Written by Rachael Power
When it comes to running, everyone has their own individual form. But when starting out, how do you make sure you’re grasping the basics, and how do you keep yourself motivated once you do?
Benefits Of Running
Running is not only good for your cardiovascular health and waistline – two well-known facts – but it can also have health benefits in ways you haven’t even realised.
Back in 2009, Finnish study concluded that men who ran for half an hour per day cut their risk of dying early from cancer in half.
In addition, running can improve your mood, keep your mind focused and joining a club is an excellent way of making new friends – a definite positive for your mental health and well-being.
Take advice from others with a pinch of salt; one of the most common myths about running is that it’s bad for your knees, but a study by Arthritis Care & Research has shown it’s not.
Put all of these benefits with the fact that you’ll be outdoors more, have healthier heart and lungs, tone up and be able to consume more calories, and there really is no reason not to at least give running a try!
Your Running Plan
The first step, beyond buying some well-fitting trainers, suitable for whatever type of running you choose – trail, road or track – is getting a plan together.
Basing a plan around a goal is a good place to start. A recommended distance to aim for is around 5k, or 3.1 miles. Sign up for a local 5k fun run or race to get yourself started – and rope a friend in for extra support.
Here’s a sample plan you can use to get yourself from couch to jogging in just four weeks for absolute beginners:
|Week 1||10-minute walk, 5 minute slow jog, repeat twice||Rest||5-minute walk, 5-minute slow jog, repeat twice||Rest||Long walk (30 minutes)||Rest||5-minute walk, 5-minute slow jog, repeat twice|
|Week 2||15-minute walk, 5 minute jog, 15- minute walk||Rest||10-minute walk, 5-minute jog, repeat twice||Rest||Long walk (35 minutes)||Rest||5-minute walk, 5-minute jog, repeat three times|
|Week 3||10-minute walk, 10-minute slow jog, 5-minute walk||Rest||5-minute walk, 5-minute jog, repeat three times||Rest||Long walk (40 minutes)||Rest||15-minute walk, 10 minute jog, 5-minute walk|
|Week 4||5-minute walk, 10 to 15 minute slow jog, 5-minute walk||Rest||10-minute walk, 10-minute jog, 5-minute walk||Rest||Long walk (45 minutes)||Rest||Try a 20 minute jog (if not, 10 minute walk, 10 minute faster jog)|
Tips & Motivation
Once you get into the swing of following a plan, you will be encouraged as you see progress. But even the pros need a little extra motivation and tips to help them along the way:
When you start running, it’s a good idea to take a look at your diet to firstly make sure you are eating enough calories, and secondly to start eating the right foods.
It’s a good idea to use a running app, where you can input your weight and height, to roughly calculate the number of calories you’ll burn on a run. You should aim to eat these back through your meals, but it’s important to ensure you’re not just scoffing cakes and biscuits.
Food such as sweet potatoes, quorn or lean meat alternatives, wholegrain pasta and cereals, plenty of fruit and vegetables and omega-3 rich fish such as salmon, are all good options. You’ll also want to ensure you are getting enough protein and supplements to keep your body in tip-top shape.
#2 Motivate Yourself
Grab a running buddy, join a club or simply race the person next to you on the treadmill; having someone to exchange notes with is an invaluable way to ensure you stay focused on your goals.
If you prefer running solo, however, there are still plenty of ways to keep on track. Buy a physical calendar and mark the days off old-school fashion down to race day. Hang it somewhere you won’t miss it, like your kitchen, to ensure that it’s always front-of-mind.
Another good, if slightly cheesy, visual cue is to start a Pinterest board full of inspirational running and fitness quotes, along with pictures of your favourite runners – Jess Ennis is mine – to keep you motivated.
Posting on social media is a controversial one, but if you do share info of your runs on Twitter, for example, then it holds you accountable to them. For example, if I tweet: “Just off for a 5k…” and know several people are my friends on running app Strava, I’m aware they can see whether I’ve ran or sat at home catching up on Great British Bake Off.
If all else fails, bribe yourself with a treat – new running trainers are a good one – for when you have completed a goal.
The importance of warming up before and stretching after you have been out, whether you walk, jog or run, is paramount.
Listening to your body if you feel any soreness, tightness or if something generally isn’t ‘right’ is always a good idea too. Don’t assume it will vanish and certainly don’t keep running on an ankle or knee that’s getting sorer and sorer.
Going for a proper sports massage as a treat is a great way of keeping your muscles supple and injury at bay. And when you build up to running three times per week or more, think about cross training, or another form of exercise, to use different muscles and give your overworked ones a break.
In all, running is a sport you can get into without much costly training or specialist equipment, but there are basic rules to follow: set a goal, have a plan and motivate yourself with company. Ensure you are getting the proper nutrition, stretch and recover and most of all, have fun!
You don’t have to be competitive to enjoy running or racing; even a gentle, slow, solo jog on a warm summer’s day is just as enjoyable as getting your personal best time for running a 10k.