Run Forrest! Run!
Forrest Gump is one of my favourite films and with the new year fast approaching, I know there will be many wanting to start or get back into running as a resolution. Great!
Here are a few tips to help you on your way.
1. Set a goal - For your new year's resolution to 'stick', there needs a reason, a compelling reason. A 'why'. A goal! Your goal will be important because there will be days you will not want to go out and run in the cold/wet/dark, but a reminder of your goal will usually be good motivation to get you to lace up your trainers and get yourself out of the door. Your goal could be to lose weight, run a 5km/ 10km/ half marathon for someone or something, it doesn't matter, as long as it's realistic and achievable.
2. Start with short intervals - In your enthusiasm to get out, you may plan and try to run a distance your body is not ready for all at one go. Be patient. Rather run short distances and walk the recovery. As you get fitter you can increase the distance you run and/or shorten your recoveries. These minor tweaks every so often will help to keep you from trying that distance at the start which would otherwise set you up for failure.
3. Don't go out too fast - This is definitely not a sprint. Like trying to run too far the first few times, running too fast will put you under new stresses which will be uncomfortable. Try to run at a pace at which you can hold a conversation
4. Choose your terrain - Where you want to run is also important. I always recommend running outdoors, but there are also valid cases for running indoors. Running on a treadmill is very different to running on the roadside/curb/pavement, is different to running in the park. Let's look at these different surfaces and consider what they offer:
Roadside - this surface is good for running fast, but not good for the impact it puts through your joints because it's such a hard surface.
Park running - as relaxing as running through the park may be, this can be hard going due to the softness of the grass. It will require you to put more effort and force into each stride. You probably won't run as far on this surface
Treadmill - if you're going to put that much effort into running at least turn a corner:-) On a serious note, treadmills will alter your running form, and will probably not make you as efficient as you can be. There is a time and place for treadmills though - rehab or just starting out or if there is no way you can take your run outdoors (if that's the case, you're better off on a cross-trainer, but that's another topic)
Trail running - much like park runs will be more fun and hard work, but there is something refreshing about being able to go out running through the forest, and mud and puddles.
Track running - now if you're a competitive sort, then track running would be for you, Although as with road running be careful of the herd-ish surface. The added bonus of track running is there is usually a coach at your local club...need I say more.
4b. Footwear - Yes this tip is a bit out of sync, but it's important. It goes without saying that you have to choose the right tool for the job, in this case, the right shoe for the run...and for some people it's as easy as walking into a sports shop and choosing your shoe (oooo pretty colours), however, go to a specialist running shop and get a gait analysis done and if they're worth their salt you'll get the right (and left) shoe for your running.
5. Rest - So you've been tearing around the streets and parks with great enthusiasm - now it's time to rest. Yes, rest is a part of your training too, your body needs a chance to recover from the runs you do. Over training or inadequate rest will lead to fatigue and burnout, and then getting fit won't be fun anymore. We all want to have fun right? You wouldn't want all your hard work to backfire on you...
6. Cross-training - Let's get this right, cross-training and not Crossfit. Running will get you to your ultimate fitness goals... eventually, but if you want to robust and injury resistant, you have to get into the gym and lift some weight. A properly structured strength and conditioning programme will help you reach your goals faster and leave you stronger....
Part of your cross-training should also include mobility work, getting your limbs to move through as much range of motion as possible
7. Nutrition - To perform at your best, you have to fuel that fantastic body correctly. But that's only part of the story... As with any project, preparation is key, so as you prepare to build your best body by running and getting fitter, what you put into your body should be carefully planned and intentional. Remember to eat good quality food, in the right quantities at the right time.
Now that you're ready to get started - Run Forrest, Run!
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