12 Expert Tips For Getting Into Running

12 Expert Tips For Getting Into Running

Offering a full-body workout that boosts physical and mental health, running is one of the most basic forms of cardio. But if you’re a total beginner, how do you get into your stride? From the trainers to invest in, to advice on pacing and how to warm-up to avoid injury, we went to the experts for their words of wisdom. Whether you’re feeling inspired post-London Marathon or looking to get fit this summer, consider this your ultimate running cheat sheet…

1. Always Warm Up

“Warming up and cooling down is such a crucial component of running and where a lot of beginners tend to fall down. Think about areas of tension in your body, be it your knees, groin, lower back and neck and get to grips with some simple mobility exercises to warm up these areas before your run. Running is also very demanding on the feet, ankles and hips so focus your attention on these areas. Also remember static stretching shouldn’t be done before any form of training, especially running.” – Andy Vincent, Elite Trainer at Third Space

2. Get In The Zone

“It can be hard to psych yourself up to go on a run if you’re lacking motivation, so if you’re having a bad day or struggling to get in the zone, try mentally dividing your run up into smaller sections. If you're training for a particular race, it can be helpful to visualise yourself completing the race.” – Natasha, Personal Trainer at Motivate PT

3. Forget The Treadmill

“Unless you’re training for a race in the winter and can’t run outside due to snow or poor weather, always try to avoid the treadmill where possible. Treadmill running is very different to the road and while a treadmill can be useful to get to know your pacing and other feedback, impact is altered on a treadmill and it’s much more natural for your body to run outside. If you do have to run on a treadmill, try and find a Woodway (curved) treadmill, which are much easier on the joints – you can find them in most good gyms now.” – Andy Vincent

Your form while running is incredibly important as it can prevent injuries and help you progress quicker – get to grips with the basics before you get going.

4. Think About Form

“Form while running is incredibly important as it can prevent injuries and help you progress quicker. Your natural running mechanics are determined by how your body is built, however there are some basics that apply to everyone and are worth bearing in mind to ensure your form won’t end up hindering you long-term: ensure your strides are short and quick in order to prevent over-striding, which can lead to injury; make sure your foot lands underneath your knee, not in front of it; focus on pushing off the ground behind you and reaching forwards; and keep your hands loose and ideally below your chest, ensuring they don’t cross over your stomach. This is especially important if you are holding your phone, as your gait can be thrown off.” – Natasha, Personal Trainer

5. Be Patient

“If you're running for a specific goal such as fat loss, it’s really important to be patient. Running is an effective way to drop weight, however it's a gradual process and not a quick fix. For maximum progress and results, you need to run for around 30 minutes three to four times a week. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the rate of weight loss does decrease over time – consistency is key, but as the body gets used to running, your progress is likely to slow.” – Natasha, Personal Trainer

6. Invest In Your Kit

“Finding the right running shoes is crucial to prevent injuries and promote progress. The surface you run on will determine which shoes are most appropriate: if you run on pavements, road shoes with more cushioning are best; if you run on uneven ground, trail shoes with a deep tread are more suitable. It’s worth having your gait analyzed in a specialized running shop to examine how much you pronate (the extent to which your foot rolls inward when you run), as this will determine the most suitable shoe for you. The socks you wear when running are worth considering too, as your feet expand in the heat so thick socks will change how a shoe fits. The distance you run also affects the type of shoe you need: if you're marathon training, opt for a more cushioned shoe; however if you keep to 5ks, a more flexible shoe would be best. Adidas and Nike are always good bets.” – Natasha, Personal Trainer

7. Think About Pacing

“It’s worth giving some thought to pacing, as starting your run too quickly can affect you both physically and mentally. A great way to work out your ideal pace is to try out different speeds. Try slow jogging, running and sprinting and see what suits you best. If you have a goal race in mind, try running at your goal pace, in order to get your body used to this speed.” – Natasha, Personal Trainer

If you simply want to increase your fitness, it’s perfectly fine to run regularly and enjoy it as a hobby. However, having a personal goal can help to motivate you in the long-term.

8. Try An App

“If you’re looking for an app to help you on your running journey, Couch to 5K is a great place to start – it’s fantastic for building your confidence and giving you a goal to work towards. It claims to prepare you for a 3-mile race in just nine weeks and gives you a virtual coach to encourage and guide you along the journey. Pacer is also helpful in kick-starting a running habit, logging your daily steps and allowing you to track your runs with GPS; while Human is the choice for those needing extra motivation, as it tracks the amount of time you spend active daily and encourages you to reach 30 minutes of exercise a day. For safety while running, Companion has a great feature, allowing you to select specific contacts who can share your locations as you run and who it will notify if you don’t respond to prompts or appear to move off track.” – Natasha, Personal Trainer

9. Consider A Run Club

“If you live in London, consider trying a run club – there really is something for everyone. Run Dem Crew is a great running club incorporating music culture, while Midnight Runners tend to meet in the evenings after work. There’s the Adidas Runners, held four times a week throughout London (they also host women only runs); the Nike+ Run Club (try and book in advance if you can); and Parkrun, a free, weekly timed 5K run held in dozens of locations across the capital which is a great way of putting your running skills to the test.” – Natasha, Personal Trainer

10. Start Slowly

“The most important thing to bear in mind if you’re a new runner is to start slowly. While it’s tempting to go for your first run and sprint for as long and as fast as you can, you’ll only burn yourself out or cause injury. Instead, slowly build up your running mileage week by week, adding short bursts of running into slow jogs and gradually build up from this.” – Natasha, Personal Trainer

11. Set Yourself Goals

“If you simply want to increase your fitness and feel those endorphins, it’s perfectly fine to run regularly and enjoy it as a hobby. However, if you feel having a goal would motivate you, it can be great to have something to work towards. Personal goal setting should be specific and with a clear timeframe, such as running a 5K in a certain time by the end of the year. If you want to embark on a bigger challenge, such as a half or full marathon, allow at least 12 weeks for training.” – Natasha, Personal Trainer

12. Stay Injury-Free

“Running can create muscle imbalances so if you want to take your running seriously, it’s worth adding some strength training into your fitness regime. This is vital for strengthening your kinetic chain – your feet, lower back, core and knees. Stick to full-body exercises such as deadlifts and squats as running requires your whole body to work at the same time, so isolated exercises won’t directly improve your running technique or progress. The only exceptions are single-leg squats and lunges, which can help build strength and stability.” – Natasha, Personal Trainer

Ready to pound the pavements? Shop SL’s edit of the best running kit right here…

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