ says Andy Hall.

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