Have you committed to learn how to run (and enjoy it) during lockdown? Given that time spent outdoors is currently limited to one hour a day – plus the fact that public gyms and fitness studios are closed for the foreseeable future – many of us have considered, or already started, to get into running as a way to stay active and help maintain good mental health. If that's you, good on you, deciding you want to start running is half the battle so you've already achieved a lot.
Several members of the Real Homes team have been getting into running over recent months. And while we're not quite outrunning Mo Farah yet, we do have a few tips and tricks to help you get started, whether you're planning on running outside or think you'll invest in one of the best treadmills instead.
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1. Download an app to help you get started
If you're new to running or are returning to the roads after a few absent years, you may be unsure how to get started. Unfortunately it isn't as easy as just going out and stretching one leg infront of the other.
Our advice would be to make use of an app – our top recommendation being the free Couch to 5k app (opens in new tab) – which aims to guide you through your runs, increasing the difficulty incrementally in a bid to help everyone (no matter their initial fitness level) to reach their first running milestones. Read our guide to Couch to 5k to find out more.
You could also invest in fitness tracker to measure your progress. These come with an app too that may have tips, hints or fitness guidance tailored to you. See the best deals below.
2. Find motivation from other runners
If – like us – you often lack the motivation to keep going when running alone, we'd ordinarily advise getting involved with a local running club. But since that's not really possible right now, joining a running club with a big social media presence might be the next best thing to help you feel like part of a community.
Alternatively, if you have friends or family members who are into running, you might enjoy chatting to them about their tips for motivation, routes they enjoy in your local area and more. Or, perhaps you can drag your other half, little ones, or quarantine buddies out with you – there's nothing to distract you from the fact that you're running like having a chat with someone.
3. Consider investing in some new running gear
Ultimately, we believe that the most important thing is that you're getting out and running, not necessarily that you're wearing the right gear. After all, not everyone is in a position to spend money on running gear and that should never be the thing that gets between you and your desire to run.
That said, there is something to be said for having the best running shoes. Not only will they decrease your likelihood of injury, they can also help your performance.
4. Make sure you warm up properly
In order to prevent injury, it's essential that you make sure you're stretching properly. It may seem unnecessary – and it's a step that many of us can be tempted to skip – but it's more than worth it in the long term. We'd recommend giving the following a go.
- Run in place – hold your hands out at waist level and try to lift your knees up to them for a count of 20;
- Use a skipping rope and do 40 jumps;
- Do 10 push ups; if you find them hard on the floor, do them against a raised surface, such as a steady coffee table;
- Do 40 star jumps.
5. And stretch when you're done
It's equally important that you stretch at the end of a run in order to prevent injury. When stretching you should never feel any pain, just a slight stretch in your muscle.
- Go for a walk: this isn't a stretch (which you will need to do to avoid muscle tightness), but it is a really vital part of a cool down. Got a dog? Time the walk for just after your work out.
- Hips circles: Remaining on all fours, this stretch calls for you to circle your hips, however feels comfortable, to prevent the build up of tension in this area.
- Hip flexor stretch: up on to your knees, keeping your hips level, take your right foot forwards so that your left leg is in a lunge position behind you. You should feel the stretch in your hip flexor. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Quad stretch: stand up, feet and knees together, take your right foot up towards your bottom; hold on to your right foot with your right hand to increase the stretch, keeping your hips level. Hold on to the wall with your left hand if you need to.
6. Enter an event to help keep you motivated
Serious about sticking to a running plan? We'd recommend signing up to an event to keep yourself motivated. And given that there won't be any races happening for the foreseeable future, there's plenty of time to ensure you're fit enough to take on the challenge you've set yourself. And you'll be surprised how much more likely you are to keep running if you have something to aim towards.