Tips for first-time runners in lockdown
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Tips for first-time runners in lockdown

By Manish Pandey

Newsbeat reporter

image copyrightGetty Images

You’re all Zoom-quizzed out. You’ve completed Netflix (again). And now you’re looking for something new to do in lockdown.

Maybe, you’ve decided to take up running for the first time?

During the coronavirus lockdowns last year, fitness apps such as Strava and Freeletics recorded an increase in people using them.

But how should you get started? And what are some of the things you need to focus on?

Well, Radio 1 Newsbeat has been chatting to personal trainer Cara Meehan on the dos and don’ts of joining the world of runners.

image copyrightClassesWithCara

image captionCara Meehan is a personal trainer and regular runner

Don’t try and outrun everyone else

You might be tempted to go full speed from the start. But that’s something you really shouldn’t do, according to Cara, who says to “start slow”.

“Don’t compare yourself to anybody else. You’ll have to stop, do a bit of walking and get overtaken by people, but that’s absolutely fine.

“A lot of new runners go out full pelt, and then feel a bit rubbish about themselves, because they have to stop. But it’s all about slowing the pace down so you can carry on longer.”

Build slowly

“You’re not going to be Mo Farah after a week of running,” Cara says.

Instead, focus on creating a plan and committing “so you don’t talk yourself out of it”.

“New runners need to build up stamina.”

“To start with three runs a week would probably be ideal. Build it up. The first run you might do a road length and have a little rest halfway. Then the next time you might go a bit further and then rest. You have to keep the walking going too.”

media captionRunning Stories: ‘Our aim is to tackle male depression through running’

Remember those stretches

Cara says shin splints “are a common injury” for new runners. So it’s important to have your running gear sorted as that is one way to prevent injuries.

“The best thing you can do is invest in a proper running shoe. The trainers you wear to the supermarket just won’t cut it.”

image copyrightClassesWithCara

image captionCara, 33, has experience of marathons and nearly 200 park runs

And remember being told to stretch and warm up properly in PE lessons at school? Cara says that’s essential.

“Start off running slowly, do a couple of minutes and then stop to do some stretches.”

“When you get back home in the warmth, have a good hot shower, drink plenty of water and then do some more stretches. It’s super important to lengthen those muscles.”

Fuel yourself

You need to make sure your body has the energy for running.

“Be hydrated. Get your fluids in so when you go for a run, especially shorter runs, you don’t need to take water with you.”

Cara adds when it comes to food, it’s “a case of trial and error”.

“It’s about what’s good for you. After running, I’d say have some carbs such as banana or a piece of toast with peanut butter and fats on there, just to refuel yourself. You need to repair those muscles.”

media caption“I couldn’t see past my depression before running”

Remember why you started

Running is hard, especially if you’re just starting. So to keep at it, Cara says to make things enjoyable.

“Remember why you’re doing it. If it’s for your health or just to get out for the day, focus on that.

“Don’t look at the time, just enjoy the surroundings, especially right now when you can’t go out like normal. Have a look around, see what other people are doing and if you enjoy what you’re doing you’ll keep doing it.”

Run safely in the dark

Physical exercise is key to keeping our mental health in check during lockdown, and it allows you to see your friends too.

Guidelines in England say you can exercise outdoors with members of your household or one person outside of it when you’re on your own, as long as you socially distance.

But if you’ve got no option other than to start your running journey alone in the dark, here are some simple measures that can keep you safe if you’re worried.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionRunning in the dark is a concern for some people

Saskia Garner is from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which campaigns to help reduce the risk of violence and aggression towards people.

“Our key piece of advice is for people to have a buddy – a trusted person they can tell their plans to, so if they were to not return home safely, someone will be alerted,” she says.

She says runners should be careful with tracking apps – making sure privacy settings are in place so routes and regular exercises times are not visible.

She adds: “Stick to well-lit busy routes, somewhere you can call for help if you need it.”

media caption“That’s what I’m interested in, how far can I push my body, how far can I push my mind?”

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

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