Getting started with running

With the Real Insurance Sydney Harbour 10k not too far away, we’ve put together these 8 tips to help you get started with running, even if you’ve never been much of a runner before.

While running is fantastic for our mental and physical health, it’s not something that always comes naturally. However, with the right approach, and the right advice, it’s possible to build your running fitness over time, and achieve your fitness goals.

1. Start small

One of the great things about running is that you can build your fitness over time. The more you run, the fitter you’ll get, and the faster and longer you’ll be able to run for. However, it’s also important to be realistic and to start out small. Set yourself a starting goal - it could be to run around the block a few times, or even do a single lap of a local oval. Don’t push yourself too hard initially, and make sure it’s a distance you’re comfortable with. You may be surprised with how far you can actually run, and how much better you feel after running even a short distance. Run this initial distance several times to ensure you’re completely comfortable, before you step it up a little.

2. Run with a friend

If you’re someone who needs motivation, a good way to ensure you stick to your running schedule is to arrange to meet a friend and to run together. Set a regular time that’s convenient for you both, and where you’re unlikely to be uninterrupted. Try to choose someone who is around the same fitness level as you, so you can progress together.

3. Get the right clothes and shoes (and accessories)

When it comes to running, it’s very important that you feel comfortable. Loose, comfortable clothing is ideal and if you can, invest in some good quality running shoes…they can make all the difference and help prevent injury.

4. Set goals

As with most things, having a good plan can certainly help you achieve your goals. Think about what’s important to you, and why you want to learn how to run. It could be to lose weight, or simply to get fit. Perhaps you enjoy the positive feeling or greater energy that running can bring. Whatever your goals are, write them down and keep them somewhere handy so you can continually refer to them. Your goals can be as small or as large as you like - but reaching your goals can be a great motivator, so make sure they’re realistic. It can also help to put timeframes alongside your goals as an extra motivation.

5. Run regularly and consistently

To build your fitness, it’s important to make running part of your regular schedule. Try to stick to it even while you go on holidays - even if you’re not spending quite as much time running as usual. Once it’s part of your routine, you’ll actually feel strange not running.

6. If you do miss a run, don’t worry

When it comes to fitness, it’s sometimes tempting to feel you’ve ‘fallen off the wagon’ if you miss a training session or two due to other commitments or if you are just not feeling well. This can often be used as an excuse to give up entirely. If you miss a training session, don’t worry! While it’s great to make up the session at another time, don’t worry if you can’t. Simply go next time, as you normally would. The most important thing is that you continue with your usual routine.

7. Vary your running paths

To challenge yourself, and to ensure you don't get bored with your routine, it can be a good plan to try new paths, and to experiment with more challenging terrain. If you usually run along quite a flat path, you could try integrating some hills - and perhaps running for a shorter distance at first. Or for something new, try running along some bush tracks, along a beach, or somewhere with a view.

8. Always stretch afterwards

No matter how fit you get, it’s very important to stretch every single time you run - both before, and after. Stretch your legs, arms and hips - everything that will get a workout when you run.

Most importantly, when it comes to running, you need to keep going! Start small, and continue to improve. Don’t give up - the results will be worth it.