New to Running

Firstly, it is recommended that you check with your doctor before embarking on any form of exercise. Illness does not have to be an obstacle, many runners are asthmatic, diabetic, suffer from Crohn’s disease, IBS, high blood pressure, heart conditions, Alzheimers and so on and running can also ease the pain/trauma of cancer for some runners.

Anyone can run and improvement is possible for anyone who tries. And, you don’t have to be young – some runners in the Windmilers didn’t take up running until their late fifties – so age is no excuse. However, you do need to walk before you can run, so use the following programme for guidance.

Wear loose fitting clothes and proper running shoes. There are many shoes on the market to cater for all types of bio-mechanical faults (pronation, supination, irregular leg lengths, etc). It is important to wear shoes with adequate cushioning and support and these shoes should be used for running only, not for wearing in the gym or for walking around in. They should not be worn every day because the cushioning gets compressed when you run in them and 24-36 hours ideally are needed for them to decompress before you wear them again. Therefore, if and when you run more regularly it would be a good idea to invest in two or three pairs so that you can alternate. Shoes also only have a life span of approximately 400 miles before the cushioning wears out. Most injuries arise because runners continue to run in their old shoes.

Before you start your walk/jog you need to prepare your body for what it is about to do. Gently mobilise the joints by following the examples in the table at the end of this document. This releases a synovial fluid, making movement easier around the joints (like oiling a car). You then need to warm the body before stretching, as stretching “cold” can cause a muscle to tear, so follow the instructions below to warm up. If you have never stretched before, hold each warm up stretch for about 5 seconds. When you become fitter you can hold each warm up stretch for up to 10 seconds. These stretches prepare the muscles for the work they are about to do. Over-stretching before exercise can also cause injury, so be careful. Following your run it is important to stretch again, but this time to hold on to each stretch a little longer, as this increases flexibility.

And off you go... beginners schedule

Week Tuesday Thursday Sunday
1 Walk 10 minutes Walk 10 minutes Walk 10 minutes
2 Walk 12-15 mins Walk 12-15 mins Walk 15 mins
3 Walk 15 mins Walk 20 minutes briskly Walk 20 minutes briskly
4 Walk 25 mins briskly Walk 25 mins briskly Walk 30 mins briskly
5 Walk and Jog 10 mins Walk and Jog 10 mins Walk and Jog 10 mins
6 Walk and Jog 12 mins Walk and Jog 12 mins Walk and Jog 15 mins
7 Walk and Jog 15 mins Walk and Jog 20 mins Walk and Jog 20 mins
8 Walk and Jog 25 mins Walk and Jog 25 mins Walk and Jog 30 mins

When walking briskly, swing the arms and stride out, so that you feel the body heating. When you start jogging, this should be like a “shuffle”. Don’t run too fast. Don’t hold your breath (most beginners try to hold on to their breath for as long as they can and then collapse). Concentrate on breathing out on, say, every second right step. Concentrate on breathing out more than in, because you will always have enough oxygen going in to your body. Breathing out releases toxins from your body and helps the circulation work more efficiently.

Some runners sweat more than others and some lose large amounts of discharge from their noses — neither has anything to do with fitness levels, so if you find either of these happening with you, don’t let it discourage you.

Aim to jog from, say, one tree to the next, or a litter bin or lamp post until you eventually run the whole distance without walking (and you will if you persevere). Or you may prefer to run by time, for instance starting with 30 seconds jog, 1 minute walk, increasing to 1 minute jog when you feel comfortable and so on. Keep the arms low and relaxed. Try not to tense the shoulders and neck (common with beginners).

If you get a stitch, this is probably due to using muscles in the diaphragm that you don’t normally use. If this happens, squeeze the thumbs tightly and carry on walking. Concentrating hard on squeezing the thumbs encourages the muscles in the diaphragm to relax. A stitch can also be brought on by eating too soon before exercise so try not to eat for 2-3 hours before commencement.

