There is no doubt about it. Running is great for fitness.
It builds strong bones and leg muscles, is a great way to increase cardiovascular fitness and is a powerful stress buster.
It is one of my favourite ways to get a free exercise fix in, but it’s certainly not for everyone.
So the question becomes.. to run or not to run?
If you’ve read this far, I’m going to assume you are considering it and while I can’t say for sure yes or no without knowing your body, possible injuries, current fitness level or the strength of your pelvic floor; I’m going to say give it a go. Slowly at first, listening to your body and adjusting your pace and distance accordingly.
I often tell clients who don’t feel like exercising to just head out the door and give it a go for just ten minutes.
More often than not, 10 minutes turns into more as the body warms up, the head clears and the endorphins start kicking in. So lets start with the thought process that once you are out, you’ll more than likely continue!
There are no rules with how you start as a lot will depend on where you are at within your fitness journey but let me run a couple of options by you.
1. Start with a walking warm up. Aim for 10 minutes brisk pace then introduce intervals of jogging. This could be using physical landmarks (run 1 lamp post, walk 2) or time (run 30 secs, walk 1 min). The beauty of this is that as you feel fitter and the time spent running feels easier; switch this around so less and less time is spent walking to the point where you are running non stop. After each running interval, check in with how your body is feeling and increase running times and distances as you go.
2. Head out the door and just go for it aiming to go as far as you can before having to stop. I like to do a mental checklist of my body as I go. Do my knees feel ok? Am I holding my body in a relaxed position? Can I feel it in my lower back? If all ok, I keep going and if not, I pull back slightly and adjust my pace. Take it slow and steady rather than coming out of the gates too fast and petering too soon!
The good thing about this is that if you stick to the same route each time, you can very easily measure improvements not just in how you are feeling but the total time taken to cover your chosen distance.
And then the fun begins!
There are so many ways to mix up your training, but these two short options early on nprovide a great benchmark to start your training regardless of the level you are at.
– Maximum distance in 20 minutes.
– 2.5km for time.
For runners further down the track, these short runs become fast ones and something you continue chase and strive to better. For newer runners still finding their grove, these shorter stints are definitely manageable.
Last but certainly not least, lets talk strategies of how to make running a more enjoyable process.
– Plot out a route in advance so you know where you are going with shortcuts or additional blocks that can be added in depending on how you are feeling. Doing the same route more than once allows you to easily measure success providing a quick feel good factor in the progress you make each time.
– Try running with music! The feel good factor of the tunes and beat of the tunes will keep you pace up and keep you moving.
– Allow yourself time to find your groove. The first 10 minutes are always the hardest while your body tries to figure out just what it’s in for. Focus on putting one foot in front of the other, the rest will fall into place!
– Rally around and find friends that will run with you. It’s great to have someone who runs at your pace but remember you can always shuttle back and forth and play catchups if needed. I always find this is great for accountability.
– Download a running App to keep track of your progress. There is something about watching the kms build and the awards accrue that makes you want to get back out there, especially if other mates are following you and supporting the journey.
– Get rid of any expectations you may have of how fast or how far you thought you could go and accept that each run is what it is.
I’m not going to pretend that every run is a good one but I will say that for every run you get under your belt, it will get easier and you will feel better for it; body, mind and soul!
Might as well give it a go then!
Go forth and conquer girls.. you’ve got this!