New Year’s Resolutions rarely become revolutions and can often peeter-out as time passes, running may have been on your list of new years resolutions. This post will help you keep that commitment and turn running into a new habit…
Starting out at any new cardiovascular activity is really HARD! I’d been an avid cyclist for many years and had trained myself so I could participate in long-distance events of 100-200km. I thought a transition to running would be easy… I wanted to do a triathlon and needed to run, so bit the bullet and started running… OH GOSH did it hurt! When I started could barely run from one lamppost the next! Keeping the drive and motivation was really hard. What helped me was commit to training and developing myself was signing up for a running event.
Like I’m stupid or something the first event I committed to was a Marathon, D’oh! REALLY bad idea! This ambitious commitment resulted in lots of injuries and lots of disappointments and massive learning curve. What I did learn (and keep learning) is that you can only safely increase your intensity and duration 10% each week. If you break this rule, someone can be pretty sure to injure themselves. I’m doing my third Marathon this April, and struggling to build my capacity after an Achilles injury and sickness over Christmas / New Year.
A key point in to remember as a budding runner is that two things that really count are intensity and duration, not distance, 1 mile on a hilly route may be like 3 miles on the flat. Intensity will in the main depend on your pace (how hard or fast you run) and the incline you climb or descend. Intensity can best be measure with the Borg Scale, I have a brief explanation in another post, this is how hard you feel you are exerting yourself. Another more objective way to measure the intensity of your work-out is to use a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM), but let’s not dig too deep before you’re bitten with the running bug!
The surface you run on and what you run in, your training shoes are key too. I have learnt the hard way that without the right shoes on the right surface you can be sure to make running unpleasant and injury ridden! Running on an athletic track, or on a road/tarmac/pavement or on grass/cross-country are completely different, each surface uses different muscles and requires different running shoes and styles… The best place to start running may be your local park, running circuits on the grass, which is gentle on your muscles, usually fairly flat and helps you get a feel for distance and intensity/pace. The best place to start with footwear will be your local running shop with a gait analysis which will often be free with your purchase of the correct running shoes.
If you are a complete novice then the best place to start may be doing Couch to 5 km (C25K), which in my humble opinion is the best way to start running. I have taken people through C25K and they found support key to keeping with the program. You might want to look for a running friend or local running club to start you off, as a newbie you will hopefully find they will let you try things out before they ask you to commit to membership. If you get the running bug you are sure to want to join your local running club.
Finally, one thing that is often neglected is core workouts and stretching. Doing lunges, squats, planks, crunches, free-weights & press-ups can really help to build up the relevant muscles, even before you start running. Muscle lengthening stretches at the end of a run (20-30 seconds) are key to recovery and injury prevention, especially arms, shoulders, calves, quads and hamstrings (front and back of upper leg). A bag of frozen peas and/or a cold bath will also help you with post run aches and pains (don’t forget Ibuprofen). Also cottage cheese, salmon, cherry juice, and dark chocolate will give your muscles the nutrients they need to repair and recover as you train. A-Z multi-vitamins are good for runners too as they supply the extra nutrients you have metabolised (use-up) because you are doing an impact sport.
Hope that helps, please comment is you would like follow-on post or can add to these brief suggestions I have made…