Getting into running

Now that most of our options for workouts have been canceled, everyone is looking for the one solution to stay active during these weird times. A happy coincidence for me, because I’ve never had so many of my friends getting into running! As it can be daunting to know where to start and how to get ‘better’ at it, I get a lot of questions about what to do. So I figured, why not dedicate an article to all the advice I have been given over the years, and all my experiences!

Starting from the beginning

Whether you’ve run the occasional 5k in the past, or are a total newbie in the running world, after a long period of rest or alternative training, it’s good to take care when you start running. There are many schedules available that will guide you towards a 5 or 10k. In the next article, I will discuss some good schedules and give some advice on what a balanced schedule looks like.

My first and foremost advice is: get proper running shoes and socks. Clothes don’t really matter, but the right shoes will prevent injuries and sport socks can spare you a lot of blistering. Once you get that fixed, you’ll want to go out and run!

Building stamina

Whether you decide to follow a schedule or not, your body will need to get used to running. There’s a few good tips that will help you to stay motivated and go further and faster.

  1. Add walking to your weekly schedule. It sounds really lame, but it will definitely help your legs and cardiovascular system to improve. Just add a walk of 5 to 10k once or twice a week, put on a nice podcast (about running for example) and move that ass in a nice active pace, just so you feel your heart rate rising and chatting is a little challenging after a while.
  2. Start using a running app on your phone or smart watch. The most rewarding feeling is when you see proof of getting fitter. The Strava app is my personal favourite (also for the segments you can challenge yourself and friends on), but the Nike Run Club or Runkeeper work quite well too. Start tracking your runs and enjoy seeing the distance increase, the time spent decrease or the average pace improve. (P.S. don’t like running with your phone? Do a benchmark run every week, running the same route in a pace that is doable for you. Check the time when you leave and get back home, you notice you’ll be getting faster after a while!)
  3. Incorporate interval training in your weekly plan. Even if you’re just starting out, it will be helpful if you use interval training once a week. With interval training, I mean running shorter blocks with limited walking time in between. If you are starting from zero, allow yourself time to build stamina and use plenty of walking breaks. Are you able to run about 3 or 4k in one go? Then try to do 10x 1 minute running with 90 seconds rest for example. No need to sprint, but you can try to run a little faster than usual.

Good to know

Most runners that start out feel like training was only successful if they come home exhausted, or if they ran as fast as they could. Sure, this type of training is helpful every now and then once you’ve gained some fitness, but especially when you start out, it’s really important to run ‘slow’ and take your time. Don’t worry if you walk the last 500 meters home and feel energised within a minute again, that’s good! Your body needs to adjust and your mind needs to remember that it can be fun! To give you an idea, most people find running between a 6:00 and 7:00 pace sufficiently challenging for most of their runs. That’s more or less between 10km and 8.5km per hour.

A warming up might seem redundant when you are doing a three km run, but take 10 minutes to warm up while walking, and do some active stretching (Google running warmup for countless videos). My personal preference is to do a cooling down by walking 1km home after my run. My body temperature gets to go down a bit, and I feel energised once I’m home, instead of remembering that I struggled to hit the 10K that day.

As a final advice, don’t be surprised if your abs start to feel a little sore or if your calves are a bit tight. This is very normal, and can be resolved with some TLC during the week. Try to incorporate some core exercises after your run (I will post a new article on a suitable -short- core workout soon), and treat yourself with a foam roller. This is heaven for your sore muscles (and also very welcome for your strained back and shoulders from sitting home all day without a proper work space ;).

Are you starting to run due to the coronavirus? Do you have any doubts, or happy moments to share? Let me know in the comments below! And if you want to read about something specific, ask away 🙂

Skipping the longest runs for now and working on speed on the 5K again!

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