Shane is a very well-known Kerryman who is an exceptional runner and athlete having completed some amazing feats, he has; run 24 marathons in 24 days, cycled and ran across the USA in 36 days and completed in numerous races, one off events and ironman triathlons across the world. He is a tireless fundraiser for Spina Bifida.You can find out more about him and his coaching service on shanefinn.com
A beginners’ guide to running
Starting out in running can often be a daunting & confusing process!
What do I do? How do I do it? Where do I do it? How often do I need to do it? These are all perfectly good & relevant questions when it comes to starting out in running.
The good news is, we are here to help! Running is something we want you to build a long-term relationship with!
Running that first half marathon, as some of you know, changed the course & general direction of my life. I will however say I have never felt as much physical pain as I did on that day.
Not to turn you off the idea of running a marathon someday – but let’s face it, nobody runs 26.2 or 13.1 miles because it feels good. You do it because you want to push yourself and go to another level than where you currently are.
Mentally it challenges and changes you.
So how can we embrace both a physical challenge and some physical suffering?
First of all, I think you need to be open to a physical and mental challenge.
For me someone trying to run their first 5km and someone trying to run their first 50 km ultra-marathon, are in fact, very similar. Physically the challenge at hand is different yes, but the struggle is similar. And you still face similar mental barriers.
What I want to do here is to help anyone new to this wonderful sport to realise that they are good enough and that with enough patience and persistence you can see progress. That progress being both physical & mental!
Now let’s get into some practical tips you can implement today to help you along the way!
1.Take it easy
I guess it is the typical tip to give from the outset really! Personally, I think people get very hung up on numbers, stats and data. Yes, they have a place and are important at times, but they are not the most vital part of the puzzle! In the early days I think you should be focusing on two main things and they are (1) consistency and (2) enjoyment.
Taking your sessions easy, not going hard, trying to hit paces or numbers or distances in the early days is really important. Run to enjoy it and get the extra daily movement in. Then, in time, add in your watch and trackers if you want to!
You might read online and in magazines that you should increase distances by X amount per week. I like to take a bi-weekly approach where someone that is just starting would increase their weekly mileage or load every two weeks. This just gives the body a little bit more time to adapt to the training!
2. A run-/walk combo is okay!
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither were you! My advice here would be to look at adopting a walk/run strategy to help get the overall distance up and help with the specific conditioning. It will take a while for your body to adapt to the new training and the extra training stress, so give it the time!
For example, a walk/run combo might look like this. Jog for as long as you can whether it be 15 seconds or 50 seconds. Nice work! Now walk until your heart rate comes down to a safe level and do that 15 or 50 seconds again! And then recover again for as long as it takes! Repeat this cycle 5, 6 or even 10 times. Be proud of yourself and then come back in a day or two and do it again!
The real key here is to keep showing up everyday folks – don’t leave one hard session get you down. Know that long term you will win, and you will change for the better!
3. Mix It Up!
I think it is important to train the body in more ways than one. When I started out running, I picked up quite a few injuries – feet and knees mainly!
I now understand that they were overuse injuries from training in a similar way all the time. Fast forward a few years and I now train more than I did previously but pick up 75% less injuries. Of course, I have learned to listen to my body, but I am also more open-minded to the term ‘cross training’ too! Now cross training isn’t just for the elite – it is for the likes of me and you too!
For example, instead of starting out running 3 or 4 days per week and burning the candle from both ends – why not run three days per week, walk one evening a week and attend a fitness class on the 5th day in the week? This way you are training consistently but also able to safely increase your overall volume on a weekly basis!
It might also be a good idea to look at mixing up the surfaces you run on when starting out. Change it up and add in some grass or park area running, maybe the beach or the track too. This will take some pressure off the joints too.
Remember the key is to have the confidence to just get started, following the above three steps and you’ll be well on the road to your first 5km or 10km. If you need a more structured plan, please do check out the Run Killarney training plans too. Best of luck!