January has drawn to a close. Many of us have already lost that feeling of excitement and determination that we had when first planning our new year goals. Instead, grim reality has kicked in and something similar to ‘what on earth have I let myself in for?’ is now doing laps inside our heads. I suspect this will be especially true if your self-improvement plans include running! Be it for the first time or getting back to it, your first marathon or a 5km, I thought a few tips to keep you focused (and interested) might be useful.
1) The great news if you’re training for your first event is that you are guaranteed a PB. But whatever the occasion, don’t focus on time. Any first race, or achieving a training goal, is all about getting through it and enjoying yourself. Race days are a great occasion, with an incredible atmosphere. If it’s a training goal you’re working towards, celebrate your successes at each milestone stage. There are lots of running communities on Facebook and #UKRUNCHAT is a great conversation to join on Twitter. These groups can be very supportive, making a big difference to your motivation levels whilst the cold weather continues.
2) Buddy up! Find a running partner and motivate each other. Those long runs will soon become less isolating and daunting. If there isn’t anyone in your friendship group with a similar goal, check the gym, a local running group or again, join a social media group.
3) Increase your mileage smoothly. Try and increase your distance by 10% each week. The gradual increase helps reduce the risk of injury.
4) Include cut backs. Every three or four weeks reduce your mileage significantly. Use it as an easy week. It gives your body time to adapt and heal.
5) Be realistic. There is no point trying to run 5 times a week if you work full time and/or have family commitments to consider. It’s unrealistic and will either make you feel guilty, which will affect your motivation, or it will force you to play catch up which is dangerous. Aim for 3 runs a week. Two short runs, and a longer one.
The biggest cause for not making it to the start line is injury. So be savvy.
Get into a routine of spending a few minutes stretching every day; not just on the days you go running. Stretching helps give your muscles more spring and elasticity which really helps force transfer and reduces the pressure on joints. Great for preventing injury and repetitive strain irritations.
Also take some time to work on the strength of your gluteal muscles. Strong glutes lead to stable hips and knees - and a better running technique in general.
If you want any more advice on stretches, or strengthening exercises, or have an injury you want to get checked out, please get in touch the Bridge to Health team.
Happy running, and good luck!