Video: Taking the first steps to becoming a runner with Jo Stephenson

Buying the right shoe is vitally important

Buying the right shoe is vitally important - Credit: Archant

SEASONED runner Jo Stephenson is no stranger to the marathon challenge having completed the 26.2-mile circuit around London twice before. But as marathon fever starts to sweep Suffolk, novice runners will be inspired to dig out their old trainers and pound the streets themselves.

Jo Stephenson from Stowmarket Striders giving tips on how to prepare and compete in a marathon.

Jo Stephenson from Stowmarket Striders giving tips on how to prepare and compete in a marathon. - Credit: Archant

Jo is keen to share her expertise with those looking to try out the sport for the first-time, and warns against wearing regular trainers.

“The first thing you need to do is get your shoes fitted by a reputable sports shop,” said the dedicated runner.

“They will put you on a tread mill and video you, watching your foot pattern. They will be able to tell whether you have proper pronation, or if you are under or over.

“It is all about how your foot lands, if your knee goes under or over your ankle.

The type of pronation will determine whether you need stabalising shoes, cushioned shoes or ones that offer more control.

“Buying the right shoe stops you getting injured,” said Jo, who suggests even novice runners spend in the region of £80 on running shoes.

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This may be an expensive purchase, but once you have splashed out on proper shoes, there is very little specialised equipment to buy.

Jo said: “You will need a good pair of running socks t stop you getting blisters and for women it is important to get a good supportive bra. After that, it is just what is comfortable.”

Joining a running club, like the Stowmarket Striders, is a great move for any budding athlete, explained Jo.

“All of the coaches are UK Athletics-trained so you will get proper advice.

“And one of the best things about being in a club is that you gets lots of support. You can find somebody to run with outside of the club sessions if you feel safer running with other people.”

The Striders attract a lot of new women members around the time of the Race for Life each summer. And once they have completed the charity run, many return and want to build up their distance and stamina.

“Most people will lose a bit of weight when they start running, and then when they realise that by running regularly they can keep it off, they decide to stick at it.”

The club is open to people of all abilities from top athletes to first-time runners and those returning from injury. Several members will be joining Jo on the south coast for the Brighton Marathon on Sunday, April 14 while another group have secured places in the London Marathon a week later.

“It is a challenge for the club to get people fit for the marathon, and it is a challenge for the individual, but that is why you sign up, it is all part of the experience.”

For anyone thinking of taking on the marathon next year, now is the time to start training.

“It is good to have a longer build up time,” advised Jo.

Visit our marathon page for more updates on the London Marathon and stories from Suffolk’s charity runners.

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