Running for Beginners: The Easiest Way to Start Running (2 page)




10. Running will help to boost your immune system.
I used to get colds or some other form of illness every four or five months. Since I have been running regularly, I would estimate that now it’s only every 18 months to two years.
I’m not too sure why this is and I’m not sure that anybody else knows either, but research has shown that there is a definite link between running regularly and a better immune system. I can vouch for this as I’m rarely ill now.

Why do you want to run?

When you’re beginning to learn anything, it’s important to recognise and remind yourself of the reasons why you want to do it. I started running because I wanted to lose weight and I chose running because I knew that it would fit in well with my lifestyle.


There were a number of other ways to lose weight, that didn’t involve running, which also appealed to me. I could have re-joined a gym, taken up swimming or started cycling again. When I was younger I used to do a lot of cycling, I had the freedom of time but later in life with responsibilities, I found cycling to be far too restrictive. By using cycling as a means to lose weight it would mean that ideally I’d have to go out in daylight hours, I’d have to own a bike and have to spend more time cycling than I would running in order to lose the equivalent amount of weight. If I’d have joined a gym or taken up swimming it would have cost a lot of money and also meant that once I got in from work I would have had to have gone out in the car again. I found that I didn’t have any of these restrictions with running; if I was late back from work, away on holiday or just busy, I could always fit in a run because all I needed was a pair of trainers.


Everybody has their own personal reasons for wanting to start running and you should make your own list of why you want to run. Write a list that has five good reasons why you want to start and put it somewhere prominent to remind you why you wanted to start running in the first place. On days where you are feeling reluctant to run, read through that list to motivate you.

What to Wear

Other than a proper pair of running trainers, some socks and if you are a lady a good running bra, there is no other clothing that you need to buy. However, I cannot stress enough how important the correct pair of running shoes are, they are critical to your success and health.


Many runners choose to run in shorts, track suit bottoms or tights, usually in that order of preference depending on what the weather is doing and what time of year it is. The bottom half is usually the least problematic to clothe as your legs don’t tend to suffer too much from the cold or warmth. If you choose to run in tracksuit bottoms I would recommend getting a pair that are fairly fitted around the ankle and shin area as wet jogging bottoms flapping around are never a pleasure to run in.


In terms of what to wear on your top half in the summer, many people will choose a T-shirt. Although there are many ‘technical’ fabrics on the market, my personal preference for running in the warmer weather is a simple 100% cotton t-shirt.


If however, you are running in cooler weather, you should be looking at layering the clothing. Layering is a tried and tested method of dressing for active sport and there are number of principles behind wearing multiple layers:


1. It is easier to regulate your temperature by simply removing additional layers of clothing.


2. Layering clothes traps air and will keep you warmer than if you were to wear just one thick layer.


3. Based on the last principle, this means that you can wear two or three lightweight layers and be as warm as wearing a single thicker and heavier layer, consequently you’ll be carrying less weight with you out on your run.


The traditional method of layering is made up of three layers; a base layer, a mid layer and an outer layer. As fabric technology has advanced each of these layers has evolved to not only act as insulation but to perform different functions.

What does the base layer do?

The base layer is typically a tight fitting top. Its purpose is to wick sweat away from the body in order to keep you comfortable. The tighter this layer is the better it will perform. The base layer is one of the most important layers you wear because it will help prevent chaffing and skin irritation which can occur on longer runs. Chaffing and irritation tends to happen when the skin is moist, so wicking the sweat away helps to prevent this from happening.

What does the mid layer do?

The purpose of the mid layer is to keep you warm. Depending on the weather this could be another t-shirt or long sleeved top. If it is cooler it could be sweatshirt or fleece. Some people will run with two mid-layers and some will run with none. It really depends on personal preference, but the thinner the layers you run in, the easier it is to remove them or add an additional layer to keep you cooler or warmer.

What is the purpose of the outer layer?

