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If you are looking to take up running in the New Year or any other sport for that matter, you need to read these top tips to help you kickstart your new fitness journey!
So you’ve decided to take up running! Not only is it a fun social activity, it also brings huge health benefits along the way, so where do you begin?
First of all, I would recommend getting some good gait analysis at a local recommended running store. They will assess your gait and advise you on what footwear may suit you best. What works for one doesn’t always work for another, so try out a few pairs to see what feels best. Make sure you’re in suitable running clothing, that is breathable and able to wick sweat away, you want to be comfortable on your runs so getting some simple good quality kit is a great place to start.
Having a goal or a target to meet, gives you great motivation to stick to your training. There are lots of options with various races out there from 5k all the way through to a marathon! Pick a goal that is realistic and achievable to you.
Having a plan in place is another way to keep focused and motivated, it also means you are doing the right type of runs at the right time. Your plan needs to be realistic to you, consistency is key so whatever plan you choose, make sure it’s achievable. As a beginner, I would suggest looking to do three key runs a week, these will need to progress over time and remember, how you feel now won’t be how you feel six weeks down the line. Be patient with the plan, allow it to bed in. It’s also a good idea to give yourself an easier week or as we call it, a ‘deload’ week every 3-4 weeks. This will allow the training you have done to bed in and give your body a chance to repair and recover…ready for you to go again!
A lot of information out there suggests to run to certain paces and distances, whilst this can work sometimes, we find focusing on time and effort and far better way to train…your body doesn’t know the pace it is running or the distance it has covered, it does know however how hard it is working and how long for! To start with, focus on two different efforts: easy and threshold. Your easy pace should be exactly that- easy! Make sure it is fully conversational and you don’t feel too tired at the end of these types of runs. Easy efforts work well with recovery runs and your longer endurance runs. Threshold is where a lot of fitness and speed can build, this works on your speed endurance. This is the type of effort is what we call ‘controlled discomfort’. You’re definitely working hard but you’re in control of it and you have a couple of gears left in you to ramp it up if you needed to! Think ‘cruising at speed’ - it’s about 8/10 perceive effort. Consider running threshold efforts in blocks of time, perhaps starting at 3 minutes building your time up over the weeks. A session could be: 5 lots of 3 minutes threshold effort with 2 minutes jog recoveries between efforts.
Work to time with your runs, for example, a good place to start would be 30 minutes of running (or run/walking) which you can build up over time.
Too much! Too fast! Too soon! All of the above will lead to overtraining and injury. It’s really tempting to give it all you’ve got when you begin training but remember, be patient! Allow your body to adapt to the training over time and don’t throw too much at it in one go!
The training itself is obviously very important, but remember to get other things right too, two other key components are sleep/rest and nutrition. If you are lacking in these areas, your training won’t be as good as it can be. Sleep/rest and nutrition are where the recovery and regeneration happens. Life is busy and hectic and the perfect balance is impossible but making small changes to your lifestyle can really make a huge difference long term.