Runners Need store manager Nick Newman takes a look at why running is important with his advice for beginners taking up running for the first time.

1. What are the physical and mental benefits of taking up running?

Running has been used for a long time by many who suffer from mental health issues, it’s a way to escape from anything that may be worrying you. It’s just you and the road! For me, during the current climate it’s time where the Coronavirus isn’t a concern, a way to escape the news. At first running might seem hard, it’s certainly a sport/pastime where the more you put in the easier it gets.


I’ve found over the years I’ve run that I sleep better and generally feel much healthier. As far as physical benefits are concerned any activity is good for you but running works your body harder than potentially it has worked before and over time you will become stronger.

2. What is your advice for finding the right pair of running shoes when you can't go to the shops for a gait analysis?

This is a tricky one, if you’re new to running I would opt for a neutral shoe, this will allow your body to move in its preferred motion. If running is new to you, we don’t know how your body will cope with the impact side of running so would opt against stability shoes (that’s if you’ve not been recommended a stability shoe by a physio).


I would also go at least half to a size bigger, if possible you could order a half and a full size bigger at the same time and return the one that doesn’t fit as well, you then have a pair that fits better and don’t have to wait for another pair to arrive. I would look to have between half a thumb to a thumb’s width of space around your toes. It’s worth to bear in mind that sometimes your second toe may be longer than your big toe. 

3. How important is it to warm up and cool down properly – and why?

Before a session I would do a very easy run to get my heart rate up and blood flowing around my muscles. Then I would stretch for about 5 minutes and then start my session. That way you’re able to start your session in the correct manner, body warmed up and muscles working well. Starting a run on cold muscles can cause injuries and so can doing stretches with cold muscles. 


I would stretch the following muscles:

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Glutes

I would also do a bit of mobility work on my whole body but mainly the ankles, so they are also loose.

4. How long should it take to see an improvement in fitness - i.e., if someone is finding it hard at first, what's your advice for sticking with it and building slowly?

Everyone is different but I would expect to start seeing some fitness gains after a 2-3 weeks. There is no issue when beginning to use a walk/run method, you are slowly building up your body’s resilience to the added impact. Ideally, you’ll be running at a pace where you could easily hold a conversation with someone.


A great thing to use is a “Couch to 5k” plan, there are plenty around to download to any smart phone as well as on the Runners Need website. 

5. Any other top tips for staying motivated/sticking to a plan?

Some people need a plan to stay focused on a new activity, others don’t, you need to find what works for you. Overall, I would concentrate on the health benefits that you gain from running. During the current climate running is a great way to get outdoor and escape being in the same house for longer than you’d usually be.


Running is my way of escaping any worries I may have. With the digital world we live in it is easy to see so much rubbish which can worry you more, a run can refresh and reset your mind! 


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