I’m working with someone who wants to get into running. Who used to do a whole lot of exercise but hasn’t done any for years and years. Here is what I have shared with him, in case it helps someone else too.
Take. It. Steady.
It is natural to want quick progress, but slow and steady is better. Taking off like a gazelle on steroids when you haven’t exercised for years is a recipe for disaster. So is trying to go out running every single day. You will either injure yourself or knacker yourself. Rest is part of the programme even for a conditioned athlete, so just chill out. The results will come if you are consistent. And as for speed, you should be able to keep up a basic conversation with your running partner. If you can’t, then slow down a little. As they say, you are still lapping everyone on the sofa.
Warn up and cool down
If you haven’t exercised for a long time and then go hard you are pretty much certain to get a fair bit of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). This is from the micro tears you have made in your muscles. There is no cure – but a warm bath and a little more gentle exercise (like a walk) will help. So will a proper warm up and cool down routine. Get your body ready for the thing that it is going to do. Warm it up, get the blood flowing. Move your legs. Do some dynamic exercises to begin with (squats, lunges, leg swings) or walk briskly for the first five minutes. Afterwards, stretch and stretch some more (static ones, like a quad stretch of hamstring stretch). Don’t bounce!!
Get the right kit.
You don’t need to spend a fortune but you do need a decent pair of trainers. Decide if you like it enough to keep it up before you go all fancy pants and buy a super expensive pair. If you do decide running is for keeps then go and get your running style analysed properly and buy shoes to suit. And to the girls, add a supportive sports bra to that list too.
Set small goals.
Small goals rock. If you want to run a marathon one day that is great. Keep it in your mind. But start off with the goal of running a 5K first. This will stop you getting fed up and make you less likely to quit.
Measure your progress
Download an App. If you are running on your own and you are a total beginner then try Couch to 5K. Or try Runkeeper to allow you to see how you are doing and set even more goals.
I escaped from my long term co-dependant relationship with my sofa by joining a beginners running group. Running with other people can make it more enjoyable than pounding the streets by yourself. Meeting up with someone else also makes you less likely to skip a session. So consider parkrun, Sweatshop or just Google for your local running club. The people will be friendly to beginners, I promise.
Above all, listen to your body. I went out for a run one night last week. I’d intended to make it a long one, but at about 4K my legs started up a loud protest and threatened to go on strike. There are times to push through this and there are times to stop. A class earlier in the week had tweaked my knee, so I listened to my body and went home before I made it any worse.
And finally, just simply….. go run.