I am a regular runner myself, so all these tips have been learnt through a mixture of personal experience, mistakes and research.
Purchase a pair of good quality running shoes
The importance of this cannot be emphasised enough! As long time sufferer of shin splints due to prolonged road running in shoes unsuited to the task I can honestly say running shoes are a runner’s best friend.
A decent pair will probably set you back between £30 and £50; obviously you can spend more if you aren’t satisfied with those. Most running or sports shops will have various means of finding out which are the best shoes for you by analysing your running style; so don’t panic once you’re presented with 30 different shoes!
Figure out your route/distance before you start
I’ve found that this one is very important; it helps you to stay focused and not to take sneaky little short cuts or to finish before you’ve really pushed yourself.
Finding out as accurately as you can the distance you are running before you start will help you to keep track of your progress from run to run.
Eat a meal that’s high in carbohydrates an hour before running
A chicken and pasta salad is a personal favourite of mine to eat about an hour before I’m due to run. Pasta, rice and potato all contain a lot of carbohydrates, which as well know from school science provides our body with energy that burns slowly. If you wait an hour not only will you not throw up mid-way through the run but you’ll also find that your body has more energy reserves to call upon.
Think of it like this; if you eat a chocolate bar before you run you’ll set off like a shot and it’ll feel great for five minutes (that’s when the sugar burst runs out). Whereas carbohydrates will burn at a steady rate, like a motor in a car, for the duration of your run; pushing you further.
Drink a lot of water when you’re finished
The human body is 70% water, on an average day we lose around a pint to sweat etc and on a hot day we can lose up to 4 pints! Imagine, therefore, how much you lose during a half an hour run!
Not much to say on this really because I can guarantee by the time you finish all you’ll want to do is have a drink of water.
Stretch before and after
After learning this the hard way, I feel that it is only my duty to inform you of the consequences of not stretching pre and post run.
A brief five minute warm up for your leg muscles will normally suffice; once they’re warm stretch out the quadriceps, calves, hamstrings and groin muscles. I would suggest gently rotating your ankles a couple of times clockwise and anti-clockwise. If you do that before and after (I know I keep repeating that but it is so important) your legs shouldn’t give you too much trouble the next morning.
Eat just before you go
If you do this your exercise regime (and new running shoes) will end up drowned in a pool of your own vomit. Unpleasant I know, but the truth is rarely easy to hear, and probably inconvenient to those of us who have busy lives getting in from work to having to deal with the kids etc.
All I can say is don’t eat any less than 45minutes before you start running because feeling, and being, sick is never nice.
Run with a friend
This might sound a bit odd considering the amount of people who go running together; but remember, this is from my personal experience and therefore a lot of it is based on opinion. If you go running with another person it can go one of three ways; the first (and least likely) is that you’ll have a great time getting really fit together.
The second is you find out that your friend who was supposedly “unfit”; because they “don’t do anything”; is actually a month’s training away from being able to compete in the Olympics! It’s hardly a good way to keep fit if the pace and distance is too much for you; getting fit should be gradual and done at a pace that suits you.
The third way it could go is that you actually find out that they’re either not as dedicated as you or they’re just not as fit. I don’t want to sound harsh here but this will really restrict your progress if you’re cutting the run short by a mile or so because your partner is tired or if the pace is so slow that elderly couple in front of you have walked to the supermarket and back.
Also running alone cuts that pointless chit chat out.
Care what you look like or what you think other people think of you
If, like me, you prefer to run outdoors then this is probably of more relevance to you than if you run inside. It is possible to spend a lot of money on fashionable and flattering t-shirts and shorts/trousers but I really think that this is a waste of money.
You’re going to be running past people so who cares if they see you and laugh you’ll be past them in a second. If you’re listening to music then you can just block everything else out and you’re going to be getting sweaty and possibly dirty in it.
If you still don’t believe me think of that great scene in Rocky, he runs through the streets of Philadelphia in that horrible torn up grey tracksuit but he doesn’t care because he’s focused on his goal.
Josh Hansen writes for XXPress PCR a UK based biotechnology company specialising in PCR machines.