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Beginner’s Guide to Running

Running is a fantastic form of exercise. It’s free, burns calories and you can do it anywhere! As well as helping you to reach your ideal weight, running can also boost your general mood and reduce your risk of long-term illnesses.

No matter how active you are, or how ambitious your running goals, your journey to becoming a runner begins with a few simple steps, and you’ll soon be completing our virtual running races!

Before you tie your laces though, there are a few things you should know to make running as safe, effective and enjoyable as possible for you. So, if you’re ready to pick up the pace and work towards your fitness goals, take a look at this beginner’s guide to running from ACE Races.

1. Get Motivated

Running takes commitment, and it isn’t always easy, especially when starting out. Before embarking on a 5k run, remember to check your ability and not push your body too hard. You don’t want to cause an injury or feel like your end-goal is unattainable because you weren’t successful on the first attempt.

In the first few weeks, work on getting motivated and staying motivated! Make running a habit and part of your routine. This can be achieved by establishing a time and place to run, making a specific playlist or running with a friend. Rewarding yourself post-run can help with motivation too. After a while, running will be part of your weekly routine and require a lot less willpower!

Planning to start running in the New Year? Take a look at our guide to fitness resolutions and how to keep them!

2. Get Moving

One of the most important things for beginner runners is to get moving and get into a regular routine by taking brisk walks. This routine will get your body ready for running and minimise the risk of injury.

For a full breakdown, take a look at our Couch to 5K plan which incorporates walking with short bursts of running to build up your fitness and stamina.

3. Remember to Warm-up and Cool Down

Warming up before running can be crucial as it helps to prevent your muscles tearing or pulling when you set off. The aim of warming up is to increase your pulse, rev up your cardiovascular system and increase blood flow. You should also do plenty of stretches to loosen your joints and ensure your muscles are prepared for exercise.

Cooling down is just as vital for runners as it is needed to lower your heart rate to its resting state and facilitates movement in your blood flow and lymphatic system which removes the lactic acid out of your body. Failing to cool down by stopping running or training abruptly can cause your muscles to stop contracting vigorously, which isn’t ideal recovering your pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure.

4. Choose the right Running Shoes

Choosing the right running shoes for you is essential to make sure you’re getting the most out of your run, that your foot is supported and you aren’t at risk of long term injury.

For information on how to find the right pair for you, take a look at our detailed guide to buying running shoes.

5. Choose the right Running Clothes

It’s not necessary to spend a fortune on expensive running clothes, but beginner runners do need to wear the correct running gear depending on the weather and season. It’s important to keep warm in the winter months, but avoid overheating.

Layers are essential, take a look at our running clothing guide and discover what to wear, whatever the weather!

6. Watch your footstrike!

Your footstrike refers to the way you foot hits the ground when running. You may notice that you land on your heel, or on your toes or forefoot. Some coaches recommend trying to land in the middle of your foot before rolling through to the front of your toes.

However, everybody runs differently and it isn’t always advised to change your natural stride. You should be aware though that landing on your toes can cause tight calves and shin pain, and landing on your heels can mean you’re overstriding.

If you’re concerned about your footstrike causing any potential future injuries, then it is possible to adapt it by focusing on your stride, practising barefoot and incorporating running drills into your warm-up.

7. Eat Well and Energise your Body

Whether you’re a beginner runner or an advanced marathon competitor, it’s important to fuel your body, stay hydrated and eat a nutritious diet. Before running, you should eat carbohydrates that will provide your body with the energy required for a long run.

However, you should try to avoid running on a full stomach as this can cause a stitch or even vomiting so leave around 3 hours for digestion before setting off. After a long run, remember to restore muscle glycogen with carbohydrates and protein around half an hour after your cool down.

Virtual Races for Beginners

If you’re new to running, take a look at the ACE Races range of challenging virtual races you can complete anytime, anywhere!

Whether you’re in training for a 5k, 10k, half-marathon or marathon, our virtual running community offers support and motivation. You’ll even receive a custom medal for every race you compete in.

Find out how to enter our races today!