The outer layer is sometimes referred to as the ‘shell layer’ or ‘hard shell’ because its purpose is to act as an impervious shell to keep out rain and more importantly then wind. Wind is the main reason you get cold when you are out running, so if you can prevent the wind from getting to your body, you will find that you will need to wear fewer mid layers.  It is very important to your comfort that you choose a breathable top for an outer layer, particularly if you want a fully waterproof top. If you run in a regular plastic waterproof top you will soon get very sweaty and uncomfortable. A fully waterproof, breathable running top will cost a significant amount of money though.




My personal preference is to run in a windproof and showerproof top because it’s extremely light weight, performs well and is inexpensive. Although not critical to your success as a runner this is the one ‘nice to have’ item of running clothing I wouldn’t be without.


In addition to the layering system when running during the winter months, some people prefer to keep their neck warm with a neck scarf or funnel neck scarf. If you go out running on a particularly cold morning and you get wheezy then wearing a thin scarf across your mouth and nose can help prevent this.


When starting running many people overdress and quickly get too hot. A good rule of thumb is that when you leave the house you should feel a little bit cold but not uncomfortably cold.

Choosing Running Shoes

Purchasing the right running shoe is very important, some people are lucky, they can run in whichever trainers they like. Unfortunately, I am not one of these people and even switching from an old pair of trainers to a new pair can play havoc with my knees due to my
… My what?


Pronation is the motion that your foot goes through as it hits the ground with the heel and leaves the ground with your toes; this is the correct way to run – from heel to toe. The type of pronation that you have affects how the shock of your feet hitting the ground is transferred to the rest of your body – so to know what sort of pronator you are is incredibly important if you are to remain injury free.


Pronation can be broken down in to three main categories and these are; neutral pronation, under pronation and over pronation.

Neutral pronation

The anatomically ‘perfect’ human beings’ foot motion would be as follows; they would strike the ground just slightly to the outside of their heel. As their foot rolls forward, the weight shifts to the middle of the heel and finally the last area of their foot to leave the ground is the middle of the ball of the foot. The reality is that only 30% of runners run like this and that it is what is known as ‘neutral pronation’. The dotted area on the footprint in Figure 1 shows the where the impact is on the foot for a neutral pronator.

Under pronation

Statistically you are far more likely to be an under pronator. Approximately 60% of runners are under pronators and what this means is that when the heel of their foot strikes the ground, before their toes leave the ground again their foot barely rolls at all from side to side.  So the last point of their foot to leave the ground is the outside of the ball area. To exaggerate the point they could be seen as running on the outside of their feet. Figure 2 shows where the impact is for an under pronator.


Over Pronation

The final (and rarer) group of runners are over pronators; just 10% of runners fall in to this category. The over pronators foot hits the ground on the outside of your heel again and then rolls excessively inwards before your toes leave the ground. So the last part of an over pronators foot to leave the ground is the inside area of the ball of the foot. Figure 3 shows the impact for a person with over pronation.




How do you know what type of pronator you are?

The best way to determine your pronation is to visit a specialist running shop where they will have facilities to find out your pronation. This usually consists of a treadmill with a video camera at the back and front of it recording high-speed video whilst you run. The video is played back in slow motion to reveal what is happening to your feet as you run and then you can be matched up with the right type of running trainers for you.


Don’t worry if you don’t have any running or sports shops near you that have this kind of facility as there is always the wet footprint test.

The Wet Footprint Test

The wet foot test is a fairly reliable way of determining your pronation type. You simply wet your foot and create a foot print where you can clearly see it. Figure 4 shows you the different types of footprint and what sort of pronation you have.  If your footprint is like the ‘N’ footprint then you will probably have neutral pronation, if it is like the ‘O’ footprint it is likely that you are an over pronator and if you have the ‘U’ type footprint you are probably and under pronator. In very rare cases you may find that you left and right foot prints are dramatically different. If this is the case you will need to speak to a specialist sports shop about either getting a specialist pair of running shoes made or getting inserts made for an existing pair of trainers.

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