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A Beginner's Guide to Jogging

Nik Cook in action.

Never run before? Wanting to start jogging? Are you worried about what to wear or how to get started?

Nikalas Cook is a writer and coach specialising in endurance and adventure sports. He worked as a top personal trainer in London for eight years and now lives and trains in the High Peak.

He's completed the 150 mile five day Marathon des Sables, set the record for the 6633 Ultra 130 mile non-stop Arctic race. Last year he won the World Championship Long Course Duathlon in his age group. In his recent book 'Marathon Training – get to the start line strong and injury free' he argues that if you can run 10 yards today, you can run a marathon in six months.

As part of a free lecture series, Nik has talked to Chinley joggers about marathon training. Here, he gives us his 10 top tips for novice joggers.

1) Don’t just go out for a run

One of the most common mistakes novice runners make is just to go out for a run. Most people who are new to running expect too much, too soon and try to run far too quickly and end up out of breath and demotivated.

2) Walk before you run

Walk for five minutes. How does that feel? Are you comfortable? Next, alternate a minute walking and a minute running for 10 minutes.

Try and maintain the same effort level running as you when you are walking. Get out of the mindset that walking is failing. It's not – it's part of the training plan.

3) Find a steady pace

The problem is that the last time a lot of us ran it might well have been the horror of a school cross-country race or during a sprint sport like netball, hockey or football.

Find your steady, comfortable pace and build from that rather than falling at the first hurdle.

Nik conducts a lecture.

4) Don't run too much

It might sound odd but I really believe three focussed runs a week are more than enough, even for marathon training. Focus on pacing and judging your effort.

A good rule of thumb is to aim for a level where you can carry on a conversation and feel light, strong and comfortable. That's around a 6/10 effort if level one is sitting on the sofa watching telly and level 10 is an all out sprint to catch the bus.

5) Build strength and flexibility

One of the biggest factors in injury isn't jogging or running, it's the amount of time we spend sitting. Muscles that should make running for hours effortless are underused and weak.

We can't cope when we throw ourselves over-enthusiastically into a running programme.

6) Cross train

Use non-running activities like swimming and cycling as part of your training. It's healthier and more motivating and you're less likely to pick up injuries.

Yoga and pilates are great for improving flexibility and core strength.

Running barefoot can improve technique.

7) Try going barefoot

Find a grassy field and kick off your shoes. Focus on your balance. Avoid jamming your heels in the ground or taking too long strides.

Imagine you're floating over the ground. Stand tall and keep your head up. Relax – imagine you're holding a crisp in between your thumb and forefinger and don't drop or break it. Keep it short – 20 minutes is more than enough.

8) Run in a group

It's motivating if you're meeting up with friends because you know if you sit in front of the telly, you'll be letting other people down.

Joining a group like Jog Derbyshire also means you have a support network of other people going through what you're going through and a run becomes a social occasion. Working on your pacing is also the perfect excuse to chat!

Get your dog some exercise as you jog.

9) You don't need to buy expensive kit

Buy a pair of moderately cushioned shoes (around £60) and a decent pair of socks. Avoid cotton T-shirts or baggy shorts that can rub and don't wick away sweat.

Women should get a properly fitted sports bra. And layer up in cold weather.

Get out and enjoy the countryside

One of the joys of living in Derbyshire is the beautiful scenery. Get a pair of grippier trail shoes and find a woodland path or a canal towpath.

Or why not head for the hills? You don't have to become a hardcore fell runner. Try fast-packing instead. Walk the ups and gently jog the flats and downs. You'll be inspired by the scenery and it'll be a real boost for both body and mind.

Get involved

You can click on the relevant link to find your nearest JOG Derbyshire group or sign up.