10 Oct 2016

9 Super Easy Running Tips For Beginner Runners

Improve your running with these 9 super easy tips for beginner runners! This comprehensive guide gives you 9 detailed tips for easily improving your running. If you’re just starting out or you’re a beginner runner looking to take your running to the next level, we hope this running guide and the linked training programs will help you become an even better runner and achieve a personal record in your next running event! Read on to start improving…

When I first started out running, I really had no idea what I was doing (I’m happy to admit it). There was no structure to my training sessions and zero game plan. My idea of training effectively was heading out for a run and pushing myself as hard as I could, whilst trying to run as far as I could, based on my level of fitness and muscular endurance.

As I trained more regularly over time, my fitness and endurance levels improved and thus my ability to push harder and run further increased. However, because of the lack of structure to my training and due to a lack of knowledge surrounding other aspects impacting my running performance, my results in running events had reached a natural ceiling.

However, over the years, thanks to advice along the way from other more experienced runners and thanks in part to reading a wealth of running information on the internet, I’ve accumulated knowledge and built up some running experience that has made me a more complete runner today. I’m not an elite athlete by any stretch of the imagination, I’m an intermediate-level, passionate runner, who is keen to share the tips that I’ve received along the way, what has worked for me and the research that I’ve done, in the hope that you can benefit from this and run better, without my learning curve (I hope to save you hours and hours of research and trial and error).

The following are 9 super simple ways that I’ve been able to start running better (and faster).

1. Increase core strength and flexibility

Increase core strength

Core strength is an essential element of running form and running more efficiently. The good news is that running more efficiently will likely reduce the risk of injury. Most running ‘experts’, including coaches, athletes, physiologists, agree on a few essential elements to ‘good’ running form:

  • An upright postural alignment with a slight forward tilt,
  • A compact arm swing and short strides that result in a cadence of 180 steps per minute or higher (more on cadence later).

That’s it? Sounds simple right? Well it is but there’s a fair bit of work required to get to the point where you are almost automatically running with good form, without having to think about it.

When you think about the upright postural alignment with a slight forward tilt requirement for good form, you’ll realise ‘good’ running form relies on core strength, as the position your body needs to be in when running efficiently requires you to keep a straight line from head to toe which necessitates engaging your core muscles to keep your upper body upright and to prevent you from hunching over.

Like the foundation is to a home, core strength can provide the platform upon which a strong structure can be built, meaning better (and faster) running! When you have a really strong set of core muscles, everything is easier, not just running well, walking, your posture at work and daily physical activities are easier, so building up your core strength is worth the investment of time.

What do I mean when I refer to ‘core strength’? I define ‘core strength’ as strength across the group of muscles around the mid-section of the body and upper legs that are actively involved during running and are needed to maintain good posture and running form.

The key muscles involved in core strength are:

  • Abdominal muscles (abdominis as well as obliques)
  • Upper and lower back muscles
  • Gluteal (glutes)
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip flexors

Strengthening these groups of muscles, as well as stretching to increase your flexibility, will assist you greatly in running better and avoiding running injuries. 

Exercises to strengthen your core:

