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How to start running?

As humans we are literally designed to run and if you’ve read such books as ‘Born To Run’ by Christopher McDougall you’ll have been exposed to the idea that our move to bipedalism (that is standing and walking on two feet) was in part driven by the benefits it gives to running…. So when was the last time you ran? And where should you start when trying to get back into it? Read on for some tips on how to start your running!

Not only does it provide a great source of exercise and conditioning to our body in a physical health sense, but the natural act of running enhances our psychological well being immensely! It helps stimulate hormonal balance and regulation and even leaves the body with a natural ‘runners high’ after a prolonged bout. So I know you’re probably thinking that you haven’t run in what seems like forever and at this point you’re not sure if you even still can properly? Well, good news is yes, yes you can and here’s how.

Jogging or Sprinting?

First you need to decide on what sort of running training you’re going to do. Do you want to run at a slow pace for a longer distance? Or do you want to run as quick as you possibly can for short little distances on a track or in a park? Both are great; sprinting can aid in muscle mass recruitment due to the high intensity stimulus on the body where as jogging will improve cardio respiratory health and to a smaller degree, condition the muscles.

When considering the jogging and aiming to run longer distances over a longer span of time, more thought must be put into place before lacing on the shoes and taking off. This is mostly to minimise the chance of over-training and causing injury set backs. For a more in depth review on the pro’s and con’s of both jogging & sprinting, keep your eyes peeled on our social media posts!

Getting started

Both will require a steady state warm up where you’ll need to start at a slower pace and intensity to increase the heart rate and blood supply to the working muscles gradually. This can be done by starting off with a quick walk or slow jog over the course of 5 minutes and gradually building intensity/speed toward the end of the interval. Don’t forget to spend at least 5 minutes after your run bringing your heart rate back down and continuing to move blood through your legs and lightly stretching them for a few minutes. This implementation of a ‘cool down’ may be the difference between you waking up the next day sore or not. On this note, start your first few sessions at a light intensity so you can gauge where your current performance ability and your ‘after session’ recovery ability lie. The two may not be even, for example you may be able to physically run 10km your first session back, but you may have very sore legs for the next week afterwards. This is not ideal when it comes to also managing things such as work or other lifestyle commitments. So, start slow and light, gauge how you pull up after the session, then go from there. As a general rule of thumb, progressing weekly workload no more than a 10% increase each week will help keep the stimulus high enough to keep you progressing, yet low enough to not overload the body and contribute to an over-training injury. Keeping in mind this ability to adapt effectively is extremely dependent upon factors such as sleep/recovery as well as nutrition.

Where to go?

Arguably the most important aspect and the one that truly makes running unique from other forms of training is the environmental freedom and the feeling of connecting back with your natural surroundings. It’s this very notion of breaking up the monotonous chore-like nature of working out and literally getting back into nature and exploring new routes that makes running such a go-to for people worldwide.

Even more so than this, running can be quite the form of social exercise, most places will have their local social running group/clubs that do park runs on most days where you simply meet up and run together over a pre-planned route through a park or along a beach.

Now it’s time for you to go RUN! But first, take a minute to plan your session with the key points in mind of starting slow with low volume, complete a warm up/cool down, chart an approximate route prior, be safe and get out there and enjoy!