Beginners 1 : Walk before you run

Few people are able to run a mile on their first day of running, so don’t try it. You’ll soon feel discouraged and give in. Instead, begin by mixing running with walking. For example, run for 30 seconds then walk for 90 seconds, repeating this for a total of 20 minutes. When you can comfortably manage this four times a week, adjust your walk/run ratio to 45/75 seconds four times a week. Then try 60/60, 75/45, and 90/30. In time you’ll be running for several minutes without breaks, and then you will be able to run for 20 minutes without stopping!

Beginners 2 : Build Steady

If your running is to progress you will need to work harder over time, but if you punish your body too hard too soon you won’t improve and you’ll increase the risk of injury. Make a clear plan of their intended weekly training and then increase mileage or intensity only every third or fourth week. For example, if your current mileage is 10 miles a week and you’re aiming to build that up to 20 miles, add two to four miles every three to four weeks. Apply this same principle to increases in speed.

Beginners 3 : Warm Up / Cool Down

Warm-ups let your body gradually adjust to the exercise, preparing you for the harder work to come and actually making the session easier. Five to 10 minutes of running or walking before you start putting your body through its paces will also lessen the strain on your heart and reduce the chances of injury. An abrupt finish to exercise can cause cramps, dizziness, abnormal strain on the heart, and hamper the removal of the body’s waste products such as lactic acid. Just spend five minutes longer on your feet at a gentle pace to cool your body.

Beginners 4 : Choose your running surface carefully

Most runners clock their miles on the open roads. Roads aren’t the worst places to run, but try to run on the Tarmac no more than three times a week. Certainly steer clear of concrete pavements whenever you can, which will pound your body. Running tracks are good for speed work. Grassy areas are the softest surface to run on, but they can be uneven. Varying the surfaces you are using can generate variety in your runs and improve your overall running strength.

Beginners 5 : Set goals

Staying fit and healthy is great reward in itself, but setting a goal can make you more motivated and help you enjoy your running more. When you sit down and set yourself a goal consider four elements, incorporated in the acronym RACE. Firstly, choose a goal with a noticeable Reward. It could be a medal, a time, or a new set of clothes if your goal is weight loss. Secondly, make that goal Attainable — within your reach. Thirdly, make it Challenging. If your goal is going to be easy, you won’t work to achieve it. Finally, be Explicit: set out specific races, precise target times, and the crucial points along the path to achieving your ambition.

Beginners 6 : Run by time not by miles

This advice is especially valuable for beginners and those hoping to build endurance. When you find that you can gradually spend more and more time on your feet, all that hard work seems to be paying off. If you’re a more experienced runner, you’ll find that thinking of time can prevent you tearing round your training routes at breakneck speed trying to set a PB. This can ensure that your ‘recovery’ runs actually provide the rest and recuperation all runners need.

Beginners 7 : Build a base

Once you’ve built a platform of steady work, and only then, should you start thinking about speed work, hill work and interval training. This base of running can last from six months to as long as a year, and should consist of steady running and jogging. Enjoy this period; if you’re an ambitious new runner this may be a useful stress-free period of running when you can gauge which distances may be right for you to race over in the future.

Beginners 8 : Learn the hard-easy routine (see top tip HE-HE method)

Always follow vigorous exercise on one day with a rest day or a recovery run. Even if you do feel fantastic the day after a hard run, temper yourself. If you don’t do that, you will struggle the following day, or worse, become injured. Stress on top of rest equals improvement, but stress on top of stress equals breakdown.

Beginners 9 : Build up your long run

Long runs are the definitive way to build endurance; strengthening the heart, the legs and the ligaments in the process. They also burn fat and boost confidence. If the longest you are used to running for is 30 minutes, gradually build up to an hour by adding five minutes to your run each week. Just minutes of extra running make a difference — but too much and you’re setting yourself up for injury or illness.

Beginners 10 : Make running a part of your life

Take a look at the way you organise your life, how much you sleep, eat, and drink. Then consider the balance within your training programme. Are you racing too much? Are you not making time to run those routes that are personal favourites? Are you running too much speed work with little time to recover? Just as you should keep the balance in your training, do so with the other areas of life.

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