Wish exercising was easier? Feeling frustrated that you’re not as fast or fit as you’d like to be? Whether you’re new to jogging or a seasoned sprinter, finding your running mojo can be a struggle. No matter how energised you feel while pounding the pavement, or how satisfying the feeling afterwards, being motivated to leave the house can be a big ask.
From Couch-to-5ks to marathons, running has never been more popular, with more than two million people in the UK reported to run every week. If you’re keen to kickstart your running routine, we’ve pulled together everything you need to know.
Getting fit? You need the right kit
- Wearing fitness gear that looks as good as it is practical will incentivise you to get out there. Breathable and sweat wicking fabric will help you go the extra mile without feeling uncomfortable. If you’re running when it’s dark, wear clothes that help you stay visible.
- Invest in a good pair of trainers with a neutral sole. Did you know that running in a neutral shoe can be more beneficial than running in a shoe with the heel higher than the forefoot? A specialist running shop can advise on the best footwear for you. Consider the 10% rule – set a distance and wear your new running shoes for 10% of it. For the remainder of your training run, wear your old shoes. With every run you do, increase the distance you wear your new running shoes by 10% until you feel comfortable to wear them for the duration. This will allow time for your feet to become used to the shoes and support they provides, meaning you can run more efficiently.
- Buy a decent sports bra – exercise with poorly supported breasts can be painful.
- Listening to music or podcasts can help you maintain momentum, and with specialist headphones available you can still hear the world around you.
- Track your progress with a fitness tracker that records your personal bests and shows you new routes.
So, you’ve got the right gear. Now to get the most out of your training to raise your fitness levels and endurance. Warm up to prevent injuries and ongoing aches. Even just marching on the spot or going up and down the stairs for two minutes are a great way to wake your body up before your run.
20-minute muscle mover
Busy schedule? Build up your stamina with this 20-minute blitz:
- 0 – 6 minutes = brisk walk
- 6 – 9 minutes = light jog
- 9 – 11 minutes = power walk
- 11 – 14 minutes = medium jog
- 14 – 16 minutes = light walk
- 16 – 17 minutes = fast jog
- 17 – 20 minutes = brisk walk and slowly start to reduce the speed as you cool down
Aim to do this run three times a week for two weeks. In week three, reduce your walking by one minute and increase your jogging by one minute. In week four, aim to complete your route by running the whole distance. Thereafter, simply increase your distance.
During heavy breathing, the muscles around the neck and chest raise the rib cage and move it outwards, creating more space for air to fill the lungs. So, training the abdominal muscles can improve their ability to work more efficiently during heavy breathing. Adopt the right breathing pattern – in through the nose, out through the mouth – to train the abdominals and improve your running performance.
Choose a time of day that’s right for you
Some people feel fresher exercising in the morning while, for others, exerting this much energy at a groggy time of day can lead to tiredness later. It’s important to find a time that works for you.
Mix things up
Alternate running locations, playlists, podcasts and exercise regimes to keep runs interesting. Why not invite a friend along? Having a conversation will test your stamina and allow you to practice; otherwise, a running buddy makes for great motivation. Music can also heavily influence performance. Matching the beat of the song you are listening to with your running pace can regulate your work output, making repetitive exercise (like running) more interesting – you may even experience bursts of energy. It’s also worth synchronising music with the intensity and duration of the run too.
Sleep deprivation can be a real energy zapper. Create a relaxing wind-down routine, like running a bath or reading a book, so that your body isn’t too tired for a run the next day. Your body rebuilds muscle when you’re asleep, so give it sufficient time for proper recovery.
Before starting a new exercise programme, consult a medical professional for more advice on volume and intensity of exercise. From here, set yourself a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). Whether it’s a personal best or an event like Couch to 5k, be kind to yourself with manageable goals that help increase your endurance and overall fitness.