I have been looking at some beginner guides for running and what I found was enough to put off and dishearten anyone. Schedules worked out on spreadsheets with rigid day after day instructions on what to do. For the most part they are utter rubbish! Why? Well simply because we all begin from a different level of fitness, we all have different medical and injury histories and we all have different levels of self reliance and mental determination.

So how do you create a guide for a beginning runner? My view is that you are the best person to know what suits you as an individual. So here I will try to give you the right questions to ask yourself along with some very loose guidance on actually what to do in a physical sense. The rest is up to you. You must find your own comfort or discomfort level. If that makes no sense then think of this;

One type of person will always push themselves to their limit, they will not be happy with their training until they have given their utmost. These people are not just motivated, they are highly driven.

Another type of person has a low tolerance of discomfort and would quickly loose their will to continue running if it results in pain and discomfort.

There are all kinds of levels and variations between, you need to be honest with yourself, to self analyse and learn what your personal needs are.

When it comes to Motivation we are not so different. Reaching targets, acheiving goals and surpasing them. In short succcess keeps us motivated. So we can conclude from this that we must set our goals to suit our own personality type as well as our fitness level.

The highly driven personality needs to set a difficult target and strive and suffer to achieve it. Anything less will feel like a hollow victory and lack in satisfaction. Instead of motivating a driven personality, a goal set too low is likely to demoralise as, to this person, it will feel as though they have cheated themselves if the targets are too easily reached.

The person with a low tolerance of discomfort will become demoralised if the set targets that are too difficult to attain. So this person must look to make small improvements, to set goals and challenges that will provide a series of small personal victories. These small victories will over time add up to big improvements but without overwhelming in the way that a seemingly unobtainable goal might do.

Neither of these personalities are any less valid when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle with fitness at it’s core, they are just different. Most of us will fit in somewhere between these two types and it is up to us to decide where we fit into this spectrum and adapt our training to suit our own needs. Of course a good, empathetic personal trainer could help with this but here in the cyber world no one can understand your needs as well as you can yourself.

Bet you you were not expecting this to be a voyage of self discovery!

Now to the running. For a real beginner a good first target distance is 1 mile. Do not expect ro run this in one go the first time, start of slow and steady and run as far as you can, walk when you need to but only for a couple of minutes. Then start to run again, walk briefly when necessary but when the end is in sight run and don’t stop until you finish. Make sure you time this run, this is where your improvement begins from and having a record will help with motivation.

Now rest, 3 days to a week but no longer. Go out and run the same distance again, some of you will be able to run the full distance without walking, some will not walk so much. All of you should see an improvement in your time and a reduction in the amount of discomfort. Make an effort to get out for a brisk walk on your resting days.

Rest again and repeat until you  can run the whole distance. Then after another rest go out and run 2 miles, keep it slow and try to complete the distance, if you cannnot just do it again after a few days rest. Once you have completed 2 miles allow time to fully recover and do the one mile again only this time push yourself to go faster, you know you can do it because a few days ago you ran twice that distance so there is nothing to fear, run and keep running. Enjoy your victory, just look at how much faster you are.

This first phase will take some of you 10 days, it may take others 10 weeks. You rest and repeat as YOU need to. Don’t fall into the trap of looking at other peoples speed and time and thinking that you should be nearer to that time, those people have been doing it longer than you, or they have longer legs than you, a more naturaly athletic build etc. It is your body and your mind that determine your progress and the level you ultimately reach. The important thing is that you get satisfaction from it and keep doing it.

Once you get this far you can set your own targets in regards to increasing distances or speed, just remember to vary your training by revisiting the shorter distances and always get enough rest. Rest is vitaly important to enable you body to recover and build strength.

As a final word of advice, many will be looking to loose weight when they take up running and running will certainly help with weight loss but, if you are on a restricted diet, just bare in mind that you improvements in terms of running may be compromised by lower levels of nutrition. Once you hit your weight loss targets start to investigate proper nutrition to help maintain your new sportsperson lifestyle and take care of and improve your body. Good luck.

NB> if you are very overweight, have high blood pressure, a cardiac condition or any other notable illness please check your training program with your GP or specialist first.

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