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Running Tips For Beginners (Including How To Get Started)

You'll be a bona fide Forrest Gump in no time.
It all starts with the first step.
It all starts with the first step.

When it comes to fitness, people tend to fall into two camps: those who run, and those who don't.

Those in the latter category might choose not to run because of a pre-existing condition or, as in this reporter's case, because it just looks waaay too hard.

However, according to Ben Liddy, physiotherapist and running manager of Central Performance Running Centre, it doesn't have to be.

All the 'scary' elements putting you off can be easily avoided with the proper preparation and the right information, turning you into a bona fide Forrest Gump (or should we aim for Usain Bolt?) in no time.

If you are new to running, what's the best way to start?

"Try and find someone who has experience writing programs for beginners and speak to them about how best to get started," Liddy told The Huffington Post Australia.

"For anyone who has never run before you should always start out on a walk/jog program where you only do a little bit of running combined with regular walking. If your body handles that okay, then you gradually reduce the amount of walking you are doing and increase the amount of running you are doing until you no longer require any walking breaks.

"By doing this you reduce your risk of injury significantly as it prepares all the muscles, tendons, bones etc. to handle the loading of full time running."

Is there anything you should do before you start?

"Again, I think seeking out someone knowledgeable in programming is important to ensure they give you a individualised program that takes into account your exercise history and past injuries," Liddy said.

"A movement screen from a physiotherapist or qualified strength and conditioning trainer can be useful to assess areas of weakness or assymetry in the body that can potentially increase the risk of injury. From here, some exercises or stretches can be prescribed to help with your running and keeping you injury free."

Who knows? Soon you might look as capable as these two sporty folk.
Who knows? Soon you might look as capable as these two sporty folk.

What are the most common mistakes people make when running?

"Doing too much too soon," Liddy said. "It is so important to ensure you start your training program very gradually if you have never run before, as the risk of injury is very high for people who are starting for the first time.

"I would also say not including recovery days ( these don't necessarily need to be complete rest days, but easier training days) and completing training that is not specific to the event that you are trying to compete in. This leads to performances being significantly below what you are capable of."

What are the most common injuries/problems people have when running?

"Shin pain -- either medial tibial stress syndrome (classically called shin splints but not the correct term) or stress fractures of the tibia.

"Knee pain can also be an issue -- usually patellofemoral joint syndrome -- or plantar fasciitis or ITB syndrome."

What could these be due to?

"Usually a result of training errors, so starting off with too much volume or intensity or a combination of both," Liddy said.

"Injuries can also result from sudden spikes in your training load (so suddenly doing a week of training much higher than normal), biomechanical factors such as poor running technique or muscle weakness (poor hip and glute control, lack of calf strength)."

Expert advice: don't go too hard too early.
Expert advice: don't go too hard too early.

In terms of injuries like shin splints or sore knees, are there any exercises you would recommend to manage them?

"Incorporating some resistance training into your program is a good way to prevent against these injuries. Seeking out someone qualified to diagnose the injury is important as generally, the reason for the injury will be different for everyone, so having an individualised approach is essential," Liddy advised.

"Having access to regular massage or physiotherapy treatment is also a good way to prevent against the soft tissues in the body getting too overloaded.

"I'd also recommend having your running technique analysed by a knowledgeable coach or physiotherapist who can help you understand what you are doing wrong and prescribe exercises or technical cues to help you improve it."

What should a good run feel like?

"A good run should leave you feeling invigorated not exhausted. You should generally finish most runs feeling like you could have gone for longer. Yes, a lot of runs should leave you feeling tired, but you want to make sure you don't run yourself down too much that you can't complete the next scheduled training."

If you enjoy company, try joining a running club.
If you enjoy company, try joining a running club.

In your opinion, what constitutes a good running training regime?

"It's really dependent on the individual, but it should be based on the individual's goals and running history," Liddy said.

"Generally I think there should only be two hard sessions in the week and the rest should be relaxed runs. This allows your body to absorb the harder training and reduce the risk of injury."

What's the difference between 'good' and 'bad' pain?

"Good pain is generally similar on both sides of the body, it doesn't stop you from completing your training and it doesn't get much worse as you continue.

"Bad pain is sharp, forces you to change your running action and generally worsens as you go. It is generally focused to one particular area."

Is running suited to everyone?

"If there is no medical reason why someone cannot run then as long as the program is designed for that individual then running can be for everyone."

Anything else you would like to add?

"Consistency is the key. It takes weeks/months/years to see big jumps in fitness but if you stick with it and avoid injury, then you will be amazed at how much improvement you can get.

"I would also advise seeking out someone to help you with your program and, if you enjoy company, then try and find a local running group to allow you to run with people of similar ability level."

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