Tips & Advice


How to improve on 30-minute runs
You can try for a quicker time or you can try and increase your distance. Personally I would go for a good distance. You could think about entering a 10K race and then working towards a half marathon but again it depends on where you want to go with your running. As you get stronger you will probably increase your speed anyway.

How to run more often
Slowly increase the length of a weekend run until you can comfortably run for an hour and a half, and build up one other run (mid-week) into a real hard speed session. Treat the other two runs as steady general purpose training. When you are accomplishing all this fairly easily you could consider moving up to five sessions.

Indoor vs outdoor running
You really just can’t beat the outdoors. You get to see other runners and there’s always somewhere to spit. Try running at about five o’clock at night, you’ll be moving faster than most commuters stuck in their cars. It makes you glad to be alive, even when it’s raining.

If you are already a member of a gym then by all means use the treadmill to gain some experience of running. Put it on a 1 degree incline and away you go; also treadmills are generally a bit gentler on the legs.

Finding time to run
I’m no morning person but I get an enormous satisfaction from going out first thing. The roads are much quieter, it always seems to be less windy and I feel so good when I get to work knowing I’ve already exercised. Just try it once and see if it works for you!

I could never find time to run, so I’ve started to run home from work three nights a week, Monday/Wednesday/Friday. I live about six miles from work so it takes me less than an hour, which is only 25 minutes longer than catching the bus. If I have nothing planned in the evening I run different routes to add variety.


Overcome self-sabotage
I’ve been making futile attempts to run regularly for years and have always felt that I just wasn’t good enough somehow. So this year at Christmas I simply decided it doesn’t matter any more how fast I do it, it’s that I do it. I went on to realise how often I sabotage my running efforts, in that as soon as I finish a run I begin to criticise and scold myself for all the things I hadn’t done well, such as being too slow, or even at times not enjoying it. Since I’ve left all of that behind, I am running regularly now, three or four times a week, and for the first time am actually enjoying a lot of the runs.

Join a club!
Email clubs in your area, they’ll reply inviting you to come along.  They explained that there were runners of all levels and abilities at the clubs and that they would welcome you as a new member! Maybe you could email a few in your area, they’ll all be welcoming.

Train by racing
Why not use 5K races as part of your training routine? I assume you don’t enter them with the intention of winning, so why not enter them with the intention of adding them to your training routine. This should give you some milestones to work to, the chance to run in safety, the buzz of joining others and some nice little medals/mugs/certificates/bottles of beer to admire on those long dark nights.

Watch the public
If you start to lose motivation, go and sit in your local park, watch people waddling past (you know the ones, spray-on leggings and midriff-exposing T-shirts) and think “with a bit more effort and a bit less lard, there go I”. That normally does the trick.

Find a running partner
You may find that training with someone else really helps loads. If you do train with someone else, you can talk and let your minds wonder! Before you know it, you’ll have been running for an hour and a half!

Chart your progress
The realisation that you can do a bit more today than you did this time last week, the way muscle definition starts to appear, the endorphin rush that makes runners pleasantly crazy, the sheer pleasure of using your body to do what it was designed to do – move – more than compensate for a bit of inconvenience. Grit your teeth and get on with it.

Keep a record
Get yourself a training diary ( just an ordinary diary with “training” written on the front will do). Fill it in every day, even if you fill in “nothing”.

Aim for a race
Whatever your aim is, try and pick a run that you want to do in the future. Then you’ll have a goal to focus on.

Common beginner injuries and health tips

The night before a long run, you could put petroleum jelly all over your feet, put socks on and go to bed. The petroleum jelly softens the skin while you sleep. On the day of the run, put Body Glide all over toes and areas I might get a blister, and wear double layer socks (Wright makes good ones). You shouldn’t have had problems with blisters with this regimen.

Shin splints
The two main things you can do to prevent shin splints are (a) build up your miles and intensities very gradually and (b) avoid running on hard surfaces as much as possible.

