Training – beginner tips

This training section is introduced to our website at the request of several members. We are lucky that in our club we have access to some great runners who will freely advise any beginner about how to start their journey to greater fitness. Be aware though, while everyone will have your best interests at heart and may enthusiastically promote a certain style of training that has helped them, many are not professional trainers, so be careful to adopt practices that suit you.

It goes without saying, though I will anyway, that if you haven’t undertaken any physical activity for some time please consult your physician before exerting yourself. Jogging and running are physically demanding.

Some runners are naturally fit and seem born to run but for most of us we’ve all started at a very pedestrian pace and trained up to achieve quicker times.

There are a plethora of websites available to assist you in preparation to run. If you would like to recommend any to help your fellow runners please tell a committee member your suggestions.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard for anyone starting physical training: under achieve. If you’re doing anything your body’s not accustomed to, please start slowly.

Make your first session a walk. For about 20-30 minutes. Maybe a small jog if you feel like it. Sounds too easy for you doesn’t it? Resist the temptation to do more.

Second best advice: keep training regularly. Try doing your 30-minute session 3 times this week.

Lastly, some small suggestions before you head out… get some good shoes. A lot of lower leg problems can be traced back to poor footwear. If you set out on cold evenings or mornings please keep warm with leggings, gloves, a beanie and something reflective.

If you feel you really do want to do more, try more sessions rather than longer, tougher ones. You can jog a little more but no longer than your initial 30 minutes.

Hydration and body fuel is important. Make sure you’re eating well and get into the habit of drinking at least 2 litres of water each day. No, really. Most of us can’t be bothered after a few days, so force yourself!

Keep stretching. There are plenty of resources to guide you on how and what to stretch but just remember that no stretches should cause you pain. We all realise they are boring. Warm up first – many runners I know do most of their serious stretching after they run. This makes sense as your muscles are warmed up.

In the early stages you may struggle to keep the motivation going – think about training with a partner or group of runners – the club is filled with running groups. Just remember, especially in the beginning, to train at your pace not theirs.

Try measuring out a distance no longer than 5km in your car and jogging/running it. You can time yourself but don’t get disenchanted if you take a little longer than you thought you might.

With your training remember that regularity is paramount and remember to drink and eat intelligently.

If you progressed to jogging and running after a few weeks don’t train your hardest everyday. Allow your body to rest but don’t put off sessions if you can manage it. Be tough on yourself. You’ll feel better after your run. You will.

As most of us train at night or morning please make sure you wear reflective clothing. The ability of others to see you at night is directly related to the clothing you wear.

Carry a reliable torch not only to see your way but to be seen by others. Headtorches are a great idea.  Stick to the footpaths if you can.

Try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the streets if you can and avoid wearing audio headsets. Listening to music may help your training but it’s more important and safer to be aware of your surroundings.

Those that may be new to exercise may be feeling a little soreness. That’s okay. Your body takes a little time to adjust but if you feel more than just a little muscle soreness, then ease back.

Never put training off simply because you don’t feel like it but on the other hand, never train with an injury; your session quality will go down and it will take longer to recover.

If you feel pain, rest and use ice. Talk to someone with experience with running injuries or even consult your doctor if you need to.

If you have to take a break for injury or family commitments don’t give up! If you miss a session or two just pick up where you left off. If you have an extended break then ease back into training gently.

Lastly, always finish happy! Conclude your session with something pleasant like an easy stretch and casual walk. Never finish with sprints then jump straight into your car (always try opening the door first). That’s a sure way to wake with soreness the next day.

Rick Ferguson.