  • Front plank – Start lying face down with arms bent, palms and forearms on the ground, fingers pointed forward. Extend your legs so that they are straight and you’re up on your toes. Hold your body in a straight line (maintain a neutral spine), squeeze and hold your stomach muscles and clench your butt. Hold for 45-60 seconds x 3 sets.
  • Side plank – Lie down on your side, put your elbow underneath your shoulder and your arm perpendicular to your chest so that your hand is out in front of your chest. Raise your upper body up so that you’re propped up on your elbow and hold your body in a straight line (neutral spine). Hold for 45-60 seconds x 3 sets each side.
  • Mountain climbers – starting in a push up position, alternating legs, move on bended knee up towards your chest and then down again. Repeat with other leg. Keep your body in a straight line (maintain a neutral spine). 30 reps x 3 sets.
  • One legged toe taps (weighted) – holding a 10kg weight in one hand, standing on the floor, squat slightly by bending the knee opposite to the hand in which you’re holding the weight, placing your weight mostly on the heel of the bent knee. Take the leg that is not bent and holding it slightly in the air, tap that foot just next to the inside of the bent leg, then move it out to the right as far as you can and tap that foot on the ground, then bring it back in and tap it next to the bent leg again, then move the foot out directly behind you as far as you can reach and tap that foot on the floor, then bring that foot back towards you and tap next to your bent leg again and finally move that foot back diagonally behind your bent leg and tap your foot again. Repeat until fatigue x 2 sets, both sides/legs. This exercise gets your glutes firing.
  • Burpees – From standing, lower yourself into a squat, then place your hands on the ground in front of you and kick your feet back into a raised push up and move from the raised push up position to a lowered push up position and then reverse back up by going back into a squat by bowing your chest up and then to finish jump in the air as high as you can. 20 reps x 3 sets.
  • Single legged lunges – standing on one leg, squat down on that leg as far as you can, dropping your knee so that it’s vertically in line with your toes (but doesn’t not go past this position). 15 reps x 3 sets, both legs.
  • Push ups – the push up doesn’t really need explaining, but 20 reps x 3 sets will make you stronger.
  • Step ups with weight – find a coffee table of chair that’s just below knee height. Grab a 10kg weight and hold it in one hand, raise the leg opposite to the hand with the weight in it and place it up onto the coffee table or chair and step up using the raised leg to do the stepping up rather than pushing with the leg that is still on the ground. Step back down and repeat. 10 sets x 3 reps.
  • Calf raises – standing on both feet initially, raise one foot off the ground slightly and with the leg still on the ground, raise up onto the balls of your feet / toes by pushing up and extending the calf. Drop the foot back down and repeat. 8 reps x 3 sets, both legs.
  • Calf holds (weighted) – holding a 10kg weight in one hand, raise the opposite leg slightly off the ground and then lift the heel of the other leg (the right leg if the weight is in your right hand) so that you roll up onto the balls of your feet / toes. Hold this position for 45 seconds. 5 reps each leg.
  • Deadlifts – place your feet hip width apart, toes facing forwards and your shoulders rolled back and down. Using a 12-16kg weight held in both hands (ideally a kettlebell), keeping your back straight, bend down in front of yourself by sticking your butt out so that the weights are around your knees/shins. Move from this position to an upright standing position by driving forward using your hips. Keep your shins straight and weight close to your legs as you drive forward and stand up.
  • Bicycle legs – lying on your back with your head near a wall, place your hands against the wall and apply gentle pressure. Then with your legs raised slightly off the ground, bend your knees and activating your abdominals, raise one leg up and back towards your chest and then back down again. Then raise the other leg up and back towards your chest. Be sure to keep your abs tight and keep your back flat against the floor. 5 reps x 4 sets.

Running For Beginners Core Strength

Increase flexibility

Earlier this year I unfortunately picked up two running injuries (achilles tendinopathy and a stress fracture in my foot) that have lead to time off running and sitting on the couch feeling sorry for myself (well, actually, time spent researching how to minimise the chance of incurring running injuries going forward!).

After an assessment from a physiotherapist and exercise physiologist – a quick shout out to Belinda and Tom at BJC Health Chatswood (if you live or work on the upper or lower north shore in Sydney I highly recommend the team at BJC! (I’m not being remunerated to write that) – I learned that a primary reason for my two running injuries was weakness in my glutes / my glutes not firing when running, tightness through my right hip flexor, tight calves and tight hamstrings. Consequently, I had to work on both strength and flexibility whilst recovering from these injuries.

I’ve found the following daily hamstring stretches markedly improved my mid-lower body flexibility and range of motion: 

Hamstring stretches 

  • Lie on the floor with one leg straight and raised against a wall near a door frame so that your other leg can be raised and lowered. Keeping your back straight on the ground and keeping the leg that is not raised and rested on the wall straight, raise the non-supported leg up as high as you can and then lower it back down to the ground, keeping you leg straight at all times. 15 reps x 2 sets.
  • Toe touches with towel – placing your heels on a thick piece of timber or a book (1-2 inches thick) and your toes on the ground, put your feet together and squeeze a towel between your thighs. Keeping your legs straight, reach arms down towards your feet and then fold down towards your toes once you cannot reach any further due to being constrained by your hamstring flexibility. Do 10 reps x 2 sets.

