The question so many people ask, but are a little too nervous to voice. It's simple, right? You just lace up your shoes, and away you go. Well, sure, that's an option, but also the reason many people's intentions don't end in the results they want. So what would a better approach look like? Well, here are my six tips to help you succeed:
1. Be realistic - When you first start running, setting off on a marathon training plan when you haven't run a step in a decade might not end well. A sensible goal will vary greatly from person to person, but it might be worth getting into your new programme before fixing any targets too firmly. See how you cope with training, and how much you enjoy it. If your goal is time or distance based, this will give you some early figures to work with too!
2. Plan your sessions - For now, I don't mean the content of them, just when they will happen. You need to be strict, or you won't do them, but also realistic with your time management. Put them in your diary, like an important work meeting, and show up to every one. That's half the battle, and will count for a lot when you come to assess your progress. Once you have committed a set number of sessions and time per week, then you will know which programme could work for you, and you can better put a time frame to your goals, and start running.
3. Get on a programme - I'd recommend mine, but there are plenty of good ones out there! Start humble, with a 5km programme, or something you're confident you can achieve. Your ambitions can always grow with your fitness. If you're interested in a 5km one, this link will take you to mine, or you can check out a sample video below https://www.tomhunttraining.com/product-page/run-strong-run-5km
4. Keep records - You can be extremely detailed here, or just go with the basics, but records serve multiple functions; you can look back for motivation, you can track progress, you can work out intensity levels, or you can just mark and save good routes and fixed distances. There are lots of ways you can do this now, all along the technology spectrum, from keeping a notebook, to logging on Strava. The letter is my choice, and the free option is pretty good, and will save you doing any real work
5. Find trainers that work for you - A lot of people will tell you that changing your running form will help, and that should be your focus. Well, I actually agree, however two things are worth considering; firstly that's not instant, and you need to be as pain free as possible in the meantime and, secondly, as your body changes shape and your muscles change function, the way you move will evolve too. In short, you may need different trainers to start than after some time, and you may also need a pair for the trail to stay safe.
6. Don't just run - Increasingly even elite runners are coming to realise that longevity comes from solid, well rounded fitness, not just running. Running is great for the aerobic system, and even helps muscle tone in the legs, but it's next to useless for the upper body and the core. It's essential that running is balanced with strength work for the upper body and core, but also for the lower body to help performance, and crucially, reduce the risk of injury. Instances of injury are high in running, at all levels, and can often derail the most well-intentioned plans. Be sure to mix it up and bulletproof yourself in the process.
Tips for running could, and often have, fill a book, or more. The truth is though, like most things, we need to start basic, and learn and refine as we go. Hopefully the tips above will set you on an injury free path to reaching your goals and help you start running, and keep running!