As you have probably figured out I am a runner. My current training program is in its end stages in the lead up to the Gold Coast Marathon, it's just over five weeks away. If you are looking to get fit, loose weight or just to clear your head space running is one of the best things you can do.
However, because running has a high impact on your joints there are a few things that you should consider before you start or resume running after a long break.
Yesterday I posted over at Hummingbird’s Song about nutrition for endurance running but today I am taking it back a few steps with some advice for starting a new running program.
- Consult a medical professional to ensure that you have no underlying health issues, this is essential before embarking on any new health or weight loss program.
- Visit a shoe store that specialises in running. The right shoes for you to exercise in are individual to you, don’t chose shoes for running based on a recommendation from a friend or the colour. Starting a running program in the wrong type of shoes for you can, very quickly, lead to injury.
- When you buy your shoes the $30 socks are worth the investment. Lightfeet are my favourite, but at $30-$35/a pair they aren’t in everyone’s budget, The Nike Elite and DriFit socks are pretty good to and come in at less than half the price but Lightfeet are the bomb.
- Set yourself a goal. To help keep you notching up the kms it is worth setting yourself a goal. Running is experiencing some pretty good growth at the moment so you can probably find a fun run or two every month for the rest of the year in your capital city. If you are Adelaide based the City-Bay in September is the biggest with many similar events held in the other capital cities throughout August, September and October.
- Plan your runs in your diary like appointments. This is worth doing for any kind of training. Once you have written it down it is much more likely to happen. Like crossing something off a to do list it is so satisfying to give it a big tick.
- Use a treadmill as a last resort. Running on a treadmill uses the muscles in your legs differently to when you are running on the road. Once you are out on the road you have to get home so you are much less likely to talk yourself out of going further because you can’t be bothered, it is also much less boring to be out in the fresh air.
- When you start running I recommend running until you can’t run anymore and then walking. Start running again if you feel up to it but rather than alternating between walking and running C25K style (I won’t go in to why here), aim to run a bit further before you stop and walk each time you hit the road. The key is consistency, make sure you are getting out there three times a week and your endurance will improve very quickly.
- Running first thing in the morning, as in rolling out of bed and out the door, will yield maximum fat loss benefits. Make sure that you are well hydrated the night before, have a drink of water when you wake up then get dressed and go. You will be amazed by how great you feel after you are home and showered. You will feel ready to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
- If you are overweight or have had previous injury problems consider running on a softer surface like grass or sand along the water’s edge when you start out. The softer base is kinder to your body than the hard surface of the road or footpath.
- When you are running try breaking your run down into smaller parts in your head, it might be as simple as street block by block. On my long training runs I break them down in to sections in my head which definitely makes it easier to keep pushing through to the end.
- Everyone needs something different but consider running without music. I don’t for a myriad reasons but whilst the music can be great for keeping you motivated it can also mess with your natural pace and prevent you from hearing properly. Many events are banning the use of personal music devices.
- Add some strength work on the days you aren’t running. Body weight exercises like squats and lunges are simple but effective. Strengthening the large muscle groups in your legs will help to protect your knee and ankle joints. When you start out on a strength program it is worthwhile working with a good trainer to ensure that you are doing these exercises correctly. Having the correct form and technique is much much more important that what weight you can lift or how many reps you can do.
- Make sure you stretch regularly. Again choose stretches that are simple and effective, you don’t need to twist yourself into bizarre shapes when simply bending and touching your toes, for example, will stretch your lower back and hamstrings quite effectively. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
So there you have them, a few ideas to help getting started on a new running program. I am always happy to answer questions about running, whether it’s for a 5km or a marathon, just drop me an email.
Are you feeling keen to set yourself a goal and get out there?
Have a fantastic weekend.