The beginner’s guide to running

Go from trainee to champion with our top five tips for getting off the couch

Running is a dependable form of exercise. With little equipment needed apart from a pair of shoes and some determination, it’s a cheap means to stay active anytime, anywhere. If you’ve recently been inspired to take to the track but are new to the sport, check out our go-to-guide – it’s sure to put a spring in your step.

1. Stance

Focusing on the floor creates tension in the neck and shoulders, so be sure to look straight ahead when running. Keep elbows flexed at roughly 90 degrees, swinging arms forward and back rather than across the body. Aim the knees forwards rather than upwards, remembering to take short, light steps; this will incur less stress on the body.

2. Shoes

Old shoes are a common cause of injury because the shock absorbers weaken over time. Invest in a decent set from a specialist running shop; they will be able to help you choose the right fit for your foot type, ability and exercise goals.

3. Training

Start by incorporating bursts of running into regular walks. Increasing these intervals gradually will prevent injury caused by training too hard too fast; as the weeks progress your need to walk should lessen. Devise a training plan aiming for at least two runs per week; this will give you something tangible to stick to. Muscle soreness is likely to occur when you start running, but if the pain persists seek medical attention.

4. Nutrition

Fuelling your body with the right balance of foods is important in any sport. For your main meals, stick to half a plate of half complex carbohydrates (like wholegrains and vegetables), a quarter protein and a quarter healthy fats (like avocado).

5. Spots

While one of the main advantages of running is that you can do it pretty much anywhere, the UAE has some lovely designated areas. Here are five of our favourites:

  • Dubai Marina: While it is busy and slightly harsher on the legs because of the pavement, the route has great views, especially at night.
  • Jumeirah Beach Corniche: Starting at the Burj Al Arab, expect a 14km bouncy track. Plus if you get too hot, you can head for a dip in the sea.
  • Al Barsha Park: A 1.4km track with every 100m marked; it’s free entry and open from 8am-10pm.
  • Dubai Creekside Park: A lush, green park with a magnificent view of the Dubai skyline and a 4km track. Open from 8am-11pm and entry costs just Dhs 5. Women and children only on Wednesday nights.
  • Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi: A formula one racing track that’s open to walkers, runners and cyclists on Tuesday nights from 6-10pm.
  • So, whether you’re new to running or one of those taking part in the Johnson Arabia Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon coming up in December, there are plenty of spots for you to put on your trainers, have a stretch and sprint into the distance. See you on the track!