How To Start Running (And Not Hate Every Second Of It)

We'll huff, and we'll puff, and we'll blow your mind​

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There are moments – say, when you're slouched against a bin, sweat-drenched and hyperventilating, about to order an Uber to your home that sits three minutes down the road – when it's easy to believe that running just isn't for you.

But that's just because you've gone in all guns blazing, unaware of the careful preparation that any beginner needs to make before embarking on a long and fulfilling jogging journey.

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To that end, we've gone about listing some of the most important things to take care of before you step onto the pavement.

1 | Identify Your App

Your phone has infiltrated every other aspect of you life, so why shouldn't it be your running buddy too? Needless to say, there are thousands of different apps vying for your sweaty-palmed attention.

You've got the bread & butter journey trackers, which map every run you make and provide comparisons with previous performance. 'Runkeeper' reigns supreme amongst seasoned street trotters, delivering in-depth records of your pace, distance, time, calorie-loss and other useful metrics. It's free, too.

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Then there's 'Couch-to-5k', which functions as a three-days-a-week training program towards competition-standard glory. But our favourite? 'Run An Empire', a strategy running game in which you "conquer lands" by jogging through them, competing with other runners to lay claim to as much of your local area as possible. You'll become addicted, and it'll hurt like hell, but that's war for you.

2 | Make A Friend

Difficult one, this. Do you want a fellow huff & puffer who'll struggle along with you, therefore making you feel less alone on the long, grizzly road to fitness? Or do you want a bullying, hard-sprinting rugby lad who'll make you drink Lucozade out of his running shoe if you so much as drop the pace?

Whoever it is, a running buddy will keep you steady and on-track in more ways than one.

Firstly, the pressure to actually get up and leave the house will be increased by the fact that someone else is relying on you.

They'll also act as good pace-setters, and provide more entertainment than 'Now That's What I Call Running! 67'.

If nobody's up for it, opt for a local running club. Or, if you want some great conversation but don't fancy any human interaction during your sweatiest moments, download some attention-stealing podcasts.

3 | Change Up The Scenery

Now that Pokemon Go has been found out as the slightly less boring Apple Maps that it really is, you no longer have any good reason to venture off-piste from your local bus route/late night supermarket slipper dash. Shame.

Which is why you need to start exploring more with your running destinations, instead. Not only is it uplifting and edifying to explore your local digs, but it helps keep things fresh when embarking on a less-than thrilling run. 

Hop on to Google Maps, identify an as-yet-untrodden spot within running distance, and set off on your journey of discovery.

4 | Ace A Playlist

We're not here to slag off your favourite Spotify playlist, but it's no wonder you're finding motivation hard to come by with Newton Faulkner curdling in your ears the whole time.

Try to keep things up-tempo. We're not saying you need to play a techno remix of 'Eye of the Tiger' on a constant loop, but we're also not not saying that. It's an important aspect of any run, referred to as a "legal drug for athletes" by Dr Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University, who claims that music can boost performance by up to 15%.

There's a lot of theorising around how beats-per-minute and stride count should come into play when choosing a running soundtrack, but that seems like far too much effort to us. We just suggest some hard-driving bass to match your foot strike, and anything that gets the adrenaline pumping.

5 | Avoid Big Meals

There's no definitive diet for running beginners. There are those who can eat an entire Sunday roast before a run and clear the course without so much as a burp, whereas others will feel queasy after a single jelly bean.

But regardless of your stomach sturdiness, it's important to feel energized. To that end, it's a good idea to eat a small snack consisting of easily digestible carbs – a banana; half a nutrient bar; carrot sticks – up to an hour before your run, and make sure to bring enough water.

If you suffer from reflux of any kind, it wouldn't be a bad idea to wait until after your run for a bite to eat (or chow down on some antacid tablets beforehand).

6 | Treat Your Feet

Tempting as it might be to throw down a fiver on some Sports Direct specials and call it a day, your poor, ill-treated feet won't be too impressed. Running is the most equipment-less (and therefore cheapest) sport on Earth, so you owe it to yourself to splash the cash on a comfortable pair of trainers that will last you years.

There are several reasons why you might need to be more choosey with your shoes. We all run in different ways, and need support for particular zones (the biggest problem area being the arch of the foot).

Many specialist running shops provide tests to identify technique problems and their trainer-based solutions.

7 | Give Yourself No Mercy

"I will go for a run after work." The mantra you repeat to yourself from the moment you leave the office to the very second that you plonk down on your settee for a well-deserved rest. Three hours and one whole packet of Maryland cookies later, and you know full well that you're not going on that run. You knew it as soon as your arse hit the cushion. You had no chance.

Grim as it sounds, you really do need to get going as soon as you get home. The longer you put it off in your head, and the longer you allow your legs to sink into the settee, the more daunting the task becomes. Running home from work, if you can, is the perfect antidote to the post-office slump.

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