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With the London marathon just around the corner and Rio 2016 starting to create a buzz, it is hoped many people will become inspired themselves and go out and do something less boring instead.
For many, running is a way of life.
It’s free, gets you out in the fresh air, allows you to get some much-needed vitamin D and overall leads to a healthier life. Did you know that running can help reduce the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, keep your weight under control and lower your stress levels?
Well, it can.
You might think that getting started is as easy as lacing up your trainers and opening the front door. Well, to a degree it is but we have some hints and tips that will take you from couch potato to super-star runner the safe way.
First things first.
If you haven’t been active for a while or are recovering from an injury, you might want to see your GP and check all is well before you hit the streets.
Once you have the all clear, you’re ready to go.
One of the great things about running is that you don’t need a lot of gear to get started. The one vital thing is a good pair of running shoes. These need to be right for your feet and posture and it is best to spend as much as you can afford rather than skimping and risking injury.
Today, more than ever, there’s a real choice of trainers but if you can go to a specialist store who will be able to assess your feet, and running style, and advise you on the right shoes for you.
Go for layering when it comes to clothing because whilst it might be cold when you leave the house, if you are doing things right, you will soon feel warm. If you are running in the dark, be sure to wear high vis items and it’s a good idea to take your phone to be safe.
It is a good idea to have a water bottle and if you want to measure progress, use an app like Strava so you can watch the miles add up.
If you want to avoid injury, and actually enjoy running, take it easy to start with and don’t rush things. You want to ease into your new sport and build up slowly, increasing your speed and distance each time you go out.
It is vital to start every run with a warm up session of at least five minutes and this is true for everyone however experiences they are. You can chose from marching on the spot, fast walking, knees lifts of climbing steps but whatever you do build gradually and allow your breathing to quicken and muscles to warm up.
Once you are warm, start to walk and if this feels OK then run in intervals. You can start with just 30 seconds, then walk 30 seconds, run 30 seconds – you get the idea. See if you can then get to the point where you are running intervals for a couple of minutes at a comfortable speed and walking when you need to.
You will naturally find that over time you will be able to run for longer and will get to the point when you can run for 20 to 30 minutes continuously.
This isn’t a competition so don’t worry how fast you are going but do think about how you are running. The ideal position is to run with your arms and shoulders relaxed and your elbows bent. You need an upright posture and you are aiming for a smooth stride with the middle of your foot hitting the ground first.
Just as you warm up, it is really important to cool down afterwards. This means your heartbeat will gently come back to normal and by stretching your muscles they will be able to recover without aching or cramping.
Beginners should initially aim to get out twice or three times a week and if you do this you’ll see improvements as your body adapts to the training.
Before you know it, you will have the running bug and by buddying up with a friend or signing up for an event, you will have the motivation to keep going and will reap the rewards in mind, body and soul.