Running for Beginners: Couch to 5K

Running has many benefits - it’s a great way to keep fit, it’s good for the mind, you can do it anywhere and, best of all, it’s free. Many studies have shown that regular running can help to reduce the risk of certain illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. It  can improve stress levels, heart health and help to treat some symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Check your fitness level first

Running can be enjoyed by anyone. It means different things to different people: a jog to clear the mind, a sprint session to build endurance, preparing for a charity run, running with walking breaks, running for speed, completing races and running for leisure. Running should be adjusted to your individual needs.

Before You Start Running

 1. Check your fitness levels

You need to ensure you’re at a level of fitness where you are comfortable with brisk walking before you start running. Try to complete at least three brisk walks a week for some time to build up your ability. 

2. Get the correct running shoes

A good supporting shoe is essential for running. Visit a reputable running shoe shop to get the best advice on the shoe you need. 

3. Plan your runs

Scheduling your runs for the week ahead and planning your route will help to keep you motivated. It’s harder to miss a run when it’s written in your diary.

4. Talk to your GP

This is a very general guide to beginners running. If you are in any way concerned about your health, recovering from an injury or have an existing condition please contact your GP before you start running. 

Always warm up and cool down

Starting To Run

It’s important to take things slow and build up your running endurance gradually to avoid injury and to keep things enjoyable. 

1. Always warm up and cool down

Stretch out your arms, legs, back and neck and begin each run with a brisk 5 minute warm up walk and finish with a 5 minute cool down walk. The Nike Running app is free to use and provides easy-to-follow warm up and cool down guides for runners. 

Don’t eat right before your run as it increases your chances of getting side stitches. Allow your food approx 1 - 2 hours to digest before your running session. 

2. Alternate between running and walking 

You can listen to your body’s signals to know when to walk and when to run or you can use a guide such as Couch to 5K. As time goes on your stamina will build and you’ll find yourself needing to walk for shorter spells. Check out our guide to the Couch to 5K program below. 

3. Run regularly 

You should aim to run twice to three times a week. Any more than this could lead to injury as your body needs recovery time. It’s better to run twice a week for a continuous period rather than running 6 times in one week and not running for weeks afterwards. 

4. Be patient

Try not to monitor your speed or distance too much while you’re starting out. Focus on the improvements you’re making each week as your stamina improves and your body adapts to regular running. The rest will follow..

Set yourself a realistic goal to work towards such as a running 5K or taking part in a race / charity run and create a training plan to get you there.

How to Stay Motivated with Running

Sometimes when things get difficult our first instinct is to give up - it’s completely normal. Being kind and patient with yourself will help to keep you motivated on your running journey. So will:

1. Working towards a goal

Set yourself a realistic goal to work towards such as a running 5K or taking part in a race / charity run and create a training plan to get you there. There are lots of online sources and apps for training programs created by running coaches. 

2. Running with a friend or family member

Having a running partner gives you a sense of accountability to stick to your running schedule. You can also help to motivate each other. 

Get in touch with your friends who run and ask for advice such as music recommendations, running routes, shoes etc. They’ll be glad to help - everyone was a beginner at some stage. 

3. Keeping track of your progress

Looking back at how far you’ve come is a great motivation tool. Use a diary to keep track of each run, route, distance and time and note how you felt before, during and after each run. Refer to your diary any time motivation is running low. 

4. Keeping things interesting

Listen to music, audio books and podcasts while running and change up your route when you can. Running to the same playlist on the same route too often gets very boring very fast. Explore your area for different routes that have varying terrains, inclines and views. 

5. Join a running club

Running clubs are a great way to join other runners, make friends and to stay committed to running. Most clubs have sections for all levels of runners. Contact your local running club to find out more. 

Join a running club

Couch to 5K Guide

There are different types of Couch to 5K guides available. We recommend:

  1. The Irish Heart Foundation have a free downloadable Couch to 5K plan that will get you jogging / running 5 kilometres after 6 weeks of training. 

  2. Athletics Ireland have a free Couch to 5K plan that spans over an 8 week period.

  3. If you prefer to use an app rather than a printed guide, the original Couch to 5K app is available for free download and will guide you through an 8 week training program including warm ups and cool downs. 

Tip: Looking for other ways to pass time at the moment? Check out our guide to washing your car at homedecluttering your home and things to do with kids at home.

We wish you the best of luck with your running journey. Should you need car insurance or home insurance visit AIG for a great value online quote in just minutes.

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