You will need to increase your intake of water (think of what happens to your car if it runs out of water, your body will react in a similar way and leave you feeling exhausted). You will also need to increase your intake of carbohydrates (just as your car needs fuel to keep going) in the form of potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, etc. Protein (cheese, eggs, meat, etc) which is needed to replenish the muscles after exercise. Try to cut down on your fat intake (biscuits, crisps, sweets, etc). Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.

Repeat the above cycle (Weeks 1 - 8) with a mixture of jogging and walking until you can run three times a week for 20 minutes without walking. You will then be fit enough to come along to the Sunday Social run at 10am, where you will gain encouragement and advice from other runners. Continuing with the schedule, you should increase each run as in Weeks 1-8 by 5 minutes. If you feel you can start jogging earlier on in the schedule, then do so, following the advice above.

Advice for the reasonably fit

If you are reasonably fit, you can start your running programme at what would be week 7 for the unfit, treating this as week 1. Using the same principle, keep repeating the weeks until you can run for 20 minutes three times a week without walking. You will also then be fit enough to come along to the Sunday Social run at 10am. Continuing with the schedule, increase your running time by 5 minutes each time.

The secret is similar to climbing a ladder; you have to take one step at a time. If you tire, you rest and if you have gone up too high too soon, you step down. The same applies to running; if you do too much too soon you will tire and maybe even get injured. Be sensible and build up gradually and you will come to enjoy this wonderful experience. Have fun and good luck!

Mobilisation, warm up and stretch prior to walking/running

Mobilisation Shoulder Joint Circle arms forward x 8
Stand with feet shoulder width apart
Keep knees “soft” Hold tummy in
Movements should be slow and controlled
Shoulder Joint Circle arms back x 8
Upper Back Hold fingertips in front of chest, slowly turn upper body side to side, turning head also
Neck Slowly turn head side to side
  Lower Back Place hands on hips and circle hips left x 8 then right x 8, then gently tilt pelvis forward and back

Warm up

(repeat these movements until you feel warm and puffed)

  • Elbow to knee: Lift knee across front of body to meet opposite elbow x 8 each side
  • Hamstring rows: Flick heels back alternately towards your bottom as you pull back & forth with arms in rowing motion x 8 each leg
  • March on the spot and/or jog on the spot

Stretches for Warm up and warm down

  • Hold each stretch for 5-10 seconds
  • Keep feet parallel, with toes pointing forward to ensure joints are kept in line and muscles correctly aligned
  • Hold tummy in and keep knees “soft” when standing parallel
Shoulders - Trapezius Stand with feet shoulder width apart Knees soft and tummy in Clasp hands out in front Keep elbows slightly bent (“hug a tree”)
Chest - Pecs Stand with feet shoulder width apart Clasp hands behind back Lift chest to stretch it out Hold tummy in
Back of Arms - Triceps Place hand behind neck between shoulder blades Take hold of elbow with other hand and press on it Feel stretch on back of upper arm Repeat on other side
Calf - Gastrocnemius Place one leg behind and keep it straight Keep front leg bent and rest hands on front thigh Both toes facing forward Press both heels down and relax toes Feel stretch in back of lower leg
Hip Flexors Step a large step with one foot in front of the other Raise back heel off ground and push hips forward Front leg is bent, back leg is straight Feel stretch down front of hip on the back leg
Lower Calf - Soleus Place one foot slightly behind the other Keep both heels on the ground and bend both knees Keep back straight to put weight on back leg Can hold on to wall for support Feel stretch in lower back leg and heel
Front Of Thigh - Quadriceps Lean against wall with one hand Take foot behind and hold to centre of bum Feel stretch down front of leg Repeat on other side
Stomach - Obliques Stand with feet shoulder width apart Place one hand on hip to support back Reach up to the sky with other hand Lean slightly to side, bending from waist Feel stretch on side of waist
Back Of Thigh - Hamstrings Place one leg in front and slightly wider than hip keep that leg straight Lean forward, bending the other leg Rest hands on bent thigh for support Lift buttocks and hold tummy in Feel stretch down back of straight leg

Hold the same stretches for 10-15 seconds after your walk/run. If you need any further advice or assistance, please contact via email: or mobile 07941 898 896 / 0208 949 6345.