Maybe you’ve been inspired by Sunday’s London Marathon, but something’s got that little seed planted in your head that you want to get into running. You may have been talked into, against your will, into doing a charity 5k, or decided that you’ve squeezed into those size 38 trews (male or female!!) for the last time. Whatever your reason, you’ll find that getting out for a run, if done properly, will be one of the best decisions you make.
To start with, you need very little outlay. It’s practically summer, so all you’ll need is a technical tee and a pair of shorts for clothing. Even if you’ve got to shell out, you may be looking at £20 or £30 tops. That’s the easy bit, and also the cheapest. You’ll obviously need a proper pair of running shoes. You can read online until your mouse finger cramps, but the only decent advice on this is get to a running shop and ask for advice! They can see how you run (on a treadmill) and advise if you need shoes depending on weather you’re bandy legged, knock-kneed or normal. There’s posh words for this of course, pronator, supinator or, sounding like Switzerland in a war films, the neutral. You might walk out of the shop having spent £60, or over a £100, but you’ll know that you’re wearing the right sort of shoes. Of course, there’s a school of thought that believes that this is all corporate propaganda, that the human body has been designed by nature to run and that we should all run barefoot. Let me get my marathon training out of the way and bare foot running a la Vibram Five Fingers might well be the next challenge.
Socks. Yes, a pair would help. Alpkit do some nice running socks. I bought some thin puma ones and they didn’t cut it, but depends on what you’re used to.
All kitted out, you should be ok. Maybe a very light windproof for the rain or a pair of very thin gloves if it gets frosty again, but you shouldn’t need much more. Ok, too cheap? Gadget freak are we sir? Need some buttons to press? Something to strap on? On your wrist, please, sir….
The outdoor geek will certainly need some way to know how far they failed to run today and how slowly they managed to not arrive. I’ve used a Garmin 305 for over a year now, and while i sneered at them before, i cheer now (see what I did there?) This is available at an absolute steal now that there’s a newer, sleeker, smaller version available; I keep telling my wife this but she’s not convinced.
Kitted out, what next? Get a decent running plan going. Don’t overdo it. Walk if you feel the need to and try and run a bit more next time. If you’re a little heavy (I’m a heavy runner – so i sympathise) then keep it steady and try and drop weight before upping your distance.
No clue where to start? Haven’t done much exercise at all recently? Get on the couch to 5k programme. Find it’s too easy? Google for longer running plans – you’ll find there’s plenty out there that give you some idea of what you need to be doing to reach your goal. Better still if you can make it fun. I enjoy my 7k beach run more than my stock runs, and the trail runs even more. If you don’t enjoy it, find something you do.
I find it helps to get into the habit of drinking during the day and keep myself hydrated rather than having to top up on the run. You don’t really need to take water on short runs, but you might find it helps psychologically until you work out what you need and what you don’t. You certainly don’t need any food on the run or even in the hour or so before you set off. I struggle if I’ve eaten in the two hours before a run, though some people can run on a full English, though literally your mileage might vary. You certainly shouldn’t need gels and similar until you start running for 90 minutes or longer. After your run, drinking plenty of water and some food is a good idea, maybe a low calorie electrolyte drink or a recovery drink, but only if you’ve earned it.
So the key is to start steady. You may well be running a 5 or even a 10k in a matter of months, but maybe a little longer for that half and certainly longer if you want to run a marathon. So if you want to run the London next year, get started today, and some will say that’s not soon enough! Whatever you choose to do, stick with it and best of luck.