It’s safe to say that the Corona virus pandemic has sparked a new running phenomenon in the UK, with hundreds of people taking to the streets for their daily exercise. Personally, I think it is great that people are finding new ways of moving and although it’s sometimes really annoying having to weave in and out of people constantly, I do always think fair play to everyone who is out there! The problem however is that a lot of people are experiencing injuries or pushing their bodies too far too soon. Therefore, I am dedicating todays blog to helping those who may be new to all of this, with some simple ways to improve their running.
Build up your Fitness
If you are completely new to running it is ALWAYS best to start small and build up your distance or times. What you generally tend to find is people get over excited and try and smash out a 5km straight away or perhaps go running every day thinking this is the best way to do it, only to then stop because they have either hurt or exhausted themselves. Starting small can be as simple as a few brisk walks a week to build up your fitness or alternating running and walking days to give the body a chance to recover whilst still working on your fitness levels. If you generally live a very sedentary life remember that your body will not be used to moving this way and so it will put a lot of strain on the muscles and joints initially as they get used to the movements. Secondly a good way of regressing your runs initially is to use a combination of running and walking across your set distance. There are a lot of apps out there which help with this including the Couch to 5km.
Get Good Shoes
It is really important to wear a good pair of running shoes that suit the shape of your foot and provide both support and comfort when running. There are hundreds of different running trainers on the market so ensure you take the time to find what is best for you. It may mean spending a little more than you had planned, but it is imperative to get your shoe right to save any nasty injuries over time. There are lots of specialist running shops which can help to analyse your gait and recommend the best shoes for you. It is also important to bear in mind that shoes do wear over time so you may need to replace your running shoes every so often to ensure you are still getting the support you require.
Warm Up & Cool Down
Something I am sure ALL of us have been guilty is failing to warm up or cool down. Before we begin our run, we should do around a 5-minute warm up which could include a few light bodyweight squats and lunges and a brisk walk, slowly increasing to a jog and then into our main run. The objective of a warm up is to increase our heart rate, increase blood flow around the body to the muscles and prepare the body for the exercise ahead. Once we have finished our run we mustn’t forget to cool down, slowly coming back to a walking pace allowing our heart rate and breathing to return to normal. We should also finish with some static stretches focussing on the main muscles worked (quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes to name a few). This will help to prevent injury and alleviate some soreness post run.
Listen to your body
Injuries tend to occur when we ignore our body’s warning signs and try to ‘push through’ any pain or discomfort we are feeling. I hear a lot of people coming into the gym with running based injuries and more often than not they say they felt pain during their run but continued on to see if it would ‘ease up’ or heal over time. Our body has pain signals and receptors for a reason and it is important to listen to these. If you notice a pain when running ease off and finish your run slightly earlier, ensuring you stretch well. If the pain continues with running it may be best to get this checked with an expert. Running can be quite high impact so it is always best to be safe😊
Set Realistic Goals
Bear in mind that although setting goals is important, we should make sure they are realistic and achievable, otherwise you may lose interest or become disheartened and give up on running entirely. If you are new to running, perhaps set a goal of achieving 2 X 20 minute runs a week, or a short distance run. As you build in confidence and ability you can then adapt your goal accordingly, perhaps aiming for a specific set distance (e.g. 5km,10km, half marathon) or achieving a set distance in a certain time. I have written a whole post on setting goals and sticking to them you can read if you need more advice on this.
Including some weight training sessions in your week can positively improve your running in a number of ways. Firstly, weight training can help to reduce the risk of injury by strengthening the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the joints. This is particularly important for our core and leg muscles. It can also help to improve any muscular imbalances which may be affecting our running technique and overall form, thus improving our efficiency. Secondly It can help us to deal with the stresses of running, as our muscles our able to perform better under fatigue and can improve our overall running pace. If you are unsure of where to start it is always best to seek the advice of an expert for the best strength training programme for you.
So, get out there and enjoy the wind in your hair! 😊 …just remember…Look after your body and it will look after you!
Lots of Love