LONDON belongs to the runners. The parks are full of locals running to get fit and stay relaxed or just for pure enjoyment.

So how do you join them? Here’s some dos and don’ts to get you started.

DO get the right shoes for you. Pounding around the park in a worn out pair is a recipe for injury. Get advice from a running shop who will assess your foot and find the right shoe for you. Invest as much as you can afford.

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DO start by walking. Get your body used to the demands you are about to put on it by starting slowly. Then try some ‘intervals’ - walking then running and so on, swapping over. As you get stronger and fitter, you can make your intervals jogging and then running.

DO think about posture. Rather than just throwing back your shoulders, do a subtle lowering and tightening to help give you a good running posture. Pull your abs in as you jog, to stabilise the body. Your hips should remain stable and forward-facing.

DO lift you legs up at the back as you run (kick you heels up), so you get a full range of movement. Aim for a mid-foot strike. Your foot should land below your hips, not out in front of you.  

DO breathe. Aim to breath deeply and as naturally as possible every two strides. Eventually, you will find your own rhythm.

DON’T spend a fortune on running clothes. Something loose and comfortable will do the job to start with. If you do want to splash out, get some clothing made of ‘wicking fabric’ (that carries moisture away from your skin). The Decathlon sports chain at Canada Water does very reasonably priced gear. 

DON’T take you milage up too quickly. Increase your pace and distance gradually over several runs. Think more about time than distance. Start with 10mins and build up to, say, 30mins. If you feel badly out of shape, or you're recovering from injury, see your GP before you start.

DON’T swing your arms across your body. They should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Swing them forward and back. This helps to propel you forward. Hands should be relaxed, so not to create tension that could run up your body.

DON’T hunch. This restricts breathing, allowing less oxygen to get to the muscles. Also, don’t drop your head. Look straight ahead of you, about 30 to 40 metres out in front. This avoids creating tension in your neck and shoulders.

DON’T Strike the ground too hard. Use positive movements, but aim for short light steps and try to be light and quiet. Don’t lift your knees too high. They should be lifting forwards rather than backwards. You should not hear a loud slapping sound as you hit the ground. 

Roger Love