Starting running? 5 things I wish I’d known…

If you’ve just started a running plan or schedule, well done!  Whilst running may have initially seemed reasonably uncomplicated – put trainers on, go for run – the more you get into it, the more things you discover!  Here’s 5 things I wish I’d known before I started running:

  1.  Get the right trainers.  I think all of us have started running in whatever trainers we already owned, irrespective of whether they are gym trainers, running trainers or the trainers we have had at the back of the wardrobe for the past 5 years. As you start getting more serious about running and increasing your distances, it’s really important to ensure you are wearing the right kind of footwear.  Everytime I get new running shoes, I go and get my gait analysed as I know my running style changes with the distances I am building up to or the speeds I am working towards.  For example, I used to over-pronate when I ran.  This means that as my foot struck the ground, it would roll inwards more than the ideal 15%.  Wearing the correct shoes helped compensate for this and support my arches.  Recently,  I have been doing a lot more mileage and including more strength and balance training, and now my running gait is neutral, meaning that I no longer need shoes with the same kind of support.
  2. You will ache.  Especially if you haven’t exercised much in the past, you will feel achey after you start running and not just in the legs.  I used to find that my back and shoulders would ache a lot after a longer run, especially if I had run outside.  This is possibly because I was holding my upper body quite rigidly.  Whilst I get far less aches and pains now, they still occur!  You must pay attention to any aches and pains you are feeling – some might go off as you exercise and some may get progressively worse, in which case you should stop and seek medical advice.  In all cases, you should discuss any new exercise regime with your doctor before you start.  Sports massage is a good way to manage muscular aches and pains.
  3. Knowing where to run isn’t always easy. In the beginning, you may wish to run solely on the treadmill.  Whilst many people hate the treadmill (or ‘dreadmill’ as it is often referred to), it is a good place to start as you don’t have to worry about routes, traffic, measuring the distance run, getting cold outside etc.  In my opinion, running outdoors offers so may added benefits to running indoors – fresh air, getting out in nature, topping up your Vitamin D – but it can also be scary if you’ve never done it before.  I recently heard a story about a lady who had started running and felt so self-conscious about running outside, she only went out after it had gone dark.  This seems such as shame as she was missing out on all the best parts of running outside.  However, I can understand where this worry came from.  With this is in mind, why not see if you can get a friend to run with you, join a beginners running club or try a local Parkrun.
  4. Finding the right clothes can be tricky.  You might think investing in ‘proper’ running clothes sounds like a waste of money but believe me they do make all the difference.  If you run in your old cotton t shirts and jogging bottoms, that’s absolutely fine but you may find that investing in a pair of running leggings and a technical t shirt helps with regulating your temperature, reducing the risk of chaffing and perhaps even puts you into the mindset of a runner!  For ladies, a supportive running bra is an absolute must –  do not scrimp in this area!
  5. Your lifestyle will change.  Once you start running you will find that it becomes an important part of your life. You may find yourself leaving parties early so you can be up early for a morning run, you may stop eating certain kinds of foods or drinks because you know they affect how you run.  You might also discover yourself discussing running with other people – phrases like PB, fartlek, intervals and marathon pace may well start creeping into your lexicon.  Most people will be supportive of your healthy lifestyle choices but be prepared to meet many who will tell you that running is ‘bad for your joints’ and others who will call you ‘mad’ or ‘strange’ to your face!  Just remember, that’s their opinion –  we’re all different and don’t let what they think stop you doing something you love.