The first rule of running is...Opinions – everyone’s got one. Warm up, cool down, dream big... advice for the novice runner is endless. But if you are about to hit the road for the first time then we have some tips you really should adhere to
Warm up properly
New runners in particular are susceptible to injury and a short warm-up routine will ensure your muscles are prepared for what’s ahead. You must always prepare the body for the weight-bearing forces it will undertake. In doing so, you can prevent injuries, raise core body temperature and increase performance. The following routine will use the same large muscle groups and movement routines that you will replicate when you run: Forward facing leg swingsSwing a straight leg backwards and forwards, progressively building up the range of movement, keeping the hips facing forwards while you remain supported on your opposite leg with a slight bend at the knee. Repeat ten to 15 times on each leg. Lunges with overhead arm swings Starting with your feet hip-width apart, lunge forwards onto the front foot with a bend of 90 degrees at the knee in both legs. Simultaneously drive your arms upwards, push back strongly from the front foot while keeping the rear foot in contact with the ground throughout. Return to the start position and repeat ten to 15 times on each leg. Squats with overhead arm swingsSquat down by bending the ankles, knees and hips while keeping your chest lifted, with a neutral spine. Swing your arms down and back as you descend into the squat, and as you return upwards drive the arms above the head. Repeat ten to 15 times. Posterior lunge with overhead reach Starting with the feet hip-width apart, take a small step backwards while reaching both arms over your head, making sure the rear heel becomes planted into the ground. Push strongly off the rear leg and return to the start position. Repeat ten to 15 times. Finally, a gentle and progressive build in pace during the first five minutes of your run will prepare the body for running at full speed for the rest of your session. Simon Ward, head of personal training, Liberté Fitness www.libertefitness.com
Tailor your plan to meet your goalTraining works wonders only when tailor-made to the individual. Running goals should be split into performance and process goals. For example, performance goals may be to achieve a certain time or distance, whereas process goals may be to complete a long run twice a week. Having both types of goals helps to turn your intentions into reality. Most of us have a mix of running goals. This is a good thing. Having varied goals means you will do different types of training, so you reduce the risk of getting injured, shock your heart, lungs and muscles into working harder, and your training remains mentally stimulating. Dan Roberts, personal trainer www.DanRobertsTraining.com
Easy does itOnce you have made the decision to start running, the one golden rule is consistency. It is much better to be running twice a week, six weeks into your training programme, rather than running six times in the first week only to find yourself injured after the second week. Look to try and increase only one component of the running at a time, so concentrate on how long you can run for rather than how fast you can run, and don’t try to increase this every time you run. Aiming for a 10 per cent increase in running time each three to four runs is probably a realistic goal. Differentiating between muscle soreness and strains can be difficult, but as a rule of thumb, if you are getting pain in your joints or tendons (the part of the tissue that connects the muscle to the bone) then you need to consult a sports physician or physiotherapist before things go wrong. A simple muscle strain can take three weeks to heal, but tendonitis (now called a tendinopathy) can take three months. So start slow and build up even more slowly, watching for pains that come on while running or that last for more than 24 hours. Simon Fairthorne, Physiotherapist at Bupa Sports Medicine Centre of Excellence, London www.bupa.co.uk/running
Know your limitsThe best way to start running is to determine the distance of your goal (5K, 10K, even just completing a circuit around the local lake). Now break this up into smaller goals. We’ll use the 10K as an example. An overall goal of 10K equals ten little goals; the first one being the 1K mark – run, walk, even crawl it. Complete it at a pace to suit your fitness level and make sure you time it. You have now set yourself your first marker. Next time you complete the distance, try to beat your previous time. Keep going with this until you feel the first ‘hurdle’ has started to become easy. Now it’s time to move on to goal two – 2K. The stumbling block with your second goal can often be that you have found your comfortable running pace in goal one. Slow the pace back down again, complete the second hurdle, set yourself a new marker time and beat it consistently. Once you feel you can move onto the next goal, do so and start again. In no time you will have reached your overall goal and done so at a comfortable and safe pace. Ian Foran, TLF Fitness Ltd www.tlffitness.com
Know your fuelBefore any run or training session, you need to have the right fuel in the engine. In endurance sport, lack of carbohydrate is the limiting factor, so you need to address your carbohydrate intake prior to running. Protein and carbohydrate have a key role to play in recovery and adaptation to exercise. During running, in particular on runs of more than 60 minutes, taking on board fuel, in the form of an energy drink or gel, and remaining hydrated using a scientifically designed hydration or combined energy/hydration drink, is important. Making sure your hydration status is maintained or returned to normal after any run is also very important, along with taking on board protein/carbohydrate to improve adaptation to exercise. Correctly formulated recovery drinks are also more likely to contain a good source of glutamine, which will help with your immune function and keep you healthy. The immune function does become suppressed when exercising and if you’re new to running or exercise, it could be an issue and prevent you from continuing. It’s important to look after your immune function and reduce the risk of illness or infection. Below are some of the critical nutritional factors for determining sports performance through hydration and energy supply:Do
- Carb up for training and events, and take carbs on board during longer runs.
- Remain hydrated before and during training and racing
- Re-fuel, ideally within 20 minutes of exercise. with a correct balance of carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals.
- Have a good, balanced and healthy diet, including oily fish and fruit and veg.
- Use correctly formulated energy, hydration and recovery drinks, bars and gels.
- Run on empty – fuel up two to four hours before your run or training session.
- Run dehydrated.
- Hydrate or over-hydrate on water alone – you need a balance of electrolytes and minerals, in particular sodium. People need to be sufficiently hydrated prior to any run or any type of training session, no matter what the distance they are running or how long they intend to train for.