Getting ready to run

It’s not enough to jump out of bed and pull on your running shoes: you need a little preparation before the start of every session. Follow these tips to ease effortlessly into a run.

Warming up

You don’t need to stretch before you run – in fact, research suggests that this might cause you more harm than good – but you do need to warm up the muscles that you are going to use. Start off with a brisk walk for five minutes before breaking into a gentle jog for another five minutes. You should start to feel warmer and ready to begin your training run. If warming up outside in winter leaves you cold, you can cheat with a passive warm-up to increase the body’s temperature without physical activity. Try a warm bath or heat packs, then run a little on the spot indoors before braving the outside world.

Cooling down

At the end of your run, do not stop until you have given your body a chance to cool down. Walking for five minutes after your run is an excellent way to deliver dynamic stretches to your muscles. You will find that it will reduce post-exercise stiffness more effectively than static stretching. Walk until you feel that your breathing has returned to normal.

Why stretch?

The jury is still out on whether stretching can offer any benefits for runners, but many people still like to stretch because they believe that it brings greater flexibility and makes them feel good. After a run your heart will be pumping blood and oxygen to your muscles, and a raised metabolic rate will speed up your nerve impulses, allowing for easier movement.

Getting going

One of the easiest mistakes to make when you are starting out as a runner is to run too fast. You remember what it was like to hare down the finishing straight on the athletics track at school and take off at a pace that you’ll struggle to maintain for more than a couple of minutes. It’s much easier to start slow and think about building up your speed when you can comfortably run for at least 30 minutes.