Running

A runner

The fitness expert, Sam Murphy, says you can build up your fitness and get fresh air at the same time!

Apart from being one of the best ways of burning calories quickly, running is:

  • easy to do
  • convenient
  • cheap!

It works all your leg muscles - as well as strengthening bones, ligaments and tendons and getting your heart (the most important muscle of all) and lungs in tip-top condition.

Whether you live in a city, a suburb or a village, you'll find plenty of places to run - from parks to pavements, public footpaths to athletics tracks.

Everyone's a winner bonus

Running makes you feel in charge - it's up to you to decide when to go, set the pace, pick the route and choose whether to stop and admire the scenery every now again. How empowering is that?

If you're new to running, start gently and progress slowly. The best approach is to mix walking and running - say, 2 minutes of each, and then gradually try to increase the running bouts, and decrease the walking bouts.

Whether you are a beginner or more experienced, it is wise to vary your running routes and surfaces to ensure you get a mix of road and softer surfaces; flat routes and hills. This alters the physical demand and provides mental variety, too.

Getting Started

The beauty of running is you don't need anything other than a pair of decent running shoes to get started (and a sports bra for the girls).

To ensure you stay safe:

  • don't run with headphones on
  • avoid running in secluded areas or in the dark
  • make sure you are visible to traffic and cyclists.

If you can't persuade a mate to join you, and don't fancy going it alone, there are athletics and road running clubs all around the UK that welcome new members of all levels and ages. To find your nearest club, go to www.runtrackdir.com or www.runnersweb.co.uk. You'll also find a wealth of information about running in Runner's World magazine, or on their website www.runnersworld.co.uk.

Kathryn Williams, sister of Rhys Williams and Active Communities Senior Development Officer for the Sports Council for Wales, suggests ways to make running a habit!

1) Buy yourself a cool new pair of trainers that you'll look forward to putting on - wear clothes you feel comfortable in and don't think you have to wear lycra!

2) Plan your route first so that you know when you're heading for home and you can use familiar landmarks as 'pushing' points.

3) Don't be scared to discover new places but make sure your route is marked out and well-lit so it's safe.

4) Think about how good you'll feel when you've finished.

5) Vary your routes and make sure they include a mixture of fun terrains and sights along the way - forrests, beaches, rivers and parks are good.

6) Think of how many calories you're burning by running and what you can now eat to treat yourself - have it ready to eat and drink so that you can grab it as soon as you've finished.

7) Don't think you have to go out for hours - run to a time that suits you and fits into your daily routine.

8) Run in public places or make sure you organise to run with people - even if you don't feel like it you can't let your friends down!

9) Choose a pace that suits you - make it a sociable event and chat to friends while running or mix it up with some walking but remember you don't want to kill yourself.

10) Run for a cause - target an event like charity fundraisers so you can run to raise money and feel good about it.

Sarah Hardman, Senior Sports Physiologist for the Sports Council for Wales, suggests:

1) Start with a gentle run, or a walk-run walk session depending on your abilities, and progress to longer runs, making sure you run by time and not distance.

For example: Walk 5 minutes, jog 2 and repeat, walk 3 minutes, jog 2 minutes and repeat or run for 10 minutes slow then run 2 minutes faster and repeat with 5 minutes cool down.

2) Set yourself one realistic goal for each run and stick to it e.g. run to the top of a hill once, then in the next session, do it twice!

3) Always warm up and cool down appropriately. This should include a gentle heart rate increase at the start of exercise, plus relevant stretching and mobility exercises.

4) Make your run a social occasion. Arrange to meet friends for a training session, then afterwards reward yourselves by going for a healthy meal or take turns to cook the post run meal.

5) Download some of your fave tunes and take them with you, although make sure you run somewhere safe and away from busy roads.

6) Get into the 'hard-easy' training routine by following each hard session with a light one or a rest day and always remember that recovery is just as important as running.

7) As you progress and start to feel fitter, build in some higher intensity sessions e.g. speed or hills. These will not only help motivation by varying your sessions but also improve your overall level of aerobic fitness.

8) Good nutrition and hydration is important to help get the best out of your runs and prepare for the next one. Drink regularly throughout the day and try to eat 1-2 hours before you run so you'll have plenty of fuel on board. If you are running for a sustained period i.e. > 60 min. Take a sports drink with you to help keep you fuelled and hydrated during your run.

9) Get into a routine of running at the same time each week so that it becomes a regular part of your lifestyle and not seen as a chore.


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