05 July 2019
- Invest in a good pair of running trainers - A quality running shop will study your gait as you run on a treadmill and some even let you run up and down the road while trying on a pair of trainers.
- Join a running club - Such as the Horley Harriers or a Facebook group to pair yourself up with equally novice half-marathon runners – you are less likely to drop out of training if you are not running on your own. And you will feel safer running off road, in parks and woodlands if you have company.
- Download an app - To plot a route, calculate your distance and your progress, and share with fellow runners.
- Always warm up before training - You are less likely to suffer injuries if the key running muscles (hamstrings, calves, quadriceps) are warm and stretched before you start. Hamstrings are the most commonly pulled muscles because runners are tempted to push off too soon without warming them up.
- Health check - If you have any medical conditions, seek the advice of your GP before you begin training. If you notice any unusual shortness of breath or chest pain while running, seek medical advice.
Before every running session warm up properly first.
Step one: Begin with a five minute brisk walk up and down the stairs or jogging on the spot.
Step two: Start your stretches on the floor to mobilise your hips, loosen up the trunk and stretch the hamstrings:
- Lie on your back and bring one knee to the chest and hold for up to 6-10 counts before letting go. Change to the other leg. Repeat this stretch 3-5 times.
- Still on your back, bring one leg up, hold behind the thigh and try and straighten it, pushing the heel to the ceiling then release slightly. Repeat this 6-10 times. Repeat on the other leg. Repeat 3-5 times on each leg.
- Staying on your back, bend both knees and drop your hips from side to side to loosen up the trunk.
Step three: Continue stretching while on your feet:
- Stand tall, point the toes of one foot so they are just touching the ground and gently rotate the ankle clockwise and anti-clockwise. Repeat on the other foot.
- With your hands on your hips or placed in front of you on a wall, take one leg behind you, keeping it straight and place the foot flat on the floor. Bend the front knee and lean into the stretch, holding for a count of 15-20. Swap legs and repeat. Repeat this stretch 3-5 times.
- Carefully balance on one leg (or use the back of a chair/garden gate/wall for support) and bend one knee, bringing the foot to the buttocks. Clench your buttock muscles. Hold for a count of 15-20. Repeat on the other leg. Repeat this stretch 3-5 times.
- Warm up your shoulder muscles by stretching your arms out to the side of you and rotating in small circles, forwards and backwards, gradually increasing the size of the circle.
Here are our top tips for injury-free running.
Week one: Whatever distance you have run before, aim for a 30 minute gentle on off jog three times this week, with a day of rest between each. Don’t push yourself too fast too soon. Pacing is key, keep it light and don't be afraid to stop and walk. Aim for 3-5 minute consistent runs and if you can go for longer than this, then great, you are on track.
Week two: Your legs might be feeling heavy and sore but if you are experiencing sharp pain, see a healthcare professional.
Week three: Introduce simple body strengthening exercises for the quads, gluteal muscles and hamstrings. This will enhance the body’s ability to protect itself from injury on the day of the race. Try lunges and heel raises on the days that you are not running. Running is a healthy option which improves your cardiac, renal and respiratory function. Let your GP know if you are experiencing breathing difficulties, chest pain and if you are taking any medication. Your GP may want to review them.
Week four: By this time, you should feel your body has settled into a running rhythm. Watch out for any knee, groin or foot pains. You might need to see a physiotherapist to ensure you are doing correct stretching and strengthening exercises.
Week five: Gradually increase and look to add one extra run this week for 35 minutes.
Week six: This should be your peak week. Ideally look to run for 90 minutes or 10 miles, whichever comes first.
Week seven: If you are worried that you can’t make it through the half marathon, then switch to Run Reigate’s 10K or 5K races and plan to tackle the bigger event next year.
Week eight: Run parts of the Run Reigate route this week to familiarise yourself with the course – make this your mini mock half marathon by wearing the clothes you hope to wear on the day and replicate the food you will eat beforehand.
Make this your last week to record your highest weekly miles because from here on you will need to scale down the length of your training runs – known as tapering.
Week nine: Scale down your runs by 20 per cent in terms of distance and intensity. Sleep well and run better! Studies have shown that athletes who have slept less than six hours the night before a run are more likely to suffer an injury. Get in the habit of switching off your cell phone, avoid watching television too close to bedtime, avoid eating food close to bedtime, and empty your bladder so you can have uninterrupted sleep.
Week ten: It is key that this week has the least total mileage of your training plan. Try and get as much sleep as you can this week and postpone late-night social engagements until after Run Reigate.
24 hours before the race: Familiarise yourself with the running route. Get your running kit (clothes, water bottle, head band, shoes) ready. Organise a lift as you might be too tired to drive yourself back. Drink plenty of water - there is plenty of information available online about rehydration. Positive imaging - picture yourself running towards the finish line. It helps prepare your mind to finish the task. The mental barrier hits you before physical exhaustion, so it is vital to keep your goal in focus.
Don't suddenly stop! Circulating hormones and cardiac activity needs to be paced down. Try walking for 10 minutes. Sit on the grass and try gentle cool down exercises. Continue to sip water regularly to rehydrate the body. Within an hour of finishing the race, replenish your energy levels with protein foods such as a breakfast bar or a handful of almonds.
The urge to celebrate with a glass of fizz will be great, but alcohol dehydrates so give your body several hours, and plenty of water, to recover before raising a glass to your amazing achievement!
Eating and drinking before training
- Slowly sip water throughout the day and before a training session. Imagine yourself as a plant – if water is poured too fast it will drain straight through the compost and out the bottom. If water is poured slowly the compost has chance to soak it up and keep the plant hydrated for longer.
- Eat a light meal at least two hours before training. If you get a stitch while running, it is because your stomach is full.
- Invest in a good sports bra to give support, prevent breast pain and limit movement when running.
- For good bladder health don’t avoid drinking even if you are worried that it may make you want to go to the loo. If you have a weak pelvic floor, remember with regular pelvic floor exercises 2-3 times a day for a minimum of six weeks you can make a difference. Try downloading the Squeezy NHS Pelvic Floor App to give you regular reminders to exercise and help keep you on track.
Advice from Spire Gatwick Park’s team of physiotherapists, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Benedict Rogers, and health advisor Ben Short.