Beginners Guide to Running

More and more people are taking up running. Running is a great way to exercise and is becoming more popular in the UK. Park runs, 5km, 10km, half marathons and marathons are popping up all around the country in response to the demand for opportunities for people to enjoy their running.

Whether you like to run round the block or participate in ultra-marathons you will improve your cardio respiratory fitness, strength and stamina. Running can also help to relieve stress and anxiety.

beginners guide to running

Start running injury free

It is estimated that around half of all runners develop an injury at least once a year and these injuries nearly always affect the lower limbs. Overuse injuries and poor body movement (biomechanics) are common causes, as is a previous injury or fall. If you have an unresolved injury, it’s important to see a Chartered Physiotherapist or Sports Massage Therapist as soon as possible.

Warming up and cooling down may save you time in the long run

Give yourself time to warm up and cool down before and after you run. Warming up allows time for your body to prepare mentally and physically for the exercise and may reduce your risk of injury. A good warm up should include light cardiovascular activity that allows you to develop a light sweat, followed by stretching. This increases the blood flow to your muscles and improves flexibility. Cooling down after your run allows your heart rate to return to normal gradually and may help to reduce post run muscle soreness and stiffness

Equipped to run

Running is a convenient way to exercise because you don’t need specific equipment. However, a decent pair of running shoes is essential. Each runner is different and the type of shoes you need will depend on your biomechanics and training needs. When buying a new pair of trainers, go to a specialist running shop where an assistant can review your running style on a treadmill and discuss your training to find the best shoe for you. It is important to change your running shoes every 400 to 500 miles, even if they don’t appear worn out.

Guide to running

Plan your run and do your homework

When you start running, there are plenty of training programmes on the internet. Choose one training guide and stick to it, but be prepared to modify it if you get an injury. Try joining a running club or run with friends. Start a training log by recording your mileage and times. Keep motivated.

Recovery and overtraining

You become stronger and fitter during your recovery not during your actual run, so make sure recovery is built into your training plan. Try to include enough recovery time after every run and after your running event. Aim to keep your training consistent with your schedule and don’t try to play “catch up” with your mileage if you miss a session. To reduce your risk of injury, don’t increase your mileage too quickly. It’s a good idea to increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% to 20% per week. Finally, don’t try to run two hard sessions back to back.

beginners guide to running events

Strength training

It is important to include strength training as part of your regular exercise routine. The most important muscles for running are your buttocks (gluteal), thighs (quadriceps), hamstrings and calves, as well as your core muscles which provide balance and stability. A physiotherapist will be able to guide you on the appropriate exercises, weights and number of repetitions you should start with to help compliment your training and goals.

Fluid intake and nutrition

Runners should be well hydrated to maximise their performance. You will need to adjust your water intake depending on the weather conditions. Exercising when you are dehydrated can increase the likelihood of developing an overuse injury, as your body tissues don’t absorb the stresses as well. It is also important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Ensuring you have enough energy is important to prevent muscle fatigue, which can increase your likelihood of injury and also to aid muscle and tissue recovery after your runs.

Listen to your body

Listen to your body by including rest days when you need them and by looking out for injuries. Pain is a sign of actual or potential injury, which if ignored, may worsen. If you have stiffness that eases with exercise and it’s worse after exercise or the following day, you can usually run through it. However, if you have any doubts, consult a physiotherapist or a Sports Massage therapist. Treat injuries with the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) regime at first.

Sports massage therapy

Sports Massage is a type of massage that can alleviate pain occurring in certain parts of the body, which can be caused by too much physical activity. This type of massage was originally developed to serve athletes as a way to prevent and relieve injuries, but both athletes and non-athletes can gain physiological and psychological benefits from receiving Sports Massage Therapy. Sports Massage Therapy can prevent or relieve delayed onset muscle soreness by encouraging blood and lymph flow throughout the body, preventing muscle fatigue.

At Redbourn Physiotherapy Clinic we often see people with running injuries, these may include pain in the knees, shins, feet and ankles. Other problem areas are the lower back and hips. Most injuries are due to an overload on the soft tissues and joints. We have an interest and expertise in assessing runners. We use specific tests in the clinic rooms to evaluate your musculoskeletal system. We will look at you running and use video analyses to highlight any faulty movement patterns, along with discussing your training schedule. With straightforward strategies, we can help you to recover from injury, reduce the risk of injury and make you a more efficient runner. For some interesting articles on running, websites such as: and are a valuable source of information

To make an appointment to see Mark Brennan our resident Chartered Physiotherapist or have a Sports Massage with Gordon Cameron or Lucy Grosvenor, please call 01582 794441 or book online.

sports massage and running


gordon-cameron sports massageGordon and his wife Sarah set up Redbourn Physiotherapy Clinic in 1998. Their vision was to create a multidisciplinary clinic which offered the highest level of expertise and care. They feel that they now have the best team of therapists and enjoy working with them. Gordon helped set up and run the clinic before switching to a more hands on member of the team.
Gordon qualified with a Diploma in Sports and Remedial Massage Therapy from the London School of Sports Massage. He has attended anatomy courses at Charing Cross Hospital run by professor Julian Baker in July 2009 and July 2010. These are certificated CPD courses.

“I want a better understanding of our anatomy which has helped me when dealing with clients who have a specific problem. This opportunity has helped me enormously in understanding muscle function”.

He treats a wide and varied case load from elite long distance runners, including the marathon de sables, to those who spend long periods of time in sedentary jobs.

Gordon also runs two half marathons per year to help raise money for the St Francis Hospice in Berkhamsted. He is a keen horse rider and regularly competes on both show jumping and cross country.

He also enjoys his regular monthly massage!