Hip flexor stretch

  • Kneeling on one knee directly underneath your hip (perpendicular to the ground) and the other leg out in front of your body with your thigh parallel to the ground and your shin perpendicular to the ground. Squeeze your butt and push forward with your hip. You should feel the stretch in your hip flexor (above the top of your quadriceps). Hold for 10 seconds. Complete 3 sets on each side.

2. Training variety and training within heart rate zones

As mentioned before, when I was a beginner runner, I used to train one way, just run as hard as I could for as long as I could. I now know that this was not very effective training for short or longer distance running. Mixing up your training regime so that you cover a combination of longer slower distance runs, speed sessions and steady runs will make your training more effective than ever before (assuming you don’t already carry out these types of sessions!).

Long Slow Distance (LSD)

Despite having an acronym that matches the name of an illicit substance, LSD training is a type of running that, as the name suggests, is performed over a long distance, at a slow pace and most importantly, in a low heart rate zone. A heart rate monitor is crucial to ensuring that you are running slow enough to remain in a low heart rate and not creep out of your target heart rate zone. It ‘s easy to feel like you’re running too slowly and naturally speed up to your average/normal pace when training without a heart rate monitor. Using a running watch that incorporates a heart rate monitor from a quality running watch manufacturer such as Garmin, Polar, TomTom or Fitbit, helps you to train smarter by alerting you when you are training out of your target zone, as well as providing your heart rate reading on your heart rate monitor during your training.

Speed sessions 

Speed sessions aptly named as they are designed to increase your speed and allow you to ‘switch gears’ (run at a faster pace) during a race or event. The idea behind speed sessions is to shake up your training so that you’re not training in the same way, at the same speed, over and over again, as your muscles will get used to this way of training and that will likely translate to running in the same manner during a race, without the ability to step things up a notch if needed. Incorporating speed sessions into your training regularly should start to engage your typically dormant fast-twitch muscle-fibres and push you to move out of your comfort zone! Sound like fun? Sure is!

Speed sessions come in a variety of formats and if you’ve never done one before, we suggest trying one or two and seeing which speed session works for you.

Common speed sessions include:

  • Striding
  • Interval training (aka Fartlek running)
  • Hill running repeats
  • Tempo runs

Striding

Less of a standalone session and more of an add on to your other runs, striding involves picking a flat section of grass or road and then running from standing to your fastest running speed and back down to standing again. You should be running for a total of 15-20 seconds (including the acceleration and deceleration) and then resting for 1 minute between sets. If you have the time, ideally you’d complete 6 sets but at a minimum you should do 3-4 sets. The idea is for strides to be short accelerations/decelerations rather than a full on sprint for 15-20 seconds. Start speed work by doing this 2-3 times per week.

Interval training (aka Farklek)

Funny name, fun running exercise! Farklek is Swedish for “Speed play” and it refers to the style of speed work where you run intervals for a sustained period of time and then rest in between. You are aiming to run a mix of shorter, faster intervals at 90-95% of your maximum pace (sprinting), as well as longer intervals at a strong, fast race pace do mimic how you’d like to run in a race. A heart rate monitor watch or a phone app is a very handy tool to have when you’re running intervals. Most newer, middle-to-high end GPS running watches with heart rate monitors allow you to program an interval session into the heart rate monitor wrist watch which is extremely useful as you can concentrate on the intervals and you’ll be notified when you are ready to rest between interval sets.

Another interval training option is to run around an oval and change your speed over the lap around the oval, selecting light posts as markers (if there are light posts) so that you know when to increase your speed. You start out jogging and gradually step up your speed until you’re at 90-95% speed at the end of the interval, just before resting for a minute between intervals. 

