So, you’re ready to stretch your legs and move into the fast lane, are you? Congratulations! You have already done the difficult bit. Just by making the decision to give running a try, you have challenged yourself to move up a gear and get your body moving and your heartbeat grooving. I guess you are aware that we are kind of hooked on putting one foot repeatedly in front of the other and have set ourselves running challenges in all corners of the world. But whether you jog to the corner shop and back or join a running club and start to chart your routes, the challenge is the same as ours. It is a personal commitment to up your exercise levels and trot out of your comfort zone. And that is a cause for genuine congratulations.
We can’t guarantee you will enjoy every single step.
The first yards are often the hard yards. But once you break through the initial barriers and hit the first targets, it not only gets easier- it actually becomes enjoyable, then exhilarating, then rewarding, then even a little addictive. Your body was designed to run, your metabolism was created to function at a healthy, active level. You are only doing what comes natural to a human being. What do you do when a loved one walks into an airport Arrivals Hall after weeks away unseen? You run to meet them.
We didn’t always run Ocean Roads and Grand Canyons. Everyone has to start somewhere. So, let us take you back to the TTH beginning and try to offer some tips on how to walk before you run…
1) FORGET THE NUMBERS
You’ve watched the great Olympic runners on tv, right? And it’s all about medals and PB’s and world records. Forget all that. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in how many tenths everyone around you is trimming off their best times or how far their Map My Run app says they have covered but none of that is any business of yours. This is your challenge, your feet in your running shoes. Don’t set yourself a time or distance goal to begin with, just get up and running. Focus on setting a pace that is comfortable, focus on establishing a breathing pattern that keeps you calm and focus on finding a rhythm that helps your movement feel as effortless as possible. Running is a vibe. You need to find a style, a groove that you can repeat. This may not happen immediately. It may all be a bit of a struggle at first. Don’t panic, don’t fret, don’t you dare give up. Just run as naturally as you can and see where it takes you. Once you find your stride, you can start to peer down at the watch occasionally. Times and distances will wait.
2) BUDDY UP
Here is something you CAN learn from the great Olympians. Even though most track, road and cross-country championships are individual events, none of the top runners train alone. When they make world record attempts they deploy pace-makers to help drag them around. Some of the famous athletes may make running look easy but it’s not. They all need someone to keep them going when they are feeling tired or a degree below. It is the accountability factor and it is even more important when you first start out on this running adventure. Choose carefully. Make sure your run buddy has similar goals and standards. Don’t go calling Jess Ennis just yet. But having a person you trust alongside you to remind you why you’re getting out of bed and sticking to your run plan, or to nudge you into signing up for that 5k event you’ve been working towards can make all the difference. And the effect of mad mid run sing songs and blister sympathy cannot be underestimated on cold mornings.
3) GET YOUR GAIT ANALYSED + SHOES FITTED
Running may be a natural human activity but it is also a very individual one. If you watch an Olympic 10k final, you will see a field made up of athletes of different sizes, builds and ethnicity. They all have their own running actions. Once you find that vibe and style that suits you, go to a specialist running shop and have your stride and gait analysed. I promise you, it will be worth it. Try to invest in the shoes that are recommended to you.
One common mistake made by many new runners is to start out in their oldest, saddest and most comfy pair of trainers. You may as well run in your slippers. Worn down soles, lack of foot support and limited spring can all result in unhappy shins, knees and other joints. You are running down a one way street to trouble. You will probably reach the end of it in pain and make it an excuse to give up altogether. Ok, new trainers are expensive but so are new knees. This a fresh commitment you are taking on, a step into the unknown. So jog down to your local run shop and get some proper advice and testing. For all you Londoners, we highly recommend Profeet on Fulham Road. They have got two TTH’ers happily past the 250kms mark with their knowledge and tech. Both of us still have a pair of legs that look forward to the next run.
4) CONSIDER YOUR FUEL
If you start to enjoy running and get into the habit of making it a regular part of your life it is worth remembering that you may need to eat and drink a little differently. A change of regime in your life will lead to a change in your body’s needs. As a newbie runner your distances should be relatively short so there is no need to think about snacking while you are actually out on the roads to begin with. What we’re talking about here is the subject of your day to day fuel. This covers everything from what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it. Don’t go to any extremes but you can combine the motivation to exercise more with a determination to eat more healthily.
There is no need to go overboard on carbo loading before a gentle weekend Park Run but mastering the munchies and finding out what works for you and your digestion from the start will put you in a better position to understand what is needed once the distances build up. Our general rule of thumb is try to buy single ingredient foods and cook from scratch when you can. If your run frequency and distance start to increase then so should your food, especially if you are looking to maintain your normal ‘fighting’ weight. Head over to www.twicethehealth.com for plenty of #RecipesToRunFor and a bit of insight into our own personal run grub.
5) BE SEEN, BE SAFE
All modern sporting pursuits come complete with fashion accessories. You may not be able to run like Sir Mo (yet!) but you can buy the same running gear the legends of the track wear. The most important factor in any kit purchase is to be sure it is going to be comfortable and practical. You will be surprised which parts of your body are most vulnerable to the wear and tear of regular running. Ouch inner thighs! But the next thing to consider is colour. Our advice is be bold! If any of your routes are along roads or even pavements, it is important to remember you are sharing the highways and byways with cars, buses, cyclists, vans and any number of other moving objects that will win any arguments you have with them.
So, particularly on winter mornings and evenings, make sure you can be seen. Gone are the days of high vis vests, say hello to snazzy sassy material that glows, reflects and gives you no excuse not to get out and run in the dark. Dazzle and shine. Constantly swerving or stepping onto grass verges to avoid passing vehicles breaks your rhythm and your confidence. Not only is there a very real danger of severe injury if you don’t take your visibility seriously, minor twists and sprains can result from hesitant strides on uneven surfaces. It is your responsibility to make sure you can be seen… and a little wave of gratitude to any motorist that changes road position to give you more room is a service to every runner.