Planning to exercise more this summer? Running is free, you can do it anywhere and it has a long list of proven health benefits. A commitment to running regularly can reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, all while boosting your mood and regulating your weight. Sound good? Plutus Health CEO Martin Ricketts shares tips to make running safe and enjoyable for beginners.
Find your ‘sole mate’ and invest in the right running shoes
Finding the best-fitting shoe is essential. The choice at your local running store can be overwhelming, but making the right decision means you’ll avoid injury and walk out with happy feet. Be prepared for experienced retail assistants to ask you to run in them, to assess your technique and individual requirements as a runner. They know that no two runners are the same.
Join a running group
Worried about whether you are good enough to join a running club? The answer is don’t stress! For newbie runners the idea of joining a club can be intimidating, but open to all levels of experience, running clubs are arguably the best place to progress your running. Surrounding yourself with keen runners makes you more likely to pursue the activity long-term.
Welcome walk breaks
Don’t avoid walk breaks or let them discourage you. Slowing down can actually improve your running by building strength and endurance. Walking as a means of cross-training gives your joints and running muscles a well-deserved break, reducing your chance of developing the aches and pains associated with running.
Set small and achievable targets
Break down your targets into daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Having a plan will motivate your progress, but remember to stay flexible and make adjustments to targets depending on how your body feels.
Build mileage slowly
A long run features once a week in most training programs. Endurance running builds stamina, speed and mental resilience like nothing else, but go easy on yourself as a beginner and increase your mileage in increments.
Supplement your running
Exercises that not only compliment but ultimately improve your running efforts include swimming and yoga. These activities allow you to work every muscle in your body with minimal impact stress, helping to reduce the joint pain and muscle soreness associated with regular running.
Move post workout
In the early days of being a runner, a 5K run can leave you slumped on the sofa. In the hours following a difficult run try to keep the blood flowing by walking, gentle stretching, and foam rolling. This approach will reduce your overall recovery time.
Eat new foods before an ambitious run and you could be more likely to suffer from cramp. Stick to a tried and tested meal two to three hours before a run. Experts recommend a snack or carb-loaded foods with a small amount of protein and fat such as an apple or banana with peanut butter, whole-wheat toast with a slice of turkey or vegetables and hummus.
Update your playlist
Music helps set the pace of your run and makes it more enjoyable. Update your playlist ahead of tough runs so you can look forward to new tracks and stay motivated.
Remember to rest!
Rest days are crucial. They allow your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue time to rebuild. The tearing of muscle fibres that can occur while running makes rest necessary in order for muscles to grow. So while it might feel counterproductive, be sure to put your feet up between clocking up your miles.
Martin Ricketts is CEO of Plutus Health