Interval sessions can vary greatly in structure, we suggest starting out with 6x30 second intervals and gradually increasing the number of sets and duration of the interval to 10x45 seconds.

Hill running

Great for your running form, as it forces you to get onto your mid-foot or forefoot and great for the cardiovascular system, hill repeats can be done in a variety of ways, however, to start off with we suggest running 30-60 second hill sprints on a medium grade hill (don’t make the hill too steep to begin with) and then resting 1 minute in between sprints. We suggest starting with 6 hill sprints and increasing this gradually over time to 10-12 hill sprints, increasing the gradient over time if possible to make it harder. Hill sprints will build your leg muscles quickly, make you more resilient to injury and make your cardiovascular system stronger, faster.

Tempo runs

Tempo runs involve starting with a warm up, followed by running slightly above your anaerobic threshold and finished off with a warm down. How do you know if you’re running at just above your anaerobic threshold I hear you ask? Well, if you’re running so that you are not completely out of breath but you can’t comfortably talk (you should still be able to talk, there’s an important distinction there), then you’re likely running around or just above this threshold. You shouldn’t use you pace as a guide for a tempo run but instead use a heart rate monitor to stay within 70-85% of your maximum heart rate. The benefit of running tempo runs is an increased lactate threshold, which is an ability to run faster at an easy effort level. Tempo runs are one of the more enjoyable speed workouts!

Cross-training

Lastly, throwing in some cross-training as an additional session or two if you have the time (and the desire) can help you to reach that next level of fitness that you might not otherwise reach solely from running. Add in swimming, a spin / exercise bike session or free weights in addition to your running training program and you’ll be on your way to the fittest version of yourself ever!

Run More Efficiently

3. Breathe better

Better breathing whilst running leads to more efficient running, as you won’t have to labour as hard to fill and empty your lungs if you’ve mastered breathing ‘properly’. The most important step in breathing properly is to ensure that you are inhaling from your diaphragm rather than just lifting your chest trying to fill your lungs in the fairly common, everyday way of breathing.

Ideally you want to take deep breaths through your nose when you inhale, feeling it in your diaphragm or abdomen and then when you exhale, you want to push as much air out as possible, allowing you to empty your lungs completely of air. The step that most beginner runners don’t do when they are breathing during training or a race is a large exhale.

Timing your breaths with your strides or as your feet land can assist your breathing rhythm and help you maintain a comfortable pattern. If you’re running at a fast pace, you may need to take two breaths in for two steps and then exhale twice for two more steps.

Practicing and optimising your breathing to ensure you are breathing consistently from the diaphragm, emptying your lungs as much as possibly by exhaling as much as you can on each breath and getting into a nice rhythm connected to each stride you take, will help you to breath more freely and easily next time you participate in an event or race. Proper breathing can make a big difference in your comfort level and overall performance.

4. Hydrate and eat well

Running hydration

Being properly hydrated before, during and after running sessions is essential to running and generally feeling better. You don’t want to go over the top and overhydrate and take in too much sodium, as that could be potentially bad for your kidneys, however, ensuring that you drink plenty of water throughout each day (aim for 2-3 litres), and having a hydration plan is important to running well, as well as feeling your best throughout each day. If you’re not properly hydrated on a daily basis, you can feel sluggish, develop headaches and experience other negative symptoms.

Let’s talk hydration and race performance for a second. I set my half marathon PR (93 minutes) a few years ago and during the race consumed zero calories and zero water or electrolyte. It was pretty silly of me not to take anything in and I was quite dehydrated towards the end and after the race. Whilst you can get away with zero hydration during a 5km or a 10km run (and in fact you really don’t need it for these race distances or runs under 60 minutes or so), it’s certainly not recommended for a half marathon or full marathon as you’re sweating out your body’s stores of water and sodium when you run.

I’ve also run a 10km fun run with zero training and 8 beers the night before and have never felt more dehydrated in my life after the race – dizzy, cold and clammy, confused / in a dazed state, forgetful, it was awful. So pre-race hydration management is an important factor in running well.

Pre-race hydration

Good pre-race hydration ensures your body is at a state where you are neither under-hydrated, nor over-hydrated (yes, you can over-hydrate and it can be dangerous to be over-hydrated – google ‘Hyponatremia’ for more). To get to a balanced level of hydration pre-race, I suggest the following:

  • Avoid dramatically over-drinking in the days leading up to the race
  • Monitor your hydration by keeping an eye on urine colour and how thirsty you feel – your urine colour should ideally be close to clear but with a little yellow colour to it
  • Moderately increase sodium (salt) levels in the days leading up to the race

Hydration during the race

Drinking too much during a race is not recommended, as it can lead to cramps, discomfort and in an extreme scenario, hyponatremia (over-hydration). Ideally you should ‘top up’ your fluid requires based on how thirsty you feel during the race. As you start to feel more thirsty, sip a little fluid and continue to sip rather than take in big swigs. Avoid trying a new electrolyte on the race day, you don’t know how your body will take it and it may lead stomach discomfort. Hydration belts are great for training, however, if you’re going to perform at your peak on race day, we recommend using the drinking stations along the way, especially for a marathon as you don’t need the extra weight of the fluid around your waist during the race, especially at the start.

Running nutrition

Nutrition during the race

When running a race, on average a male will burn about 100 calories per mile (1.6km), of these calories, roughly 80% is supplied by carbohydrate, 20% is supplied by fat. If you’ve eaten well in the lead up to the race, including increasing carbohydrate, you’ll have around 2,000 – 2,300 calories on board for the race. If that’s the case, during a marathon you’re going to burn through around 2,100 calories of carbohydrate. If you only have 2,000 (or less) calories on board at the start of the race, you’re bound for a deficit in carbohydrate and a tough time towards the end of the race. So what can you do? Topping up your carbohydrate during the race is the answer and that’s where electrolytes and energy gels come into play. 

An energy gel usually has 80-150 calories of carbohydrates, depending on the type of gel. A lot of brands require a water or electrolyte chaser to be consumed afterwards as the gel consistency is similar a thick paste, although there are some gels on the market that are a lot more palatable than others. I suggest trying a variety of gels during your training in the lead up to an event and do not recommend trying a gel you’ve never had before on race day as similar to electrolyte, they can cause stomach discomfort if your body isn’t used to them or doesn’t ‘enjoy’ a particular brand or flavour of gel.

Half marathon hydration and nutrition

During a half marathon if you consume one gel about 45-60 minutes into the race and throughout the race you consume a sufficient amount of electrolyte to quench your thirst when you start to get thirsty, that should be more than adequate for a strong performance.

Marathon hydration and nutrition

During a full marathon if you consume three gels, one at the 60 minute mark, one at the 120 minute (2 hour) mark and then one at the 180 minute (3 hour) mark, in addition to consuming a sufficient amount of electrolyte to quench your thirst throughout the race, that should be adequate to ensure you don’t run out of your all important glycogen stores towards the end of the race. 

It’s important to understand that these are guidelines only based on averages and research – your body will probably differ from the average, so testing your nutrition and hydration intake (especially what flavours sit well in your stomach) during longer training runs a number of times is highly recommended, in order to determine what works well for you individually. Once you’ve found what works well, stick with it on race day – don’t try anything new during the race!

Eating well outside of race prep or race day

When I first started doing more investigating into nutrition and running performance, the types of foods that were suggested to me made sense, I just needed to know what they were and build them into my diet on a regular basis. The foods that runners benefit from including in their diet are:

Proteins, Iron & Omega-3

  • Steak (lean)
  • Canola Oil
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Milk (1% - e.g. Lite White)
  • Yoghurt (Greek or yoghurt with ‘live active cultures”)
  • Dark chocolate

Carbohydrates

  • Wholegrain (wholemeal) bread
  • Wholegrain (wholemeal) pasta
  • Oats (oatmeal)
  • Pretzels
  • Raisins
  • Bananas
  • High fibre cereal (e.g. Weetbix)
  • Bagels (Plain)
  • Sweet Potatoes 

Vitamins & Minerals

  • Kiwifruits (Vitamin C, Potassium)
  • Oranges (Vitamin C)
  • Almonds (Vitamin E)
  • Peanut Butter (Vitamin E)
  • Spinach (eat together with acidic foods or foods high in Vitamin C to assist iron absorption)

Eat these types of foods and avoid excessive fats and sugars in your diet and you’ll be feeling healthier, happier and recovering better in a short amount of time.

Running nutrition for beginner runners

5. The 10% rule for distance / speed

I mentioned before my two running-related injures this year and a few reasons why these injuries likely occurred. The other reason for the first of my injuries, my achilles tendinopathy (or achilles tendonitis), was increasing the distance and speed at which I was training too quickly. In other words I exceeded the 10% rule for distance / speed. The 10% rule simply states that you should not increase your running distance more than 10% on the previous-week’s distance. For example, if you ran 20km’s last week, you should only run up to 22kms this week.

It’s tempting when you’re training well, getting stronger and running further than ever to put your enthusiasm into training harder and longer and exceed the 10% rule, however, exceeding this rule can increase your risk of injury. Whilst not strictly referenced in the 10% rule, speed should be carefully increased over time as well, as increasing your pace too quickly can lead to running injuries also.

It helps me to diarise my weekly running distance and speed goals so that at the start of the week I know not to exceed the 10% or try to run too much faster than I was running before, especially over a longer distance. Running phone apps (and/or their websites) like Strava, Garmin Connect, Polar Flow or the Fitbit Dashboard / app used in conjunction with your heart rate monitor make it super easy to track your weekly distances and ensure you’re not exceeding the 10% rule.

6. Warming up and warming down

It sounds like such a basic thing to do and it really is, however, I never used to do it. When I was in my 20’s my body used to feel invincible from an injury perspective, so I never thought about warming up and the only warming down I would do was walking from my front door to the couch via a tap. However, having picked up a few injuries, I’ve learnt that warming up via a 5 minute walk / light jog can switch on the muscles before starting a training session or regular event such as Parkrun (if you haven’t yet tried Parkrun, see our post Parkrun: 7 Reasons Why You Should Run It Regularly). Warming down is an easy step that again requires a simple 5 minute walk / light jog so that you’re not going from 4 minute km’s to a standstill in the space of 5 meters!

7. Recovery and rest – listen to your body

Having a training program that sets out your recovery days is a good idea to make sure you’re giving your body time to recover properly so that you do not have muscle fatigue the next time you train. If you’re not sticking to a program, the key things to consider for recovery include:

  • Hydration – are you hydrating enough post-running (your urine colour is a good indicator of your hydration level – the lighter the better)
  • Muscle soreness – you should consider a combination of stretching, using a foam roller and massage balls on your muscles and iliotibial band, a regular sports massage, wearing compression tights
  • Following the recovery advisor on a heart rate monitor, such as the Garmin Forerunner 630 or Garmin Forerunner 735XT

Listening to your body is important for recovery purposes. If you’re feeling fatigued, sore or weak, there is value in skipping that next training session in order to give your body time to recover properly. In fact, over-training or ineffective tapering prior to a running event such as a marathon can lead to poor race day performances.

Compression worn during and post-training can assist in reducing muscle soreness and recovery timeframes by promoting increased blood and lymphatic flow. 2XU, SKINS, CW-X and ISC manufacture compression apparel, available online at onsport.com.au.

Tapering properly in the weeks leading up to a race is also an important part of resting and performing at your peak. Tapering is a topic too comprehensive to cover in any detail here, so we'll include a guide to tapering on the blog soon.

8. Increasing cadence and changing foot strike

Running more efficiently involves a lot of factors, as outlined in this post, however, two key factors that tend to be correlated with more efficient, elite level runners include:

  • Running at a higher cadence
  • Mid-to-forefoot striking

Running at a higher cadence

Whether it’s necessary to run at a higher cadence is a highly debated topic – just Google “Running at a higher cadence” and you’ll see what we mean! Despite the debate, we find increasing cadence equals better, more efficient running. 

