GETTING STARTED WITH RUNNING

Running – one of the best-known and most natural forms of ‘healing medicine’ there is under the sun. While some run as a form of therapy to feel good and shed the day’s stresses, others are in it purely to test the limits of what the human body can do.

If you’re a pure beginner and can’t even run a mile (yet), there’s no need to fret: learning to be an efficient runner is one of the easiest things you can learn and maintain throughout your life. After all, our ancestors were very effective runners, having to hunt their own food, find shelter, run from impending disasters – all that prehistoric fun stuff!

Something as ordinary as running is deeply encoded into our genes – it’s only a matter of discovering your true potential and tapping into that blueprint which “active” human beings from past generations left behind for us. It doesn’t even matter what your body type or current bodyweight is, for anyone can
be an efficient runner.

No matter what your end goals are, be it to lose a bit of bodyfat (typical) or increase stamina, or simply look good while wearing those new running shoes and matching outfit you just got – this article serves as an easy-to-understand and relatable guide for true beginner runners. We’ll show you how you can safely increase your running distance from 0k to 5k and then, eventually, from 5k to 10k.

Running is enjoyed (yes, it really is enjoyable!) by millions of people. It’s good for your body, your mind and your fitness.

It also has an extremely low barrier to entry. You don’t need expensive equipment to start out, you don’t need gym membership, you can do it pretty much anywhere, and you don’t need to join a club or team to get involved although there are lots of friendly, local running clubs and groups such as Riverside Rebels that run specific classes for beginners that cater for all levels of ability (you can find out more about our favourites in our Weybridge Sports Loves section).

Just strap on those trainers, open the door and the world outside becomes your running track.

The other great thing about running is the more you do it, the better you become. It’s not like Tennis, Rugby, or Football – you don’t need a certain level of natural ability to progress.

There are many reasons why people choose running:

  • It’s one of the most efficient ways to achieve aerobic fitness.
  • Running can be a smart strategy for weight loss.
  • Running is an excellent stress reliever.
  • To encourage a family fitness activity with Parkruns (or Junior Parkrun)
  • To participate in Charity Fun Runs
  • Train for a timed event (Such as the Weybridge 10k!)
  • You can run by yourself for peace and solitude, or with others for social interaction.
  • You release endorphins when running and may even experience a runner’s high.
  • You achieve better overall health with improvements such as higher lung capacity, increased metabolism, lower total cholesterol levels, increased energy, and decreased risk of osteoporosis

Ready? Let’s get things moving!

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How to gradually increase running distance from 0k to 5k

One of the key things to remember when starting out any kind of running program (especially if you’re a true beginner) is that it’s all too easy to get carried away and overreach.

What we mean by “overreaching” is having unrealistic goals. It’s totally understandable how the enthusiasm and sheer eagerness to start a running program can not only be exciting but also quite overwhelming: you just can’t wait to start and see how your mind and body will respond.

That level of enthusiasm and zeal is great but a word of caution: don’t push yourself too hard!

You may have had a refreshing smoothie or energy drink and have your favourite tune playing in your earbuds – it can be very easy to get carried away and push yourself at this early stage.

This is precisely the time to pump the brakes and take it easy for the first few days to even weeks. Here’s what we recommend you do when just starting out as a new runner:

Start out at a steady pace! We can’t stress on this enough.

It can be so easy and tempting to excitedly start out as a pure beginner and end up with a sprain or injury at worst, leaving you discouraged, frustrated and demotivated – don’t be that person!

For the first couple of sessions, it is best to start with a steady walk for the first few minutes, and then transition into a brisk walk for the next few minutes.

Get your heart rate up a bit and keep it there. If you’re panting a little bit – good! If you’re able to have a perfectly normal conversation without taking in big gulps of air every now and then, you’re not walking briskly enough.

So, again, start out with a steady walk and see how your body feels after a km or two. Then transition into a brisk walk for another km or two. By the time you’re done, you would have covered around 3-4 kms of just walking. Yes, just walking.

Now, time for a quick assessment: how does your body feel a few minutes after the workout? How does it feel an hour or two after the workout? What about the next day?

Do you experience any pain, discomfort or soreness in your calves, shins and leg muscles? If its soreness, then that’s good. It means your muscles are simply adapting to the physical stress they’re about to endure in the next couple of days.

If anything feels tender or painful to the touch, you need to take a day or two off and then attempt the steady walk to brisk walk transition again. In addition, depending on your age, body type and general physical activity levels, you may want to do some light stretching prior to your brisk walk.

Some people don’t need to do any stretching at all, while some need a mild warm-up right before the walk. If your body generally feels stiff throughout the day or you have a hard time getting your heart rate up, we’d definitely recommend some trunk and core stretches, along with lower back, glute, thigh and hamstring stretches (read more about Stretches and Injury Prevention here).

After the first couple of sessions of brisk walking for a few kms, how does your body feel? Are you ready to transition into running? After a week or so of brisk walking for a few kms, your body should be ready to see some running action. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves as we need to start out with a steady jog first to see how our body reacts.

Now, there’s two ways to warm up for a jogging-running transition: you can either engage in some static stretching (where you’ll hold each stretch for a few seconds) or you can do a km or two of brisk walking before starting the jog-run transition.

