Starting any new exercise regime can take a little bit of getting used to and you may feel slightly intimidated or nervous in the beginning but don’t worry as that’s normal and many others feel exactly the same. Running is a perfect activity to start off with as the gains come quickly and will benefit all other sports plus it has a low start up cost and we all have easy access to running routes. All you really need to begin is a pair of running shoes and chances are you might already have them but do check for obvious signs of wear and don’t run in shoes designed specifically for other sports or activities. The key to success is consistency and patience and from my observations I think that it's those who follow a plan without trying to skip ahead are most likely to succeed.
You will find that all running plans for beginners follow a similar format taking you from walking which almost anyone can do to running which just takes a little bit more effort and determination. Your level of fitness will determine how much walking is required and how fast you can go with my advice being to keep it easy in the beginning rather than trying to test yourself.
- Where to begin? Probably right outside your front door is the best starting point as you’re never too far from home if you feel the need to stop.
- Walk before you can run. Don’t be overly ambitious when starting out but instead set yourself a goal and be realistic with your target. Continuous uninterrupted steady walking will prepare your body for running in a much safer way than intermittent sprinting to exhaustion.
- Time not distance. Forget about covering miles / Kms as they can just seem too long when starting out but instead think about improving your fitness by minutes running rather than distance.
- Don’t judge your ability based on your first session or week of training but instead use it as something to look back on a reminder of how far you’ve come.
- Road to success. Start slow and keep it slow as its speed that will stop you in your tracks and take away the enjoyment. Patience will be rewarded and faster running will happen as your legs get stronger.
- Be self sufficient but do involve others. What I mean by that is you shouldn’t be dependent on others to get ‘your’ work done. Plan your schedule around ‘you’ but accept the company of a friend / training partner when it’s offered but be prepared to train on your own.
- Be body conscious and pay attention to any feelings of pain or discomfort. Think of it as training and not straining and don’t ignore pain as stopping in time can prevent a niggle from turning into something more serious. As a rule I’d say stay below the threshold of pain.
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 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