I speak to new runners every day and know that leaving that front door and stepping out into public domain for the first time to go for a run can seem a daunting prospect. Training for your first 10k or marathon with the Brighton Marathon team of experts will reassure and support you on the journey. Follow this 12 point fool proof guide to prevent making those age-old mistakes and help to keep it simple and fun.
Invest in a proper pair of running trainers from the word go to prevent injury and make the running more comfortable. Go to a proper running store, explain you are new to running ask for a ‘gait analysis’ so that the trainers are properly chosen and fitted to your foot and running style. Good running shops are there to help and make sure you speak to an experienced member of staff!
It’s also worth investing in some running kit made of running specific technical fabric. This is vital to aid comfort, they will help wick the sweat away from the skin, feel less heavy and support the correct areas.
Avoid going from zero to hero
As motivated as you may be, running is a high impact sport and must be integrated progressively into your exercise routine. Starting with 3 times per week or every other day, is generally a safe place to start and this can be progressed, as the body gets stronger. Be prepared to walk/run if building fitness and gradually reduce the amounts of walking in the weeks ahead. 20 minutes might be 1 minute easy run/ 1 minute brisk walk in week one but by week 4 could be 20 minutes continuous or 4 minutes run/ 1 minute walk…..
Remember these and apply them to your running at all times! Plan your running, how many times a week, where, when, long term, mid term, short term goals. Be patient, improvement will come but it is a progressive process! Any top 5k beginners plan should give you this.
Set a goal
Rather than simply ‘starting running’, set yourself a goal as this will make the whole journey more structured. A brilliant start is a 5k in 8-12 week’s time (depending upon current levels of fitness and progression). A charity 5k series or the local 5k Parkrun Time Trial (www.parkrun.com) are a fabulous place to start. Then set small goals along the way so that each week building towards the 5k has small targets and becomes achievable. Who knows, it could then be a marathon next year! From here you can build towards your 10k at Brighton or then start the journey towards your marathon prep. We often say 10 miles or up to 90 minutes by Christmas is ideal for those training now knowing the marathon is next spring.
Get yourself a training plan to support this goal. There are many zero to hero plans out there, which begin with incorporating blocks of walking, and running until you can finally run a full 5k (check out the Brighton marathon training plans). This will make the whole process much more fun, structured and successful!
Invest in a simple stopwatch
You don’t need a massive GPS strapped to your wrist just yet but a very simple stopwatch, which tells you how long you have been running for, will help when structuring lengths of runs or blocks of run/walking.
Make it social
Look into any local running groups (not clubs at this stage) that you can join in order to run with others. Try checking RunEngland (www.runenglad.org) for local running set ups geared at beginners in your area along with many of the leading retailers such as Sweatshop and Runnersneed who all host runs from their shops for all levels of experience.
Safe, sensible, interesting
Choose routes that are all of the above: Safe, sensible and interesting. Incorporating lots of ‘off road’ such as grass or trail alongside tarmac running is most desirable as this is kinder to the body and joints.
Your route may start of as a loop of a park locally to you and build from there.
Pace yourself…The Tortoise was right!
Too many beginners say to me ‘but I can’t even run for a bus’… that’s because when you run for a bus you are usually charging along at full pace hoping it won’t leave you behind. When starting out with running please learn to ‘run at the speed of chat’ as if I were next to you and you are able to talk to me at all times when running.
There is a lot of literature on running technique but initially please simply run naturally and comfortably just remembering these three things; feel tall, light and always aim for a very slight lean forwards. More depth on this area can be explored as you develop as a runner.
Basic core exercises
These are vital as a strong body will support the running and prevent injury. These only need to be very simple exercises that can take minutes in your living room. See the various articles from the Brighton Marathon physio Dawn from Body Rehab for an example, of how they are done!
Stretch the key muscle groups regularly and certainly after every run. For example glutes, (bottom muscles) hamstrings, quads and calf muscles as this will aid prevention of injury and improve recovery.
Nick Anderson is the official coach for Brighton Marathon Weekend