Whether you are preparing for a run like the Great Pink Run or simply wanting to get into the habit of running for fitness, we all have to start somewhere. But before you put on your running shoes, it’s important that you know the basics of running and how to run properly.
This is why we consulted Olympian and Great Pink Run Patron, Sonia O’Sullivan, who gave us several pointers that are handy for beginner runners and experienced runners alike.
So, how do you start running? According to Sonia, it all starts with the mind.
“It’s a good idea once you make the commitment to write down a plan, tell your friends and family so you are accountable,” she said.
She also recommends putting out your gear the night before so there is no stalling in the morning. Take a quick drink of water and out the door!
“When getting up early, the first two steps are the hardest but once you step out the door you’ll never regret the decision to get up and get active,” she added.
Should you run everyday? Every other day? If you’re a beginner, Sonia said that the same time on the same days each week will help build a routine that will help you get used to and look forward to the challenge each week.
Make use of the weekends, get out for an hour on one day of the weekend, run, walk or a combination.
Similar to other sports, you can’t “shock” your body by running great distances, especially if you’re just starting. There is a certain technique that will help you prepare for a marathon, but running the same distance straightaway isn’t ideal.
Sonia said that you can start running slowly and ultimately you will be out there for 50 minutes or less, in preparation for a 5 km run.
No one will advise you to run or do anything physically tasking on an empty stomach. So, what should you eat or drink before running?
A drink before you head out and again when you come back in is essential, according to Sonia.
“Water is good but when it is really warm some electrolyte drinks with some sugar and salt helps rehydrate after exercise,” she said.
If you don’t want to buy an electrolyte drink from the shops as some brands contain a lot of sugar, you can also make your own.
Homemade electrolyte is as good as any shop bought drink. You can combine Lemon juice, water, pinch of salt and some maple syrup to taste for this drink.
Nutrition is also very important. Once you start to build your running routine you will also want to improve your diet and eat healthy foods so that you feel good from the inside out.
Sonia says that will appreciate this when you go out for a run. Naturally, this will not only help you get fitter, but you will also feel more efficient and smoother in your run.
So what types of food should you consume? Simple. Just follow the general rules of healthy eating: Try to eat more fruit and vegetables and a balanced meal.
“Just because you are running doesn’t mean you need to eat more or bigger meals. Keep eating the same as normal. It’s just a 5km or 10km run and not a marathon!” Sonia said.
“Burn up all that energy and have a nice Brunch to look forward to afterwards,” she added.
Though we wouldn’t recommend a specific brand, make sure your shoes are comfortable.
“They may feel tighter in the warm weather so keep the laces a bit looser or wear thin socks,” Sonia said.
If you get blisters or sore feet it can often be your socks that are the main problem. Find socks that are not too thick and don’t slip in your shoes. Try different types, and decide which is best for you.
With Ireland’s unpredictable weather, this is one of the biggest considerations you have to make before heading out.
However, since you will be sweating, it is best if you wear light, loose-fitting clothes to ensure you don’t overheat and get too warm.
“Running is the best exercise to get you warm quickly. This is great in winter but in summer can get uncomfortable,” Sonia said.
Make sure to wear light colours like pink! It’s just perfect to reflect the heat rather than attract the sun, she said.
According to Sonia, pacing is key.
“Start slowly and finish strong,” she said. In a marathon, it’s always more fun passing people than being passed as you approach the finish line!
And of course, when you’re in a marathon, also don’t forget to have some energy for the finish as it will be exciting! And you will want to smile and wave your hands to your friends and the crowd!
There is no easy way to do it but here are some tips from Sonia:
Here are other beginner frequently asked questions about running:
Don’t breathe through your mouth because this will make you feel more tired. Instead, breathe like normally, through your mouth and nose. Keep it steady and engage your diaphragm to take in as much oxygen as you can
You may often hear this when talking to your friends who have been running for a while. Cadence simply means the number of steps per minute that a person takes while running. Others also call it the step frequency or foot turnover. Your height, muscle built, and training would all factor into your running cadence.
This is the sharp pain you feel on your side when you ride. Its scientific name is exercise-related transient abdominal pain.
It is caused by the weight of your stomach organs pulling on the ligaments that connect them together. This shouldn't last long and if you keep experiencing this for extended periods of time, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor.
To be able to run properly and do marathons, you do need discipline and perseverance. Practise always makes you better, according to Sonia.
“Practise makes progress so the more you practise and prepare the more progress you will make towards your ultimate goal.”
Do you want to give The Great Pink Run a try? Don’t forget to sign up here: