They say that a runner’s high can be an addictive one. Getting started can be daunting. We’ve put together a beginners guide to running that will get you moving in no time, as well as some handy information to ensure that you don’t experience any dreaded injuries.
Beginners seven-week running programme
|Monday||Walk for 2 min, run for 1 min 6 times (18 min)||Walk for 2 mins, run for 2 min 5 times (20 min)||Walk for 1 min, run for 3 min 5 times (20 min)||Walk for 1 min, run for 5 min 4 times (24 min)||Walk for 1 min, run for 6 mins 4 times (28 min)||Walk for 1 min, run for 8 mins 3 times (27 min)||Walk for 1 min, run for 9 mins 3 times (30 mins)|
|Wednesday||Walk for 2 mins, run for 1 min 6 times (18 min)||Walk for 2 mins, run for 2 mins 5 times (20 min)||Walk for 1 min, run for 3 mins 5 times (20 min)||Walk for 1 min, run for 5 mins 4 times (24 min)||Walk for 1 min, run for 6 mins 4 times (28 min)||Walk for 1 min, run for 8 mins 3 times (27 min)||Walk for 1 min, run for 9 mins 3 times (30 mins)|
|Friday||Walk for 2 min, run for 1 min 6 times (18 min)||Walk for 2 min, run for 2 mins 5 times (20 min)||Walk for 1 min, run for 3 mins 5 times (20 min)||Rest, run for 6 mins||Walk for 1 min, run for 8 mins 4 times (28 min)||Walk for 1 min, run for 8 mins 3 times (27 min)||Walk for 2 mins, run for 12 mins, then rest for 1 min. Repeat (30 mins)|
|Sunday||30-min brisk walk||35-min brisk walk||45-min brisk walk.||2.4 km timed run. Choose a pace that is slightly harder than usual, but not all out. Record your time.||1-hour brisk walk including eight 3-min jogs||Walk for 8 min, jog for 10 mins, then rest for 2 mins. Repeat (40 min)||Run for 20 mins!|
Preventing running injuries
The good news is injuries are preventable. Matt Geister has 20 years’ experience as a manipulative physiotherapist, looking after sporting teams and high-profile athletes. Here, he explains what the main causes of injuries are and how to avoid them.
- Lack of flexibility. It’s important to warm up properly and do some stretches after a run. Pushing tight muscles too hard will cause them to tear, especially when fatigued.
- Lack of strength. Runners need core strength and pelvic stability. Pay attention to the gluteus medius – the muscle used to kick sidewards. To work it, lie on the floor and do sideways leg raises. Or try one-legged squats – stand next to a wall, raise your inside knee and press it against the wall, slowly moving up and down.
- Ignoring the pain. It’s possible to run through injuries such as tendonitis, but you’ll end up with a more serious injury. If you’re wincing, it’s time to rest.
- Environment. Hard surfaces like concrete don’t give, so opt to run on grass or sand as they’ll absorb the impact. But ensure these surfaces are flat as running on the arch of wet sand can cause imbalances in the body, leading to pulled muscles and lower-back problems.
- Overtraining. About 90% of running injuries are a result of over-training. People get excited about the idea of running and run long distances when their joints and muscles aren’t used to it. Start by running short distances and gradually increase your distance over time.
- Incorrect footwear. Some people’s feet roll slightly in (pronate) or out (supinate) when they run. If this is severe, running shoes can correct it. If you’re a pronator and are wearing shoes for a supinator (or vice versa), this will lead to injuries such as tendonitis and muscle pulls. See a specialist retailer for a correct fitting.
How to getting better at running
- Intervals. Anyone doing any sort of cardio activity can include intervals in their training. It helps you get fitter faster and also burns more kilojoules since your metabolic rate remains elevated, even during recovery jog periods. Introduce bursts of speed into training runs, try to catch the runner or walker in front or sprint to the next lamppost. If you’re with a group of people, a fun way to work speed into your session is to run crocodiles. Jog in single file and have the back runner sprint to the front. Keep repeating this until you arrive home.
- Long, steady runs. To build up your stamina and endurance levels, gradually extend the duration – not the speed – of your runs. Maintain a comfortable pace – and remember, you should be able to chat.
- Hill running. Good for working on speed and acceleration, but coming downhill afterwards can be quite jarring on the knees and hips.
- Treadmills. Treadmills are useful for keeping up your cardiovascular fitness; however, it is a different action to running on the ground because it requires less power to accelerate yourself forward. Having said that, treadmills provide bounce, protection from bad weather and a chance to observe your posture and style in the mirror. Use the treadmill on a 1% to 2% incline, so that it replicates running outdoors more accurately.
The best music for running
For long distance runs:
- Eye of the Tiger, Survivor.
- Gonna Fly Now, Rocky theme.
Getting up killer hills:
- Lose Yourself, Eminem
- Living on a Prayer, Bon Jovi.
- Crazy in Love, Beyonce
- Pump It, The Black Eyed Peas
For leisurely jogs:
- I Feel Good, James Brown
- Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison
Sports psychologists say there are two types of exercisers — associators and disassociators. The latter group finds music invaluable and research by Dr Costas Karageorghis from Brunel University in England shows it can help non-elite athletes put in up to 20% more effort without realising it.
Dr Karageorghis found that one of the most important elements is a song’s tempo. It should be between 120 and 140 beats per minute, which coincides with the temp of most dance music and the average person’s heart rate during a run. Visit run2r.com to find compilations that will help you run further.