Jun 5, 2013

So You're A Runner, Now What?

Running Tips for staying motivated and improving performance
Original Image: TungPhoto/freedigitalphotos.net

This is the final post in my running series.  This series is designed for people that want to begin jogging/running but aren't sure where to start.  If you missed the first two posts, here you are:

So by now, you're motivated and you are jogging regularly.  Once you have a good fitness base you might be wondering where to go from here.  Here's some tips to help stay you motivated and a few little tips that might help you improve your performance:

1.  Know your goals:

What are you running for?  Are you running for weight loss? Fitness? Or are you hoping to compete/enter a race? You will need to decide what your goal is and that will help determine where you will go from here.   If you are running for weight loss or general fitness then running 3-4 times a week, and running anywhere between 3-10kms will be hugely beneficial. Everyone has different abilities and listening to your body is important.  If you over-do it you can end up with injuries and strains, however, if you don't push yourself a little, you won't see results.

2.  Mix it up

If you are getting bored with the same old route, change your route.  If you are finding that you're getting bored with simply running, you can always add some intervals (will explain in a moment), or perhaps you can add some good hills which will add the extra element of speed/strength training into your run.

*Intervals.  Intervals are a great way to increase your cardiovascular fitness, speed, coordination, and agility.  Intervals can be done in a number of ways, but each way will have short bursts of speed with rests in between.  While jogging, my favourite way to add intervals is to simply use the street light/telegraph posts (approximately 50m apart).  Jog the distance between the first two poles, increase to medium intensity between the next two, then sprint the final distance.  You can then walk to the next if you need - or preferably - drop back into your jog.  Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Keep it up for as long as possible.

Note:  Sprinting is a good way to injure yourself if you are not fit, flexible and used to sprinting.  For this reason I would highly recommend easing into sprinting.  Gradually build up from your medium intensity jog.  Never push yourself if you can feel strain.  

3.  Keep a diary
Some people like to keep a run log/journal.   This can be a beneficial tool in helping you track your progress.  I have done this in the past but I don't personally use one at the moment.  My running app does it all for me.

4.  When illness/injury strikes

Sometimes it happens.  Rest.  Let your body heal completely.  Your first run (or first few runs back) will be harder than they were, but don't be too disheartened.  You will pick it back up quicker than you did the first time.  If you have injured yourself during a run, remember to RICE. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

Icing - Apply ice for 20 minutes, then remove for 20 minutes.  Repeat as many times as possible.
Compression - Some injuries will benefit from being strapped in order to reduce swelling.  This is best done in discussion/consultation with a sports injury specialist.
Elevation- Elevating your injury (in line with your heart if possible) will help reduce swelling.
This is particularly important for the first 24 hours.  Anti-inflammatory medications/ointments can also be beneficial to reduce swelling.   Heat packs can speed up the healing process after the swelling has reduced (usually after the first 48 hours).  However, if your injury is serious be sure to seek medical advice.

5.  Enter a race

As I mentioned in my previous post, entering a race is a great way to stay motivated.  You don't need to be a competitive runner in order to enter a race.  There are people of all ages and abilities.  Enter, have some fun and record your time.  See if you can beat it the next time you race that distance.
 Come on, what are you waiting for?

This concludes this series for beginner runners.  I hope I have motivated you, helped you get started, and given you some tips for your running journey.  If you've found the series beneficial, I'd love to hear from you!

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