1. Identify your motivation and niche
Some people start running to lose weight, some to find some headspace and unwind, whilst others are in search of achievement. Running can help you to do all of those things and it’s good to identify what it is that’s motivating you to run so that you can maintain your focus. No matter the motivation, it’s important that you enjoy what you are doing so it’s a good idea to also identify what type of running is best suited to you – long or short distance, road, fell, cross country or adventure racing – so that you can find your niche.
2. Set yourself a goal
Once you’ve identified what your motivation is and what type of running appeals to you, it’s a good idea to set yourself a goal. This could simply be to go out for a run once a week. It could be to enter into a 5K race. Or it could be to train for an ultra-marathon. The important thing is that the goal is achievable and you are motivated to work towards it. One way of making the goal more appealing is to combine a race with a holiday – visiting a new place or country to run is always something to look forward to!
3. Build up distance gradually
It’s really important to build up your running distance gradually. No matter what distance you are ultimately aiming to reach, the body needs time to adapt. If you fly out on a 10 mile run when you’ve only ever run 5K it could end in burn-out or injury. So, take distance increments gradually and when you’re going beyond what you are used to it’s important to listen to your body so as to not overdo it.
4. Join a club or find a running buddy
Running clubs are a great way of keeping on track and adding variety to your training, challenging yourself and meeting new people. If you can’t find a running club near you, the alternative is to find a friend who you could run with. I always find that I push myself harder when I am running with others. That way you are less likely to let your pace slip or duck out early!
When I was training for my marathons all I ever did was run, which was my biggest mistake. Core strength and stability is key for running to improve performance and also prevent injury. Functional training using weights and bodyweight (for example squats, lunges, burpees) and yoga or Pilates are excellent ways of building muscle strength and endurance.
6. Look after your body
It’s really important to incorporate wellbeing activities into your training programme and value them as much as the running itself. This includes stretching after your run and cross-training. You also need to focus on nutrition - eating well-balanced meals which will provide you with the pre-run fuel and the post-run recovery that you need, plus vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system healthy. After weeks of training it is incredibly frustrating to become ill or injured and so it’s vital that you look after your body.
In fact, all of the tips above could be applied to many sports and hobbies. So, now’s the time to go outside and discover something new!
Article written by Felicity Wood