Woman stretching outdoors before a run

Running - 8 ways to get started

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Do you have the urge to participate in a race but doubt you can complete it? Maybe you’re afraid you might come last, or don’t know what distance to sign up for? Do you want to take up running but you don’t know where to begin? There is a lot to think about when it comes to running and often the mental preparations are just as important as the physical ones. Here are some tips for first time runners on how to get started.

1. Understand why you want to run

Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to take up running. Perhaps you have a competitive nature or are committed to entering a race with friends or colleagues. Maybe you simply want to get off the couch and be more active. Running comes easier to some than others, but if you are not used to it, be prepared to put in some hard yards.

Running uses different muscles than other activities and also demands a good level of cardio fitness. There are many techniques but best way is to start slow, with a combination of running and walking. Understand your limits, then slowly increase your distance and speed over time.

2. Set your own goals

Before you start, figure out what motivates you. Perhaps it’s for the sense of achievement, to increase your time, to meet people or to support a charity. There are several ways to approach your goals:

To participate in a race

You can simply pick a race that looks interesting to you and train towards that, whether it is a road race, trail run, or even a mud run assault course. Many races offer several distances so you can generally choose from 3km to ultra-marathon distances.

Social Running

If you plan to run socially there are many local running groups, such as parkrun. parkrun is a free, weekly 5km run that is timed, perfect for monitoring your training goals. It is open to everyone, whether you want to walk or run so it’s ideal for building up to that first 5 or 10km. They also meet for coffee afterwards, which is a great social perk!

Running for charity

If you want to improve your health and do some fundraising along the way, there are many events happening across Australia. Both races and fundraising can be combined but you can also include this as part of your training, for example with Can Too Foundation. Can Too offer group training programmes for different events, including all race distances for the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival.

Getting active

If your goal is to be more active, then following one of Blackmores Action Plans can get you started, such as start moving for a healthier you. It contains information and tips on how to get started will motivate you along the way.

3. Shut out those negative thoughts - run only for yourself

The quicker you learn that you are running for yourself and only yourself, the easier it will become. Try not to compare yourself to others.

In the beginning, you may find training physically challenging. This is often when the mind starts working overtime and those negative thoughts might start to creep in. There will be days when you feel fantastic and days where you may struggle.

Make sure you have techniques prepared to deal with the off days. The more you run, the less of those emotions will affect you. There are several techniques that help. Many run with music. It is a good distraction, but also listening to your favourite playlist will motivate you and it can even increase performance.

However, many also do the opposite and run for the pleasure of being alone, out in nature and enjoying surroundings. If you practice mindfulness techniques, this is the perfect time to implement them and just be in the moment.

When you reach a difficult part of the run, perhaps a hill, applying counting techniques can help you push through e.g. counting repetitively to 10 in your mind until you reach the top. Once you have finished your training, you’ll most likely feel on top of the world and be proud of your achievement.

4. Sign up for a 3-5km fun run

Why sign up for a fun run? Do it for no other reason than to measure your performance. Fun runs allow you to be consumed by the enjoyable atmosphere as they are not so competitive.

Whether you run, jog or walk, use this opportunity to see how you perform in this distance. Was it difficult? Did you manage to run all the way, or do a combination of walking and jogging? Did you have to stop for breaks? How was your breathing? How did you feel? Remember to enjoy the achievement and take note of your race stats.
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5. Follow a programme

Finding a training programme can keep you motivated but also help to ensure you are training at the right intensity and level for your ability. A programme will also help towards training injury free. Try the free running training programmes by Blackmores to help you with strength, technique and to help you improve your running overall.

6. Join a running or training group

If you have signed up for your race, it can be tricky to find the motivation you need to put in enough training before race day. It may be easier with a training partner to give you the push you need on those tough days.

Another good way to find motivation is to join a local running or training group. This will give you the extra boost you need to grab your joggers and get out the door. You’ll meet people who have similar goals to you and who can keep you motivated. Often these groups have qualified instructors so you can also improve on your technique and speed at the same time.

7. Tracking your progress

You might not see any changes but they will happen over time. Make sure you notice and reward yourself for even the small achievements. It might take a while before you become more consistent in your training sessions so don’t be hard on yourself if some days are harder than others.

Keeping a running or training diary is a good way to monitor your progress and track your progress over time. It is also a good idea to write down how you felt during each session.

8. Reading about running

Reading about running can be overwhelming. There are endless amounts of information from online articles, magazines, blogs and people telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. Use this information to inspire you and focus on what is important to you.

Many blogs have inspirational runners’ stories that might help to motivate you on your quest so use them to inspire you on your running journey.

If you still have questions, ask our trainer, Vlad Shatrov, for expert advice.

Happy running!