“Running is like meditation to me,” Laura Henshaw tells Broadsheet. The Melbourne-based fitness influencer co-founded the Australian fitness app Kic with business partner Steph Claire Smith in 2018. The app now features thousands of different workout programs, meditations and recipes, and has over 250,000 subscribers.
Henshaw leads the app’s running program, but she hasn’t always been a runner. Here, she shares her tips for starting out – so you can go from zero to comfortably jogging five kilometres (or more) in no time.
1. Your mindset matters
Why do you want to start running? It might be to improve your strength and endurance, for the social aspect with friends, or to boost your mood after a long day. It’s important to focus less on the end goal of “being a runner” and more on the why. Laura recommends writing your goals down as a way of staying on track.
“If you start running but still believe deep down that you aren’t really a runner or aren’t good enough to run, it’s going to be really hard to stick to your training,” she says.
“[I run] for the mental clarity – that motivates me to keep going … The more you tell yourself you can, the sooner you will believe it.”
2. Start slow
Beginners often make the mistake of going too hard, too soon. Not only will this lead to exhaustion and frustration, it may also lead to injuries and stop your fitness journey before it’s really begun.
Instead, Henshaw recommends starting with an interval program: 30-second runs with 90-second walking breaks, three times a week. As you start to feel comfortable, gradually build up your run stints and increase your distance.
3. Strengthen your runs
With many Australians working stationary jobs, it’s easy to lose mobility and strength. Complement your training with simple exercises like glute bridges – where you lay on your back with your knees bent and repeatedly lift your bottom and lower it – and walking lunges. As you start to feel stronger, opt for a weekly Pilates session.
“I’ll always weave in a Pilates class or strength workout during the week,” Laura says.
4. Invest in good-quality gear
Running is a great form of exercise because you’re free to do it at your own leisure – there are no hefty gym fees and you don’t need much to get started. But a good pair of shoes can make all the difference when you’re starting out.
It’s important to identify what type of foot you have, as well as how you’re planning to use the shoe. Lightweight shoes with a cushy sole are ideal because they’re designed to soften the impact under every part of your foot. Laura’s new go-to shoe is the just-dropped New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13.
“It honestly feels like you’re running on clouds … feeling properly supported means one less thing to worry about during your run.”
Besides the shoes, having some light and breathable clothing to wear is also a good idea. Some of our favourite activewear brands include PE Nation, Nagnata and Pinky & Kamal.
5. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down
“It might seem like a drainer, but the moments before and after your runs are just as important as the runs themselves,” Laura says.
The key to being able to increase your distance and prevent injury is making sure you warm up and cool down properly. This might look like a few simple star jumps and leg swings at home before you take off.
“I tend to do my cool-down stretches during the ad breaks when I’m watching TV so it feels like less of a chore,” Laura says. “Start with some hip-flexor stretches and, if you have a foam roller lying around, jump on that too.”
6. Chose a track you’ll enjoy
A good run is made easier with great scenery. Being outdoors is an obvious highlight of running. And your run might also be your only chance to get your nature fix for the day. With the weather warming up, we’ve rounded up a list of Australia’s best waterside tracks where you can take a dip after. But if you’re deep in the city, opt for a track that’s close to your local cafe. A good caffeine hit always helps to get you through the final slog.
Laura finishes her runs at Paperboy Coffee Bar in Hampton (she reckons they do a stellar chicken sandwich too).
7. Join a group for extra motivation
Finding it hard to stick to your training solo? Enlist a friend or join a community running club.
“Running in a group is next level,” Laura says.
If you prefer a virtual group, Laura leads Kic runs where you can train for five-kilometre, 10-kilometre and 21-kilometre stints. If you’re someone who needs some IRL encouragement, there are many (mostly free) run clubs across Australia.
We’ve rounded up some of our favourites in each city.
Who: Coogee Run Club
What: A social club that runs four times a week: Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, Thursday morning and Sunday morning – and also offers a monthly beginners’ run
Where: Meets at Coogee Beach and Queens Park
Who: Sydney Harbour Runners
What: A community club that runs once a week on Tuesday evenings
Where: Meets at Cockle Bay Wharf’s Dancing Brolgas fountain
Who: Ate Miles
What: A social club, created by Attica’s sous-chef, that runs once a fortnight on Wednesday mornings
Where: Meet at Maap Lab Melbourne.
Cost: Free (plus a free coffee at the end)
Who: Run South Yarra
What: A social club that runs twice a week: Saturday and Wednesday mornings
Where: Meeting points rotate between Gilson (restaurant), Olympic Park Oval and Botswana Butchery
Who: South Bank Runners
What: A club that runs twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday evenings – also provides training sessions tailored to your skills
Where: Meets at Kurilpa Point Park on the South Bank side of Kurilpa Bridge
Cost: Free trial, $60 annual fee
Who: Brisbane Social Run Club
What: A social club that runs three times a week: Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings
Where: Meets at rotating locations including Goodwill Bridge (South Bank side), Grill’d South Bank, Kangaroo Point Cliffs (top of the stairs) and Mr Percival’s at Howard Smith Wharves
Who: Brighton Run Club
What: A social club that runs twice a week: Monday and Friday mornings
Where: Meets at Brighton Jetty, under the arch
Who: Adelaide Running Crew
What: A social club that runs twice a week: Wednesday and Saturday mornings
Where: Meets at the start of the university running loop in North Adelaide and at Brighton Jetty
Cost: Free, but a gold cold donation to the club’s chosen charity is encouraged after each session
Who: Freo Running Club
What: A social club, supported by Running With Thieves brewery, that runs once a week on Wednesday evenings
Where: Meets at Running With Thieves brewery (then grab a beer afterwards)