Updated 18 February 2015

Useful tips for first-time runners

For every devoted runner there are several non-runners who’d like to try, but who’re worried they’ll make fools of themselves. Never fear: here are a few useful tips.

Why run, when there’s a passable public transport system? Well, to millions of devotees, running is a way of staying fit, not to mention sane, in a busy world. Here are a few basic guidelines on what to do. The principles apply to all forms of exercise.

Make use of the following tips to get you into the swing of running:

  • Get a partner. Running is one of the many activities that’s less fun alone. Chatting while running can help you take your mind off the monotony, and will help reinforce the psychological benefits of exercise. You’ll also be more likely to stick to a routine.
  • Start out slowly. This applies as much to your daily or thrice-weekly jog as it does to your running programme as a whole. Start off sedately an work up to your desired pace. Spend the first few minutes of your run holding back on your pace, running slower than you feel you could.
  • Run on grass. Yes, millions of people pound the roads daily, inhaling exhaust fumes and jarring their joints on concrete. It needn’t be like that. Find a park or a forest where you can run safely. Not only will your body benefit from the reduced impact, but the surroundings will make your run more of a pleasure than a chore.
  • Go for variety. Running in short, fast bursts, then slowing down to catch your breath will help you build stamina and endurance. So will running longer distances at a sedate pace. When you keep your body guessing about what type of exercise is coming up, its metabolism is likely to be faster than it was when you had one hand on the TV set’s remote control and the other in a packet of crisps. It’ll also mean you can get out of bed at 6.30 on a Sunday morning to go for a mild jog, or do a five-kilometre race without too much trouble.
  • Set specific goals: As long as your goals are vague, your performance may be too. Once you make specific, tangible ones such as “I’d like to do the Two Oceans Marathon next year” you can work out a monthly or even weekly programme to help you attain it.
  • Mind your pees... Your urine is a good indicator of whether you’re hydrated or not. If your urine is clear, you’re okay. Remember to compensate for any caffeinated drinks or alcohol, as these act as diuretics, depleting your body of fluids.
  • Warm up, warm down. Do plenty of stretches before and after your run to ensure than you’re loose and limber, and to limit your muscular stiffness afterwards. A warm bath with some bath salts or essential oils added will help prevent the aches and pains that runners have, especially in winter.

Read more:
Training safety tips for women

Why running is good for you




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