Since dipping my toes back into the running water (shoes?), I have been thinking a lot about starting running. I really wish I had started this blog right then (back in 2008), but in fact I waited a couple of years (and had run my first half marathon) before I started blogging. I did a post about how I started out running here, and I really believe that anyone can do it.
Here are some of my tips for starting out (or starting again!)
Have a plan!
I think if you are starting out, then having a plan is really important. The plan I followed is here– it starts with 1 minute of running (which means gentle jogging and not fast sprinting) alternated with walking. I did think that I might need to start there, but as I have had a few years of running under my belt I think my body had retained a little of that and so I have started a little further along this time. Anyway, each week the next week looked too hard, but your body does adapt and I think a plan helps to move you on at an appropriate pace. I am going to create a plan for myself, based on previous training plans and my current fitness levels. Because I am going back to work I need to fit in with that, so I will only be going out maybe twice a week to begin with, until I am feeling better and can increase that.
Don’t go too fast or too soon
I think often (and I was included here) people think the “run” part of a plan means all out sprinting, when really it is a gentle jog and might only be a tiny bit faster than walking pace. You can work on your speed once you can run steadily for 30 mins or more. Also don’t go from doing nothing to going running every day. Your body needs time to adapt to this new exercise.
Your body needs rest days. The temptation is to go out every day, but when you are starting I think the rest days are even more important as your muscles will be recovering.
Kit yourself out
I think getting some good trainers (and of course a sports bra girls) is really important. When I started originally I was wearing old skechers which were not very supportive (and slipped off when I ran). This time I was back in my trusty old Nike’s (even though I would be walking more than running). I am also planning to get my gait analysed when I next buy some new trainers.
As I have got more into running, I have accumulated more bits (e.g. a Nike+ band, a Garmin, water bottles etc), but I used to time my running/ walking intervals on my mobile phone! I have a little mp3 player and I love to load it with podcasts and listen to radio shows, and that would be my favourite item I think.
Enter a race!
This is great for motivation. The reason I started running was because I wanted to run a Race for Life (a 5K race), and when the training runs were feeling tough, I had my goal in the back of my mind. I was worried that races would be elitist and full of speedy lycra-clad club runners, but in reality they are friendly and inclusive. Just don’t start at the front as you will get in the way of the fastest runners! And don’t worry about coming last. I always worry about this, as even at my fastest I was still a slow runner. Last summer I was last for the majority of a race, but it was still fine (and I had a personal cycle escort for a lot of it!). If you are starting out (and a female) then I think the Race for Life series is brilliant- very inclusive and beginner friendly (as lots of people walk the events)- and of course great for raising money for charity, and raising awareness. I am following this advice, as I have two half marathons booked for the autumn- hopefully by then I will be able to run that distance again. 🙂
Run in a different part of the country.
I am lucky because Andy enjoys running too (OK, maybe he does not enjoy it, he sees it as something he should do) so we have completed a few races in different parts of the country- a nice excuse for a weekend away. My favourite of all time was the one we did near Nottingham last Autumn– who would not want to run with views like this?
And of course if you enter races you can get rewards like medals, t-shirts etc.
Think about nutrition
Different food works for different people, so you have to find out what works well for you before and after running. I know that some foods that I can eat normally do not agree with me before a run, and also I want to make sure I am eating nutritious foods to help my body with the running. In the summer heat, think about keeping hydrated, especially when running further. I know I get very sweaty (is that too much info??) and end up with salt all over my face and body after a run in the heat, so I have to make sure I replace those salts with something too, not just replace the water, as otherwise the salts get too diluted in your blood.
I am pretty sure that a soya chai latte was a good way to rehydrate after running 10 miles -right?
I really really love running, and I cannot really say it enough. My 22 year old self would be surprised to know this, as I really could not run at all, and never thought I would be able to. So if you fancy giving it a go, then please do- you never know, you might love it! (But of course check with your GP first).
This year AXA PP healthcare are one of the sponsors of Race for Life, and they are going to be holding some live discussions about running on the 26th April (next Thursday). They have experts from different areas, including training and nutrition, so if you want to join in you can click here. You can also leave comments on their facebook page, or on Twitter.
The line up looks like this:
10-12am: John Grudington, who is a personal trainer, fitness tutor and physiologist.
2-4pm: Lucy Wyndham-Read, a personal trainer. She has contributed to some great articles on the AXA PPP website including this one about starting running.
5-7pm: Dr Sarah Schenker, a nutritionist.
I would love to ask them about getting back to running after surgery. I did ask my consultant about when I could start, and he said to leave it at least 6 weeks, because the surgery was around my abdominal area, and he wanted to give everything time to heal up before I put it under stress. So one question would be “Following surgery, how can I tell the difference between pushing myself to improve, and pushing myself too far?”
I would also like to ask about nutrition- I am vegetarian and am not keen on eggs or dairy. I do like cheese but with the saturated fat content it is not ideal to have too much, so my nutrition questions would be “how can I include some healthy vegetarian/vegan protein into my diet?” and “how much protien should I be aiming to eat each day?”
What sorts of questions would you like to ask?
They also have a Race for Life competition– and if you enter you have the chance of adding £100 to a sponsorship fund (or £200 if you are a member of AXA healthcare).
This post was sponsored by AXA PPP healthcare. All the views are my own, I was just asked to include certain links.