Usually with beginners it is caused by eating too close to running, or gulping down too much water at a time instead of sipping little mouthfuls when running.

Back pain
Actively think about your posture while running – one of the major causes of back pain while running is inappropriate posture. You may find you are either leaning forward whilst running or running with your back slightly twisted.

Think of the lungs as just another muscle. You’re exercising it by running far more than you ever have before, so it’s bound to complain at first. It happened to me too. Just stick with the running and your lungs’ ability to cope with the extra demands will slowly improve.

I know a (very good) runner who told me he gave up by running very fast up long steep hills, and then smoking at the top. Eventually he came to associate fags with choking and throwing up…

High-wicking tops can helps enormously as it stops clothes clinging to me. Run outside as the cool air helps.

Hay fever
Try running in the morning or just after it’s rained; there will be less pollen in the air. Failing that, a small amount of petroleum jelly in the end of each nostril, (do make sure you can still breathe through your nose though), may catch any stray pollen. You can wear glasses, and that does help the eyes a bit. If you’re not a spectacle-wearer, try reactive sunglasses.

Beginner Nutrition

Timing food
Normally have something about 90 mins before a run (nothing that repeats and normally carbs) and sometimes a banana a few minutes before you run. But you have to make sure you GO before the run so you don’t need an emergency pit stop!!

When to use a sports drink
You should probably use a sports drink if your runs are going to be any longer than about 45 minutes. You need to replace the various things, especially electrolytes, that you lose through sweat, that plain water can’t replace.

Make your own sports drink
Try making your own isotonic energy drink with 50/50 fruit juice/water and a pinch of salt. Much cheaper than commercial drinks and works just as well. One pint per hour delivers about 30g of carbohydrate, which is what you need if you’re running more than two hours.

Odd but energy-filled
Eat banana mashed up with a tablespoon of low-sugar peanut butter (microwaved-just enough to be warm and mushy – sounds horrible but tastes lovely about half an hour before a run). Fantastic energy boost!

Discover your own secrets
Try writing down EVERYTHING you do in a day, not just your running. Also note down everything you’ve had to eat. When you have a good day running, look at what else you done and eaten, and do the same for bad days. You’ll soon work out what’s helpful and what’s a hindrance. We could all give you tips, but we don’t all work the same way!

When weight-loss comes
It may take some time for weight loss to start. Those long runs, where you have to switch to using fat as fuel, are the key (although total mileage, and speed sessions, help too), and the ability to reach that distance and to switch smoothly to fat-burning, instead of conking out when the glycogen starts to run low, doesn’t come instantly.

What to eat after a run
If you can’t face food (and I’m with you there in not finding it easy to eat after an evening run), have half a litre of sports drink or squash (not the sugar-free sort) as part of your post-run rehydration, and maybe a couple of biscuits with your bedtime cocoa. Then follow-up with a big breakfast!


Choosing a pace
Just pick a reasonable time goal and keep to that pace (try not to get caught up in the moment and go out too quick). I usually pick someone who is going my pace and run behind them, makes a big difference when you’re pacing with someone.

Most races have markers at each kilometre. Work out what pace you need per km, and adjust your effort depending on whether you hit your expected time at the first marker. The idea is to keep roughly to an even pace. Hopefully you’ll have some left in the tank for a big push in the final km or half km. Very important – try not to go off too fast! You’ll pay for it later.

Pre-race nerves
There is a bit of a competitive feel in the air but it was so exciting – I can’t wait to be fit enough to run again this year. The thing I found was that there were so many people there different shapes and sizes and ability. I remember at the finish a little old lady sprinted past me at the finish – humiliating you would think, but I just laughed at the whole experience.

When you get nervous, try thinking about how good it will feel just to finish your very first race, and about how much you have improved since you started out (that’s what I’m trying, anyway!) You say you’re not very fit, but you’ve just done five miles… that’s way better than me! Good luck.

