How to start running: top tips for new runners

·5-min read
Rebecca has started to weight training to improve her running (Rebecca Cox)
Rebecca has started to weight training to improve her running (Rebecca Cox)

The problem with committing to doing something, particularly on a public platform, is that you have to then actually get on and do it.

Just as with having a child, there is no return policy, no take-backs, no second thoughts – a 10K race has been signed up for and ready or not I will be at the start line in a month.

And, as any writer would do, before tying my laces, I did my research. I spoke to friends who have run for years. I read dozens of articles on running for beginners, on the best kit, the best routes, the best techniques, I even spoke to a nutritionist friend about how I could boost my performance*. And then, when I couldn’t find a single reason not to, I put on my running shoes and hit the road.

For any mums out there struggling to find the motivation to get going, I would recommend working your child into proceedings. Particularly if your child is a toddler or older. If you’re anything like me, finding the motivation to do something for your child’s benefit is significantly easier than doing something for yourself. So, bring them into your plans, make them a part of it, they’ll enjoy the challenge (potentially a lot more than you will).

My first few ‘runs’ consisted of Jack bombing it down the path to the park on his balance bike while I jogged behind occasionally shouting ‘CAREFUL!’ at full volume as he wobbled towards the Thames. The journey is about half a mile, and I was puffing by the time I arrived, so I’d say it’s a solid start.

But how to push through that first mile barrier and start to make serious progress? I turned to another mum for help. And not just any mum, Anya Lahiri is a Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer. She gave me some top tips for new runners.

 (Rebecca Cox)
(Rebecca Cox)

What advice would you give to new runners to help them get moving?

Set a small goal that is achievable to start yourself on your running journey. Short, high intensity bursts are a great way to build confidence and endurance. If you try and find support in a community, run club or a running class it can help to motivate you and keep you on track. I would also recommend getting a run test in a shop to make sure you have the correct shoes before you start any run training. The wrong shoes can cause injuries.

How can new mums find the time (and motivation) to start a training regime?

The best way is to find a fellow new mum who has the same fitness interests or goals. I see so many new mums who meet in the studio and share the childcare so one jumps into class while the other one trains. Again, finding a buddy keeps you motivated and accountable.

Buggy fit is also great in the early days so you can do some activity with your baby or investing in a run buggy or a sling so you can go on long walks while your baby sleeps.

Why is the first mile so hard?

The first mile is always hard. Your body and joints aren’t warm yet and none of the incredible endorphins released by exercise have kicked in. A bit of dopamine and adrenaline can get you past the finish line so persevere and suddenly your mind and body will feel like they ‘can’ do it!

What other exercise can help boost running performance?

Resistance and weight training are vital and crucial to support running and develop leg and core strength to prevent injury. Strengthening your glutes through leg and butt focused exercise can be your secret ingredient to increasing speed and stamina for longer distances.

Why is exercise so important for mums?

More than any physical benefits the mental release and strength exercise gives you means you can conquer the world, any late-night feeds, teething issues and obstacles the early days of motherhood throws at you. Again, the chemicals and endorphins released by exercise means you can approach every moment more positively. On a physical level exercise will strengthen you for all the carrying, lifting and charging around you will do in the early days.

Any race day tips for beginners?

Just enjoy it don’t worry about time and remember everyone has had to start somewhere.

Go to the loo, get some friends to come and cheer you through the tough moments and get yourself a banging playlist... Oh and some good headphones to listen to it through!

Alongside my park jogs, I’ve been doing a morning legs, bums and tums workout on YouTube, which I do first thing in the morning while Jack alternates between eating Cheerios and climbing on my back during the leg raises. On Anya’s advice I’ve also started weight training in my local gym once a week if I can find the time, and I’ve recruited a couple of friends in my office to do a weekly running club at lunchtime to help keep me motivated.

I’ve started to feel like I could run just a little further each time, and despite feeling physically tired by the exercise, I’m more energised in the day.

Now, on to that second mile, those endorphins must be imminent.

Rebecca will be writing about her fitness journey for the Evening Standard. Follow her progress here. In association with Voltarol. For more information about our products or to report an adverse event with one of our products please contact 0800 783 8881.

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