Running tips for beginners who want to give up after three minutes

Running is the perfect workout for our times, getting you out of the house, supporting your mental health and increasing your fitness. But where do you start if you’re someone who gets puffed out just thinking about a 5k? 

The UK is about to head into it’s second lockdown, just as you were about to get used to the ‘new normal’. While this time around you are allowed to take unlimited outdoor exercise, you will no doubt be missing your gym, and walking alone isn’t enough to give you the same energised feeling. 

That might mean the time has come to give in to the run. We know, we know. It’s hard – there’s a reason it’s always on our New Year’s resolution list – but it’s the perfect way to get out of your current workout ruts. 

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Once you’ve got the hang of the tough mix of pacing yourself, breathing right and dodging others on the pavement, you might even learn to love it. Whether you have let your miles slip since the last lockdown, or you never even got into it then, we’ve got tips that will help.


Community is power

While joining a running club is pretty out of the question right now, you can still find motivation from others. “Decide to go running with someone else in your household, or plan to go running at the same time as a friend two or three times a week, and message each other when you’re done,” advises runner and PT Georgie Okell. Not only will it keep you accountable, but you can discuss your technique and mindset on individual runs so you know how to improve.

Running coach Emma Kirk-Odunubi also recommends virtual communities: “There’s a bombardment of advice on social media, but checking in with communities like UK Run Chat, which is a page where your running questions can be answered, will motivate you.”

Take it slow

If you’re used to doing an intense 45 minute workout, a 30 minute run might sound easy. “People can get so demotivated when three minutes in they’re struggling,” says Emma. “Don’t be so hard on yourself and break yourself in slowly.”

Both Emma and Georgie recommend starting with intervals. That means running for one minute then walking for one minute for a total of 15 minutes, and working yourself up so you’re out for 20 minutes. “As your running fitness starts to improve, you can increase the running intervals and shorten the walking ones,” says Georgie.

Listen carefully

Your workout playlist is essential regardless of the activity, but getting it right is even more important when running. In fact, Georgie actually recommends running without any music at all: “This might sound like hell on earth, but it’s really important to be able to hear how hard our feet are hitting the ground and how hard we are breathing. Try noticing how your body is responding and focusing on keeping your step and breathing light, you’ll be able to go further.”

If being alone with your own thoughts sounds too exposing right now, podcasts like the NHS Couch to 5k can help steer you along. If music really is your jam, Emma recommends finding a Spotify playlist that’s targeted to how fast you can go. “One ranging from 160-180 BPM is roughly what you should aim for. Then you just need to make sure you’re running to the beat,” she says. 

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Get the body ready 

As well as the mind, you need to prep the body. “Your running gear doesn’t need to be super fancy, but a decent sports bra and a pair of trainers that haven’t been in the back of a cupboard for five years will make a real difference,” says Georgie. We’ve got all of that kit recommended on the Strong Women site and on our Instagram Stories highlights. 

As well as what you put on your body, think about how you’re working with the muscles and joints inside. “Rather than pegging it straight out the front door, limber up, swing your legs out, move through a few squats, lunges, inchworms, so that your muscles aren’t going from a standing start,” she says. For Emma, that also means prepping the breath: “That is what will stop you the most. Try not to breathe from the top of your ribs and hold tension in your shoulders. Relax through the upper body and it will be easier for you.”

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Set a goal

“I’ve noticed that during this time it’s been really important for me to have a goal. It makes you feel like you’re achieving something even though everything else is so out of our control,” says Emma. They can be small: getting out twice a week, running for five minutes without stopping. Or they can be long term: nailing a 10k by the end of the year. But having something to work towards will make pounding the pavement feel a little bit more worthwhile. 

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.

Images: Getty

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