So you want to start running in Adelaide, but you don't know where to begin. Lucky for you, I've been in your position before. It's hard to be a runner (especially when you're a beginner) without any support. The steps below will guide you into the rewarding sport of running and ensure you have all the contacts you need.
Before you do anything (don't even go for a run yet!), you need to drop in at the Running Company on Unley Road. This is Adelaide's best speciality running store. They are 100% dedicated towards finding the perfect shoe for you that is going to minimalise the risk of injury and keep you comfortable.
When you drop in at the Running Company, they will perform a digital gait analysis for you. Before my first trip, I was genuinely worried because this sounded like some sort of intense surgery. Thankfully, I was wrong! All it involves is a few 20 second jogs on a treadmill to measure which sections of your feet cop the most smack as you run. With this information, the expert staff can discover the absolute ideal shoe for you.
The knowledge of the workers at the Running Company cannot be emphasised enough. Even beyond shoes, they know everything about the best running groups, events and locations in Adelaide. They're always open for a chat and are ready to spill some free local running tips.
2. Sign up for Parkrun
You're not a true runner until you've woken up early on a Saturday morning and joined a parkrun! Don't worry - the early starts will become habit once you get addicted to the weekly event. Parkrun's are a free, 5km timed run. They begin at 8am sharp, every Saturday of the year.
Parkrun's take place in multiple locations all over the state, so there's bound to be one near you. Joining Parkrun is easy - just head to their website, sign up, print off a barcode, and then bring the barcode with you on Saturday.
This fantastically organised event is great for many reasons, Firstly, it will give you the opportunity to professionally time yourself without having to worry about your stop watch glitching or pausing. Also, parkruns are a simplest way to meet likeminded runners who live in your local area. You can share favourite running tracks, energising foods and generally tips. Most importantly, parkruns are an excuse to run - and apparently, considering you're reading this page, that's what you ultimately want to do!
3. Join the SA Road Runner's Club
The South Australian Road Runner's Club (SARRC) is your gateway to Adelaide's running community. If you're a part of the running group, you get a number of exclusive benefits. The club holds a range of events throughout the year, including short and long running races. They also provide coaching services, running classes, running programs, and groups to run with.
If you're a beginner, the SARRC can give you the know-how and the skills that you need to enjoy running to its fullest. This club is about taking running from being an individual task, to a community and team mission. Joining the club also makes you eligible for discounts on running gear and tickets to races.
It's then time to have a suss of the Australian Running Calendar. This handy website has all the running/walking events that are going to be taking place all over the country. Okay, granted - unless you're travelling interstate, you probably don't need to know about what's happening thousands of kilometres away from you. But, there is a setting to just view South Australian events.
Looking ahead on the calendar will allow you to pick out marathons and races in the future and make them a part of your running goal. For example, if you're only a beginning runner, you might want to choose a 5km or 10km run in three months time. Then, you can spent the upcoming three months focused on gradually increasing your endurance until you can run the length of the race.
5. Make a plan
Making a plan and sticking to it is vital to overall enjoyment in your running journey. It is so important that you can be constantly improving and having small successes in your physical abilities. If you don't have a plan, you will become bored, unfocused and disappointed!
If you've joined the SARRC, they'll be able to help you out with creating a workable and realistic running program. I know you want to be able to do a 42km within a fortnight - but that's just not going to be possible! And they'll let you know that for sure!
Otherwise, there are a number of training programs available on the internet. One of the websites I like is Cool Running. They have 5km, 10km, Half-Marathon, and Marathon training schedules available to download for free.
The key to creating a plan is to ensure it is practical for you. Don't begin a schedule that says you have to run on Wednesday, if you know you don't have time on Wednesday's. Alter the plan so that it meets your requirements. If you can only run three days a week, instead of six, then it will take you longer to reach a goal.
The Hallet Cove Boardwalk is one place to test your fitness. Image: Emma Jane Warren
There's no point taking any of the above advice unless you're willing to pound those feet on the pavement and feel the sweat trickle down your face. There are so many picturesque and unique running locations in Adelaide. If you're looking for new places to run, then you can check out the parks page by WeekendNotes.
However, you'll realise quite quickly that the track you run the most will be the block around your house. In no time, you will be able to describe every inch of cement on that pathway.
Running certainly is a difficult sport. It takes persistence, determination, and strength. You will have set backs. There will be days that you will wake up and running will be the last thing you want to do.
But, taking up running will also be the greatest decision you've made in your life. Not only are you going to meet new people; you are going to meet a new you. The feeling when you take your last stride on your run, or when you crumble after passing the finish line, makes every single second of running worth it.