I was asked to write an article with tips for beginner runners, to be included in the expert advice section on Wynsor’s running guide.
Now, I’m not sure that I am an ‘expert’ on running, but I have picked up some tips over the years which I’m happy to share with those who are starting to run for the first time.
You can check out what other running experts have recommended here, and read my tips below…
What should I wear to run?
Trainers that fit well and support your feet, are the most important piece of running kit to reduce injury and provide comfort. There are many types of running shoes on the market, so it is advisable to get properly fitted at a specialist retailer. A good retailer will offer gait analysis to determine the degree of pronation and recommend an appropriate shoe. Pronation is the natural inward roll of the foot as it strikes the ground- there are three types- neutral gait, overpronation and supination.
Female runners should ensure they are wearing a supportive sports bra to reduce bounce whilst running. If you are training through the winter months, it is a good idea to invest in base layers, a high-visibility jacket and moisture-wicking long-sleeved tops and leggings. Specially designed run socks can help prevent blisters and provide extra comfort on a long run.
Why do I get stitch and how do I get rid of it?
It is believed that a stitch is triggered by reduced blood flow to the diaphragm which causes it to spasm. Stitch is common in beginner runners as they tend to breathe quickly and shallowly which keeps the diaphragm in a high position, and does not allow the connective ligaments of altering your breathing pattern. Concentrate on breathing from deep down in your abdomen, and emptying the lungs completely. Ensure you include a warm-up and gradually increase your speed which should help to regulate your breathing. Massaging the area can also help to relive the stitch.
How often should I run each week?
Most training plans advocate running at least 3 times per week, which should include a long-run to increase endurance, a interval session to boost speed and a tempo run to enhance stamina. There are plenty of training plans available online tailored towards the beginner. It is also beneficial to incorporate cross-training into your weekly plan, in the form of swimming or cycling. Cross-training alongside running helps to improve fitness, prevent injury and build strength. Most runners need one or two rest days each week to recover and avoid issues related to overtraining.
Should I have already run the distance of the race before the day?
It is not advisable to run the full marathon or half-marathon distance before race day, for the reason that is takes some time to recover from the muscle soreness and fatigue of a long-distance run. Most training plans will take you up to 10 miles for half-marathon distance, or 20 miles for a full marathon, although some plans call for longer runs. Running up to this distance is enough to build the endurance to get through the marathon, but not too much to risk fatigue, exhaustion and inadequate recovery. The final stage of training will include a taper with reduced mileage to prepare your body for race day.
What are the best warm up and cool down stretches for runners?
Dynamic stretches are the best way to warm up before a run. Walking lunges, hopping on the spot, jogging on the spot with butt-kicks and side-to-side leg swings, are great exercises to prepare the body for a run. A good warm-up will increase blood supply to the muscles and improve mobility in the joints.
After a run, stretch out the hip flexors, quads, piriformis, hamstrings, calves, and lower back with static stretches. Breathe deeply and hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds. Post-run stretching can help to make the body more flexible and aid muscle repair.
What are your top tips for beginners?