Started running in lockdown but not sure you've quite caught the bug yet? Here, run coach Emma Kirk Odunubi takes us through her top tips for beginners to ace their runs.
1. Focus on enjoyment
Going in too hard, too soon, is going to make you dislike running very quickly. While it might seem regimented to begin with, implementing some sort of structure early on will not only reduce the risk of injury but will also give you a sense of achievement.
‘If someone takes up running on a whim and just goes out and runs as far as they can or doesn’t follow a structure, we tend to hear these people eventually say they dislike it!’ Emma says. ‘Structure allows us to tick off goals and achievements along the way and help us realise our potential.’
2. Gradually increase mileage
‘Building mileage carefully is so important, as increasing distance too rapidly can overload the body with stress,’ explains Emma. ‘This stress can lead to pain, injury, excess fatigue or illness.’
Don’t pressure yourself into making huge jumps week on week – slow and steady works much better for the long run. ‘For example, when it comes to weekly training for a 5K, I would increase longer runs by five minutes only per week.’
3. Invest in footwear
Think about how many times your foot hits the ground during a run – it only makes sense to invest in some decent footwear. But it’s important to remember that while recommendations can be helpful, footwear is subjective, and you need to invest the time to find the perfect pair for you.
‘I cannot stress enough how vital the right shoe is to helping you achieve your running goals, so make sure you get a gait analysis,’ advises Emma. ‘This is when somebody analyses your running form to assess how your foot and lower body mechanics interact. This will help the fitter give you the correct footwear options based on the outcome of the analysis, your foot shape and your running goals – so make sure you tell them what kind of distance or terrain you wish to cover, too.’
Many running retailers offer this service for free.
4. Don’t skip the warm-up
Warming up is essential to prime both the mind and body for the session ahead, and only needs to be three to five minutes if you’re short on time, according to Emma. ‘It gets blood and oxygen to the right muscles, fires up neural pathways and excites the body for work.’
If you’re unsure what to do, Emma says it can be as simple as 30 seconds of each of the movements below:
- Jog slowly
- High-knee run
- Hamstring sweeps
- Lateral skaters (side to side hops)
- Fast feet
You could also try Emma's hip mobility and warm-up routine linked at the bottom of this page.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others
Finally, don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other runners around you. ‘Comparison is the thief of joy, especially when it comes to running,’ Emma shares. ‘We all have our own goals and our own bodies. Therefore it’s only normal that our speed, running style and times may vary, too.’
Bear in mind also that everyone begins their running journey at different points, so it’s pointless to try and be on anyone’s level except your own. ‘Try not to put yourself down because you’re not as fast as they are! Enjoy the process and your own running journey,’ Emma adds.
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