02 May 2019
Chartered physiotherapist Carl Simpson
Running is free and you can do it anywhere! Regular running can reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control.
I see people of all ages and from all different backgrounds on a daily basis in my job as a physio, and as a runner myself, I’m often asked about running as a way of keeping fit and active. Watching events like the London Marathon on the TV inspires many people to put on their running shoes for the first time in ages - and sometimes for the first time ever!
If you’re one of the many people who watched this years’ London Marathon from the comfort of your sofa, you’ll have witnessed all those thousands of people - all different shapes and sizes - who ran the Marathon and crossed the finish line. Every one of those people had to start somewhere.
Here are my top tips to get you off and running!
A good starting point to get you running is the Couch to 5km, a running plan for absolute beginners - or for anyone who hasn’t run for a very long time! The Couch to 5K training programmes are available online. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/get-running-with-couch-to-5k/
Most programmes, including the Couch to 5k, start off with a mix of walking and running. All runs should be at a speed that mean you are able to keep talking talk nonstop and that you could probably achieve by walking fast. If you can’t keep talking, you’re probably running too fast. Don’t power- walk between your running segments, you need to allow your body to recover - and if you walk slowly and run slowly at the start, you will be far more likely progress injury-free from week to week.
Buy a good pair of supportive trainers; it’s an investment buy - they will save you a lot of aches and pains.
Be kind to yourself
As you continue your programme, obviously the aim is to reduce the amount of time spent walking and increase the time spent running. Initially however, you’ll probably still feel the need to walk; don’t worry about it - walk for a while and then restart your run again. I do this all the time and I have run several half marathons and the London Marathon. It is better if you can continue to keep running - just slow your pace - but don’t beat yourself up if you have to walk - as you get fitter, you’ll walk less.
Be aware of the terrain you’ll be running on too. If you live on a hill, walk to the bottom or top before you start your run. If that’s too far to walk or it doesn’t lead you somewhere nice and flat, consider starting your run somewhere where flatter running options are available.
Keep on running
Some people graduate to the parkrun after completing the Couch to 5k programme. parkrun is an organised weekly 5km run, jog or walk and very much an international phenomenon. Check out the parkrun UK website https://www.parkrun.org.uk/ to find your local parkrun - Braunstone Park, Victoria Park and Rutland Water are a few Leicestershire parkruns that that I’m aware of. parkrun is free to all but pre-registration is required.
If you catch the running bug, the next milestone would be to register for a 10K race; there are plenty throughout the summer in Leicestershire including the Rothley 10km, Leicester 10km and Swithland 6 km to name a few.
If you can, train with team members or friends, it makes it easier and you can help each other along the way. Pick a training programme suitable to your lifestyle and stick to it. Joining a running club can give you support with motivation and help you reach your full potential; most clubs have a range of abilities, and novices are very welcome.
Apart from the physical health benefits of improved fitness that running brings, there are psychological benefits too, running can be a great way of socialising and meeting new people.
Longer distances sounding appealing?
Training for a half marathon or marathon or may seem a really daunting prospect, but provided you who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit your mobility, it is achievable. What you will need to do though, is start training early and not give up - be focused on your goal. Who knows, next year that could be you crossing the London Marathon finishing line dressed as Big Ben!