If you've had a break from running due to illness, master these simple exercises before you head out for your first run. They will help you regain your stability and strength and reduce the likelihood of you getting injured
1. Single-leg stands
Aim: Refresh your posture and your balance
Stand up tall with your back straight and shoulders down. Without letting your hips tilt, lift one leg off the ground and hold the pose for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Then try this with your eyes closed.
2. Figure of eight walking
Aim: Re-wire your co-ordination and strengthen your ankles
Mark out a real or imaginary figure of eight on the ground, approximately one to two metres long. Using small steps make your way around the shape. Begin by walking and build up to running. After 30 seconds turn and go in the other direction.
3. Single-leg dips
Aim: Build your leg strength and improve your balance further
Stand up tall with your back straight and shoulders down. Keeping your hips level and bottom tucked under, lift one leg off the ground. Slowly bend and straighten your supporting leg. Do this 10 times. Then repeat 10 times with your leg extended out in front of you, lifted to the side and finally extended out behind you. Repeat on the other leg.
4. Glute bridges
Aim: Wake up your sleeping glute muscles
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet firmly on the floor, hip width apart and quite close to your buttocks. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, keeping your head and shoulders on the ground, push up through your heels, lifting your bottom, hips and mid back o the ground. When you have pushed up as high as you can go, squeeze your buttocks together and hold for the count of three. Then lower slowly back down as you breathe out. Repeat this 20 times.
Aim: Activate and strengthen your core and regain your muscle control
Position yourself on all fours on the ground. Keep your neck in a neutral position so your eyes are towards the floor and your head is in line with your body. Keeping your chest, abdomen and hips as still as possible, slowly reach out one arm in front of you and at the same time, extend the opposite leg out behind you. Hold for three seconds then return your arm and leg to the all fours position in a slow controlled way. Repeat 10 times and repeat with the other arm and leg.