The GO Outdoors Beginners Guide To Running – Best Selling Products and Advice
The GO Outdoors Beginners Guide To Running can help you choose the best products if you are just starting out running for the first time, or progressing from casual running to a regular training, perhaps for an event, competition, or charity run.
Whether you are training for a competition, or just running for fun and to stay in shape, you need to ensure you have the right gear so you're safe, comfortable, and prepared.
Why you need specific running gear:
You may already own some outdoor wear suited to running, but to avoid injuries your existing running gear may need reviewing, particularly if it is old or worn.
The right clothing will reduce sweat and overheating, whilst the right running shoes can significantly improve your posture, balance, and can minimise the risk of injuries. On impact it's not just your feet that feel the pressure of the road, it is also your joints that receive impact, so the right running shoes can help reduce future problems.
Where will you be running?
For street or road running you need to ensure you have running shoes that can withstand the repetitive strain associated with running on hard, flat surfaces.
For trail running or off-road running you will need to have running shoes that are able to provide grip and stability on uneven ground.
Typically for beginner running events you will need:
- Running Shoes - Suited to your terrain (E.g Road running/trail running)
- Navigation Tools - Such as a compass or a GPS
- A baselayer top - To wick away sweat as you run
- A bumbag/daypack - for storage
- A hydration system - either integrated with your bag, or in the form of a flask/drinks bottles.
See our separate guide entitled the Running Checklist for a full list of what you will need.
Beginners Running Bags and Daypacks
Running Backpacks can be varied dependent on what you need to take with you and how long you intend to run for. For a quick race away from home, a bumbag will suffice.
This is worn at the front of the waist and can hold the bare essentials, such as small amounts of food, hydration, keys, change and other small items sufficiently.
Low in weight, a bumbag is often the best choice for inexperienced runners who want more storage space than you get with a pair of shorts.
However a small running pack can also be considered. Typically these are under 30 litres in capacity, but they can offer more room for spare clothing items and larger pieces of equipment, such as handheld navigation systems.
Beginners Running Baselayers
When you run your heart rate increases, so you'll likely produce more sweat. For this reason, you need breathable clothing more than ever. This starts with your next to the skin layer- the baselayer.
For running, you should have a base layer that is designed to be both comfortable and capable of wicking away moisture as you run. Choices can vary, but many first time runners recommend a technical baselayer t-shirt with short sleeves for summer, or a long sleeved baselayer for the winter months.
GO Outdoors customers typically find that baselayers made with flat locked seams and smooth design that fit close (but not too close) provide the perfect conditions to wick away moisture.
Merino wool is a choice that many of our customers have also been choosing for running as well as for other stenuous activities.
Merino wool, from the Merino sheep found in New Zealand, has very plush and soft fibres that makes it an ideal baselayer fabric as it feels great next to your skin. It doesn't have any 'itchy' fibres as a typical sheep's wool can sometimes have, so it always feels good next to the skin.
Merino wool works by absorbing water within its own fibres, holding around 30% of its own weight in fluid before this reaches your skin which is why so many GO Outdoors customers and experts are using this natural fibre instead of some of the classic synthetics.
Beginners Running Jackets
For running in cold conditions, you need an insulating outer layer as well as a wicking and breathable baselayer. A waterproof jacket is also, by definition a windproof jacket, so a waterproof jacket should be able to cover off all eventualities as you run.
The key to comfort when you run is to have a jacket that does not hinder your movement in any way. The best cut to look for is an athletic fit. Many of our customers purchase the Rab Jetstream Jacket as their first running jacket.
The Jetstream is a good example of a running jacket because it has a low profile design that fits close to the body as your run. The adjustable hood with a wired peak means it can suit your environment, even when you get caught in a downpour. The jacket is lightweight, but still offers a variety of pockets for storage so it can be worn in other environments as well as whilst running making it ideal for a novice runner who doesn't want to buy too much gear when first starting out.
Longer length jackets will offer more protection and coverage, but will also restrict your movement, so these are best avoided for running.
Beginner Running Shoes
Comfortable Running shoes are essential if you want to run without the risk of injury. The best running shoes should be protective and should offer the correct amount of padding in the midsole, in line with your needs.
This means that one shoe does not 'fit all'. We all have our own distinctive running style (which can be re-learnt) and we tend to naturally run on our heels, or our toes, perhaps running with good form, or sometimes your feet may 'flick' outwards or inwards as you run. This is known as your 'gait'. Our Guide To Insoles covers this in more detail.
An instore GO Outdoors footwear expert will be able to check your running gait and your foot shape, and match you with your ideal running shoe.
The right pair of running shoes should provide support to your own foot type, allowing you to correct minor orthotic problems, and to support areas such as your ankle to prevent twists and sprains on inclines and descents.
Your running shoes should be flexible to wear for comfort, yet sturdy enough to cope with hiking over rocks and stones off the trail. The sole is an important area to consider as it should be thick and rugged enough to provide traction and balance on uneven surfaces, yet lightweight so it doesn’t slow you down. The worst types of running shoes to get are those with minimal padding and flat soles, as these put too much pressure on your foot, which can be damaging in the long term as you run on hard ground.
For trail running, GO Outdoors experts recommend the Inov8 RocLite 295 shoes, as these are highly flexible, increasing sensitivity whilst running. They also have a good rugged sole making them ideal for trail and off road use where the terrain can be unpredictable. The design provides you with much needed balance and control, making them ideal for a beginner.
