It’s that time of year again – that time of year when the sun comes out and everyone starts thinking about looking their best. And realises they need to get fit!
Running is one of the absolute best ways of getting fit – it’s free, requires no special equipment (apart from a pair of trainers and we pretty much all have those anyway, right?) and you can do it any time, any place, anywhere. But if your 20s are a distant memory and you’ve had a couple of kids, you might not know where to start. Can you really just get out there and start running?
Weight loss and calories are stuff
The right kit
You can run in pretty much any shorts or jogging bottoms and T-shirt. It’s not necessary to have expensive gear. But if you’re serious and can afford it, specialist shorts, leggings, vests etc help to regulate your temperature and are more comfortable to run in. A sports bra is a good investment too, especially if you’re big-breasted.
I don’t warm up. This is probably a bad idea. If you go to an aerobics class, the warm up is often a gentle jog, so I see the running as a warm up in itself. If you’re new to running, it’s probably sensible to warm up. There is plenty of advice online.
Find a route
Think about how far you want to run and work out a route. Try to avoid too many hills, unless you particularly want to run up hills. You could even measure it in the car. Vary your route if you get easily bored, but it can be harder that way to stick to a particular distance.
Set yourself targets and build up gradually. The first time you run, you will probably think, ‘I can’t run!’. You will be out of breath early on, but that’s the worst part. Once you’re moving, you don’t usually get any more out of breath.After just three or four runs you will build up strength and stamina. Plan to run a mile first time. Maybe you will walk half of it. By your fourth time you may be able to run the lot. So build it up to a mile and half. And so on.If you are already running long distances, you will be able to build up your distance in bigger chunks, adding on maybe two miles at a time. Theoretically, if you can comfortably run eight miles, you can do a half marathon. But I wouldn’t really recommend running a half marathon without doing the distance in training.
Food and drink
It is possible to run before breakfast if you intend to do no more than three miles, but generally I would recommend eating before you run. Always give yourself time afterwards for the food to go down – a minimum of an hour.If you suffer from IBS or similar problems, or there are foods which you know lie heavily in your stomach, avoid them before running! Anything which feels uncomfortable normally will feel a lot more uncomfortable when running.Make sure you have a drink before you run and if you are running a reasonable distance, take a drink with you. You can use a special hand-held bottle or carry it on a running belt.
Always go to the toilet before you set off – both sorts.Running can make you need a number 2 and, while it is less likely to make you need a wee, running on a partially full bladder can make you very uncomfortable.If you’re going a long distance, make a mental note of the public toilets and if they’re not always well-stocked, carry some antibacterial hand gel and a few tissues in your pocket.
If you’re the sort of person who needs a challenge, why not train for a race? If you’re new to running, you could sign up for a 5k or a charity run in a few months’ time. If you want to step up your game, try a 10k or even a half marathon. A half marathon or marathon is a big commitment and you will need to run long distances regularly to prepare. Think about how this will fit into your life. If you can’t do it now, consider it for when the kids are a bit older and all at school.
Running with friends
If you lack motivation, you can try running with a friend. This is something I’ve never done, because I like the freedom of just being able to go when it suits me and my family. A friend can help motivate you, help you stay safe and can help relieve boredom. But choose the right friend – if your friend is always busy, always tired, always got a headache, it could mean you’re not going out to run because of her.You could also run with very small friends of the human or canine variety (I’ve never tried either of these). Running with the right sort of buggy will provide you with a good workout, give you the flexibility to run without worrying about childcare and could even get your child to sleep (result!). A lot of people run with their dogs and find they are great motivators. Dogs can help you stay safe and it also means you don’t have to find more time to walk them later.You may also be able to find a running club nearby, including clubs for beginners or women only. This is good for motivation, but if you are serious about your fitness, you will need to run at other times too.
In all my years of running, I have never felt threatened or at risk. But you still need to think about your safety. Think about where you are running and when. The local park is great in the day time, but is it still great at 6am or 11pm? Does your run take you through any ‘bad areas’ and is it possible to avoid them? Always run with your phone – you can get an armband or belt to carry it. This is important in case you get injured en route.
Aches and pains
You will ache after a run, probably the first few times, then your body will adjust. When you increase your distance, it will ache again, before adjusting again. If anything aches particularly badly after three or four days, rest it. If it’s still hurting, see your GP or a private physiotherapist.Other activities can affect your running. If you’re used to cycling, swimming or aerobics, your running shouldn’t be affected by them. But if you suddenly introduce something new into your routine, that can affect your legs and therefore your running for a few days. Even switching from flats to high heels, or the other way round, can give you unexpected aches and pains.
Once you get used to running, you shouldn’t feel tired. In fact, you should feel the complete opposite. You will feel more motivated, more awake, more alert and happier.Although when you get to very long distances, of around eight miles and over, your body is likely to feel tired. After a run of this length, housework or playing with the kids, might feel more exhausting than usual.
Stuff you won’t have thought of
Look after your toenails and keep them trimmed. Who knew toenails could ache? They can and they do. Make sure you’re comfortable before you run – tip any bits of gravel out of your trainers and make sure your knickers aren’t going to get stuck up your bum! These things might be minor irritants for the first mile or so, but they can get really annoying after 10 miles!
Running is fun, relaxing, cheap and easy, so just relax and enjoy it.These tips should work for anyone of a healthy weight in reasonable fitness. If you have just had a baby, haven’t exercised for a very long time or are very overweight, it’s best to speak to a doctor before starting to run.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://www.boorooandtiggertoo.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Mumofthreeworld.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Sarah blogs at http://mumofthreeworld.com | She is also a freelance writer | Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahMo3W[/author_info] [/author]