Fancy getting outside and getting fit? Here’s how to get running and stay injury-free
It’s the London Marathon next month and if you always find yourself watching the runners completing the gruelling course and thinking, ‘I fancy doing that one day’, why not make this the year you do it?
Whether you’re a complete beginner or a runner who needs to increase your distance, everyone can complete a marathon or half marathon with the right training and nutrition. We spoke to running expert Heather Harris, one half of Berkhamsted-based running group Jog On, to find out the best way to train, whatever your goal.
- Take it slow
If you’re a complete beginner, the thought of running any distance might feel overwhelming. But that’s because most people try to do too much too soon.
‘The important thing is to take it really easy,’ says Heather. ‘People are surprised at how little running we actually do in our first sessions – just 90 seconds, three times in the first week.
‘If you try and do too much too soon you’re likely to get injured. Start slow and get used to using new muscles.’
Try an app such as Couch to 5k to help you build up slowly.
- Join a group
Running with someone else makes it easier to keep going.
‘Around 70 per cent of running is about your mindset,’ says Heather. ‘If you’ve committed to meeting someone it’s much harder to find excuses not to go. The same goes if you’ve signed up for a course that runs for several weeks.’
- Get the right equipment
You wouldn’t play tennis with a saucepan, so don’t try and run in flip flops.
‘You need a decent pair of trainers to support your foot properly, and the right clothes,’ says Heather. ‘In cold weather wear warm running gear, and maybe a head torch and reflective jacket if you’re out in the dark. In warmer weather you need cool clothes so you don’t overheat.’
- Don’t make excuses
‘It’s easy to give up because running hurts! Focus on the positives, and think about how good it makes you feel afterwards and it will help keep you motivated. The beauty of running is that you can just get up and go.
- Staying motivated
If you’ve decided to run a half marathon or marathon, tell everyone! It’s much harder to give up, plus it’s easier to find the time to get out for training runs if your boss or partner knows about it.
‘Raising money for a charity will spur you on too,’ says Heather.
- Forget about distance
It might seem counter-intuitive, but the most important thing if you’re training for such a long run is to improve your stamina, which means running for a certain length of time instead of worrying about how many miles you’ve covered in that time.
- Getting better
Whatever your goals, joining a running club is one of the best things you can do. And they don’t have to be intimidating!
‘We never leave anyone behind, and it’s never a competition,’ says Heather.
For more information on Jog On’s courses go to www.jogonrunning.com.
To get the most out of your training, make sure you eat the right things at the right time.
Before a run
Always eat before a run, but avoid a large meal for at least two hours beforehand. Experiment with what works for you – porridge, a bagel with peanut butter and banana – but only choose something you like and that gives you energy.
During the run
For long runs, practice with different types of fuel: sweets, gels and drinks. Get used to running with a water bottle.
Eat something high in protein within 30-60 minutes of a long run to help with recovery, and increase your fluid intake.