A lot of beginner runners give up in the early stages of a new training plan and it’s partly because they try too hard and that takes away the enjoyment. Momentum must be built slowly and gradually and if it feels too hard then the chances are it is too hard and the solution is to take a small step back and slow it down. Be patient about increasing your speed and distance covered and make sure to always train at the level your fitness is at now rather than where you think it is or want it to be. Consistency is also very important and once the routine is established you should do your best to maintain it by sticking with your plan.  If you can easily get away from the house for 20-40 minutes then you should make the most of that time and this is where training for time rather than distance becomes an advantage.  A Kilometre is always a Kilometre and 10 minutes is always 10 minutes but as you get fitter and stronger then the time required to cover a Kilometre will get less so ideally you should be using those minutes saved to run further and this in turn gets you fitter.   

  • When you’ve got into a routine you should do your best to stick with it as windows of opportunity can so easily disappear if you allow them to close.
     
  • Put the effort into maintaining the routine and you might find that you have found something you can enjoy for the rest of your life.
     
  • You need to consciously get into the habit of running / training by knowing what you’re doing and when you’re doing it by having it pre planned as in following a training schedule or you might find that subconsciously you fall into the habit of not running / training.  For example, every Wednesday from 7pm-8pm I meet my club mates for a fast paced run and because we’ve been doing this so regularly we don’t need to check in with each other beforehand.  We train even if the sun is shining.
     
  • Don’t develop an overreliance on technology. Music can be good company but if you get too used to it then you might find it hard to run without and what do you do if it’s not available or not allowed in a race?
     
  • Be prepared for bad weather and dark evenings by having the appropriate clothing available. This cancels out an excuse.
     
  • Most important to gathering momentum is staying injury free so don’t ignore any obvious warning signs as an unexpected injury will stop you in your tracks.
     
  • Even a short slow run will be of benefit when starting out so don’t think it’s not worth your while going out for even a few minutes. 

It’s advisable to consult with your doctor before starting on any new exercise regime if starting from a base of zero fitness and years of inactivity or returning from illness or injury.

John O’Regan is the official running coach for Run in the Dark.

John O’Regan has ran over 50 marathons and ultra marathons on seven continents / 20 countries and represented Ireland on 10 occasions at ultra marathon distance. Follow him on Twitter at @johnoregan777 

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