Love Running - how to make the best of your running programme
It’s the New Year - which inevitably means that lots of people will be making resolutions, and lots of those resolutions will be to get fitter and to lose weight. (Note – if you want to read all about how to set an achievable goal then head over to last week’s blog about resolution setting)!
Lots of people will be turning to running as a way to increase their fitness and to decrease their waistline. Running is such an accessible form of exercise; there are no hefty gym memberships, no ties to class times… and you get all of the other benefits such as increased cardiovascular ability, stress relief, burnt calories and more!
However, lots of people find they start off with all the best intentions, but over time (as with any exercise programme), start to burn out, get injured, or lose motivation. We decided that attack is the best form of defence in this situation, so here are our top tips to avoid failure if you are taking on a new running venture this year:
- Finding good form for running is really important. There’s so much contradicting advice online about how your foot should strike the pavement (heel / mid foot / fore foot), but generally it’s best to land mid foot. As for the rest of your body, keep your eyes on the horizon, your shoulders back and relaxed and your core muscles engaged. Use a mental checklist at regular intervals during your run to keep an eye on your positioning.
- Visit a running shop to make sure that you get good shoes that are right for your body. Some people run slightly on the outside of their feet, some slightly on the inside, whist some are neutral runners. Different brands design shoes that will help to correct any imbalances and at a specific running shop the staff will be able to watch you run and advise on the best style of shoe for you.
- Lots of runners end up with injuries – most commonly knee pain, which is often related to weakness in the glutes. Do glute-strengthening exercises (think squats, donkey kicks, leg raises, clam shells) regularly to avoid knee injuries, and make sure that you try to run using your glutes for power.
- Avoid spending your running days feeling sore and stiff by making sure to stretch appropriately. Warm up with some dynamic stretches (lunging and high kicks are perfect). Calves, hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors should all be stretched after running. There are also many specialised ‘yoga for runners’ classes online that you can follow at home, which will help to stretch the areas that most commonly get tight when running.
- Set yourself a realistic programme. Trying to run your maximum mileage every day will leave you tired and sore, and unwilling to do it again! Make sure you build in rest days and vary your distances and speeds. If you are a novice runner then something like the ‘Couch to 5k’ app is perfect, and for more experienced runners do some online research for programmes that are tried and tested by other runners.
- Running can be mentally tough when you feel either really breathless or really bored. If your problem is breathlessness it might help to forgo listening to music on a few runs, so that you can really focus on breathing in a rhythm with your pace, until the pattern becomes more natural to you. If you find you feel bored, then make a fun playlist, or choose some new routes so you're not always passing the same landmarks. Alternatively, take your biggest problem on your run and use the time to mull over some options of how you're going to solve it - the run will pass in no time!