Hello enthusiastic new runners! Here is a crash course in running. Everything you need to know:
- Running gear
In principle, you don’t need any special gear to run. There is no running police to stop you jogging in your old gym trainers or barefoot (like some minimalistic runners do). The rule is that the more you run, the more running gear you’ll need. As I said, your old trainers will probably be sufficient when covering your first few kilometers per week, however, you wouldn’t want to run a marathon in them. Same applies to pretty much all items of clothing. Primark socks will do just fine if your weekly mileage is 10km. Expensive Under Armour socks and running gear snobbery can come later on…
Having said that, if you were to invest in one piece of running gear, it should be shoes. But hold your horses before ordering those fancy Nikes from a dodgy seller on eBay! First of all, runners often get their running shoes half or a full size larger than their everyday shoes. It’s wise to do that if you want to keep your toenails. Secondly, you need to chose the right type of running shoe to prevent injury and keep running enjoyable. To do that, I’d recommend visiting a running shop and asking for an advice / a gait analysis. You won’t regret it.
You can measure your running pace either in minutes per kilometre, or minutes per mile. Miles or kilometres per hour is a speed measure for vehicles. You are not a car.
As a new runner, try not to worry about your pace too much. The important thing is that you shouldn’t all the time run as fast as you can. Let me repeat that – do not try for a personal record on every single run! Don’t! Speed should be reserved for fast days, intervals, races and similar. Most of the time, you should keep it chilled. Chilled pace means you can comfortably run and have a conversation at the same time.
So how much shall I run per week? Well, there is no right answer to that question. The key is to build it up. You don’t want to jump from zero to 50km a week. Instead, gradually increase your mileage until you have a solid base. Some say that the increase in distance should not be more than 10%. I tend to disagree, but then again, I am sometimes guilty of being a running cowboy. The bottom line is – start low and make your way up to what feels beneficial and sustainable for you. The upper mileage limit is not created by an opinion of people on the Internet – it is created by your physical capabilities and time you can commit to running.
You don’t need to be a pro athlete to enter running races (although don’t expect to be allowed into Olympics and championships just yet). With running becoming more and more popular, there is a pretty good chance that you’ll have a race within a driving distance every weekend. Normally, you register online, pay a fee and turn up on the day to run for a medal. The longer distance you choose to run, the more it’ll cost, but let’s say you can participate in a standard 5K race for around £20. Included in that price is normally a medal, your pain and suffering trying to achieve a personal best, water, a post-race snack, bag drop and (hopefully) accurately measured time of your run.
You can probably find some little local races that are considerably cheaper but your result may not be chip-timed or there may not be a medal. I personally refuse to race if there is no medal. #priorities
Marathon is an actual distance. It measures 26.2 miles which is 42.2 km (or 42.195 if you like being precise). No one has ever run a “5K marathon”. Marathon is not an equivalent of a running race (or a fun run).
And yes, it is very far away.
PB does not stand for peanut butter. It means personal best – the best time you have ever run that specific distance in. It is also called PR – personal record. It does not count as a PB if you pause your watch and catch a breath during the run (just saying). At the beginning of your running journey, every other run can easily be a PB – enjoy it while it lasts, but don’t kill yourself trying to maintain a PB strike because it is not possible.
- Running clubs
You can join a local running club to help you train and get motivated. Running club membership is considerably cheaper than a gym membership. They organise joint training sessions, normally aimed at runners of all abilities, quite often local races and other challenges as well as social events. You can probably attend a trial session(s) to see if club running is your thing.
It is important to recognise injuries from niggles. I am not going to lie, the beginning of your running journey might hurt while your body is getting used to this type of movement. If on your first ever 5K run, your knees or shins hurt, chances are you are not injured, but your body is just trying to figure out what’s this new type of activity about. On the other hand, continuously ignoring niggles can easily lead to an injury. The most important thing is to learn to understand own body, however cliché that may sound.
So that was more or less everything you need to know to get started… Actually, you don’t really need to know half of this stuff. As long as you know how to tie your shoe laces, you’re good to go. Just get out and get running!