Remember the charity that will benefit from your venture – they won’t care where you finished, but just thank you for making the effort and helping them.

What does ‘undulating’ mean?
This description can cover basically flat ground with a few non-level bits to courses with hills that climbers would be proud to achieve! The best thing to do is to try and look at a map which shows contours etc, this at least gives you some idea as to the flatness (or not). Multimap online is very useful.

Beginner Shoes and Kit

The most important piece of kit will be your running shoes, which should be comfortable and suited to your running style.

Cleaning running shoes
In winter, ‘hand wash’ them in a bowl/bath and then turn them upside down to get the worst of the water out. Then stick them on the central heating storage thing to dry out. An old toothbrush is good at getting mud off, I find.

New shoes for racing?
Not sure it’s a good idea to run your first race in brand-new shoes. I feel I always need to break mine in a couple of times before they feel really comfy. It may be best to do the race in the shoes you’ve been training in, and then look for some new ones.

Avoiding chafing
Nike do a pair of lycra shorts with the seams running across the body (left to right from inside of leg to opposite side rather than back to front.) No Chafing (research by Mr Fergalk), so comfy running.  Also look for a product called BodyGlide, its like a roll on deodorant, and works great!

What to wear in the rain
Wearing anything vaguely waterproof while running makes me… how shall I put this delicately?… sweat like a racehorse, so I just wear a T-shirt and tracksters. Getting wet from rain is preferable to stewing in my own juice, and I just do a quick change to dry clothes when I get back to the house/car.

Cold-weather running
In the winter, or if the weather is cold, I wear running tights, and find a gilet is best. If I wear a light jacket I end up having it tied round my waist for most of the run. I’m a real sweaty runner, so under the gilet I wear a short-sleeved wicking top, or if it’s really cold a long-sleeved wicking top. You can buy them in all sorts of weights so best to go to a specialist running shop and have a good look at what’s on offer.

Weight Loss And Running

Eat enough
Make sure that you are eating enough. If you don’t give your body enough food to fuel all the exercise you are doing, it will refuse to give up any of the energy (fat) stores it has.

… But not too much
It may be that you are eating too much, even if it’s the good stuff! Okay, you need energy to run, but you still need a calorie deficiency to lose weight; when you are running your heightened metabolism enables you to eat more because you are using more energy, but if your intake exceeds your energy needs it will still be stored as fat, even if its ‘good’ food such as carbs etc.

Three tips that work
The most effective things I’ve found are: giving up drinking (not fun but it helps weight loss like you wouldn’t believe), writing down what you eat (it’s easy to think you’re ‘watching’ it but so much slips by unnoticed), and making your runs harder, eg either faster or hillier courses.

Don’t worry about a short-term weight gain
One effect to watch out for is that when you start exercising initially you replace muscle for fat as you get fitter. As muscle weighs more than fat you can even put on weight. If you stick with the training, and eat the right quantity of food, the weight will come off. Be patient!

Reward successes
Like everyone else says, take your time and celebrate the little successes, like the first time you run for three minutes. Buy yourself some really nice bubble bath so you can have a lovely luxurious soak after a good training session and enjoy the fact that you are out there taking control and making an effort.

Drink lots!
Drink and drink lots. The minimum should be two litres a day, including water, no-added-sugar juices, Isostar (mmm..scrummy), and no pop or fizz.

Slimming world…
‘Slimming world’ is a great plan for runners; you need to make sure you restock you muscles after a run, and you can have potatoes, pasta and rice in as large quantities as you like. I’ve lost nearly four stone with them so far. I don’t feel like training if I don’t feel like I’m eating enough.


One thought on “Tips & Advice

  1. I am interested in getting involved with running as I’d like to become fitter, however each time I try I don’t pace myself properly and I get knee pain ( possibly down to me wearing incorrectfootwear) or I lose motivation, so I think if I was involved with a group I might actually stick at it. Do you have any advice on how to get started?

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