Sunday, 29 June 2014

Running tips for beginners (like me!)

My running kit: New Balance trainers and T-shirt and leggings from JD Sports

I am 100% not a natural born runner. The only reason I have started to run more often and for longer is that I stupidly agreed to do the Race for Life with my sister and some old school friends. It is 10k! What am I doing?! I feel slightly pathetic finding a 10k overwhelming when my boyfriend goes out and casually runs 12km AND he's not even training for anything! However I think you have to believe that some people are just natural runners. For example if you are short like me, you have to be kind to yourself and remember that you will probably be taking twice as many strides as your taller friends, therefore more energy is required. 

During my training, for which I am now up to 5k (half way there, woot!), I have learnt a few tips, partly from my Mum, who is training to be an Alexander technique teacher and partly from the boyf, who has done the marathon. I thought it might be useful for me to share these tips with those of you who are looking to get into running. Before I start, I'll just add a little disclaimer: I am not a running coach, trained medic, or anything like that, if you have any health issues it is probably best you consult your GP. If you are thinking of starting to train for something like a marathon it might be wise to get a Bupa health check. I made my boyf get one of these before the marathon and it just gives you that peace of mind. Anyway, let's get going! Here are some tips I have learnt in the past few months:

What to do before your run
Make sure you stretch before AND after your run. It is surprising how many people don't realise you should stretch after your run. It really helps your legs recover and avoids stiff legs the next day. I just do really basic stretches that I learnt from sports classes at school, but if you want specific instructions then Runner's World have some good tips on their website.

How to get rid of a stitch whilst running
Start thinking about breathing in when one of your feet hits the ground. If you have a stitch on your right side you want to be breathing in when your left foot hits the ground and vice versa. I try to stretch the leg through the stride, it seems to help!

How to build up to 10k
Take it steady. If you have never run before, but are otherwise a healthy weight and fitness level, start with one mile*. Keep practicing one mile until you feel perfectly fine and are not coughing and spluttering! Then build it up, I've been adding half a mile every week. If at any point you feel like you can't go any further – stop or take it slow. Even if you might be running slower than walking, you are still technically running!!

What to think about when you are running
Think about how you are running. I know this might sound weird, but think about how a cat walks, elegantly, rolling the foot, make sure you do not slam your heel down! Make sure your neck is not too far forward and that you are not clenching your fists. Also, think about your breathing. I hardly think about anything other than running and monitoring how I am feeling when I run.

What to wear if you feel self conscious
I found all the women's trousers were so tight on the bum and then the tops were too short, so I went for the tight three-quarter lengths BUT with a man's T-shirt that covers my bum. Don't be afraid to buy men's sportswear!

I hope you enjoyed this slightly longer than normal post and please share with me any of your running tips! I am running the 10k in just under one month – I plan to write a post on how I found it, so watch this space!

*If you are not a healthy weight and fitness level consult your doctor for advice on how to start running, it may mean you start with power walking.
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