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Beginner's guide to running

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10 tips from Dr Simon Sostaric to get you started on your running journey.

Congratulations on choosing to be a runner!

Whether you are jogging a couple of k’s once per week, or clocking up 200 k’s per week in pursuit of that Olympic dream – you’re a runner.

If you are new to the sport, be careful. It’s addictive! The health & fitness benefits are insurmountable. Friendships and personal experiences everlasting. One thing is guaranteed – you will learn plenty about yourself along the journey. Who knows where it will take you?

Good planning, and an interest in how your body responds to training, will keep you on track; help you overcome common challenges unique to runners; and help you reach your goals.

10 tips for running beginners

  • If you have any significant health conditions, seek initial advice from your primary practitioner (eg. GP with exercise intervention experience, or a sports physician). An exercise physiologist can then guide you, and monitor your progress
  • Wear running shoes specific to the needs of your feet, body type and running style. If you are not sure, seek advice from a specialist running shop
  • Start conservatively and build gradually to avoid injury. If you are starting from scratch, walk-run for 10min (i.e. 1min walk-1min jog)
  • Understand the concept of “feel” during your training runs. Perceived effort or exertion is a valuable tool for running pace judgement. Start easy and finish your runs with wind in your sails, rather than the proverbial climbing stairs
  • Wearing a GPS device (eg. Garmin; Suunto; Fitbit; et al) during your training runs will enable you to link your perceived effort (“feel”) with pace and distance covered
  • Diarise your running plan to keep track of your progress. If you want to be a little adventurous, cloud based sites such as Strava and Training Peaks are free to join and an excellent source of managing your GPS data, session details, and comments. Also very handy for recall if you are inadvertently affected by injury or illness down the track
  • Running groups are great for companionship and motivation which is particularly helpful as winter approaches
  • If possible, mix up your running surfaces. You will run the roads during your event, so some road running is necessary. Running on grass or dirt trails is more forgiving on your feet, joints and muscles
  • A little muscle soreness in the early stages is to be expected, but you will adapt as you become more conditioned. If your legs are really sore (perhaps a lot of downhill running the previous day), a walk, light swim or bike ride will activate your lymphatics to help with recovery
  • A morning run or two per week before eating will gradually improve your body’s capacity to use energy more effectively

Dr Simon Sostaric is the founder of Melbourne Sports & Allied Health Clinic  and also consults in Sydney at the Inner West Allied Health & Specialist Centre