The new lifestyle that has been forced upon us as a result of the coronavirus outbreak means that the majority of our day is spent confined by the four walls of our humble abodes. Being stuck in the confines of the not-so-great indoors has certainly started to drive me a wee bit crazy, but as is the way of the world, and the severity of the situation certainly merits the sort of measures in place at the mo’ . Scary times…
Luckily, though, we are still permitted to one session out of the house to exercise alone (thank f**k…), and with all of our beloved gyms being closed, many more people have taken up running as a means of getting in some much needed activity to break up the day.
As a lover of the sport, it gives me great pleasure seeing so many new faces (albeit at a distance) taking to the roads and enjoying a morning jog. With so many people taking up running in the current climate, I thought it would be useful to shed my top tips from 15 years of experience…
#1 – No One Cares ; You Are Your Own Runner!
Unfortunately, my sister and I have inherited the family gene of cheeks turning redder than my hair as soon as we start any form of exercise, regardless of the intensity. If you saw us after a session, you might think one or t’other of us had had a coronary. Cheers, Mum & Dad…
Do you find yourself worrying about what you look like during a run? If so, I promise you this: NO ONE CARES!! Every person you pass on the roads, be it fellow runners, ramblers, or just passers-by, is going to be focussing on what their doing, with little acknowledgement of how your hair looks a mess or that there are sweat patches on the back of your t-shirt.
If anything, as a rule of thumb, the more of a sweaty mess you look, the more I’ll respect you for putting in max effort. Some people just don’t sweat, some people sweat buckets; however you react to exercise, you are your own runner. If you don’t believe me, next time you go on a run, see if you can remember anything about anybody you passed; chances are you won’t remember a bloody thing, and you’ll be more concerned with getting some water on board and nailing a post-workout banana…
If in doubt, No One Cares!
#2 – Sometimes, Less Is More…
So you’ve realised what an absolute hoot a morning run is, so therefore you decide to set yourself the goal of running 10k every morning, every day, every week; only to end out 5 days later with crippling DOMS (muscle soreness) and a sprained ankle…
There is definitely too much of a good thing when it comes to your newfound training. Overdoing it on the weekly mileage can do you much more harm than good; indeed, overtraining when you are new to the whole shabang could leave you unable to train for weeks, months, even years if you break something crucial!
Gradually increase the amount you are doing, don’t just go straight in at the deep-end. A good way of doing this is keeping a workout log to check how many miles you are clocking up every week. To make sustainable progress, the widely accepted rule is to increase weekly mileage by 10-15% within reason, although for beginners, you’ll probably want to stick with the lower end to prevent injury.
Running is, without a doubt, addictive; I myself am a self-proclaimed junkie! However, I have discovered the hard way how detrimental to your physical health overdoing it can be.
Listen to your body. If it is screaming at you to take a rest, take a bleedin’ rest!
#3 – Track, Track, Track!
It could be using apps like Strava, MapMyRun, or Fitbit; or it could be the old fashioned pen-and-paper method. Either way, tracking your workouts is essential for various reasons.
As previously mentioned, you want to make sure you aren’t overdoing it. I have seen so many of my friends and clients jump into the sport with a mileage that was completely inappropriate for the level of running-fitness. Keeping a note of how far/hard each run is can help prevent overtraining.
Furthermore, I personally find it so motivating looking at how numbers slowly go up over time in terms of distance, weekly mileage, average pace etc., all of which are readily available thanks to accessible performance-tracking technology like Fitbits and mobile apps. Over time, it can also ensure you are progressively overloading your body to a point whereby you are constantly edging closer towards your goals.
That said, DON’T BECOME OBSESSED BY THE NUMBERS; it is very easy to fall into the trap of fixating on making progress on each and every run, which may in fact be detrimental to the plethora of mental benefits resulting from running. Keep a close eye on when effective tracking becomes meticulous obsession that makes you dread every run!
#4 – Shoes Are A Gamechanger
I know the savvy-minded of you out there will be tempted to slip on the trusty pair of 15 year-old kicks that you used to wear in school PE lessons, and/or scrimp on a cheap pair of passable sneakers from a shop that rhymes with ‘court’s pirect’. This could be a grave move…
Studies show that what you wear on your feet has a significant effect on perameters affecting the quality and effectiveness of your daily run, including frequency of injury, average speed, and achievable distance. You want to ensure you have shoes that are well supported, have a decent amount of cushioning, and are appropriate for the type of terrains you are running on. For example, the trainers you wear for a long-distance road run will be considerably different to those most effective for running in woodland or parks.
The best way, in normal circumstances, would be to visit a running specialist retailer to analyse your running gait and give you recommendations based on your results; but given the current state of affairs, a bit of internet research will have to suffice in terms of your style of running & where you are running.
If in doubt, brands like Saucony, Mizuna, and Asics are all top-quality, reputable shoe-makers that are regarded as the leaders in running-specific footwear.
Running in dodgy shoes can massively increase your risk injuries such as shin-splints, plantar-faciitis, and ankle sprains to name but a few. Don’t take the risk; you might regret it later on…
#5 – MAKE IT LAST!!!
This is more of a plea as opposed to a tip, but oh well…
It gives me such joy seeing so many people enjoying running in the current situation. Hopefully the overwhelming majority of you will be doing it out of pure enjoyment as opposed to mundane obligation, so therefore I sincerely hope that, when we return to normality, most of you will carry on with your training outside.
Running can play a great primary or supplementary role in almost any training programme, so don’t use the excuse that “running won’t benefit me”. It is just a question of manipulating the way in which you run to suit your individual goals!
The Final Word
Stick with it; it’ll do you a lot of good, I promise you!
There are so many mental and physical benefits of running, many of which I hope you are alreading experiencing as a result of your new exercise regime. If you are yet to try, take the opportunity and give it a go; it’s not for everyone, but there is certainly no harm in trying. Give it a crack, for me 🙂
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Stay safe, peeps,