The Beginner’s Guide To Running

Man at the Austin marathon

So, you want to get into running? Excellent choice! Running is one of the best ways to keep fit that doesn’t require all that much effort – in other words you don’t have to drag yourself down to the courts or even sign up to a gym, all you have to do is step out of your front door and start jogging! Whether you have big aspirations of completing a marathon or just want to keep fit we all have to start out somewhere, and our beginner’s guide aims to make sense of it all and give you a sense of direction.

The (Many) Benefits Of Running

Need some more motivation? When you discover all of the things running can do for you and your health we know you’ll be convinced! Apart from being fun, here are just some of the other great benefits of running:

1

Lose Weight

Woman after losing weightSo you have a Lurpak instead of a six pack? Running can help you! The extra exercise will help you to burn calories, but make sure your diet is in check too because even the strictest exercise regime will fail if you are stuffing yourself with bars of chocolate, cakes, ice creams and pizzas every day.

Did You Know? Burning 3500 calories is equivalent to burning a pound of fat!

2

Chase Away The Blues

A happy girl smilingFeeling down and out? Adding regular exercise to your life has been proven to increase happiness and is a helpful tool in the fight against depression. This is all thanks to endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in our brain which are released following exercise. Not only this, but the positive body changes which can occur through hard work and dedication will improve your self-esteem and give you a sense of accomplishment.

3

Relieve Stress

Stressed outAre you beginning to feel the weight of the daily grind on your shoulders? Are grumpy bosses and catty coworkers making you feel like there’s no way out? Running is a completely natural way to alleviate the stresses of everyday life and gives you some alone time so you can finally begin to hear yourself think again. We would argue that a gentle jog is more effective for stress relief than other forms of exercise which require competition or bursts of physical strength.

4

Improve Your Relationships

An embraceNot many people are aware of the positive effects running has on relationships. Because it makes you feel happier and more at ease friendships will blossom, and at home you will be less likely to get into heated arguments.

Under The Sheets: Your partner will be pleased with your new-found libido and flexibility in the bedroom!

5

Live Longer!

An old coupleThat’s right! Runners tend to live longer than couch potatoes on average and are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, colon cancer, cardiovascular disease and physical disabilities which translates to many more years on this planet.

Just A Number: Whether you’re a spring chicken or in your golden years it’s never too late to get started and take advantage of the many health benefits that running offers!

Technique

If you’re just starting out you may not be aware that there was even such a thing as a “style” of running, but there is in fact more to it than just one foot in front of the other. There are a number of different techniques which generate push and momentum from different parts of your foot which can change the stress put onto certain muscles as well as help to relieve pain caused by medical conditions.

The POSE Technique

The POSE technique is the name coined by Dr. Nicholas Romanov to describe a style of running which uses gravity to help generate forward momentum.

POSE method

Notice how a straight line can be drawn between the head and foot at all times.

When using the POSE method the athlete allows their body to angle slightly forward so that a straight line can be drawn from the foot all the way up through the body to the head. Even if you stand still on one foot and lean your upper body forwards you will notice that you are naturally inclined to fall forward thanks to gravity. Because of this extra assistance the legs don’t have to work as hard and you won’t tire as quickly.

According to Dr. Romanov elite runners naturally run this way even without being taught how.

Choose This Style If: You are looking to maximize your performance.

ChiRunning

ChiRunning is a special style created to lower the risk of injury and levels of stress placed onto the joints. It is considered to be very close to barefoot running – in other words, it mimics the technique we tend to naturally use if we take our shoes off. Wearing shoes with excellent shock absorption has made us feel like our feet are invincible, leading to lots of nasty heel striking where the heels are the first part of the foot to make contact with the ground. Because of the low amounts of impact produced by the ChiRunning style it’s the best choice for those with orthopedic or joint conditions. The fact that it uses the midfoot to push rather than the front of the foot makes it particularly helpful to those with bunions and hammertoes.

Choose This Style If: You have problems with your feet or joints and need a technique which will relieve you of your pain.

Equipment You Will Need

Having the right equipment is sure to make your life easier. Here are just some of the things which may help you to succeed.

Shoes

Tying up lacesThere are many different styles and makes of running shoe. It’s not advisable to just pick something which looks nice (although it doesn’t hurt!) but instead it’s a better idea to understand the features which each shoe offers. For example, some designs offer a wider forefoot which can help those with bunions and problem toes while some have a higher heel to help relieve Achilles tendonitis. Other factors include the level of shock absorption which is especially important for anyone on the heavier side.

For help deciding which shoe is right for you why not take a look at our list of the best running shoes for beginners ».

If you are have problem feet or foot injuries, choose the condition from the list below to view our best running shoe recommendations for you:

Monitoring Equipment

Heart rate monitorMonitoring equipment takes the guesswork out of progress. If you are serious about running then these monitors will help you track exactly how many steps you’ve taken. Monitors usually come in the form of a watch or strap, and many have multiple functions aside from the standard pedometer including metrics on your heart rate and the number of calories you’ve burnt.

Without knowing how many calories we’re expending during exercise it’s easy to overeat and put a halt to progress, and knowing our heart rate allows us to stay within our target “training zone”. You may not be aware of this but there is actually an optimal heart rate for burning fat and another for building our cardiovascular capacity (how efficient our heart is).

For our run down see our list of the best monitoring equipment »

Clothing

Man at the Austin marathonIf you’re going to get serious, jogging around town in a pair of oversized jeans and your favorite polo shirt won’t cut it. Different clothing suits different weather conditions and the right gear can help to protect you against wind, rain and cold temperatures. For warmer weather a loose fitting vest top and pair of shorts works well while in colder climates you should wear outfits which offer more covering.

The material is also important. Those “geeky” high-tech polyester outfits you have seen worn by runners and cyclists are actually providing an important function by drawing moisture away from the skin to keep the wearer warm and dry.

Check out our advice on appropriate clothing for different weather conditions.

Other

An MP3 player and decent set of in-ear headphones can help to keep you focused and give you a little extra drive to continue. A water bottle (which you can fit to your waist on a specialized strap) can also be a godsend when you’re thirsty and a long way from home. Other things to consider includes joint supports if you suffer from joint pain and orthotics for your shoes to help with problem feet. If you are using orthotics, however, remember to make sure your shoes have enough space for them.

Other Useful Articles

For more useful information when you’re just starting out see these articles:

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Why not check out our beginner's guide, perfect for aspiring runners who are still learning the ropes.