How To Start Running in 2018, And Stick To It
I am going to be running my first half marathon this March, in the West Bank in Palestine. It is a part of the Palestine Marathon for Freedom of Movement. Visiting Palestine has been something that I have wanted to do for a long time, to be able to take part in the half marathon makes the trip even more of a special occasion.
Naturally, aiming to complete the half marathon in one piece has meant that I have had to start running on a regular basis. As things are pretty busy these days at ACLAÍ, I have set some guidelines down for myself to integrate the running into my weekly schedule in a way that allows me to progress over the next 9 weeks, and is time efficient and sustainable (i.e. that reduces the risk of injury).
Here are the main 5 tips for running. Whether you are looking for long distance tips, tips for beginner joggers, running tips to lose weight, or running technique in general, read on.
1. Do some mobility work before running.
The most common problem when you start a running schedule is walking out your front door and just going for it. The appeal of this no frills approach is certainly appealing, but if you are starting from scratch, near scratch, or even if you are an experienced runner, heading straight into a run without a bit of mobility work will expose you to greater risk of injury, and a less efficient run. As little as 10 minutes going through some hip opening exercises, ankle mobility, and general loosening out definitely helps me run more efficiently and makes for a more enjoyable run.
2. Run at the same time every day.
For me, it's the morning time. I get the vast majority of my runs in before I head to ACLAÍ for the day. If I don’t get it done before going to work, the rest of the day just runs away with itself, and generally the longer the day goes on for me, the harder it becomes to get the run in. Even if you are a beginner and are beginning a runner plan, I think the key here is to pick a time that suits you to get the run done and allows you time to get showered and fed afterwards. For you it might be lunch time, after work, or later in the evening. It would be a good idea to tag your run onto the end or before something that you have already established as part of your daily routine. I.e. get your run in after you come home from work and before your dinner etc.
3. Aim for steady running progress.
Wondering how to improve your running? I started out with 10 minutes of mobility followed by a 16 minute run around the block a few weeks ago. I am up to 40 minutes of running now by adding 6 minutes onto my longest run each week so far. This week I am aiming for a few short runs of 35 minutes and a longer one of around 45 minutes at the weekend. The main point here is to progress slowly and steadily over the course of weeks, and avoiding massive jumps in volume. I want to train my body to get used to running in a way that is energy efficient and that allows the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to adapt accordingly as the volume creeps up. A sharp and unexpected increase in volume would put this process at risk, and a tear of some kind would be waiting for me with a baseball bat to put me out of action. Nobody needs that in their lives while preparing for a 13 mile run.
4. Listen to your body. Only run with quality.
I feel that this is an essential guideline that most people miss out. If you are tired or worn out from running, hit plan B. Take a rest or jump onto your bike. When I am tired, run down, or have a niggly pain, my runs turn into a floppy mess of shuffling along for the sake of just getting the run done. I am going to focus on running fresh, and taking the foot off the gas when the body requires a break. Even with the best planned running training programs, your body may need a time out. Training programs generally do not consider the other things that pop up in general life. Lack of sleep, heavy workload, stress etc. Listen to your body, rest it when required, have a plan B, and keep your runs high quality.
5. Hydrate. For the love of Pete HYDRATE!
I need to remind myself of this every day. Drink 2-3 liters of water every day. My runs are better, more enjoyable, and happier when I am well hydrated. With enough water on board, I sweat a bit more which feels good, but more importantly I feel like my joints have been lubed up with a generous helping of WD40, and I definitely recover faster.
6. Have a weekly strength training routine.
Having a go-to workout that I do twice per week is a seriously valuable asset to my toolbox of keeping my strength up and keeping the body supple and injury free on this running journey. Over the last 10 years, I have been a personal running trainer for many people who have blasted through their personal bests, achieved success in ultra distance runs, or overcome long-standing injuries through regular, progressive, and personalised strength training that it is a no-brainer for me during this period of regular running. The benefits to posture, keeping the joints strong and mobile, and the variety of movement that strength training provides when done in the correct way makes strength training a crucial part of any running program.
Hopefully the guidelines above are as useful to you as they have been to me so far. Good luck with your running adventures!