Running: a guide to getting started
Running is an obvious choice of sports for students looking to undo the damage long study sessions, late nights and a diet of pizza and pot noodles. It can be a scary prospect when you’re feeling out of shape so we have a plan that starts you off slowly and will build you up to running 5k comfortably.
Including some cardio exercise is important for getting you in shape and ready for the next Hawaii theme night or runaway bus, as well as looking after your body for the long term by reducing the risk of chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Running is also an ideal sport for anyone trying to keep to a budget as you don’t need to spend a fortune on kit and there are no joining or membership fees.
Where to start?
The NHS Sofa to 5K plan is a nine week course designed to get absolute beginners into running. It involves three runs a week, so that’s a rest day after every running day. There’s a different plan for each of the nine weeks, so progress is steady and noticeable.
How does Couch to 5K work?
Often the biggest challenge for new runners is knowing how and where to start. When taking up a new sport people often overdo it and feel defeated which can make you feel like giving up when you are just getting started. Because this plan starts with a mix of running and walking it gradually builds up your fitness and stamina. Starting with running for just a minute at a time in week one, this plan is achievable from day one.
Will running do anything for my studies?
Running regularly can be a great stress reliever and can help boost your confidence and self belief, which might just give you the edge for that presentation you’ve been dreading.
When you exercise, the amount of blood pumping to your brain greatly increases providing oxygen and essential nutrients to the brain, these nutrients produce fruitful study sessions.
Love music and need motivation?
A set of podcasts developed by NHS Choices is available free of charge to help you achieve your running goals. You will be guided through each session with instructions on when you should be running and when to walk and there’s even music provided to motivate you. Leading sports physiologists advise that running to music can improve your performance by up to 15% by helping set your pace.
Step 1: Download the NHS Choices Couch to 5K podcasts for free here.
Step 2: Plan some time in your timetable to get running. First thing in the morning will leave you feeling uplifted for the rest of the day or try running between lectures to help banish that sleepy feeling that long lectures tend to induce.
Step 3: Plan where to run. With the huge choice of mapping sites and apps available, it’s really just a case of entering in your post code and looking for the green bits. Parks are great for running around as you get to enjoy the great outdoors and you don’t have to stop for traffic.
Step 4: Think about safety. Running along busy roads with headphones in really isn’t advisable, and when in parks keep on the look out for cyclists and dogs on trip wire leads.
Step 5: Equipment. You can get a pretty decent pair of running trainers for less than £30 on the high street or online. An old tee and a pair of shorts will also get you far, remember that once you get running you will soon warm up on a cold winters day.
Step 6: Get out there, start today and by next week you will be feeling like a new better you.
Now you’ve started on the right track how about seeing if your mates fancy joining, its good for motivation to run with others. There are also plenty of running clubs that cater for all abilities.