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Since the Run Reigate event, I’m sure lots of us have become a little more inspired to get those trainers out of the cupboard and take to the streets. We wanted to share our top 5 tips for running with beginners from our guest blogger and personal trainer; Charlotte from Charley’s Health.

When I first started running, I literally couldn’t run for a minute without stopping and feeling incredibly out of breath. This made running seem like an impossible task and incredibly daunting.. but it doesn’t have to be and don’t let that put you off! In this case, practise really does make progress and with each run you embark on, you’ll be getting that little bit better and the confidence will grow! So, without further a do, here are my top tips and things that helped me, for those of you who are wanting to start out with running..

Finding footwear– this is something that you can sometimes learn the hard way when it comes to picking the right shoes for running. It’s important to find trainers that are well suited to the shape of your feet and the style of your running. There are lots of stores that actually analyse this for you and can then find the most suitable footwear for you. Obviously, seeing as everyone is unique, so are our bodies (in this case our feet) and therefore how we run will be slightly different as well. I tend to run in the ‘barefoot’ style, meaning that I strike the floor with the ball (front) of my foot. This usually means that I am therefore suited to a different style of shoe than people who run flat footed. Different trainers offer different levels of support, so it’s important to try some out and find out what feels the most comfortable and natural on your foot. Running in the wrong kinds of shoes could increase your risk of injury and believe it or not, can actually make a huge difference on how you feel when you’re running. Certain shoes can make my feet feel much heavier and less stable when I run, so this is something that is so important to me!

Start off slow- take things slowly and set yourself small, achievable goals. Don’t start off thinking that you need to be able to run 10k on your first time, it’s not a competition and there’s no pressure. When I first started  running, I began with intervals and would run for a minute and then walk for 30 seconds. I like to keep the rest/recovery time lower than the time I run for, in order to help improve my recovery rate. I then gradually progressed in distance and would start with short 10 minute runs and just worked my way up from there.

Breathe- personally, I find breathing is one of the most important things when it comes to running. Running can require quite a bit of mental focus, so relax and focus on keeping your breathing in a steady rhythm, so you’re getting a good supply of air into your lungs. I tend to go with the good old in through the nose and out through the mouth method and really concentrate on keeping my breathing consistent and avoiding gasping frantically. This is especially important during more difficult parts of the run e.g. going up hill, when it’s really important to concentrate and pace yourself. Listening to music whilst I run can also help me keep calm and regulate my breathing, as I find it helps me to relax and gives me something to focus of. If you’re running outside, make sure you’re careful when wearing headphones!

Find a friend- If you don’t like the idea of running by yourself or struggle with motivation, then finding a running buddy could be the perfect solution for you. This way, you’ll have someone to keep you accountable and make you more likely to stick with your training. There are some days when even I didn’t feel like getting out there in the rain and going for a run, but knowing that a friend would be waiting for me would mean that I didn’t want to let them down- and I always felt great afterwards so it’s completely worth it! It can be a good opportunity to socialise with a friend at the same time and it’s great to have someone there so you can motivate and encourage each other.

Mix things up- This point will vary depending on what kind of running you’re doing or if you’re training for something specific, but mixing up your runs can be extremely beneficial. Incorporating things like sprints and intervals into your training is a great way to improve your recovery and also add a little variation. I love to add hills into most of my runs to practice running on different gradients and add something a little bit more challenging into my routine. I also always try and speed up a little bit on the final length of the run to practice for a sprint finish. This of course isn’t essential, but I think it can be a good indication of your remaining energy levels and how you’re feeling at the end of the run. It’s also good practice for if you ever wanted to enter some kind of race. I also like to change my running routes frequently to make sure that I don’t get bored of the same scenery every single time!

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Rest and recover- If you’re like me and always on the go, this might be a bit of a tricky one, but rest is SO important and a step that you should definitely not be missing out on! Especially when you’re just starting out, you need to make sure that you’re not over doing things and allow your body time to recover. Maybe start off with 2 runs per week, then gradually increase that as time goes on. Stretching is also a huge part of this, to avoid your muscles becoming incredibly tight and to try and minimise your risk of injury. This is something that lots of us know about, but don’t always do, but I would always advise spending a bit of time properly stretching after every run- I particularly focus on my hamstrings and calves, as for me these muscles are usually really tight.

Fuel your body- Like with any activity, it’s important that you’re fuelling your body correctly so that it can perform at it’s best. If you haven’t previously been doing a lot of exercise and have just started running, you may need to change up your nutrition slightly to make sure you’re that you’re consuming enough calories to fuel your increased activities. Carbohydrates are the bodies primary energy store, so this is why you might have heard of people ‘carb loading’ before a race. As a casual runner, you don’t need to sit and eat a giant bowl of bread and pasta before going on your morning run, but I usually make sure that I include some more carbs that day e.g. I’d typically have some protein porridge for breakfast if I knew I was going to be going on a mid morning run. But this can be personal to you; find what works best for your body and makes YOU feel energised. If you’re interested in finding out some more information on nutrition for running and fitness, pop in store for some advice on supplements and foods.