SPEAK TO your average non-runner about that time they tried to get in to running and they’ll describe the experience as if they went through some kind of self-imposed torture. Running, when not embarked upon properly, is not fun. Even when done right, it can be as hard as it is rewarding. But the fact remains that it can be a great time, and seriously good for you, leading millions around the world every year to get addicted, form communities and embark on lifelong hobbies.
What most beginners don’t know is that reaching that stage isn’t necessarily that hard. Regardless of your age, shape or size, you too can embrace running. All you need is a little bit of know-how before you step out the door — because going for a run is far from as simple as, well, just running.
Here are our top tips to get started running in the right way.
Start short, and start slow
The number one reason for people immediately hating running from the outset is thus: they’ve probably gone too hard, too fast. While it’s tempting to look at Eliud Kipchoge, or even your average runner on the street, and want to match their pace and distance, starting running is all about building a cardiovascular base and preventing injury as your body adjusts. Starting by running for just 5 or 10 minutes a day and working up from there might not feel productive, but it’s a lot more manageable than trying to push yourself on a 40 minute run and hating every second of it.
Learn to love recovery runs
One thing you’ll learn very quickly, particularly if you want to start training for a race or embark on a plan, is that the vast majority of your running should be done slow, or as runners like to put it, at recovery pace. This means wearing comfortable shoes, running at a conversational pace, and building the cardiovascular endurance that’s critical to running both longer and faster in the long-term. Learn what this feels like, and running will quickly start to seem like much less of a chore.
There are countless expert-run apps out there designed to make running, and getting into it, significantly more fun. Catering to beginners and marathoners alike, Nike Run Club is a treasure trove of training plans and guided runs led by professional runners and Nike’s own elite coaches, while Strava is the social network to connect with other runners on the same journey as yourself.
Get some shoes that make running fun
Running shoe technology has come a seriously long way in the last few years. So while It might be more cost-effective to lace up the pair of runners you bought five years ago and seem okay, chances are they’re in no condition to put any serious kilometres on. You can check out our running shoe guide for more recommendations, but shoes like Adidas’s Boston 12, New Balance’s 1080 v13 and Asics’ Novablast 4 are made for daily miles with a soft, bouncy ride that’ll redefine what you thought running feels like.
Pay attention to your heart rate
You’ll need a fitness tracker for this, but being able to keep track of your heart rate on runs is one of the most powerful tools in ensuring you’re in the zone where you’re building endurance and stamina rather than gassing yourself too quickly. Garmin’s Forerunner series of running watches are the gold standard, but Apple Watches also do a great job if you’re keen to keep filling your exercise rings.
Join a run club
Running with other people is just easier, end of. You talk more, run more freely, and spend less time overthinking, meaning you often come out the other side running faster and farther than you ever thought you could. Run clubs are social spaces generally designed to cater for all kinds of runners, but if you’ve found one you like the look of and are still not sure, shoot the organiser a message. They’ll tell you how far they run, and at what kind of pace.
Use a local athletics track
Tracks are admittedly a bit boring for running on everyday, but being flat and significantly easier on your joints compared to running on concrete, athletics tracks are great for those days where you want to push it. If you start expanding out into intervals and tempo runs as part of your training plan, a space like a track where you can run freely and uninterrupted is invaluable.