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Beginner's Guide: Running

Benefits of Running

  • Physical and Mental Wellbeing – Your route to a healthier lifestyle through running can lead to real everyday benefits. Mental and physical rigours like those caused by work or relationship issues and recovery from illness can all be eased by the regular exercise running can provide.
  • Weight Loss – Where calorie controlled diet and regular exercise are the key running is the logical choice. With a beginner/intermediate runner being able to burn 200-400 calories in 20 minutes, running is one of the most efficient calorie burners available.
  • Quick & Inexpensive – With the time and financial pressures of a modern lifestyle no other sport allows you to get a significant workout in such a short space of time, or with such little expenditure.

Types of Running for Beginners

  • Road Running – With your free and limitless training ground literally on your doorstep road running allows you to fit in that workout regardless of how hectic your life is. Try think of another sport where you can work-out and be home a mere 20 minutes after stepping out. If the thought of running on the road doesn’t appeal you are not alone with many runners seeking parks, surfaced paths and canal or river banks to escape the city.
  • Trail Running – If you really feel like getting away from it all why not escape to you local beauty spot or national park to push your limits and free your mind. With more grip, stability and protection a trail running shoe can deal with steep inclines, slippery surface and rough terrain. Slip on a pair start exploring today.

How to try it

Before You Start Running

  • Should I see my doctor? – Pregnant women, those with health issues, inactive/unhealthy lifestyles and those latter middle-aged or beyond are all recommended to do so.
  • Running Shoes – The only vital piece of equipment you need. Your running shoe is key for comfort and injury prevention. See our Nutshell Buying Guide to Running Shoes for purchasing advice.
  • Warm-up and Warm-down – Key for injury avoidance, get into the habit from the start;
    1. 5-10 minutes of light cardio exercise to start (e.g. brisk walk/slow jog)
    2. Thoroughly stretch leg and lower back muscle groups (seek advice if you don’t know the correct stretching techniques)
    3. Start your run below your intended pace accelerating as you become fully warmed-up.
    4. End you run with 5-10 minutes of lighter cardio exercise (e.g. brisk walk/slow jog)
    5. Repeat your stretching routine

Starting Running

  • Running Machines – With their smooth cushioned running surface treadmills are a great place to build up initial fitness. Furthermore running indoors is more social and makes warming-up easier. Try adding a 1-2% incline when using a treadmill to more closely simulate outdoors running.
  • The Run Walk Method – The classic method of building initial running stamina;
    1. 5-10 minutes of light cardio exercise to start (e.g. brisk walk/slow jog)
    2. Thoroughly stretch leg and lower back muscle groups (seek advice if you don’t know the correct stretching techniques)
    3. Start your run below your intended pace accelerating as you become fully warmed-up.
    4. End you run with 5-10 minutes of lighter cardio exercise (e.g. brisk walk/slow jog)
    5. Continue to increase your run times until you are running your whole target tim
  • Slowly increase your distance – if you want to increase your running distance this should be done with care, either;
    • Apply the Run Walk Method to a longer target time
    • Increase your distance by a maximum of 10% each week, assuming you are running 2-3 times a week

Running Tips for Beginners

  • Discomfort yes, pain no – Running can be tough and some discomfort is normal, but if you experience any pain rest or seek advice.
  • Don’t run on a full stomach – This can cause pain, feelings of fatigue and even vomiting. Allow at least a couple of hours after eating before you run and keep meals light.
  • Hydrate – Being fully hydrated before a run increases performance and post training hydration speeds recovery. Take care however not to drink too much immediately before you train.
  • Don’t over dress – You will be amazed how little you need to wear once warmed up. If the weather is particularly bad try to warm up somewhere more sheltered first to ease the transition.
  • Relax – Try to remain relaxed when running, especially in the upper body. Tension in your breathing, arms, neck and shoulders can increase discomfort and decrease efficiency.
  • Get a running partner – A distraction or some friendly competition makes the kilometres fly by. Training partners also are a great help when trying to get into a regular routine. Alternatively try joining a local running club.

Running Kit Lists

What do I need? Why do I need it?
Running Shoes Essential for cushioning, support, comfort and injury prevention. See our Nutshell Buying Guide to Running Shoes
Hi-vis Essential for those running on roads and footpaths in poor light conditions. Armbands and bibs are inexpensive and could save your life.
Sports Bra Recommended for female runners to provide extra support. Made from synthetic blend material to aid drying and improve comfort.
Running Socks Optional for beginners. Specialist running socks provide additional cushioning, comfort and can help prevent blisters. More critical for running longer distances or on wet or uneven terrain.
Technical Clothing Optional for beginners. Specialist synthetic tops, leg wear and underwear are designed to dry faster, vent better and be more comfortable. More critical for running longer distances or in wet conditions
Running Jacket Optional for beginners. Windproof and water resistant jackets made from ultra breathable and lightweight material that hugely improve comfort when running in poor conditions.
Hydration Optional Specialist handheld or belt mounted water bottles and backpack mounted hydration systems are idea for hydration while running. More critical for running longer distances or in hotter conditions.

Nutshell Buying Guide to Running Shoes

The primary consideration when buying a running shoe it the amount of pronation support you require.

What is pronation?
During a normal walking or running gait the foot strikes the ground on the outside of the heel. As the stride progresses your weight moves diagonally across the sole of your foot with the inside edge of the big toe leaving the ground last. The process is called pronation.

What are over and under pronation?
Due to differences in biomechanics some people have either over pronation, that can over extends the joints, or under pronation, that reduces natural shock-absorption. This can put extra strain on the body and lead to injury. Having a running shoe that is designed for your gait type can help to prevent this.

What gait type am I and what type of shoe do I need?

Visiting a specialist running shoe retailer who has trained staff and offers foot strike or gait analysis is the best way to find out your requirements. Most people however can get a good idea using the Wet Test.

The Wet Test

  1. Wet your bare feet and shake off excess water
  2. Stand with full body weight onto a smooth hard surface
  3. Step away to reveal an imprint
  4. The shape of the imprint will tell you whether you have a normal, fallen or high arch to your foot.
Wet Test Results What gait type am I?* What shoe do I need?
Under Pronation (Neutral) Neutral (or Cushioning) Shoe
Provide extra cushioning and encourage the foot to pronate
Normal Pronation Standard Stability Shoe
Provides some support to prevent over pronation developing
Over Pronation Motion Control Shoe
Provide high levels of support to correct existing over pronation
* The Wet Test is only a guide and should be confirmed by a trained salesperson

Shopping Tips

Go Prepared

  • Dress for action – You may be able to jog to test the fit so make sure you are dressed to allow this.
  • Orthotics – If you have to wear special shoe inserts make sure you take them with you.
  • Old Shoes – Some retailers find it helpful to see a pair of old shoes, especially running shoes. The wear on the soles can help to identify your gait type.

Test the Fit

  • Toe Room – With the shoe securely laced stamp your foot flat to the floor while at the same time pushing it firmly forward. If your toes hit the end of the shoe this can lead to blisters or damaged toenails. Try a larger size or different model.
  • Try before you Buy – Take a brisk walk, or preferably a jog, around the shop to check the fit of the shoes.

Have you got running experience? Share your stories and photographs with us on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page now.

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