Let’s start with the definition of ‘cadence’. Cadence refers to the number of times your foot strikes the ground and is typically quoted as a number of foot strikes per minute. A typical weekend warrior runner will run at a cadence of between 155-170, whereas more efficient, elite runners tend to run at a cadence of over 180.

When trying to run faster, our suggestion is to focus on running with more cadence by consciously increasing the number of steps you take, rather than doing what feels more natural initially which is to increase stride length and overstride. Overstriding is a common cause of injuries, especially achilles injuries.

So how do you start training at a higher cadence? We highly recommend either a heart rate monitor with metronome functionality (such as the Garmin Forerunner 630 or the Garmin Forerunner 735XT) or a running-specific metronome phone app. A metronome app or function on a heart rate monitor watch will play to you a tone / sound for the rhythm that you need to run at for the cadence that you input into the metronome. By way of an example, if you’d like to practice running at a cadence of 175, you’d simply plug ‘175’ into the metronome and then land your foot each time the tone / beep of the metronome plays.

As with all running fine-tuning, changing cadence moderately over time is important. Practicing increasing your cadence using a metronome can result in more efficient, faster running. Be warned however, if you try to aggressively increase your cadence in a short space of time, it can lead to injuries, so take it slowly and keep working on it over time (think long term results!).

Changing foot strike

Changing from a heel strike to a mid- or forefoot strike when you land your foot can be a difficult thing to transition to, however, mid- to forefoot striking, ensuring the foot lands underneath the hips, is a more efficient running style than heel-striking and over-striding. Whilst not always the case, typically when you heel strike, you are overstriding. You shouldn’t try to transition too quickly to mid- or forefoot striking, as you can risk injury in doing so, especially as biomechanically, mid- to forefoot striking can put more pressure on your achilles in particular. Your calf muscles need time to adjust to a change in running style. We suggest training as you would normally on a moderate run and during the run, start running a short distance on the mid-to-forefoot to see how the change in gait feels and then gradually increase the amount of distance you are mid-to-forefoot running over time until the amount that you are mid-to-forefoot running exceeds the amount you are heel striking and you can then start phasing out a heel strike altogether. If you’re so set in your ways that you’ll stick with the heel strike and what feels natural to you, that’s fine, focus then on landing your foot underneath your hips rather than reaching and landing out in front of yourself.

There is a wealth of information on the internet about efficient running gaits and mid-to-forefoot striking. For more in depth reading on this topic, I suggest Footstrike 101 How Should Your Foot Hit The Ground by Running.Competitor.com as a good starting point. 

9. Keep your running gear up to date

It’s not necessarily about having the latest running gear to show off to your running mates (although that’s not a bad thing…), it’s about having running shoes that provide the right level of support and comfort (especially considering you’ll be running km after km in your runners) and running clothing that is comfortable and performance focussed to help you achieve your best, whether you’re training or running in an event.

One the first steps in keeping your running gear up to date is to know your size in running shoes and running clothing. When shopping at onsport.com.au, we have product-specific size charts for your running gear within the individual product detail pages. You should consult these running apparel and running shoe size charts and take your measurements before ordering to ensure you buy the correct size.

For men’s and women’s running shoes you should also know what level of pronation you experience when running (i.e. do your ankles roll inwards more than a normal amount, or do your ankles roll inwards a ‘normal amount’ or not roll in much at all or roll outwards (supination).

Looking to update your running gear?

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Half Marathon Training Program and Full Marathon Training Program

So you’ve read this guide and you’re ready to start training for a 5KM, 10KM, Half Marathon or Full Marathon but don’t know where to start? You might find the following training programs useful starting points:

That's it! We hope you enjoyed our guide to running better for beginner runners.

Do you have a great running tip?

If you have a comment or wish to share your beginner running tips, please feel free to do so in the comments below!

Happy running!

~ Andrew


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