For road running and track running, our GO Outdoors Experts recommend the Asics GT2150 Running shoes. These running shoes have excellent cushioning inbuilt, as well as a supportive lacing system that holds your foot steady as you run.
Beginners Running Tights/ Running Shorts
Whilst running, you need leg wear that can move as you move, protecting you where needed from debris, and offering a lightweight construction that doesn’t slow you down.
The two choices are Running Tights, or Running Shorts. Both can be used for trail running or road running, but for more protection from undergrowth and brambles typically seen when trail running, tights are often an ideal choice. However running shorts can be low cost and low weight, another great choice for any beginner to running.
Tights are typically made from synthetics and stretch based fabrics such as nylon, polyester or supplex to provide you with a stretchy and flexible fit.
GO Outdoors expert runners also recommend a simple pair of running shorts for beginners, and running shorts do vary, from very tight compression shorts made by companies like SealSkinz, to running shorts with a fuller cut.
A traditional pair of running shorts are more suited to racing and sprinting on roads and flat land.
Cut with a high leg arch and a more flowing fabric cut, these sit loose against your skin so you can run unrestricted, however they cover enough of your leg to ensure you don’t feel too exposed whilst wearing them as you start as a beginner to running.
General Running Advice
If you are new to running you will need to build up your strength and endurance. Depending on your goals, from training for an event with a set time frame, or for general health and fitness, the time it will take to do this can vary.
Ensure you have the right running shoes and trainers as these are the most essential part of your kit. A baselayer and comfortable shorts, and maybe a lightweight jacket are the only other bare minimum essentials you need to get going.
Music can also help motivate beginner runners, although be careful that you are still safe when running and are aware of your surroundings. To make things easier, try and run the first few occasions in agreeable weather conditions. Whilst you want to concentrate on building up stamina, you don't want to have to cope with heavy rainfall or extreme heat as well.
Warming up is important and shouldn't be dismissed as it helps prepare your muscles for running, particularly if they haven't had to run in a long time. You can look online for some good stretching routines, many sites can show you videos of the best stretches to do, and how to hold correct form.
After stretching, start out slow and steady with a good, gentle warm up to get your heart rate up. This could be a speed walk, a jog, or any aerobic movements that get your heart rate going. At this point you shouldn't be out of breath, and should be breathing steadily. Progress into a light paced jog, as this is the best time to set your breathing correctly, coinciding with your footfall.
Aim to breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Longer, deeper breaths will utilize your lung's full capacity and ensure you get a steady stream of air. For people who haven't exercised in a while, this could result in a mild case of spluttering at first, but don't be put off, and keep moving!
Your warm up should typically last 10 minutes, and if possible should include a small gradient to warm up your calf muscles. The next step is to run.
Start with a set distance in mind and aim to reach it, however long that may take. Some runners like to be aware of where they are, taking in the scenery and feeling the environment, whereas other runners enjoy listening to music, daydreaming and 'zoning out' completely.
Whilst those who are interested in scenery and the run itself typically get bored in gyms and road routes, those who like to 'zone out' of the run and distract themselves fare better in distracting environments.
You will soon find which runner you are, and you can use this knowledge to choose a suitable running route for yourself. Whatever you do, ensure you stay aware of your surroundings so you stay safe.
How fast to go
Beginner levels of fitness can vary according to weight, general health/injuries, lung capacity, when you last exercised and many other factors so each individual will take a different time to build up their stamina.
Pace yourself so that you can run whilst still being able to hold a conversation, albeit a slightly jilted, less enthusiastic conversation then you would typically have whilst sat over dinner! Other issues such as your levels of hydration can also effect your running skills so ensure you stay hydrated all day, as well as whilst you are running.
Build up so you can run at a good steady pace. This might be a goal of 1km, 5km (around 3 miles) or just to stay out and do 30 minutes of running, even if that is a stop-start run.
There is no rule that says you can't stop once you have started, and no rule that says stopping means you can't carry on. Just remember whatever distance your run, you will have to return, on foot, so make sure you don't push to your absolute limits of moving on your first attempt (or you will have to get the bus back home wearing your running gear!)
Where to run
You can choose a set route to run, or vary how and where you run, from a treadmill in poor weather, to running outdoors on tracks, or defined running trails. As you progress with running, you will notice that your body adapts to the route and your endurance increases. It is at this point that you can change or alter your route to incorporate new challenges.
You may feel less sore than you did the day after your first attempt, and you are no doubt looking forward to running and increasing your distance or speed.
You can continue to challenge yourself by changing the speed that you run, reaching a set distance in a shorter time, or changing the duration of your run. You can also add in additional obstacles such as inclines and declines to challenge your bodies’ ability to adapt.
Interval training utilizes the method of sprinting and slowing to reach your maximum heart rate quickly before dropping it down again. This form of training can challenge your body to adapt and can add interest to your training regime if things have become too routine.
Some days you may want to have a short, fast paced run, and on other days you may be more inclined to run at length at a shorter pace. Some people are also naturally inclined to run at speed for shorter distances, whereas other people have natural stamina that it takes to complete long distances.
Unless you are training for an Olympic event, concentrate on playing to your own strengths and doing what you can to have fun and enjoy running as much as possible.