My running journey.
Back in April I went for my first run in a long while. A stop/start run around my local park - very hilly, and completely knackering. But I survived! Since then I have completed 20+ runs between four and eleven kilometers in length and am starting to really enjoy running. Yes, enjoy!
Last month I shared with you my health and fitness changes for 2015 and my successes so far. This time round I wanted to post a few words on my running journey. I am by no means an expert on fitness, health and the like but I do see value in personal experience - how ordinary people make changes that work for them.
So, here goes!
Start slow. I am by no means a fast runner. I average around 6 minutes per kilometer depending on energy and whether or not I am running alone. It's an obvious one but don't start off with a sprint because you wont be able to maintain it. Slow it down, take it easy. There's a lot of research suggesting LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio, where you can run/jog at a pace where you can hold a conversation without too much strain, is an effective weight loss tool. Some say as effective as HIIT...
Find a buddy. This is a really personal one, but for me running with a friend works. It keeps my mind occupied and helps me maintain a steady pace. Last week I ran on my own and my pace varied so much I couldn't run nearly as far as I do with a buddy. I do most of my running with Hannah - we have a good old gossip and the time quite literally flies by.
Change it up. Route, music, weather conditions, buddies. Keeping it fresh means you can avoid boredom or over-saturation. I try to vary my routes - I'm a nosy person so running through town means I can people watch (I'm not even joking), but at the same time a scenic run can feel therapeutic. I'd go mad if I ran the same route each time! But most of the time my routes are really just arranged around avoiding as many students as possible... no one wants to see their teacher red faced, sweaty and in shorts!
Combine with other exercise. I've been combining my longer runs with HIIT (high intensity interval training) - 30 second sprints followed by 60 second jogs. This helps build stamina, strength and fitness and essentially helps you run further. I do this in the gym, alongside resistance training, to create some variety and work different muscles.
Find the right gear. I hate running in gym leggings - I'm a shorts girl. All that freedom and they have built in pants... yeh. It doesn't get much better than that. Go with what your comfortable in, but is also supportive and flexible. If buying some new trainers or a sports bra gets you motivated, in my eyes that's no bad thing!
Set a goal. Next weekend I'm running the Race for Life 10k with Cancer Research UK and Scottish Power and for me that has been a huge motivator. I would usually aim for around 5k in distance, but the race has pushed me to further distances. The best thing? I can do it! Sometimes a little nudge is all you need to motivate you and propel you further. You may not be in to races, so try something else - a distance, time or weight-loss goal. You'll be surprised how quickly you reach it.
Listen to your energy levels. I run my longest distances after work. No idea why, but I really struggle with morning runs and never manage the distance I hope for. I imagine it's down to energy levels, and have to make sure I eat right before a run. If I'm running after work I have to make sure I eat a suitable lunch - lots of pasta with a bit of mayo and a tin of tuna is the perfect fuel for me! If I don't eat a big enough lunch I lack the energy to run and end up feeling awful afterwards. Not worth it. And fasted cardio? Let's not even go there...
As I said, I am by no means an expert but these pointers have really helped me over the past few months.
What are your running tips?