Beginners' tips

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So you’re a beginner?

Welcome to the world of running – the healthiest way to get fit and that’s official. And better, it’s really, really easy to do. In fact you’re ready now.

  • Kit…any training shoe will do to start with
  • Pace…be ready to walk. In fact, we insist on it
  • Plan…head out the door, walk 5min, run 1min, walk 10min, run 2min. You’re a runner!
  • Progress…join us every week and we’ll get you from A to B easily and efficiently.

Watch below or click to view video on YouTube.

Get up and move – it’s good for you!

Dr Emma Short recognises the importance of group running – whether that’s virtually using apps like Racefully – or in real life. She set up a community running group called Sirius running (Sirius is the brightest star in the sky!) and there are now six of us qualified (and additional first aiders).  She says, “We started off with couch to 5km groups, then we expanded to run C25K, 5-10km, a long-distance group, hills and intervals and we ran a group for anyone who had had a cancer diagnosis. It’s an amazing group – everyone who comes along is incredibly supportive and encouraging and we’re a real community! We aim to get the community active whilst having fun, and many of the people who start with C25K go on to complete a half marathon! Also, one of our leaders started out as a C25K participant!”

“After all,” she continues, “the health benefits of being physically active are long established and well defined. Regular exercise reduces the overall risk of death, and the risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers, falls, dementia, back pain and osteoporosis. Exercise has a positive impact on mood and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression. But, as well as being physically active, it is also important not to spend too much time sitting. Sitting still for prolonged periods of time has a negative impact on our health and wellbeing. Increased sedentary time is associated with a poorer health-related quality of life and increased depressive symptoms. But it is not clear whether this is a cause or an effect – do we sit because we feel low or are we low in mood because we spend too long sitting still?”

Emma’s top tips on how to be less sedentary

  • Set an alarm on your phone or watch to go off at regular intervals, ideally every 30 minutes but, if this isn’t possible, every hour. Each time the alarm goes off, make yourself move – you could march on the spot, walk up and down a flight of stairs or perform an exercise such as squats or lunges. The longer you can do this for the better, but it’s likely than anything is better than nothing.
  • If you have a desk-based job, consider whether it might be possible to swap the desk to a standing one rather than a standard sitting one. Some businesses are starting to hold standing meetings. Other ideas for things you can do at work are to move your bin away from your desk so you have to get up to throw your litter away, or to choose a workstation furthest from the kettle so you have to walk a greater distance to make a cup of coffee.
  • If you are required to sit for long periods of time, think about what you could do to stay active even though you’re seated. One option could be to get an under-desk bike – you can get these for less than £15 and they keep you moving whilst you would otherwise be sedentary.
  • When you go to the toilet at work, make a conscious effort to go to a bathroom which is further away than your most convenient one.
  • If you’re watching the television, try and minimise your sitting or lying periods. You could use this time to do a chore such as ironing, so you’re standing, or practise an activity like yoga. Each time there’s an advert break, walk up and down the stairs or get up and make yourself a drink. If you want to change the channel, get up to do it rather than using the remote control.
  • Set yourself time limits on screen time. This way you’ll minimise your sedentary periods and you could also find that you’ve got more time to do other activities such as exercise, which are will be further beneficial for your health.
  • If you’re chatting on your mobile phone, walk and talk rather than sit still with your phone.

Although at the moment there aren’t any official guidelines as to how often we should be moving, the important thing is to sit less. Make a conscious effort to incorporate activities into your daily routine and try to move as often as possible.

In our Health and Wellbeing section, we have a short video where Physio Adam Rattenberry and Athlete Sam Gordon talk you through some useful mobility exercises. Click here to view.

Fit is key when it comes to sports gear

Many women just put up with discomfort and chafing from their sports bras, with research showing that 80% of us wear the wrong bra size and 72% of us report breast discomfort whilst exercising.

A well-fitting, comfortable and highly supportive sports bra is particularly essential for runners and those doing other types of high-impact exercise. Runderwear are here to help women find the perfect fitting bra! Order a FREE Runder: Fit Guide today which includes a tape measure and a guide to help you measure yourself and understand what a perfect-fit looks and feels like.

