If you’re new to running and feeling a little daunted about getting started, follow these tips from endurance superstar Lisa Tamati for putting your best foot forward
1. Try it for three months
When I’m training people, I find the first three months are the most critical. Once that period is up and they’ve stuck to the programme, they’re usually hooked for life. It becomes a positive physical addiction.
2. Chart your progress
Use an app or write it down; add up all the distances you’ve run and have it all in front of you in black and white. It’s so motivating to map your progress. Acknowledge your achievements and move on from your mistakes.
As humans, we build on success. Congratulate yourself when you’re doing well, and when you fall off the wagon, forget it as quickly as possible rather than berating yourself, as being hard on yourself ruins your energy.
3. Have realistic expectations
In those first three months, it’s common for new runners to be super-motivated and do it all plus a bit extra on top of the prescribed programme. They think more is better. Then they get really tired, and don’t see any progress. They’ll go out and have a bad run and feel like they’re worse than they were two weeks ago. Often people expect results too quickly. You need to manage those expectations. Learn to be patient.
In that three-month period: don’t measure yourself, don’t weigh yourself, don’t expect miracles. Just stick to your plan.
4. Stay hydrated
If you’re running longer distances, depending on the heat of the day, you should be aiming to drink about 600-800ml of fluid an hour. Sip constantly so you’re hydrating before it’s too late. Many of us only drink water when we are already dehydrated, and then we’re playing catch up. If you’re running long distances, never leave your tummy empty of water – if it’s empty it shrinks down and when you drink a lot of water to compensate, it feels like it’s sloshing around. Combat this by sipping every few minutes. If you’re running long distances, go for electrolyte tablets rather than sports drinks.
As a general rule, you should be having your eight glasses of water a day, minimum. Have a glass of water before every meal. The bigger you are, the more water you need; the more you’re training, the more water you need; the more muscle you have, the more water you need.
Having a specific goal, or running a race with a deadline on it, is the best motivation you can have. It doesn’t have to be about winning anything – the human mind works better when it’s got a goal and a timeframe. Pick a race, and work towards it.
Work on your own motivation techniques – educate yourself, and surround yourself with people who have the same fitness goals as you and positive mates who help to pull you up. People have different motivating strategies. I love running alone – it’s my downtime. Others need a mate to push them along.