A Beginner’s Guide to Running
Let's face it, running is not everyone's idea of fun. We asked our resident fitness buff Chelsea to give her advice on how she grew to love running and went on to complete her first marathon.
I’ve never called myself a "runner". I just couldn’t stand the monotonous slog of foot on pavement: give me weights any day! That was until one of my clients, now a good friend, entered me in the Sunshine Coast half marathon.
Yep, 21.1 km. No matter how much I dreaded it, I knew I had to start training, so three months out from the event I researched a plan and started running. But the most surprising thing was that I actually began to enjoy it.
I started small, setting myself goals of 3km, then 5km and soon I was doing 10km without a worry. I would run anywhere between three and five times per week and made sure if I couldn’t hit the street due to weather or time constraints I would still fit in a treadmill session at the gym. You see it’s not about one or two massive runs; it’s the combined mileage throughout the week.
When I crossed the finish line in August last year, I felt a huge sense of achievement – even greater than my aching feet or pounding heart. After three months of solid training, countless blisters and two pairs of runners I had completed my first half marathon and I wanted more.
For some, a half marathon may seem an unreachable goal but I’m here to tell you it’s not. What your mind believes your body can achieve and this is never truer than with running. Whether you’re doing it for weight loss, fitness or to finish your first fun run, you have to be prepared and you have to start small. Too much too soon can result in injuries that can set your fitness back months, not to mention the psychological impact of easing off when you’ve only just begun.
Here are my tips on how to get yourself ready:
There are an array of mobile phone apps that provide running plans anywhere from 5km to ultra-marathons, some of the more popular being RunKeeper, Map My Run and C25K (Couch to 5km). These apps track your progress, speed and distance as well as providing weekly goals to motivate you. For a more traditional method, magazines such as Runner’s World often provide training guides written by professional coaches and athletes. Whatever training plan you choose make sure it’s right for you and suits your current fitness level and lifestyle.
Find good shoes
Never underestimate the power of the right pair of running shoes: With such a huge range of brands and styles on the market it’s important to do your research and not be sold by the latest and greatest. Try as many pairs as possible and consult a professional if you experience chronic foot, leg or back pain while running you may need a particular style of shoe or orthotic inserts.
Fuel your body
Like with any fitness program, your body needs energy to function. When taking up a running plan be sure to eat plenty of low GI or slow release carbohydrates such as wholemeal breads and pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables and lean proteins like chicken, beef and eggs.
Drink plenty of water
Aim for at least eight 250ml glasses per day and even more when exercising to replenish fluid lost through sweat. Oh, and before you ask, soft drinks, fruit juices and flavoured milk don’t count!
When you start to doubt yourself, get tired or feel like giving up set yourself a goal. Try things like: “I will make it to the next power pole, street sign or letter box”, then get there and keep running. No matter how slow you are going, you are still lapping everyone on the couch.
Chelsea has been working in the fitness industry as a personal trainer for three years. She has a background in media and journalism and is passionate about healthy living and lifestyle. She is currently the Health Club Coordinator at YMCA Hawkesbury Oasis. Her favourite training style is HIIT (high intensity interval training) and her top nutrition tip is to eat foods in their most natural form, the more processed it is, the less nutrients it will provide.