Is a fitness kick around the corner? Planning on starting to run again?
Even if you are a regular runner, there are some key pointers you should never forget.
In fact, Nick Bowden, head coach of Run Ready, said the more you run, the more important it becomes to take a dispassionate and clinical approach to the popular fitness pastime.
“It’s almost part of human nature that we become fixated or obsessive about the things we do,” he told The New Daily.
“Running is no different – the better you get, the higher your aspirations become.”
However, experienced runners can often overlook the basics, which can lead to injuries and setbacks, Bowden added.
For many running is a way to keep fit or lose weight, but others run for social reasons, to ‘clear the mind’ or run in competitive events.
Leeanne Morris loves running in long-distance events but when she started, 12 years ago, her goal was just to keep fit so she could run with her young son.
As she got fitter, though, the 42-year-old – who runs for the therapeutic benefits – turned her attention to long, punishing runs.
“Running is an outlet for stress release as well as being extremely sociable,” she told The New Daily.
“The most challenging part is injury – it’s best to do everything you can to avoid it, and I’ve found that usually means going back to basics.”
Build endurance gradually
No matter how tempting it is to strap on your Garmin and push yourself to breaking point (literally), the most effective way to reach any running goal is to build up your endurance gradually, Bowden believes.
“There can be an impatience to achieve a certain pace or distance, but that can be the fundamental undoing of your entire program,” he said.
“Whether you are working towards a five-kilometre goal or a marathon, you need to train in increments.
“This allows for physiological changes so that your body naturally, and safely, adapts to the training load.”
Depending on your biomechanics, your running style could mean you are an over pronator, a neutral runner or a supinator.
And running shoes are made differently to suit each type.
This means having your running gait, shoe size and even your running goal assessed by a footwear professional is vital in helping you reach the finish line injury-free.
“Try to avoid running in shoes that are old and worn down,” Bowden said.
“Over time the cushioning deteriorates, increasing the impact your feet, legs and hips endure with each footfall.”
For Morris, staying motivated to keep running has been difficult at times – especially when injury strikes.
“Coming back from an injury is hard because you lose most of your fitness,” she said.
“This is when training with a supportive running group helps keep you going.
“Running isn’t easy, but it is certainly rewarding. If you can get the motivation to go on your first run and keep it up, it just becomes part of your everyday life.”
Cross train right
There are many ways to improve your running technique and endurance – other than simply pounding the pavement.
Incorporating a variety of movement and loading patterns into your program helps runners of all abilities.
This could include running on different surfaces – such as sand, grass or uneven terrain – hill running, strength training to support your stabilising muscles, and even lower-impact activities such as swimming, cycling and rowing can have great aerobic benefit, Bowden said.
As your running ability improves over time, your nutrition requirements may also vary.
However, Bowden added, the general principles of refuelling to aid your recovery remains the same.
“Your body will always need a high level of fresh fruit and vegetables, less processed food and plenty of water for hydration,” he said.
“As you start to increase your running distance and speed, energy bars, gels and sports drinks can be used, but it’s always best to seek expert advice first.”