a girl running

Getting in to running – My tips for beginners

Getting into running can seem daunting at first but with my top tips, it doesn’t need to be. In this…

Getting into running can seem daunting at first but with my top tips, it doesn’t need to be. In this post, I will tell you about my running journey and give you pointers to get you from loathing running to loving it!

My running journey:

At the start of the pandemic, I decided I wanted to get out of the house every day and do something to make myself fitter. This led me to run. I downloaded the couch to 5k app and so my running journey began. Completing the app led me to do 3 runs in a week and I gradually upped this to 4 or 5 depending on how I was feeling. Check out my post on the couch to 5k here. On return to Lincoln and with the start of the new academic year last year I attempted to keep this up but quickly lost motivation and my number of runs reduced to 1 or 2 every week.

With encouragement from a friend, this year I joined the University athletics and cross-country society! I found that being part of a group gave me the push I needed to stick to my plan and work on my running ability. I now run a few times a week with the group and do my runs additionally if I can’t make the sessions. What I have learnt is that running isn’t easy when you first start but it can be really enjoyable if you put the work in at the start. Below are my top tips for beginning.

Find a plan that works for you

There are loads of plans out there that can help you plan your runs for the week. For me, that was the couch to 5K, but for you, it could be another app or a plan that you make yourself. Knowing what you want to do before you go out for a run is so important as it gives you something to focus on and work towards. To avoid disappointment make sure that any targets you set are realistic.

Be persistent and stick to a routine

Once you have found a plan that works for you the next challenge is sticking to it. I learnt the hard way that you can lose your ability very fast when you stop running for a few weeks. Don’t worry you can pick it back up fast too but it is all about being persistent. If you stick to a routine and say run every other day or on certain days of the week it will allow your body to prepare and recover accordingly. Not only this but it will also encourage you to keep to the pattern as you don’t want to break a streak of sticking to the plan.

Find your pace

As a beginner, it is very easy to sprint from the start and then need to stop and catch your breath. If this is the case then you are probably running too fast. If you have a smartwatch try tracking your pace. If not then you can find a route you know the distance of and time yourself to work out your pace. Make sure that you are choosing comfort over performance. It is better to run further slower than burn yourself out running a short distance. Once you have found a comfortable pace you can start increasing this slowly over time.

Warm up and cool down

This may sound obvious but I am such a culprit for forgetting to warm up and cool down and you can tell the difference. Have a look online for the best stretches for the type of run you would like to do (long or short distance) and see what works for you. If like me you thought you could handle runs without stretching I challenge you to warm up before your next run and see the impact that it makes.

Try running with friends or as part of a group

As previously mentioned, when I started running whilst at university I found it difficult to keep up with my plan and stay motivated. Running with friends encouraged me to run more regularly and to keep a good pace as I didn’t want to fall behind. I used to be scared to run with others as I thought that I would be judged but I’ve learnt that as part of the athletics society, everyone likes to focus on their run rather than yours and when running at a comfortable pace I can go much further as part a group than I can by myself.

Make short term goals

I learnt the hard way that you can’t expect to become Mo Farah overnight. It is very easy to compare yourself to times you might see online and to think today I am going to half my time, but you need to think realistically. Make goals that can be achieved in a short space such as a month to 6 weeks. This allows you to adapt to your ability and feel a sense of achieving rather than pushing for unrealistic targets and constantly being disappointed.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post I hope that it has given you a little more confidence to start running! Let us know where you run by tagging us in your stories @uolstudentlife on social media. Happy running!

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”

Fred DeVito
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