How to learn your own best pace

Do what your teacher told you not to – talk out loud while running. Usually that’s to fellow runners, but currently that is a no-no, so relate an interesting tale to yourself. If you can complete the entire story, without stopping to catch your breath, well then you have the perfect pace to run at. The best training plans usually involved about 80 per cent running at this speed – indeed Charlotte Arter – parkrun world record holder – happily admits almost all of her running is done at a chatting speed.


By splitting a distance into workable chunks, interspersed with rest, you can run quicker and improve faster, e.g. 4 x 1 min with 1 min rest. You’ll cover more ground than simply running 4 min straight off the bat.

Fartlek: This is similar to intervals, but go how you feel. Run hard when you see a tree, ease off when see a post box. It might be a minute, maybe more! It’s a great way to include long and short sprints and very effective when it comes to getting better

Turnabouts: Even distance runners benefit from this. Run 30m, wait 5 sec turn around and run back. Repeat 10 or 20 times. An amazing way to improve endurance in a short space of time (and distance).

Threshold runs: Very good if you have a longer race in mind. Choose a pace you can sustain for about 15minutes and hold it there. Imagine you had to run another half hour to give you a feel for how fast it should be. The No.1 way to fast track your long distance strength, but only do it once every 10 days or so.

Family Challenges

Challenges are big at the moment; you’ll have seen them online. We’ve been investigating some of the great ones our clubs have been up to – they’ve run everything from virtual relays of 26x1mile on London Marathon Sunday to 5km time trails, but here’s a great one for you to try as family. It’s simple. One of you run 5km – let’s say mum or dad, then the other members – brothers, sisters and the other parent – do 5km between them. The loser washes up or cooks dinner or cleans the windows! You choose.

Beginner Bingo

Mike Leonard, Regional Lead for Sprints South East England has a spot of Bingo for you to enjoy! Seriously, he does. The card ‘recognises’ that you need to do lots rather than just one thing to get really fit and strong. Play along and reap the benefits…
Each row or line has a mix on it so you can’t fill a line or row by just doing one type of thing
Try it for a week and see if you can fill a column, all the corners or a row!

24 11 52 43 55 15
39 32 35 27 45 20
33 17 12 72 7 63
22 51 1 19 14 88
2 25 58 49 6 31

1: Make positive comment on non-running related post by someone who is a runner outside the group
2: 2 x 6 x hop (both legs) with bounce off landing rather than hold (so skim along)
6: Royal flush: run 30 – 50min with each kilometre getting faster than the one before
7: 3 x 60m fast stride – in each of three weeks
11: 6 x forward hop on each leg. Hold the landing and be stable.
12: Run more 45min
14: 2 x 20-30m skip
15: Call a friend
17: Post an encouraging post on social media
19: Run a 2.5km fast run
20: Two sets of 8 x single leg squat on each leg – use something to help balance if needed
22: Compass balance – once round on each leg (stand on one leg and touch the ground at each of the eight points of the compass – N, NE, E etc – back to standing tall on one leg between each)
24: Run a 6km fast run
25: 8 x arabesque on each leg, a ballet position that has you reaching into the air with one arm, extending the opposite back leg.
27: 2 x 20m high knees
31: 2 x 20-30m skip
32: Run a 30min run
33: 3 x 8 x glute bridge
35: 6 x sideways hop (both directions) on each leg
39: Make positive comment on running related post
43: Two-point plank – do both arms / legs (opposite arm and leg off ground and out in straight line)
45: 2 sets of Compass lunge on each foot.
49: Personal message someone you wouldn’t normally have much contact with
51: 3 x 8 x glute bridge – single leg
52: 2 x 6 x forward bunny hop – two footed jump – control and hold the landing rather than bouncing
55: 2 x 20-30m A walk
58: 3 x 10 x heel raise on each leg on a step
63: Two-point plank with tuck (start with opposite arm and leg off ground and out in straight line, then bring elbow and knee together beneath you)
72: 3 x 6 x pogo jumps
88: 2 x 4 x tuck jump – knees towards chest, hold the landing