- The best way to get started with running is by building a good base level of fitness by walking briskly to get your heart accustomed to working harder.
- Once you feel comfortable walking briskly for a few miles, start run-walking; run for a couple of minutes, walk for a couple.
- Gradually increase the amount of time you run for and reduce your recovery time (walking).
- Before too long, you will find you don’t need to stop running to recover and you can now focus on increasing your speed or stamina – just don’t try and improve both at the same time or you might end up on the injury bench
Common mistakes to avoid
Running too fast: most people make this mistake when they first start running. If you can’t hold a conversation, slow down! On a training run, you should be able to talk in coherent sentences – not just gasp out one-word answers. You should be aiming to build a base level of fitness, not trying to beat a world-record. If you go too fast, you will most likely injure yourself by overstraining under-utilised muscles or put yourself off running as you will ache for days afterwards. Most of your training runs should be easy and enjoyable. Slow down, admire the scenery, work on your tan or chat to a running buddy.
Running too far: try not to get carried away or dragged along by a fitter friend and do too much, too soon. Just because you ran 3 miles today, don’t go trying to run a marathon tomorrow. You need to build your endurance gradually. Most running coaches advise that you should increase your mileage by no more than 10% or 1 mile per week.
Heel-striking: many people land on their heels when they run and, for many, this is fine – today’s running shoes absorb most of the impact and stresses, cushioning your joints. The problem arises when heel-strikers push for more speed and open up their stride – reaching further forward with your leading foot in the style of a sprinter puts many times more impact through your joints, resulting in shin splints, runners’ knee and other nasty recurring injuries. If you want to go faster, increase your cadence: move your feet faster, not further.
The safety of our runners is one of our primary concerns and so, particularly in the darker winter months, the club advises that women don’t run alone or, if they do, that they stick to well-lit footpaths.
We organise our club runs so that people of similar abilities run together and operate a sweeper system to ensure no-one gets left behind. We also advise all runners (male and female) to wear high-visibility clothing when running on darker nights so that you can be easily seen by motorists and other members of the club, especially in areas that have poor lighting.
We also advise that, if you listen to music whilst running, you should keep the volume low or only use one ear-bud so that you can hear people and cars approaching.