As you know, running provides many benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. It helps your brain to remember, think, and process information. It also helps your body to repair itself faster and live longer. One of the main things it can benefit is DNA, so unfortunately there isn’t even a way you can tell how effective it will be for you before you start (unless you have a DNA testing machine of course!)

Before I start, I just wanted to point out that although I am a regular runner. So, all of these tips have been picked up through a mixture of my personal experience and mistakes. They are my own opinions so if you try these (or don’t) and it ends badly, you’ve been warned (but that won’t happen). I should also point out that although running is one of the best ways to get fit, results will massively vary; even if you adhere to what I say below.

Dos

Purchase a pair of good quality running shoes

The importance of this cannot be emphasisedenough! I’m a long time sufferer of shin splints due to running for long distances in shoes not up to the job. I can honestly say running shoes are a runner’s best friend without out them you’ll feel it the next but in the wrong places.

A decent pair of shoes will probably cost you between £30 and £50; but obviously you can spend more if you aren’t satisfied with the cheaper options. A good thing about purchasing them form running or sports shops is that they have various means of finding out which are the best shoes for you. Normally this is done by analysing your running style; so don’t panic if you’re presented with loads of different shoes and told to get on a treadmill whilst they all watch!

Figure out your route/distance before you start

In my experience this is a crucial way of aiding your willpower in its eternal struggle against your body (mainly your legs). If you know where or how far you’re running before you set out then it becomes less of an uphill battle (unless of course you’re running up a hill) when you hit the bit where it starts to hurt and you want to stop because you’ve “gone far enough”.

Eat a meal that’s high in carbohydrates an hour before running

This is important if you want to get the most out of your run; do little energy means you get tired very quickly and too much could lead to weight gain. Good foods for this are obviously pasta, brown rice and potato; if you eat a meal where these are the main components then you should be fine. The reason why I suggest eating an hour before is so that the body needs time to process your meal, giving you the optimum energy.

Drink a lot of water when you’re finished

You probably already know that the human body is made up of around 70% water, during a run or any strenuous exercise, we lose water through sweat. On just the average day, we lose around a pint water to sweat, so imagine what we lose during a run!

So when you’re finished make sure water is your first priority (it probably will be anyway really); a trick I’ve picked up to make sure that I drink enough is to drink a little more than you think you need.

Stretch before and after

I learned this the hard way; I thought because I was young I didn’t need to stretch. However, unfortunately, I was proved wrong in a pretty painful way (let’s just say the next morning I more fell out of bed than got out).

The best way to stop the ache the next day is to both stretch pre run and stretch post run; if you only do one then you’ll still suffer. A quick warm-up before the run will help you to stretch the muscles safely. When you’ve finished your run make sure you stay on your feet for a few minutes preferably moving around this warms down your muscles.

Don’ts

Eat just before you go

If you do this your exercise regime (and new running shoes) will end up drowned in a pool of your own vomit. Unpleasant I know, but the truth is rarely easy to hear, and probably inconvenient to those of us who have busy lives getting in from work and have kids to take care of, etc.

All I can say is don’t eat any less than 45 minutes before you start running because feeling and being sick is never nice.

Run with a friend

This probably sounds very anti-social especially when you see so many people who go running together, but remember, this is from my personal experience and it’s my opinion (don’t worry I’ll explain myself).

If you go running with another person it can go one of three ways; the first (and least likely) is that you’ll have a great time getting really fit together.

The second way it could go (which thankfully hasn’t happened to me but it has to people I know) is that your running buddy is actually really fit. This is an issue because you’ll get frustrated with them because they’re going too quickly and it will also be annoyingfor them because they may feel like you’re holding them back from getting as fit as they could.

And lastly you could, after countless texts and phone calls, have it dawn on you that your buddy may have agreed to run in the spur of the moment and is actually not very dedicated to it. All that time trying to organize a day to run with them could have been spent actually running!

Also, running alone cuts that pointless chit chat out.

Care what you look like or what you think other people think of you

I know loads of people who really want to get fit but they don’t because they’re scared what other people will think of them. But do you know what I say? Get over it, when you’re walking down the street and someone runs past you would you even recognize them if you saw them 10 minutes later? Do you think I can’t believe they’re wearing that? No, you just carry on.

Why would other people be any different?

As said before, running is a great way to exercise. If you follow these tips and apply them to your workout routine, you’ll find it will “run” more smoothly and you will be more motivated.

Josh Hansen writes for XXPress PCR an innovative biotechnology company.