HSE University has joined adidas Runners Moscow club. University students and staff offer some advice to beginner runners.
You’ve already taken the hardest step. You have put on your running shoes and have run the first few minutes in your neighbourhood park. From now, it will become easier and more interesting. To make running good for your health and happiness, I would suggest paying attention at the following points.
Ask yourself why you are doing it. Do you want to lose weight? Are you keen to try something new? Are you following a trend or your friends’ influence? Whatever your goal is, it makes sense to clearly define it, so that later you stay motivated to continue regular training.
From my experience, such goals as losing weight are not very inspirational. The goal should be really heroic, so that you’re willing to talk to your friends about it.
You can set a goal to run a certain distance, such as five kilometers. Later, after you’ve achieved this, you want to run the same distance at a shorter time, and this will become a new goal. But I believe that the best way is to register for a competition, and these days, there are plenty of them. Today you might think that running ten kilometers without stopping is something way beyond your capabilities, but you’ll be surprised that your potential exceeds your expectations about yourself.
Now that you’ve set your goals, think about some basic equipment. Running is truly one of the most affordable sports, at least, at the beginning. All you need is a pair of comfortable running shoes with good shock absorption (you can get help in choosing them at one of the specialist running stores around the city – treadmill tests, which help determine what type of shoes you need, are widely available for free), and a heart rate monitor.
A popular trend among amateur runners today is running power meters, and it often seems that heart rate is not the most important indicator. But this is more relevant for advanced runners.
In the beginning, heart rate will be your main reference point. Buy the simplest watch with this function; this will prove to be a good investment, since it’s important to start running very carefully, increasing the intensity and duration of training sessions gradually, and training your heart at a rate not higher than 120–130 bps.
Of course, you can run without gadgets, too: it’s easy to find your right pace empirically (at this pace you can talk without being out of breath), but it is not that comfortable in real life.
You’ll need support. It’s likely that you might feel shy or confused, as I felt in the beginning, when I thought that running is something that shouldn’t be done in public. Or, possibly, it’s difficult for you to understand where and how you can start running.
In order to solve these problems, find like-minded people who will help you make the first steps comfortably. Moscow has a lot of running clubs and associations today, and they are happy to help beginners.
The most popular project is probably Park Run: every Saturday at 9 am, you can go to one of Moscow’s parks and participate in a free 5 km run with drinks and snacks at the finish. You can be sure you won’t be discriminated against due to your pace or mocked: you’ll find new friends with mutual interests, and your fears will disappear.
In addition, this might be a great opportunity to ask any questions you might have and observe more experienced runners, which can help you avoid many further mistakes.
You should have a plan. I have already mentioned motivation, but without discipline, your motivation won’t work. At first, your task is to get used to the new movements, run as often as possible, in order to make daily runs an integral part of your day and something you can’t go without.
The main three principles of training sessions are gradual approach (increase your distance smoothly, by no more than 10% a week), variety (including fitness training, various combinations of running exercises, changing locations), and regularity: it’s not necessary to run daily, but a 30-40 minute session three or four times a week is enough.
Make sure you do the warm-up and cool-down exercises and don’t forget about stretching. Pay attention to how you feel and try to enjoy every run.
Ideally, you can use a coach, who makes up your training schedule and advises you on running techniques, but this is absolutely not necessary during the first few months of training.
When you start running more than three kilometers, get into the habit of having regular health check-ups. At least once or twice a year, go for a heart ultrasound, a cardiogram, get your blood tested for iron and thyroid hormone levels, and never buy fake medical certificates for competitions.
And one more thing I would recommend bearing in mind: the main thing in amateur running is love!
HSE Vice Rector
What makes running different from other types of movement is not speed, but the presence of a flying phase. That’s why I hope that beginner runners feel this beautiful sensation, without pursuing only kilometers and pace. Instead, make running a part of your life as an opportunity to learn more about yourself (running alone is a great time for thinking and dreaming) and making new friends (come to Saturday Park Runs in one of the Moscow parks).
Associate Professor at the HSE Faculty of Computer Science
Make sure you spend some money on comfortable equipment and don’t pursue a high pace and long distances during the first few months of running.
Make sure you have a heart check-up with a sports doctor. If you are overweight, it would make sense to lose it with less traumatic activities: walking 10 km will be healthier. You can also train your heart on a cycling machine.
student on the ‘Sports Lawyer’ programme
The most important thing is to choose the right shoes. To do so, try on at least 10 different pairs. And find company for running; it’s easier to run together.
Rain is not a reason for cancelling an outdoor training session.