Thinking of taking up running? From trainers to bras to staying motivated, here's all you need to get started...
9 August 2019, 10:00 | Updated: 12 August 2019, 11:42
EXCLUSIVE: Running coach Alexa Duckworth-Briggs shares her top tips for getting in to running, and how to combat your first race or fun run without getting injured or losing motivation.
Summer months often bring with them an influx of charity fun runs, sponsored 5k races, and just an urge to exercise outside.
Running, jogging, or just a decent walk, really is the most accessible sport of all - and you don't need much more than a decent pair of trainers and a sports bra.
Heart.co.uk spoke to Alexa Duckworth-Briggs; UK Athletics qualified Running Coach, and Head Coach of the We Run Virtual Running Club about some of her top tips and tricks for people looking to take up the hobby for the first time, and those looking to take their participation up a level.
She said: "Running shoes and a sports bra are two important pieces of kit to start with to support your body as you run and avoid injury.
"Running is a high impact sport and your feet and ankles move through a pattern of motion that's very similar on each step.
"So running shoes are designed to deal with that high impact and also provide support in all the right areas for the running movement pattern. That movement support is often called 'stability', and is useful in injury prevention for many runners.
"As you build up the distances you might find that clothing that isn't cotton is more comfortable to run in and keeps you less sweaty. Non-cotton running socks help prevent blisters, too."
If you used to be a runner and are looking to get back in to it, or were one of the star runners at school, you do have a slight advantage.
She said: "Your body will remember the running movement and what it feels like, so it will get into the rhythm with running a little easier. Remember to take it gently to start with to allow your body to adapt to the impact of running again."
Alexa added that it doesn't matter if you run with a group or head out alone, each has their benefits.
She said: "Some people like the support and accountability of running with others; knowing someone is joining you for a run can increase the likelihood of you heading out.
"Running with others is a great way to push yourself a little faster as you spur each other on. Many people enjoy running on their own for a bit of time and space in their day. It's also good to be able to set your own pace and run how you want to run."
Below Alexa shares some more of her tips for people interested in taking up running as a hobby...
How can people keep motivated?
Work out what is important to you and what works for you. Experiment to discover what helps you enjoy running; do you enjoy running on the trails more than the roads? Or running with others, or on your own? Setting goals can be helpful too, perhaps a certain length of time or distance of running. You can also set goals of new places to run, or people to run with!
What is a good app for new runners?
'One You Couch to 5K' app is recommended by the NHS, and is a great way of starting out.The We Run Virtual Running Club app is also very beginner-friendly, with regular coach tips videos, beginner training plans, on-demand yoga and pilates for runners classes, and even guided audio runs!
Is it better to run on the road or a treadmill
Neither is better, but they are different. Treadmills are sprung, and the movement of the belt causes you to run slightly differently. It's easy to control and stick to your pace on a treadmill and you don't get impacted by the weather! Running outside gives you a lot more variety and mental and physical stimulation, and as every foot step is slightly different it hones your balance and agility a little more. If you have your eye on completing an event that's outdoors, it's worth doing at least half your training distances outside as preparation.
How long do you need to run before you lose weight?
There is no one size fits all answer to this. But what I can say is that running (or any exercise) where you can talk to someone as you go is a good sign you are in the right zone for burning body fat as a fuel. Too fast and you start burning the sugar from your blood stream and liver, which is a much smaller fuel tank.
What simple warm up/cool down exercises should people do?
For most runs just taking the first 5 minutes at a nice gentle pace works well as a warm up. If you feel like it, or want to start running a little faster, including some exercises like skips, side skips, arm circles and short, faster paced sections can help as the warm up progresses.
For a cool down, just taking 5 minutes gentle jog or walk to finish works well, followed up with some stretching.
How can people get their whole family in to running?
Just talking about running and planning runs into your day in discussion with your family can be a great place to start. Younger children can join you in a buggy and you could even get them to join you in some warm up exercises at home before you head out. Parkrun and Junior parkrun are great events to head to as a family too.
How long do you need to train for a 5k or 10k race?
This depends a little on how much time you have to train and life and family commitments. Generally it's 8-10 weeks to get to 5k. I like to factor in recovery and time for the body to adapt before moving on to a longer distance event after your first 5k. So allowing a few weeks of less structured running before starting a 12 week schedule for a 10k. Again take another break and recover before thinking about upping the distance again to a half marathon.