Main Photo Credit: Jonathan Colon, www.skatesphere.com/
Get Started Today to Enjoy a Summer on the Move
Have a Plan:
Whether your aim is to run your local park run every Saturday or to make the Olympics in two year’s time you need to have a plan. There are two options: You can go online to get a generic plan based on achieving a set distance in a target time. Many runners have used them to good effect. The only problem is they might be too advanced or too easy for your running ability. The second option is to get a qualified coach who will tailor a programme to your needs and ability. It is important to have goals with these plans and they range from weekly goals (running 3 times a week) to yearly goals (running 5K in under 20 minutes).
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. This is where so many new runners fall down. The most important piece of equipment is the shoes and it should be first on your list to buy. Nowadays if you go into any sports shop in the country they will do a gait analysis on you to see which shoes would suit you. They video you while running on a treadmill for a few minutes and then the footage is played back in a Freeze by Freeze frame if necessary to assess your foot plant, stride and running pattern. This information can then be used to find the best shoe for you. Also to consider when buying shoes is the terrain you will be running on (Grass, Road, Trails or track).
While hitting the road you will need heavier shoes with more support. While on the track you would be looking for light shoes with little support. The socks are just as crucial as the shoes as you need running specific socks due to the extra padding across the ball of the foot, the toes and heel area. There’s also usually padding or a tighter area through the arch to allow the shoe to fit more closely and add better arch support. Now on to the shorts and T-shirts which is the uniform of all runners around the world. These need to be lightweight, breathable and sweat-wicking. As we live in Ireland it rains or is extremely windy most of the time. So running jackets, base layers and running tights can be your friends in the constant battle against the weather.
Start where your fitness level is:
If you haven’t ran in years or done any cardiovascular exercises you cannot expect to go out and run 30 minutes straight without needing a rest. To get around this start off by alternating running with walking throughout the run (a minute of walking followed by a minute of running). Another way is to just take short breaks when you need it on the run. So if you are starting off, start with the run/walk method – go slowly and don’t run more than 3 times a week. This way you’ll gradually build your pace and distance and prevent injury.
Always warm up, cool down and stretch:
Before every run you should do some dynamic stretches such as rolling your shoulders back, hip circles, lunges and squats. The dynamic stretch should be followed by five minutes of a slow jog. The warm up and dynamic stretches are done to get every muscle in the body ready for the run and to prevent injury. After you run jog slowly for 5 minutes and finish with some static stretching which you hold for 30 seconds (Quad, Hamstring and Calf stretch).
10 percent rule:
As you start progressing on with your running and feeling good, it is important not to over do it. That is why there is a 10 percent rule where you are not meant to increase your weekly training mileage by more than 10 percent per week. People who increase their weekly mileage too quickly get injured. The only exception to the 10 percent rule is if you are starting at a single-digit weekly mileage after a layoff, you can add more than 10 percent per week until you’re close to your normal training load.
The Conversation Rule:
Running is not all about going as fast as you can all the time. Especially on easy runs you should be able to have a full conversation with the person you are running with. People whose heart rate and breathing rates were within their target aerobic zones were found to be able to hold full conversations. Those who couldn’t were running faster than their target aerobic zone. The exceptions to the conversation rule are during hard runs, speedwork or races.
The Hard / Easy day rule:
It states to take one easy day after every hard day of training. An easy day is defined as a short run, slow run, a cross training day or no exercise at all. A hard day is defined as a long run, tempo run or speed workout. Apply The hard/easy day rule to your monthly and yearly training plans by treating yourself to one easy week each month and one easy month each year. The exception to this rule is after the most tiring long runs or speed workouts especially if you are older. You should wait for two or three days before your next hard workout.
Don’t delay refuelling after runs:
Making sure you refuel properly after a run is probably more important than the run itself. Especially if you have done a fast run. Your post run meal is very important because it will aid recovery. It is recommended that the post run meal contains carbohydrates for energy replacement and a good source of protein for muscle repair as soon as possible. After a run it is important to have that post run meal within the hour of running. For quick energy before having the post run meal have a banana while cooling down and doing your stretches. As it is quick and easy to eat.
Listen to your body:
If something hurts for two days in a row take days off. Two days of pain may be signalling the beginning of an injury. If the pain continues for over a week even with rest days it is probably time to go see your doctor. It’s the same if your body is feeling tired, there is nothing wrong with taking a day or two off to let the body recover from the exertions of exercise. Even if you have to take a week off from running it is not going to have a big impact on your fitness level.
Track every run so you can see your progress and make notes about your workouts:
Apps like Strava and MapMyRun use GPS to automatically store your route, distance, calories burned and your pace so you’ll watch yourself run further and faster over time. These apps also allow you to enter notes about each run so you can see patterns like that the first mile I always feel terrible (going too fast at the start) or you run faster when go first thing in the morning or that you get a pain in your right leg after 3 miles. The apps are also good because you can set up groups with your friends and challenge each other to see who has the most miles in a week .So this adds some healthy competition.