Starting out running is hard.
Until you’re really in the swing of a routine it’s not always easy to persist with something that on the surface just seems downright painful.
My motivation to begin with was to lose some of the chub that I’d been stock-piling around my hips, tummy and face in the winter of 2008. I never ran at school or university. I just decided that running around my local park was the cheapest and easiest way to shed the pounds.
For me it’s now so much more than just a fat-burning exercise. I love the feeling of being fit. I love the stress release it gives you when you’ve had a tough day at work. But most of all – I love that post-run euphoria you get when the endorphins are buzzing around your body.
If you’re new to running or looking for the motivation to make it more of a regular thing, this list will help you get started.
Some of the things on this checklist are more necessary than others. Some, you may decide you can do without. This is just based on my experience as a runner.
1. THE RIGHT FOOTWEAR
This is essential for any runner. When I first started plodding around my local park I was wearing a pair of £20 ‘sports trainers’ from a bargain shoe store. Big mistake.
What happened next was a bad case of shin splints and a dodgy hip.
Running’s not easy on the joints, especially if you choose to run on concrete or any other hard surfaces. If you’re serious about getting started, make an investment. Good running shoes can be bought from any good sports store. Always buy specialist running shoes as they’re designed especially for the way in which you’re going to use them.
When you choose your trainers, it’s hard to make an informed decision on which are best for you physically. This is why it’s always good to get a Gait Analysis done. Most stores stocking quality running shoes will be able to help you get professionally fitted using this method. A consultant will video your feet on a treadmill to assess your running style. From this, they will be able to advise on what kind of footwear is need for you specifically – ones with extra cushioning, support or motion control.
You also need the right shoes for the terrain you’re on: road running, off-road or racing. It’s always good to know where you’ll be running before you start shopping.
Shops I recommend: Runners Need, Decathlon, Zappos
2. GET YOUR KIT ON
Light-weight running tights, leggings or shorts are really the best bottoms to wear for running. Baggy and heavy materials can weigh you down, make movement more restricted and aren’t anywhere near as breathable.
Make sure the clothes you wear are suitable for the climate too. If you’re running in the winter, ditch the shorts and tee for some tights and a long-sleeved thermal top and/or jacket. It’s always wise to wear some form of hi-vis if you’re running after dark too. A pair of gloves will also work wonders and will keep you focused on the run rather than how long you’ve got left until your fingers drop off.
My favourite places to shop for new workout gear: Sweaty Betty when I’m feeling flushed, Brooks and Runners Need for good quality at reasonable prices and Decathlon when I’m feeling thrifty.
3. POWER TUNES
For me, music is essential to a good run.
Not sure what you should be listening to? Check out my ultimate workout playlist for some inspiration.
I’ve found the most light-weight device for carrying your tunes is the iPod shuffle. Although there are also benefits to using your phone if you have a good running app.
4. TRACK IT
There are a ton of products out there that are great for tracking.
If you get really serious, Garmin is well-renowned for being the bees knees. They’re not cheap though. Prices range from £100 to £330 but if you can afford it, it’s worth it. They’re accurate, detailed and easy to use, measuring distance, speed, calories, heart rate, route and much more.
On the cheaper end of the scale, mobile apps do the trick. Most of these are free or inexpensive. The problem – they can sometimes be unreliable or inaccurate. That aside, if you’re just starting out, a cheaper mobile app may suit you better before the bug really takes hold.
Some of the apps that I’ve used over the years are: Nike +, RunKeeper and Strava Run
Don’t do a Forrest Gump. Well, not when you first start out at least. Find a good route that is challenging enough but not one that will push you over the edge.
If you’re aim is long-distance, begin with shorter runs (around 2-5k) and build up gradually.
Some good sites for finding and planning routes: Map My Run and WalkJogRun
6. A GOOD SPORTS BRA
Being well-endowed shouldn’t prevent you from doing any form of exercise. You just need some good support up there!
Banish the bounce and head to Panache, Enell or Less Bounce that have bras to suit all shapes and sizes.
To really pin them down, wear a top that has hidden support too. They won’t be going anywhere.
With the extra weight on your top half, you also need to have a strong back, abs and upper body. Do workouts to keep your upper body strong. This will help to prevent any post-exercise back pain.
7. A GOAL
Whether you want to build up to a marathon, shed a few pounds or just be able to run for 10 minutes without stopping, having a clear goal will keep you focused.
When you’re thinking of giving up, imagining how good you’ll feel once you’ve reached your goal can really spur you on.
For me, just having one big end goal (for instance, running a marathon) isn’t enough. When you start off running for the first time, the idea of completing a marathon may seem completely unobtainable. By breaking it down into weekly or monthly goals, you can then keep up the momentum and continue to satisfy yourself that you’re moving forwards.
Runner’s World have a great 8-week beginners running guide which has a daily plan to get you running for 30 minutes non-stop at a slow, steady pace.
Eat right and you’ll be amazed at how it improves your performance. Protein, complex carbs, fibre and antioxidants are key.
Check out this article on the best foods for runners and get shovelling…
9. THE RIGHT MINDSET
Paula Radcliffe didn’t make fastest female marathon runner just because she trained well and had a super cool kit.
In order to push yourself you need motivation and determination on your side. This often kicks in when you’re about to give up.
Whether it’s pushing yourself to do that extra mile when your brain’s telling you it’s impossible, or getting out of bed at 6am to do that early morning run, running is as much about psychological strength as it is about physical strength.
Keep exercising your mind and your body will follow.