It’s the easiest exercise to get out there and do – but it’s not the easiest to do and not end up feeling like you’ve hammered your legs into the ground like garden posts for a couple of days afterwards. Of course, we are talking about running. With gyms likely to be one of the last places to open, exercise remains something you must do either in your own home or in the great outdoors. With the days getting warmer and longer, there’s no better time to get into the joys (and aches and strains) of running. Maybe you already have and you’re hating it so much you’re hoping to find a way to dislike it just a little bit less – either way, here’s a very loose ‘how to run’ guide based on personal experiences…

Just Do It. Don’t Worry About How it Looks
You are not a gazelle – and that’s fine. As a result, running will likely not come natural to you and the first time you step outside it may well be hell. No worries – baby steps are the way forward. When you first embark on a run – just run – don’t set yourself any physical or even mental goals. Just keep going until you can’t and if you think you’ll go further if you slow down – then do that. Think of it like driving: the first time you got into a car, all you wanted to do was not crash or get shouted at by your instructor. Running’s the same – just try to stay on your feet and not pass out. That’s all you need to do.

Make Sure You Stretch
It’s awkward, you’ll feel silly (I still do) and a bit like you’re auditioning for a bad Eric Prydz video – but do it anyway. There are still debates on whether stretching and warming up before running actually benefits you in any way – but I look at it like this: do all athletes, no matter which field they’re in do stretches and training before they perform? Yes – so you should too. Some of the best stretches you can do are:

Frankenstein Walk
Ignoring the incorrect implications of this exercise (it was his monster that was scary not Frankenstein himself) this is a great and easy warm-up to do. Stand with your feet together. Extend your right leg straight out in front of you as you bring your left hand up to tap right toes. Lower leg and step forward; repeat on the opposite side. Continue for 30 seconds or so.

Quad and Piriformis Walk
Start standing then draw your left foot up behind you, pulling it towards your butt for a quad stretch. Release and step forward; switch legs. After 30 seconds, cradle right leg at the ankle and knee, pulling it up to your chest. Release and step forward; switch legs. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Start Small – 2K is Fine
Starting out, two kilometres can be as overwhelming as twenty. Just run until you can’t anymore. Started fast and dead on your feet after a couple minutes? Chill out. Slow and steady wins the race – or at least helps you get to that first 5K milestone. Soon enough, you’ll trust your body and know if you can sprint the next 500 metres or whether your pace of 1K in 5:30 is sustainable. Like Allen Iverson once said, it’s about ‘practice’. Eventually, you will get to a point where you feel comfortable trying to beat your personal best.

Invest In Trainers, Apps and Clothing
Every sportswear brand and his dog has some sort of run tracking GPS app. Download one and monitor your progress. This way it’s easy to know exactly how far you’re running and how long it takes you to cover one kilometre. You can even find and share routes and make notes on them. Some of the best apps include Under Armour’s Map My Run, Nike Run Club, adidas’ Runtastic and there’s many more to explore. Secondly, heading out in any old trainers that are lying around is fine but not advisable. Running shoes exist for a reason, they offer cushioning against concrete and stability to protect your ankles alongside many more health benefits. Sadly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the perfect footwear, so it’s worth doing some research and maybe checking out Up & Running Manchester which can offer Gait Analysis and expert knowledge.

Book a Fix My Run Course
If you really have no idea how to get started, if you’ve been injured before or if you just want to improve your stride or time, then Fix My Run is an excellent investment. Through this six-part course, Manchester experts Alex Green and Joe Best can help improve your running technique by using their Dynamic Movement Skills methodology which aims to help get our body moving properly. Whatever your skill level or circumstance, Fix My Run promises to get you back on your feet in no time. Visit their site to get started.

Matthew Cooper
Published on:
Thu 4 Jun 2020