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Handy hints & tips for newcomers to running

image depicting Running on treadmill

Stretching, top tips, common problems and clothing

Stretching – Why it's important

It doesn't matter what level of fitness you are, stretching should be a vital part to your running routine. Your muscles & tendons, particularly your leg muscles need to be ready for the extra pressure applied on them during your run, otherwise they are likely to suffer damage which could keep you out of action for weeks, or even months.

Try to concentrate on stretching: back, upper & lower calf's, Achilles tendon, quadriceps (front of your thigh), hamstrings, thighs, arms, chest and shoulders.

Once you have perfected the basics, get into the habit of stretching each of these muscles before and after each run, no matter how small. You will feel the benefit, and so will your body.

Top tips

1. Build up your running slowly and steadily and don't increase the distance you run by more than 15% per week.

2. Get into a routine so training will be much easier. Write your training schedule into your diary or calendar and try to stick to it as much as possible.

3. As you begin to progress through a programme, first work on increasing duration before lifting your pace.

4. Don't attempt to run through any illness or injury as you may end up sidelined for weeks, or even months. Seek medical advice.

5. When possible, supplement by cross-training with other activities e.g. swimming, cycling, hill walking etc.

6. Don't train when you feel tired or lethargic. Listen to your body. Maybe it's time for a rest, a decent meal or a good night's sleep. Let your body re-charge its batteries.

7. Always try to eat something within 30 minutes of running, to re-fuel the muscles with carbohydrate.

8. Don't run in old worn shoes as it will increase the risk of injury. Seek guidance for correct type and fitting.

9. Don't run in brand new shoes without first "breaking them in", otherwise you are liable to get blisters.

10. ENJOY your training; if possible, try to run in different places like your local parks and with someone else to keep you motivated.

Common Problems

Poor technique

One of the most frustrating aspects of running is not being able to get to the "next level", mainly due to niggling injuries. More often than not, the root of these problems is poor technique.

The most common aches and pains tend to be located in the lower back, knees, soles of the feet, shins and in the neck and shoulders.  If you are having trouble with pains in your back, neck or shoulders, then it could very well be a problem with your posture, so try and remember some handy hints that should eliminate any upper body problems.

a.    Ensure your neck and shoulders are nice and relaxed.
b.    Your chest should be upright and balanced over your hips.
c.    Do not bury your head in your shoulders.
d.    Ensure your head is upright and centered.

Problems will also occur in your lower back if you tend to lean forward when you run, doing this puts unnecessary pressure on the area.  Always try to take an upright stance, this not only eliminates those aches and pains but will also strengthen your core muscles in the abdomen and allow your body to work more effectively.



The most technical and most important equipment you need to buy are your running shoes.  These have evolved over the past ten years into sophisticated pieces of technology and each manufacturer has their own version.

If you are starting out, you are looking for a shoe that is going to protect you from the rigours of running on hard surfaces but will be equally suited to using in the gym.

Every one's foot is different. The same is true for their body and how their posture impacts on the way that their foot falls with each step. All these elements must be taken into account when choosing the correct shoe.

And that is why it is always advisable to find a specialist running shop or even one of the bigger stores where staff are aware of these considerations. It is simply not a case of finding a shoe that "fits".  The trained eye should look at the way you run and your posture, and be able to advise on the best pair for you.

Tops & sport bras

When the weather gets really cold, it is advisable to invest in a gillet or a long sleeved waterproof top.  These offer wind-stopping and rain-resistance capabilities, and can keep you warm and dry throughout any run. 

Gillets are armless and ideal for quicker running in slightly warmer climates, while the full long sleeve waterproofs are better for colder and wetter climates.  Being prepared for cooler conditions enables you to stay warm, dry and enjoy the run more.

Your sports bra should fit snugly under the bust without being uncomfortably tight.  All of your bust should fit in the bra without any bulges around the sides and the shoulder straps should not dig in (for larger busts, wider straps are more comfortable). 

When you perform the activity the bra is used for, there should be significantly less bounce than with a normal bra.  Women should only wear one sports bra even for high impact activities.

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