I hope you're all ready for my Guide to Running Part Two! Like I said in Part One, I'm definitely no expert, merely someone who has started from the bottom and knows the struggle! This guide is purely to get you ready for your first run. Last time, I talked about how important it is to wear the right gear and how music can be a huge motivator! I guess we should get into the running side of things now.
Part of a successful run is the route. Make sure you plan ahead and ensure that the route you're taking is a) long enough (time and distance wise) and b) easy to follow. There are heaps of great sites where you can "map your run" so make sure you do that before hand otherwise you could get stuck or lost!
Stretching is pretty important and probably something that a lot of us can't be bothered doing (I'm definitely guilty.) If you haven't been active in awhile, your body isn't going to be too happy about suddenly having to push itself. You're going to be sore and it's going to be hard. Do yourself a favour and have a stretch. It doesn't have to be 30 minutes of stretching, just enough to loosen up your body a bit. Don't forget to stretch after your run as well.
WARM IT.Warming up is another pretty vital part of running. This can be a walk, or a light jog. If this is your first run in awhile (or ever) I'd say that a walk is all you need. Just start by walking at a brisk pace for about five minutes, or until you feel ready to run. If you push straight into running you'll probably end up injuring yourself or not being able to last as long. Slow and steady is the name of this game.
Here comes the fun part (or the not so fun part.) Alright, so you've stretched and you are five minutes into your warm up. You're feeling pretty good and reckon that it could be time to start running. You've upped your pace when suddenly your chest gets tight, your calves are aching and sweat is everywhere. Look. Don't feel bad. I couldn't even run 100 metres when I first started. Running is pretty hard, and it can take awhile to build up the fitness to be able to go for awhile.
I've got a couple of ways that really helped me to improve my fitness and increase my running time.
1. Run Lamp Posts - This is something that I did to help me get into running. Even though the distance between lamp posts isn't very big, it's still enough to get you used to a faster pace. I'd plan a 30 minute walking route (about 3km) and I just started by walking to the third lampost, and then running to the next one. I'd spend my whole walk/run doing this at first, and then I'll build up each week and run a little bit further. You'll slowly find that you can just keep running, without needing as many breaks, and eventually you'll be running the whole way!
2. Make Mini Goals - This is similar to running lamposts, but you can make your distances a bit shorter (or longer.) As you're walking or jogging, keep note of what's around you. A stop sign? How about making that you're next goal. A street sign? Reckon you can keep running until you reach that? It's easy to get overwhelmed when you know how much further you have to go, but it helps to have small goals along the way. Look for something ahead of you, and keep pushing until you get there. Who knows, you might be able to keep running passed that point. If not, no worries! You made it.
3. Hills - Okay, hills suck. And they always will. But they are such a good way of getting your heart pumping and improving your fitness. When you map out your route, make sure you have a couple of hills in there. Running up hill is pretty hard, but if you use the lamp post or mini goal ideas, you'll definitely be able to make it!
4. Couch to 5K - If you're a bit more technologically inclined, this program could be for you. It's perfect for the non runner, and will have you running 5km in no time. You can download the app onto your phone and it does all the work for you! It's a similar idea to running lamp posts, but is time based so you'll be running and walking for allotted times.
This one is totally up to you. I found it good to keep track of my distances when I first started, but that was because I was trying to run a mile everyday. It is good though, to be able to track your times/distances and see how you are progressing. I like to use them for different things as well. Runkeeper is awesome for tracking my run but I prefer to log my workouts on Cody as is easier to compare past runs. There are so many awesome apps out there so have a look and see which ones suit you best.
So there we have it. I reckon you're ready for your first run! It's all about being prepared and confident. I won't lie to you, your first run is going to be hard. But you're going to do it and feel great after. Our bodies are pretty clever, and you'll be surprised at how fast you can progress. You've gotta stick with it though. There are no shortcuts, but the results are totally worth it.
Let me know how you get on, and what else you guys like to do to make sure you have the best run!