Ready?

Once your muscles are warmed up after at least a km or more of walking and your heart rate is slightly up, start with a steady jog. Listen to your body throughout the first km: how do your joints, muscles and tendons feel?

Does your body feel nice and nimble while jogging or does it feel stiff where you feel that you might sprain something or run out of gas after about a km or so?

After jogging for a km, transition gently into a run keeping your torso upright and maintaining a steady rhythmic breathing pattern.

Inhale as much air as you can, hold it in for just a second, then exhale gently.

Since the article is focused mostly on helping you increase running distance, we’re not going to go too in-depth into proper running form but some common sensibilities do apply: dress warmly and wear appropriate footwear to accommodate the natural curvature of your feet (interested in hearing more about our Gait Analysis service, click here), keep your shoulders down and back, with a neutral arch in your lower back, and, fix your gaze straight at the horizon or slightly down where you’re going to be putting your next couple of steps.

We’re done! How did it go?

Are you panting for air? Are you muscles aching? Was 1 km of jogging and 1 km of running too taxing on your system? Even if it was, it’s okay. You’re body needs to adapt and it will.

Maintain the walk-jog-run transition for about a week to ten days. After that, you should be ready to increase the distance to 2 kms of running right after the walk-jog transition.

Again, it’s important to maintain this distance for at least 7-10 days before you increase it to, say, 2.5 kms or 3 kms.

Very important though: don’t workout every single day! You may need to take a day off after every 3 sessions or so, but there’s no hard and fast rule.

Some runners can get away with a lot and recover fairly quickly from running while others need a few days of rest each week. We’re going to leave this up to you: if your muscles feel too sore after, for instance, 1-2km runs, take a day off. Get extra rest, eat nutritionally dense food and keep your water intake high.

Once you’re past the 3km mark, job well done! Now it’s time to up the stakes a little and increase the distance to 4km.

There’s no need to rush, however, as you should take your time to build to 5 km. So, stick to the 3-4km distance for at least 2 weeks or so, while varying the pace at which you run in order to maintain your energy and stamina throughout the run. Remember to practice good running form and just breathe!

Remember, the more distance you start covering in your runs, the more rest and time for recovery you’re going to need. So, once you’re at the 5km mark, it’s okay to take a few days off each week. However, don’t allow your body to recover too much, as we still need to keep your system accustomed to the 5k running distance.

How to gradually increase running distance from 5k to 10k

This is where things may initially seem a bit tricky, but only to the untrained mind and body. Achieving a 5-km running distance in itself is a milestone, so congratulations, good going! You’re now part of a club of elite active people who take their running very seriously.

Now, it may seem like a daunting task to go from 5k to 10k (that’s 6.2 miles, after all), but with the right pacing and training plan, you can get there.

As with the 0k-5k plan, it’s important to not rush things here, either. In fact, if anything, you may require slightly more time, dedication, persistence and discipline to hit that 10k mark. Some people can build up to 10k in a few weeks while for others, it may take several weeks to a few months.

There’s a few factors that come into play, you see, like age, gender, conditioning level, lifestyle, physical activity level, eating habits, stress levels, etc.

The best advice we have for you is to never get overzealous to reach that 10k goal. You’ve come a long way indeed, and the last thing we want is for you to suffer a setback, such as a nagging injury.

For all those aiming for a 10k run, it’s always a good idea to start with a goal that’s not too challenging.

Bear in mind though that 10k is no ordinary running distance even though it is totally achievable by most people, as long as they train for it correctly.

Therefore, there’s no harm in visiting your general physician to ensure that you’re in good general health to cope with the challenge of keeping your body going for 10 kms.

Now, on to the plan:

The first few weeks of your 5k-10k transition will be a mix of running and brisk walking. So, once you’ve have completed your 5k run, start brisk walking for about 2 minutes or so – depending on your fitness level you may need to walk for just 1 minute or less, or up to 2 minutes or more. Then, transition back into running but keep the pace very, very steady.

We don’t want you exhausting yourself prematurely. Carry on this practice for about a week. Once you feel confident that you can increase the distance to 7 km, go for it!

The key thing to remember is that you need to keep your heart pumping at a steady rate without burning out.

The above practice alone should be enough to get your body accustomed to running 5k+. You may feel tired the more you increase your distance – don’t worry, this is normal as your body is simply getting accustomed to the longer distance.

Once you’ve reached the 7k mark, use the same run-to-brisk walk and brisk walk-to-run transition to cover more distance, but again, do it gradually over a week to two weeks. As you get fitter and more confident, with your body becoming more adaptive, run consistently for up to 7 km and then add a brisk walking transition before transitioning back into running.

Keep it up for a few weeks. Increase distance. Rinse, repeat!

With all factors constant, such as your diet, lifestyle and stress levels, you should be able to hit the above distances with enough practice and determination. Anyone can run – but not everyone can run efficiently and consistently. The right training and approach matters.

And remember, if you need any advice regarding running shoes, gait analysis or any other equipment the Weybridge Sports Team are on hand to help in any way we can.

Contact us in store if you have any questions via email  info@weybridgesports.co.uk or 01932 842893