Running is a great fitness option as it is cheap to do (all you need is a good pair of trainers), is highly accessible (you can do it anywhere, anytime) and it’s fantastic for burning calories and building stamina.
It is a superb exercise choice as all you need to get started is a positive attitude and a decent pair of trainers.
You can go for a run just about anywhere – whether you live in a built-up urban area, on the coast, or out in the middle of the countryside.
The important thing to bear in mind is that running training has to be gradually increased. Don’t start with the idea that you will be able to run five miles – or even one mile – straight off (even if you consider yourself to be relatively fit).
The best way forward is to get yourself a state-of-the-art training plan, which will safely ease you into your new fitness regime.
Along with building up your training gradually, it’s also very important to do some gentle stretching before and after runs. You might also want to add variety to your running by developing a selection of different routes – it can be dull to follow the same course each time you go out.
It’s also a good idea to find a running partner as that way you will be more committed to your training because you won’t want to let down the other person.
Another good idea is to monitor your progress in a training diary as this will help you keep a close eye on how your running is progressing.
As you develop your fitness you can start to introduce other activities to your regime, such as cycling or swimming – but you must continue to follow your run training plan to the letter, never swapping a run for, say, some cycling. The other activities must be done in addition to your basic running training.
When running, it’s important to be re road-wise – watch out for motor vehicle or cyclists approaching you from behind and try to keep to the right – especially if you are running with music.
Monitor your breathing – if it seems too hard, slow down or walk a bit until you feel comfortable again. And ensure you are properly hydrated, which means drinking plenty of water or an energy drink throughout the day as well as before, during and after your training session.
To aid recovery the best time to eat and drink is in the hour immediately after you run.
If you're running with others avoid the temptation to compare yourself – and your progress – with others as everyone develops at a different pace. But remember that is easier and safer to run with someone rather than running alone. You could even join a running club if you can or find a training partner – perhaps a friend, family member or a work colleague (that way you could fit in your runs at lunchtimes).
It’s an excellent idea to have something to focus your running on and the best way to do that is to enter an event, which keeps your mind concentrated on your training as you have a very definite date to aim at.
See the Challenge Yourself section for more details on running events you could enter.