We love running as a sport - it’s easy to take up and requires no experience or expensive, specialist sports kit. All you really need to get started are some suitable running trainers and your favourite Boudavida activewear and you’re ready to go!
Running is great as it helps boost your heart rate, your metabolism and also increases the release of endorphins into your blood - which we all know help to combat mental health problems and boost your mood. Running is also one of the most versatile and easy sports to do, being something that you can do without a gym membership around your local roads and parks, with no time restraints.
Perhaps you’re starting from scratch or maybe you’re returning to running after a break - either way, this blog for how to build up running will help you start and improve on your running performance.
The key on how to build up running is to start slow and steady and gradually build up from there. The most important thing is not to jump into a long or fast-paced run straight away, as this will likely over-exert your muscles and lungs, and can potentially cause injury. The goal should be to build up running gradually so that you can maintain your exercise regularly, possibly 3-4 times per week, without causing yourself any pain.
Walk Before You Run
One of the best ways to introduce running into your fitness routine is to start by walking and running in intervals. This allows you to get your body used to the rhythm and tempo of running in short spells and at your own pace.
You can try this by setting yourself a time of 30 minutes (or less) and breaking this time down into sections with a 1 minute run, then a 4 minute walk, then repeating with 1 minute running and then 4 minutes walking, until you reach the 30 minute mark.
As you build up your stamina over a few sessions of walking and running in intervals, you can begin decreasing the amount of time walking, and increase the amount you spend running, for example 2 minutes running, with 3 minutes of walking. Once you’ve built up your endurance over several weeks of training you can then try eliminating walking altogether and just run!
More and More, Step by Step
Most trainers will recommend that you start with between 2-4 runs per week (perhaps one every other day) and for around 20 minutes or around 2 miles to begin with. This will vary from person to person depending on your current health, fitness and gait so be realistic and always judge the distance to what you can do comfortably. The goal here is to build incrementally so you improve your endurance little by little over weeks and months, not days!
You may already have heard about the “10 percent rule” in running - the theory that runners shouldn’t increase their mileage by more than 10 percent week on week. As a beginner, a better way to look at this is to increase your mileage by 10% every other week, so for example for weeks 1-2 run 2 times per week for 20 minutes, increasing that by 10% to 22 minutes in weeks 3-4, and so on.
It’s important to remember that this is about building on your endurance and stamina bit by bit, avoiding injury and improving your running performance steadily and sustainably.
Running a little further each time you set out can be daunting, but if you break it down bit by bit, it can help you to achieve those goals. Instead of picturing your run as 22 minutes as a whole, break it down into 20 minutes at a regular pace, and then the final 2 minutes at a slower pace.
Don’t forget to take a break in between runs. It’s vital to let your muscles relax, rest and recover and for your body to take the time to heal. A great exercise that you can do in between running days is yoga - this will help your muscles stretch out and relax after cardio, whilst also working on your core strength. If you’re building up your exercise you can read how to start yoga here.
Fuel Your Runs
Running is a higher intensity sport which requires us to fuel our body with energy producing foods - carbohydrates. But not just any old carbohydrates! It’s important to eat slow-releasing energy carbs such as brown rice, quinoa or wholegrain breads and cereals, which will release fuel gradually and make it easier for you to sustain your run.
Avoid too many foods such as energy drinks and high sugar foods before a run: although these will give you that initial energy spike, it’s inevitable that what follows is a slump in energy as your blood sugar level crashes, ultimately making you feel more tired.
Working on your running technique will help you to conserve energy, run faster and with less effort. Your running form should be with a straight torso (imagine a string pulling you up from the top of your head), arms hip height and swinging to help propel you forwards, landing lightly and pushing off with your feet underneath your body (not stretching out too far in front).
You can also measure your cadence or ‘revolutions per minute’ (RPM) - the number of times your feet strike the ground every minute. You can use this to measure your progress, but also whether you are striking the ground and pushing off correctly; a higher cadence often indicates that a runner is using good form and striking the ground mid-foot. As a beginner, you should aim for around 150-160 RPM.
Invest In Your Activewear
Make sure you look and feel the part with breathable activewear and suitable running footwear that will both make you feel great but also help you to avoid injury. Why not have a look at our Tempo Shorts with a secure underlayer which are perfect for running, or perhaps our thermal Kinetic Leggings with reflective side panels - designed to keep you warm on cooler evenings or early morning runs.
If you want to read more on how to build up running, check out the Couch To 5k Plan, which also includes helpful downloads and podcasts.