While many consider it simple, jogging as a form of exercise is something that can be hard to get into for those without experience. There are several factors to consider when beginning your exercise, such as equipment, routes, nutrition, and programs.
Jogging Tips For Beginners:
To begin, you will need a good pair of running shoes. These can be found for as little as £70, but closer to the £140 price tag will give you a much better shoe. This may sound like a lot of money, but a good pair of shoes will last you up to around a year if you wear them for 2 hours a day (equivalent to 2 sessions of 1 hour a day – something very few can manage). Of course, the less you wear them, the longer they last. Going to a sports store to get them fitted by someone who has been trained in the field is imperative, as just because a shoe feels comfortable it may not be the right one for you. For those with feet which are not balanced perfectly, orthotics should be considered, even for everyday life, to protect your knees and ankles. Be warned though – these do not come cheap, however the hefty price tag is a worth investment for years to come. Making sure you have a good pair of socks and laces may sound like a very minor point, but these make the difference between an enjoyable run and one which finishes with your feet blistered and bleeding. You should be able to pick these up at the store you buy your shoes at.
Another valuable piece of equipment is a heart rate monitor, as these provide a basis for individual training. These greatly vary in price, but picking one up at around the £75-£100 range will ensure it lasts you several years – the cheaper models may be nice on the wallet initially, but particularly the knockoff brands will quickly break. You can buy these second hand, but extreme caution should be taken in doing so. Stick to known brands like Suunto, Polar, and Garmin for the best product that will not break.
Now that you are all kitted up, you will need to decide where to run. While treadmills may appear convenient, they are not very motivating or enjoyable to run on. The psychological factor of passing familiar landmarks cannot be understated, as well as the feeling of being outside. You can normally run near to your house or apartment, and should aim to have 2 courses – one which takes 20 minutes, and one which takes 1 hour. The 20 minute course can be run when you feel like a quick jog but without much effort and the 1 hour course for your normal training sessions. These should include some hills, but not too many sudden increases in elevation and subsequent drops. Here your heart rate monitor makes an appearance, as you will base your sessions on that.
A set of session may look as follows:
1 hour at 85% heart rate
40 min at 88% heart rate
20 min at 91% heart rate
4x 15 minute (10 min 90% heart rate, 5 min 75% heart rate)
You’ll notice that heart rates have been described as a per cent; this is a general program. To calculate you 100% heart rate, use the well-known [220-your age] formula.
Hence for a 20 year old, a 100% heart rate is 200, and an 85% heart rate is 170 bpm.
However, you’ll probably end up doing session 1 most days, and the other session on later occasions when you are fitter and wanting to go faster.
The last point that will be touched on is nutrition. Always make sure that you have drunk plenty of water prior to a jog; you should never start thirsty. Don’t quickly consume a 500mL bottle minutes before you run, but instead drink about 750mL in the hour preceding the run. Using a small amount of Gatorade or other sport drink is only useful as long as you don’t use to much – at which point the solution is too salty for your stomach and cannot be absorbed (the point of these products is to increase the waters salinity so it can be absorbed more easily). After your run, drink 750mL every hour (again small quantities of salt additives can be helpful here) until the urine you are passing is clear. Not only will you feel great as you are hydrated (the difference is really incredible for those not usually hydrated) but you will also have reduced toxin levels over the next couple of days.
In terms of food, you should always eat before you run, and often small amounts of carbohydrates are good, such as a banana. If you plan to do a longer run (1.5 hours or more) make sure you have had a large meal previously, and if you are running in the morning, have dinner with plenty of carbohydrates, and fluids. After your run, your food is dependent on your diet; for athletes, protein products may be taken. Note that this is another topic, and as a rule of thumb only take pure whey protein isolate from trusted companies – the “mixes” of products are often just expensive ways to stress your liver (mainly due to their creatine composition). For most people though, a boiled egg or some meat is all you need; as long as you aren’t feeling hungry constantly, you should be alright.
Running clubs can be found in nearly all towns and cities, and the larger the population, the more there will be. These are sometimes advertised and will have their own websites, but often talking to people at workout places such as gyms can also get you onto one. These vary in speed and ability, but are great for those who have trouble getting the motivation to get up and run. These will also introduce you to other people interested in sport, and can be the start of a new kind of life. For those who are able to join and participate in one, running clubs are great.
For many people the aforementioned points may feel daunting, and you may not realistically be able to start straight away. If you feel you can’t keep 85% heart rate, then build up to it. Hold the heart rate for 4 minutes, then walk briskly and recover for 2. At the end of the day, for many people who exercise for fitness, not for competition, the most important tool is not the perfect workout, but being honest with yourself. When you know you are being slack, start pushing again, and don’t pay attention to how fast you run, but how much effort you are putting into it.
Remember, you may not be where you want to be today, but by pushing through the pain you are closer than yesterday, and tomorrow will be even better.