Where to start when running

Where to start when running 

If you’re new to running, never fear. As you’re about to hear from Performance 101 coach and personal trainer, Nick Scott, there’s an easy place to start.

“First of all, be sure to have a strategy besides just ‘holding on’,” Nick points out. “If you’re going for a big run, you can’t just pull it out of a hat – you need to know what you’re capable of.”

Nick puts the most important part of running down to “building your aerobic engine”, and again, there’s a simple way to kick things off that centres around getting to know your body.

“Try hopping on one leg and stabilise your own body weight,” Nick suggests. “If you can do it without your knees going all over the place and are reasonably stable, it’s going to be relatively safe for you to go out and run.”

“You need to have a strong foundation of strength around your hips and core,” he continues. “It’s important for your hips and knees to be doing all the right things.”

“While it might sound basic, you’d be surprised at how many people can’t balance on one leg yet still go out and run all the time” and this can lead to potential injuries down the track.

The next step is to get your routine up and running, and for this stage, Nick recommends going with the ‘10% rule’.

“I recently helped someone start running again and each week we built on what they did the week before by 10%”, says Nick. “Increasing the distance you run by a small amount each time means you wind up improving your endurance – and that’s an incredibly important part of running.”

Exactly how important it is became clear when Nick walked us through it.

“Whenever you run, your first kilometre and your last kilometre ideally should be the same,” he says. “A lot of people go out way too hard and blow up, even in a 5km race. What I try and help people do is get to a point where they can maintain a solid pace from start to finish and this comes down to pacing.”

Getting to this point can come from solid endurance training, and Nick sees interval running programs playing a vital role as they can help you determine your ability to sustain a ”given effort”.

“Fartlek training is a common one that’s based on ratios, and it might see you do two minutes on, one minute off, then three minutes on, one minute off,” he says.

“Then there’s the one designed by former champion marathon runner, Steve Moneghetti,” explains Nick. “Named Mona Fartlek, it has you spending the same ratio time running as you spend recovering, and sees you do two times 90 seconds, four times 60 seconds, four times 30 seconds and four times 15 seconds.”

“Chances are you’ll wind up running as hard as you can run for that first 90 seconds, and since the recovery time gets shorter and shorter, it really gets quite challenging.”

While these are good steps to take in the beginning, it’s certainly not the be all and end all. As Nick spells out, “Getting the body right for running involves maintaining a proper diet, strengthening the right muscles, including the hips and core, while also mixing up the distances and locations you cover.”

“It’s also important to listen to your body,” says Nick. “It often takes time for good things to bubble to the surface, so don’t be afraid to take things slow.”

Just started running again? Share with us how you're going at wellplan@australianunity.com.au.


Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.