Christina Neal, author of the book Run Yourself Fit, talks about how to make running easier so that you can adapt to it and burn more calories.

Taking up running is a great way to boost fat burn. Many people are convinced they can’t run and assume they will be breathless after a few minutes, even those who exercise regularly. Yet running is a great way to boost your weight loss as it can burn around ten to 15 calories per minute depending on your age, present fitness level, weight and how long and fast you run. It will improve your overall body shape too. If you want to start running, but you’ve tried it before and found it too difficult, think about what might have gone wrong. Did you sprint like you were running for a bus? Did you run with someone else who was faster and fitter than you? Did you try to do too much? You can run, but it’s important to set off at the right pace for you.

In the beginning, start with a five-minute walk to warm up – make sure you’re warm before you start. Then when you run, set a pace that means you could chat while you’re running. If you had someone next to you, you’d want to be able to hold a brief conversation. You can’t do that if you’re sprinting! Ideally, if someone were to ask you a question, you’d be able to answer in a brief sentence, even if you didn’t appreciate being asked a question while you were trying to run!

Walk/run at first

If need be, combine periods of walking with running. If you find it too strenuous to run for more than say, three to five minutes, run for two minutes, walk for two, or run for one minute, walk for two and so on. Repeat these intervals and build up to doing this for a total of 15-20 minutes over a period of four to five weeks. As the running intervals become easier, reduce the walking intervals. You might cut down from a two-minute walk break to a one-minute walk break and then run for two minutes. Experiment and see what works best for you. In the end, the goal is to run for 15 or 20 minutes without stopping.

Be safe when running

Running is a high impact activity and at least three to four times our bodyweight is absorbed by the knee joints when we run, so it’s important not to overdo it and get the right kit. Here’s our top tips for new runners…

Invest in a proper pair of running shoes

Visit a specialist running store such as Runner’s Need, Sweatshop or Run & Become for expert advice from store staff. Make sure you get the right shoes to support your running style that provides adequate cushioning.

Get a good sports bra

Invest in a high impact level sports bra, especially meant for running to avoid uncomfortable bouncing and chafing. The ligaments in the bust are inelastic, which means once they are over-stretched they never return to their pre-run state. So once you’ve stretched them, permanent drooping can occur!

Take a break

Never run on consecutive days – run no more than three times a week with a rest day in between where you do other forms of exercise such as strength, or a low impact cardio session like swimming or cycling. Give your joints a break.

Increase volume gradually

Even if you feel good, your joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles still need time to adapt and get used to the impact. Never add more than ten per cent to your total weekly mileage.

Don’t stress over your speed

Don’t worry about your speed in the beginning. You will get fitter and faster in time, but try to build your stamina gradually. Run at your own pace and don’t try to keep up with others. Do what works for you and you’ll ultimately build a better relationship with running and you’ll enjoy it more.

Take up strength work

Body weight exercises like lunges, squats, press ups and the plank will build your strength and reduce injury risk.

Try yoga once a week

Yoga will help keep you flexible and prevent post-run stiffness and Pilates will strengthen your core, which will improve your biomechanics and make running easier.

Don’t skip the stretching

Stretch at the end of every run, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds. If your legs ache or you feel sore, take a rest or go for a walk and use the foam roller to massage out tight knots in the muscles.