7 tips to help you kick start your running plan


Winter and spring months are a great time of year to start a new running regime.  There are lots of running events which take place from about March time, and training for an event can act as a great motivational factor plus, it is a great way to get warm and be outdoors.  If you are new to running, it is important that you start by not to doing too much too soon.  In this month’s blog, I wanted to share some hints and tips to help you minimise the risk of injury and enjoy it as much as possible.

  1. Start slowly

As tempting as it is to go out and see how far you can run the first time, it’s what I did, following a walk-run programme and safely building up to 5K is the safest way to get started to avoid injury. Starting with a slow jog and a walking recovery at 6 – 8 intervals makes it a fun workout and helps you to build up the appropriate muscles for running. It reduces the chance you will get common running-related injuries like shin splints, knee pain (patella dysfunction) or soreness from inflammation in the sole of the foot (plantar fasciitis).

Running slowly at a manageable pace is more fun, but also helps you build confidence and gradually builds up the supportive muscles for breathing, preventing stitches. You can also enjoy chatting with a friend – see point 3 below.

  • Kit Check

If you are going to run a couple of times a week, you’ll want to invest in a pair of running trainers. Digging out a pair of 5-year-old trainers from the back of the cupboard is fine for a couple of runs but won’t serve you in the medium term, they probably have hardly any support and cushioning. If you can go to a shop that does a gait analysis (a check on your stride as you run) – this will help you find the right pair to help reduce the chances of blisters and injury. Picking up any old mid-range running trainers will work for some people, but if they don’t offer the right support in the correct place, they can end up being a waste of money, much better to have someone help you find the right pair.  

Is your kit high-vis? Think about reflective strips on clothing, and if you are running in the dark, a head torch is a great idea. As you start running further start adding in kit with flat seams is a good idea, as chaffing becomes an issue as the distance increases.

  • Find a buddy

Having a friend to run with as part of your session can help to keep you motivated and accountable.  Planning with a friend to run on a weekend morning or at a mutually convenient time makes you much more likely to stick to a planned run. Enjoying a good catch-up chat will keep your pace slow at the beginning and stop you from going too quickly, plus, it will give you someone to sense check things with and to share your achievements.

  • Have a goal in mind.

Setting a goal to run a certain distance by a certain date will help you to focus on your training.  Better yet, enter an event like the Race for Life 5k, Windsor 10k or Reading half marathon and add an element of funding raising for a charity.  Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to train and build things up slowly. Although a goal focuses your approach to training, you don’t want to overdo it.  If you get injured, places can often be deferred.

  • Warm up properly

I used to think a slow start to my run was enough, but it really isn’t. Start with a 5-minute walk combined with some mobility moves to loosen off stiff and sticky muscles.  Not only do we need to warm up the muscles and lubricate the joints, but we also need time to prepare our minds for the task at hand, life is busy, and we need time to set intentions and notice if anywhere feels sore or tight before we start moving more quickly.

  • Conditioning and stretching.

Other exercises will help to supplement your running progress. Conditioning exercises like improving your balance, your core strength and leg strengthening exercises such as lunges and high knee walks can help to build stamina in your legs. Not only will you improve quicker, but you’ll also make yourself more injury-proof.   Stretching at the end of the run is so important to help progress, in terms of improved technique, less risk of injury and reduced muscle pain in the days following a run.

  • Recovery

You will need to plan rest from running into your training.  Running on consecutive days means you could be running on tired, damaged or tight muscles. The days we rest are when our bodies get the chance to repair the damaged muscles our activities have caused, and that’s when we heal to be stronger. Running every third day is an excellent way to start, but it’s also important to listen to how we are feeling, and niggles and aches are usually a sign that more rest is required.

As someone that wasn’t sporty at school, I didn’t think I’d ever give running a go, and I’m definitely not a natural, but by following these tips, I now really enjoy it.  Running is a fantastic way to move outside in nature and with like-minded friends. Why not look into a local running group? If you live near Windsor I am running a beginner to 5K group.

These tips are designed to get you started. If you are further on in your running journey, there will be more things to consider.  Please get in touch with any running questions that you have or to learn more about our running coaching programme.  Enjoy!

Sara McDonnell

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