As a novice runner, I’m always on the hunt to find tips, advice, and guidance to maximise my performance. Over the past six months I’ve read all kids of myths and misconceptions, as well as picking up some helpful pointers along the way. I’ve decided to share what’s worked for me, after a successful week of making 3 personal bests (soon to be 4 by the end of the week – fingers crossed!).
1. Invest in shoes and gear
Running shoes are one of the core pieces of equipment in anyone’s sports and have a huge difference to your performance. I’m not saying that it’ll automatically make you a better runner, but if you shoes are rubbing, too tight or not providing adequate support then it’s likely to impact on your time and distance.
Running shoes are best purchased at specialty running stores. It’s worth investing in some proper running shoes to prevent injury and increase performance; a good pair of shoes will have cushioning to protect you from the pounding on pavements. Ladies, good sports bra is an absolute must.
If your not sure how long you’ll keep up running, maybe hold of on buying a whole running kit (although buying activewear from the Dri-fit range at Nike certainly gives you a incentive to go out running in the morning!).
2. Set goals and challenges
If there is anything to keep you going, it’s the feeling of getting so close to beating your personal best when it’s starring you in the face on a little watch. I use the Garmin Forerunner 10 to track my performance and I wouldn’t run anywhere without it. It keeps me motivated and I can see my progression each time I leave the house.
There are lots of apps available and other types of trackers including Nike Fuel, Wahoo fitness tickr and Polar, but as you can see in my review, it’s much easier than carrying a phone around with you and provides significantly more information when you upload it online – perfect if you’re training for a race. Don’t have one? Win one by entering the competition at the bottom of this post!
I set 3 personal bests this week; Fastest 1km (4:30), fastest 1 mi (7:51) and fastest 5km (26:38). It’s great inspiration to keep going, even when you feel like your about to collapse! I’ve signed up to the Eden Project half marathon in aid of Children with Cancer UK (see my JustGiving page here) with my friend, so there was no going back!
3. Run with a friend
There are heaps of reasons to run with friends, here are some of my favourites: It’s great motivation to get out of bed in the morning and avoid hitting the snooze button in the morning. It’s the perfect distraction from the pain of when your legs feel like they’re about to explode. Your friends can help feedback on your running form to help you improve your distance and speed. It’s safer to run at night with a friend than it is to run on your own. Best of all, I always find my personal bests are when I’m running with a friend or have someone cycling alongside me.
4. Get a good training plan
Whether you’re training for a 5K or a marathon, find a plan that’s right for you. I signed up to a 12 week half marathon training plan after I’d been running for a couple months on Garmin but tend to jiggle my days around a bit. It’s important to plan meals to fuel your body for runs and help recover your muscles. I eat peanut butter on dry toast with banana before heading out, then a protein shake when I get home. Don’t forget to have your rest days so that your body can recover!
5. Fuel up and stay hydrated
It’s important to stay hydrated to run their best, especially in the summer. You should take in 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes during your runs. During longer workouts (90 minutes or more), some of your fluid intake should include a sports drink to replace lost sodium and other minerals.
I recommend Multicarbo® Energy Gels, they provide a time released carbohydrate mix for fast and sustained energy supply to boost your performance during intensive training, and Iso Drink, an isotonic drink mix with a special carbohydrate matrix, l-carnitine, minerals and BCAAs for optimum hydration and energy supply.
6. Warm up and cool down
Once we get revved up to run it’s tempting to shoot out the door at top speed. But heading out of the gates at full speed—without a proper warmup—is a recipe for disaster. Before any local road race, you’re bound to see hundreds of runners milling around, lightly stretching out their calves, hamstrings, and quads.
It’s not a good idea to stretch cold muscles, so don’t start with stretching. Do about 5-10 minutes of light aerobic exercise to loosen up your muscles and warm you up for your run. Try walking briskly, marching, jogging slowly, or cycling on a stationary bike. Make sure you don’t rush your warm-up.
Stretch fully after your cooldown. Your body should be warm and stretching should be easy. Stretch your lower back, neck, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and groin area. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
7. Importance of cross training
A well-rounded running routine doesn’t just mean time on the track and on the hills. Cross-training is when a runner trains by doing another kind of fitness workout such as cycling, swimming, a fitness class or strength training.
Whether you’re a beginner runner or an experienced marathoner, you can benefit from cross-training. These cross-training strength moves will help you run faster and reduce your risk of injury.
“Most important advice: just lace up your shoes, and get out the door. After that, it’s cake.” ~ Leo Babauta