Going alone? Make sure you are wearing the right gear

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

It's common for some who participate in sport to use the easy excuse that personal success is limited by the less than adequate performances of team-mates. In some cases this is unquestionably true.

Take Tour de France winner Mark Cavendish for example. Four years ago at the Olympics in Beijing, Cavendish was part of a group of bike riders whose performances were not as good as expected. Despite his own individual performances being pretty high he left the Games less than impressed.

So much so that Cavendish abandoned his team-mates and the velodrome that made him famous and decided to go it alone. This year he heads to London 2012 as an individual rider wearing the Tour de France green jersey, proof that in order to achieve something different you're going to have to do something different.

Now that summer is finally here, the chances are that you may leave your team sport behind, albeit temporarily, to go it alone as you pound the streets running after work or get the bike out of the garage and hit the saddle.

So if you're just starting out on your own running, or you're reacting to the glorious weather and just feel as though you'd like to get out for a jog, here are a few things you should consider.

The most important thing to consider is your footwear. Trainers don't need to be all that expensive, but don't underestimate the importance of a decent pair of running shoes. Tennis shoes won't do, the trendy 'six-fifties' or white plimsoles are definitely out and resist the temptation to choose those tired old running shoes you've occasionally used over the past few years.

To reduce the risk of injury you need fresh, well cushioned proper runners. After all, running shoes are designed for running and if you're a beginner your legs are going to need all the protection they can get. My advice if you're buying, don't go for the obvious big name brands, they might look great, but aren't necessarily right for what you need.

Each brand of trainer will have a set instep, so once you have found the brand that you like, stick with it. I've seen injuries like shin splints and Achilles problems happen simply because a patient has swapped the make of trainer.

Wear something comfortable. Most new runners will overdress at the beginning forgetting how hot they will quickly become. Believe it or not there is a metric you can follow when it comes to the amount of clothing you should be wearing. If the temperature is +12 Celsius, shorts and a tee shirt or vest will do. If the temperature drops below eight Celsius or you're an early morning runner, step up to leggings and a long sleeve tee shirt.

If it drops below that I personally like to run in a hat and gloves as my hands take the longest to warm up and most heat is lost through your head. Better to have the warm blood supply hitting the important muscles you're going to be using than in your hands which aren't important.

Has anybody told you about the impact of barefoot running? Read next week's article to find out how the latest fitness craze might benefit you.

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