Starting running – Top ten tips – part 2
6. Run at the right pace
It’s necessary to understand your body has to get used to the new stresses and strains of running. Running at ‘easy pace’ for the first few months helps to develop your running base and avoids overtraining. However, it’s quite easy to start too fast, and therefore, within minutes you could be gasping for breath. If you are not able to sustain running, consequently, this could lead to frustration or be demotivating.
To run at ‘easy pace’, run where you can keep a conversation without huffing and puffing. For example, if you can talk in complete sentences as you run without losing your breath, the ‘talk test’, you are running at the right pace. It should feel like a pace you could maintain for the whole distance or a long time. You will soon find out if you are running too fast. At the same time, you might feel breathless during a run, this is quite normal, especially if you are new to running.
Try to breathe deeply through the mouth and control your breathing. Breathing through the mouth is the most effective way to get the much-needed oxygen to your muscles. If you do feel breathless, slightly slow your pace down or even take a break and walk. As you get fitter, almost certainly, your breathing will improve.
7. Rest days and cross training
Many people misunderstand the term rest days. Rest days refer to either a day off or to days where you do something active other than running, an exercise that compliments your running, cross-training.
Cross-training tends to be exercises that work and strengthen other muscle groups to give your body more balance and support your training. Non-impact activities such as swimming, rowing, pilates or yoga are reasonably popular. Cycling and spinning can be added. Yet, as they are also using your leg muscles, they may not allow enough recovery time between workouts if you are just starting out.
If you are a beginner or new to running, a good idea is to have complete rest days. Schedule your running on one day and rest the next, this helps to prevent injury. It’s also better to gradually introduce your body to the rigours of running. Your body needs rest so it can recover and adapt to the new demands on the cardiovascular system and prepare your muscles and bones for the next run. In time, once you have established a running training base and used to running regularly 3/4 times a week, it’s a beneficial idea to consider some cross training to support your running.
8. Mix it up
Keep your runs fresh; running the same route over and over again can be boring. For instance, find different routes and explore your local area. Don’t always run on the pavement, take to the trails, or to your local park, and also the public footpaths. It’s surprising what you find and have on your doorstep. Also, running on a variety of surfaces engages more muscles in the legs and in time will make you stronger.
I find the best routes are circular, scenic, and have an element of surprise. For example, not knowing where every slope or hill might be. If running in the dark, choose routes wisely that are not too far off the beaten track and are well lit. When running on your own, it’s a good idea to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. On all runs always take a charged mobile phone.
9. Run with a friend or find a running buddy
Try to find a friend to run with or someone to buddy up with. Running with a friend or running buddy is a great way to stay motivated and is much easier than just running on your own. Sometimes when alone it can drag on a bit, so with a friend can be a welcome distraction to this. You can have a natter, encourage and support each other along the way. Before you know it, the feeling of a run that is long and dragging on disappears, and you will find you have completed your route without even really thinking about it.
10. Record your progress and set a goal.
Keep a running log, it’s a great way to track your progress and easy to do. You could keep a running journal/diary, or log your runs on a spreadsheet. Another alternative is to use one of the many apps available on your mobile phone. I used an app which recorded the routes I ran, the pace, distance and total time. It’s motivating to see improvements and your effort paying off. Likewise, not every run will be a great run, don’t let one run put you off, persevere and keep going.
Set a goal – When I started running the aim was to get to 5k. It certainly seemed quite a daunting task as I was unfit, a smoker and quite a bit overweight. As weeks went by, the closer I got to my target everything seemed to be more achievable. I set a goal of 10k and running a race in Barcelona a few months later in the year. The goal was just what I needed, it spurred me on and was the driving force behind my running. Choosing a specific race as a goal provided a definitive deadline to work towards, helped to stay motivated.
Set your sights on a goal, one that is attainable. The last thing you want is something unachievable, and as a consequence, disappointing in the end effect.
I like to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. You may have come across this before. Decide what it is you want to achieve, keep it simple, don’t over complicate it, set one goal, then set another and so on. Goals could be to reach a specific distance, to run faster – a time-based goal, a weight loss goal, etc. Perhaps, it could be something you never dreamt you would be able to do.
What does S.M.A.R.T mean?
• Specific: What is it you want to do? How much weight do you want to lose? How far do you want to run? How fast? Mine was to run a 10k personal best, 60 minutes was my target time.
• Measurable: How will you know when you have achieved your goal? Have a clear definition of success a way to track and record your progress. I kept a record of my runs and evaluated my progress.
• Attainable: Can you achieve this goal? What is it that convinces you? Set a challenging yet realistic goal, something you will be able to achieve. I could run 10k and could improve my training to reach my goal.
• Relevant: Why is it important to you? Choose something that relates to you or that you’ve always wanted to do. Mine was to run a 10k race abroad in the city I lived for almost a decade, Barcelona.
• Timely: How long will it take you to achieve the goal? Set a time-based goal. I set a goal of 3 months.
Starting running can be difficult. Remember, like the phrase we have all heard, the hardest step for a runner is the first one out of the front door. I hope these tips and information help to make starting running easier. Enjoy your journey :-)
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