Some advice on Getting Started Running……

Training for your marathon or half marathon will be challenging,
but should also be fun and enjoyable. Finishing a marathon is an accomplishment
that less than 1% of people in the world can say they have achieved. You are
about to be one of them!

Are you a beginning runner? Already a runner? Haven’t run in a
long time? Either way, you can finish a marathon. Reading through some of the
pointers below will help you along the way.

Motivation:

Whether
you are training for a marathon or half marathon, it takes a lot more
than good old determination and willpower to get you through training and the
big day. Let your mind lead the way, not your body. Try to determine the big
picture of why you want to do this. By the way, why do you want to do
this? Don’t let yourself off by stopping at your first answer!
Dig deep! Why do you want to run a marathon or half marathon? When you go
beyond that first answer, you will begin to realize what is really driving you.
When you learn what is really driving you, then you can use that to push
yourself through willpower and determination. You will build the foundation
that will get your subconscious mind working for you, not against you. In
short, you are in for an incredible experience.

Wear the right gear:

Treat
your feet to a good pair of running shoes as these will be your
most important piece of gear. Shoes are designed to fit feet with different
arches, pronation, width etc. Visit a local specialty running store to find the
best shoes for your feet. A comfortable, well-fitted pair of runners will add
to your enjoyment and may also prevent painful and costly injuries.

Pre-Training:

Before
you begin your training, you should be able to run for at least 30 minutes
without stopping. Distance is not important, you just need to get your body
used to running. Combinations of run/walks are great to use during pre-training
because they ease your body into the exercise and minimises the chance of
experiencing a running injury. See the 8 week ‘Get Started’ programme below for ideas

Avoiding
Injury:

Use
your non-running days to rest and recover. If you feel a niggle, back
off the training for a day of two. Better to miss two days than two weeks! Ice
down any soreness a few times per day for 15-20 minutes.

Training:

Your
mileage should gradually increase each week before tapering off in the final
weeks leading up to the marathon / half marathon to allow your body to recover
from training and so you will be strong on the big day. Having the long runs
under your belt will give you a major psychological advantage on the day.

Stretching:

Stretching
regularly should be part of your running routine. Stretching offers
many benefits including helping to prevent muscular aches, pains, cramping and
injury. It will also reduce the possibility of muscular fatigue and increasing
the muscles efficiency/ effectiveness of movement. Although it is generally
considered more important to stretch after a run than before, if you feel that
you need to stretch before your run you should ideally jog or walk for 5 or 10 minutes
before stretching to warm thee muscles up and to get blood flowing.

Some stretch basics:

Stretch
the muscle to the point of its greatest range of motion, but do not overextend.
You should feel very minimal tightness/discomfort (but not pain).

Hold
and control the stretch for at least 30 seconds (and maximum 60 seconds).

Stretch
all the major leg muscle groups (e.g., calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, groin,
hip flexors).

Stretch
uniformly (after stretching one leg, stretch the other).

Don’t
overstretch an injured area as this may cause additional damage

Long Runs:

The key
to these programs is the long run on weekends. Consistency is most important.
You can skip an occasional workout, or juggle the schedule depending on other
commitments, but try not to cheat on the long runs. Notice that although the
weekly long runs get progressively longer, every few weeks there is a
“recovery” week, where mileage is reduced to allow you to gather
strength for the next phase.

Run Slow:

Do your
long runs at a comfortable pace, one that allows you to converse with your
training partners, at least during the beginning of the run. Toward the end,
you may need to abandon conversation and concentrate on the act of putting one
foot in front of the other to finish. However, if you find yourself finishing
at a pace significantly slower than your pace in the first few miles, you
probably need to start much slower, or include regular walking breaks. It’s
better to run too slow during these long runs, than too fast.

The important point is that you cover the prescribed distance;
how fast you cover it doesn’t matter.

Walking Breaks:

Walking
is a perfectly acceptable strategy in trying to finish a marathon
/ half marathon. It works during training runs too. You could walk 1 minute out
of every 10, or 1 minute every mile. Walking gives your body a chance to rest,
and you’ll be able to continue running more comfortably.

Cross-Training:

Cross-training
is any other form of aerobic exercise that allows you to use
slightly different muscles while resting (usually) after your long run. The
best crosstraining exercises are swimming, cycling or even walking.
Cross-training for an hour the day after your long runs will help you recover.

Rest:

Rest is
an important component of any training program as it is during the rest period
(the 24 to 72 hours between hard bouts of exercise) that the muscles actually
regenerate and get stronger. Hard running (such as the long runs) allows you to
improve, however, you’ll find that you can’t run hard
unless you are well rested. If you’re constantly fatigued you
will fail to reach your potential. This is why rest days are vital. If you need
to take more rest days – because of a cold or a late night at the office or a
sick child – do so. The secret to success in any training program is
consistency, so as long as you are consistent with your training during the
full program, you can afford, and may benefit from, extra rest.

Keep track:

It is
advisable that you keep track of your training efforts and results during
race preparation. This will allow you to analyse your improvement. Looking at
your “diary” can also help with motivation. I use www.goodrunguide.co.uk to log my runs,
great user Friendly website.

Taper

This is
a golden rule of marathon / half marathon training, which forms one of the
main cornerstones of all the schedules. If you don’t taper
(ease off) sufficiently for the race, you may find that you’ve
wasted all those hard sessions. You will find that these schedules reduce your
weekly and long run mileage during the final weeks to ensure that you will be
fully recovered from previous workouts while at the same time be completely
rested for the big event

Hitting the wall

You’ve
heard the phrase, you may have even experienced those energy-sapping
effects 18 miles or so in, affectionately known as “hitting the
wall”. The weak legs, light-headedness and strong urge to stop are caused
by a depletion of glycogen (carbohydrate stores) and an almost complete
reliance on fat for fuel. While fat can power a runner for days in theory, it
can’t maintain the same speed and intensity as carbohydrate. Couple that with
dehydration and it can bring you to a sudden and grinding halt. Fortunately,
there is an effective weapon against the wall…

Nutrition:

Understanding
how nutritional status affects the body during exercise is very
important. And it’s not
just about race day. Eating the right foods at the right time,
before during and after long training sessions will compound to make your
overall training program that much more effective. Be sure to get the nutrition
you need (carb’s, proteins, unsaturated fats) to keep you strong
and allow for adequate recovery. Cut down on junk food such as
biscuits, sweets, soft drinks and the like. You’re going to be asking a lot of
your body over the coming weeks and months so you want to make sure to fuel it
properly

Hydration:

On runs
of an hour or more, carry fluids with you and consume 6-8 oz. every 20
minutes. During training it can be advisable to weigh yourself before and after
each run and get your body weight back to the weight it was before the run by
drinking water or sports drink within the first hours after the run. Always
hydrate well – you will lose a lot of water
through sweating (even if it’s cold outside).

And
finally ENJOY IT! It’s all worth it in the end!

Mark

One Response to Getting Started Running

  1. Are says:

    Hi all,Happy New Year! I saw this blog a while ago (not sure many people know it’s here) but I didn’t know what to write for my top trniaing tip because I don’t know I have any… I just run! But today when I was out, very tired and hungover, doing an 8 mile New Years Day run in the snow I realised that’s exactly what my trniaing tip is… just get out there and run… no excuses. Runs like today, when you’re lethargic, unenthusiastic & under the weather are the hardest, but they build up your mental strength which you’ll need in the last few miles of the marathon. If you can survive a run in those conditions, your next proper prepared run will be a breeze!Good luck trniaing everyone!

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