If you’re like a lot of people who want to get fit this summer, you have probably considered taking up running.
After all, it’s a simple fitness pursuit – you can leave from your front door, no equipment is needed (apart from a decent pair of shoes) and the days are longer so finding time is easy.
Plus, the aerobic workout is a surefire way to lose weight.
But, you might also have that niggling voice in your head telling you: ‘I’m not a runner’, ‘I’m not fit enough’, ‘I’m too heavy to run’ or ‘I will never be seen in spandex!’.
In fact, these concerns are especially true for those who have never run before, but would like to start, or those who haven’t laced up since the high school cross-country days, Jodie Arnot, director of Healthy Balance Fitness, told The New Daily.
Ms Arnot, who has coached hundreds of newbie runners in her 11-week Beginners Level Running program, said “most beginner runners tend to doubt themselves or feel anxious that they won’t fit in”.
“But once they start, people are quick to realise running is for anyone who would like to improve their cardiovascular fitness.”
To help bring you up to speed, this beginner running guide includes the top five things you ought to know before you break a sweat.
1. Size is no object
You only have to look around at any fun run to see that crossing a 5km, 10km and even 21km finish line has nothing to do with clothing size, said Ms Arnot.
“I think people need to let go of the idea that running is for one type of body,” she said.
“If you have entry-level fitness – that is, you are not currently doing any physical activity and haven’t for a long while – if you’re injury-free, with no major health concerns, then you can safely build up to running 5km in just 10 or 11 weeks.”
If you are concerned about your weight, health or have any conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, get the all-clear from your GP before beginning a running program.
2. Gradual is the go
Overtraining is a risk for anyone, but especially beginner runners. That is because your body is not yet accustomed to the activity.
So, to avoid injury, and to maintain good technique while you run, don’t succumb to the temptation of running long distances in your early hitouts.
Instead, start with walk/jog intervals and limit your regime to three sessions a week with a rest day between each.
3. Shoe fit facts
Sure, if you’re a beginner runner you might not want to fork out for the latest trend in running shoe.
And, while the science of foot pronation and running gait is not your forte, it’s important to remember everyone’s biomechanics are different.
So, to avoid shin and knee pain, it’s worth buying your shoes from a store that offers a free running assessment and shoe fit with a qualified podiatrist.
4. Summer hydration
Regardless of your fitness level, running during summer means you will need to increase your hydration to help your body regulate its temperature while you train.
Ms Arnot advised sipping water throughout the day before your run and then during the workout.
“Guzzling too much water right before a run can cause stomach discomfort,” she said.
“Plus, planning to run near water fountains is preferable to holding a water bottle while you train.
“This can affect your upper body technique and may cause neck and shoulder pain.”
5. Power of the mind
Try to view running as a long-term fitness goal and mentally prepare yourself for the good and bad days.
“Be consistent but gentle, and don’t feel like a failure if you miss training,” said Ms Arnot.
“Listen to your body and keep your eyes on what’s required each week.
“If you look too far ahead, it’s easy to start thinking: ‘I can’t do that’.
“You will be surprised at how good you feel after a few weeks of running.”