How to run, be fit and lose weight – a beginner’s guide

You don’t need any fancy, dedicated work space for running

Out of all the forms of exercise (read: forms of sweat-inducing self-torture), you can’t get much better than running. For one thing, it’s completely free to do. The phrase “I just can’t afford it” or “there’s a recession on” doesn’t cut it as an excuse when it comes to running.

You don’t need any fancy, dedicated work space for running; the whole world is your gym. Finally, running is by far one of the best exercises in terms of calorie burning. More calories burned = weight loss and increased fitness. Increased fitness = increased life expectancy and a better life insurance premium.

The only reasonably valid excuse to not take up running is that you don’t know where to start. Not to worry, as this guide will give you a run down on how to start yourself off on the road to fitness.

Let them know your life changes

If you already have a life insurance policy, then you’ve already been given rates based on your lifestyle. If you decide on a big change like taking up regular running in order to get fit and lose weight, you might be entitled to a discount on your premium, or at least a recalculation of your rates. Have a chat with your insurer and see how this change in lifestyle will impact on your policy.

Also, it’s very important that you have a chat with your doctor about any big changes such as this. There’s a right way and a wrong way of doing things for each of us, so it doesn’t hurt to get some professional medical advice.

Shoes maketh the man

Remember what I said earlier about running being entirely free? Well, technically it’s true, but if you want to run comfortably and without subjecting your already tired and aching feet to blisters, sprains and all kinds of hurt, you need to get yourself a good pair of running shoes. Good running shoes allow you to compensate for high or low arches, which can cause extra tension and pain if not supported properly.

If you need to figure out what your foot arch looks like, take the “wet test”. Wet the sole of your foot and then step onto a piece of heavy paper or a concrete slab. Take your foot away and look at the footprint left behind, which will tell you what kind of arches you have. Your arches dictate how your foot hits the ground and absorbs the shock of the impact when running, so having shoes that help with this will make your run much better.

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Stepping stones

So you’ve got your shoes and you’re kitted out. Before you put the Rocky soundtrack on repeat and start tackling the world beneath your feet, make sure you don’t overdo it. It’s great that you’re enthusiastic, but Mo Farah you are not. Like the saying goes, you have to crawl before you can walk, and you have to walk before you can run. The trick to sustained fitness is to start off small and build your way up to running 5km, 10km, half marathon, marathon etc. Start off in the deep end and you’ll do yourself more harm than good.

If you’re reading this guide, then I’d wager that you’ve not done a great deal of running recently. In which case it’s important to start slowly. The best thing by far is to follow the Couch to 5K fitness plan – an NHS backed nine week running program that will get you from immobile to running for 30 minutes straight. The program gives you a 30-minute run three times a week and once you’ve completed it you’re in a strong position to move onto more ambitious exercises.

Book keeping and a positive attitude

The human mind is a wonderful thing, mainly because we can find an excuse for anything, and running is no exception. If it’s not bad weather, it’s a phantom twinge in your knee. If it’s not a lack of clean shorts, it’s a long and tiring day at the office. It’s this kind of mentality that stops people from exercising altogether, so it’s one you should try to avoid at all costs if you want to stick with your regime.

Keep track of your fitness progress and log your exercises. Routes, times, speeds and calories burned (if you’re using a treadmill or a fancy fitness app) give you hard evidence that what you’re doing is making a difference to your health. This will help you when you get those days of “I just don’t want to do it anymore!” (and believe me, you will get those days). Getting fit and healthy is primarily down to will power, so having this track record will keep you on the straight and narrow.

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