A Beginners Guide to Running

Jun 29, 2017 | Jenni Ashford

Running and Me

Part One: A Beginners Guide to Running

Most of you who read this will know me and know that I run a bit. With three marathons, one ultra-marathon and numerous half marathons under my belt, to be honest, it’s become more than just ‘a bit’. I think running can have that effect on you. So how did I get here?

How many times a day do I hear people say, “I’d love to run but I’m not a runner” or “I’m not the right build” or “It hurts my back”?  I’ve even had, “My legs aren’t long enough”. Yes, really!

What most people don’t know is that I have probably used most, if not all, of those excuses myself.

Four years ago, I would not have called myself a runner. No way.

I do now.

In fact, four years ago, I would have done anything to avoid running. Even as a Gym Manager with years of fitness experience training other people and being pretty fit myself, running was the enemy.

So, what happened and how did I change my outlook on running? How did I get from where I was then, to where I am now?

First off. Let’s get this clear…no-one finds running easy. You can get your body used to the pain and overcome the mental challenge of wanting to stop, but no-one finds running easy. So, remind yourself of that every time those negative thoughts enter your head (I’ll talk more about this next week). Once accepted, the next step is to get out there or onto the treadmill and take that leap of faith.

My first target was 3K. I decided to run 3K every day. Some days that felt reasonably easy, however others it felt virtually impossible. Oh, and every day there was a reason to do something else far more important.

After a couple of weeks, I could do 3K without too much distress. And, it began to feel natural.

So, how do you get to run 3K when if feels like a marathon? Here are some tips for beginner’s running.

  1. The distance isn’t important. It could be 1K. If you’re new to running then you won’t know your fitness level. Set yourself a small challenge first, and make achieving that distance your goal, not whether you can run it all in one go. You may want to do it by yourself or with a friend. The biggest weapon you have in your arsenal is determination. So, make sure it is a goal that’s achievable. If your goal is too big or too far then you are setting yourself up to fail. Your number 1 goal is to start and to finish. That’s it. Run or run and walk. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if how long it takes you. Once that first run is done, you’ll feel a sense of achievement – as well as feeling like you’ve worked hard. Great job.


  1. Step it up to twice a week. If you can even make it three, then great. But, two short runs a week is the goal. Do not make that goal any bigger for the first three or four weeks. It’s easy to get carried away and push too much, too quickly – don’t. Starting slowly will make sure your head space stays positive, focusing on how good you’re doing, how good you’re feeling and that those beginner runs are becoming easier.


  1. Remember, humans are meant to run. Just as humans are designed to walk, they are also designed to run – your body has just forgotten. Look at children – they run everywhere! Will you be out of breath? Yes. Being out of breath while running is normal. Get your head around the fact that you can manage your breathing while running. Being out of breath (if you’re otherwise healthy) is good for you – it means you are working your body according to its design. It will get easier. When you start running, your body isn’t used to working at that rate but it will adapt as you improve. FACT: if you’re working hard, you’ll be breathing hard. Even now, if I run 3K or a marathon, I will always be out of breath. Your recovery time however, will improve and fairly quickly.


4. Will the run feel uncomfortable? Yes.
Again, regardless of distance, running is uncomfortable. Will it start to feel better? Yes. It really does. That comfort zone which you leave when you start running, does expand I promise. I also promise that you will begin to enjoy it.  Look around you, how many people do you know that you didn’t think were runners, yet now they go out and take part in park runs (a great way to improve, by the way!) or have even completed half or full marathons? Sometimes, while running you may even manage a smile!


5. Finally, by keeping to shorter runs, you know the end is in sight each time and that your efforts will soon be rewarded.


Download the app Map My Run – you’ll be able to keep track of distance, times and climbs if you want to take on a hill or two.


Next week, I will talk about stepping it up a level, keeping up momentum and overcoming negative thoughts.


Lee Cooke, Fitness Manager




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