It’s dark and we’re all now trudging home from work in the sleet. By 6pm we want nothing more than slippers, the Crown and a sofa. So, how about going out for a run? Agggh, not a chance! But, you’ll be delighted to know, now that we are living in the age of the internet, there’s ‘an app for it!’. The internet is littered with running training plans, forums, diary’s, advice, podcasts all helping to get you up and out. It could not be easier to start running.
Running is a high impact sport, especially when starting out. Your muscles and joints are subjected to forces they just aren’t used to. I believe the key to minimizing problems is by having a plan. There are essentially two ways to go about this:
1) follow someone else’s or
2) make your own (this isn’t as scary as it sounds).
So, following someone else’s plan. A great one for those completely new to running is the excellent NHS Couch to 5k. It’s not just a running plan but a series of webpages, podcasts, a phone app – all devoted to helping you achieve that very realistic 5k goal. The website comes filled with things to download and information all shaped to support you in the early days of running.
If you’re not a total beginner or have a longer goal in mind there are plenty of 10k, half marathon, marathon plans available online.
My advice would be to Google your training plans and find one you can realistically follow. There is no point in finding a 10k plan asking for you to run four times a week, when your time only allows for two or three runs at best. Also, don’t be afraid to give a plan your own personal touch. It’s fine to switch your 4k run on a Wednesday with the recovery run on the Friday. Use your plan as a guide and reorganize things slightly. But just bear in mind trying to keep the weekly mileage, number of sessions and intensity of sessions the same.
The other option is planning things yourself. I can understand that when first starting you might require the safety and discipline of following something.
Most people run for two simple reasons: to keep healthy (physically and mentally), and to ‘get better’. What I like if proof that this is happening. Part of that proof comes from my body. Physically it’s seeing changes in my shape and feeling improvements in my breathing and heart rate. Mentally it’s simply feeling good about myself. This can be a secondary result from the physical improvements. But also from the certain air of confidence and satisfaction that come with achieving goals.
When I first started running, like most people, my ‘getting better’ was about running round the block without stopping. Over time ‘the block’ has got bigger, and very occasionally the desire to be faster is also included.
There is also a group of websites called Endurance Sports Blogs which let you record, plan, and blog for a variety of different sports (triathlon, cycling, swimming, rowing and running). The interface is simple to use. The website is free – unless you want to sync a Garmin and then there is a small fee. A website such as this can help anyone plan things themselves. Follow a few simple rules, such as building gradually and remembering the rest days are as important as the run days.
Have you got any more suggestions of ways to get you off that sofa and out that door on these bleak nights? A decent target seems to help me – so I’m planning to go ski touring and that should get me up and down those hills!