Personal trainer and Couch to 10K coach, Nicole Wright, shares her strategies for getting the most out of your runs
1. Go slower
Do you struggle with your breathing and feel like you have to stop, not because you are tired but because you can’t get in enough air? If that’s the case, then run slower. It takes practice to run with ease; there is a lot for your body to try and focus on. Slow the pace down and give your body more time to get in the oxygen it needs.
2. Add in some intervals
Alternating between short bursts of fast running and slower recovery periods can help to maximise your performance. Incorporating intervals into your workout helps you learn to run faster and it’s an effective cardio workout to boost your fitness. There are numerous different styles of interval training, but if you are just starting out the simplest way is to pick an object around 20-30 metres away, run fast to it, then jog to the next point. Do that for six-10 minutes.
3. Listen to your body
Do you find that at certain times of the day you feel more energised than at others? Some of us are morning people and some of are on top form later on in the day. Take this into account when you are planning your running schedule. If you generally find mornings tough, then think about running in the evening when you are feeling stronger and vice versa. Make the most of your body’s natural energy rhythm, scheduling runs when you are at your best.
4. Look after your body
One thing all runners want to avoid is injury. But unfortunately nothing can guarantee you won’t get injured. However, one thing that has been proven to help reduce the risk of injury is adding some strength training into your plan. Strength training, such as handheld weights, kettlebells and body-weight exercises, helps to build strength in muscles and joints; decreasing injury risk. If you don’t know where to start, it’s worth getting some expert advice from a running coach or personal trainer.
5. Download a new playlist
Do you feel like you are in a pace rut; not managing to go any faster? For a long term solution you may need to look at the type of training you are doing, but for a short-term quick fix you should not underestimate the power a good tune can have! Up the tempo and up your pace. Pick a tune that gets your feet running faster.
6. Turn running into a social event
One reason running is so awesome is that all you need is yourself (and your trainers!). However, sometimes running alone can become, well, a little lonely and it can feel hard to keep up the motivation. A sure fire way to get your running mojo back is by running with a friend or a group. Running with someone adds a new social element, plus some accountability as you don’t want to leave a friend hanging. Similarly, joining a running group is the perfect way to gain a new circle of running friends.
7. Make a plan
We all lead busy lives and fitting your run in can sometimes seem like an impossible task. If this is the case, you have to make time to run. This will likely require some planning and maybe some negotiation, but if running is what keeps you sane, fit and happy, then it’s important to carve out that time. Sit down, plan your week ahead and then set aside time in your calendar. Add in alerts so you can’t ‘forget’ and treat the time as you would treat an important meeting or family activity.