GOING for a jog can seem like a really horrible way to spend an hour.
Your thighs hurt. Your lungs scream. You think you’ve ripped something in your ankle.
But you know what? We’re all born to run – it’s just a case of finding the motivation, learning the right posture and getting the proper gear.
While no one’s expecting you to go on a 24-hour jog, that does mean that your local 5K Parkrun or Simplyhealth 10K race is well within your capabilities – if you're willing to build up to it and you know what you’re doing.
Laura "Biceps" Hoggins, PT and founder of the brand new podcast Biceps & Banter, has just run the London Marathon.
“Historically, I haven’t had a fantastic experience with it,” Laura told The Sun.
“I started off running to try to lose weight.
"It was easy, it was free, I could just run wherever I decided, headphones in and off I went."
But, she says, it took "focus and dedication" to go from a Strongwoman to a marathon runner – and although she didn't always enjoy the process, it was well worth the work.
“We are all unique, and running doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but you have to start to see how far you can get!”
With that in mind, here’s a few top tips to get you started…
1. The hardest part is getting through the door
A gym fiend, PT Laura Hoggins says that she wouldn’t describe herself as a “runner”.
“It can feel like the most daunting thing in the world getting started,” Laura says.
“We think of so many reasons why we ‘can’t’, so just focus on lacing up and walking out the front door, the rest will follow.
"While you’re out there, you may as well give it a go!”
2. One foot in front of the other
“There may come a time where running feels harder than usual," Laura adds.
"That’s totally normal but try not to think of the run as one big task.
“Maybe try to break it down in your head.
"Just running to the next traffic light, just one more minute…and before you know it, it all adds up and you're closer to your finish line!”
3. Invest in strength and mobility
Being a PT, Laura is really invested in ensuring we are all the strongest versions of ourselves – both mentally and physically.
She says that strength is massive for helping runners stay injury-free.
“Body weight squats and lunges, core and upper body resistance work can really help improve your posture, enabling you to run with a little more efficiency.
"Remember to run tall, and keep that little brace in the abs.”
You can do that by looking up (it's tempting just to look at the pavement!), retracting your shoulders so that they're pinned back and aren't bunched up by your ears and making sure that you're switching on your core muscles.
4. Choose the right kit
“There is nothing worse than embarking on your running journey and realising five seconds into the run you have chosen the wrong bra!" Laura says.
“I definitely did this, so make sure how you feel in your kit doesn't distract you. No one cares if you are wearing Primark or Varley! Run with confidence.”
For real support, we love Shock Absorber’s Ultimate Run Bra, £43 from Very.
Choosing the right trainers is also very important. They can be the difference between keeping all your toenails and losing most of them.
Inadequate support can also lead to painful conditions like shin splints, sore knees and hips.
If you’re running on the road (it’s free!), then we particularly like Brooks Levitate 2 Road Running Shoes (£140). They come in a variety of snazzy colours and have a 90-day trial run. If you’re not 100 per cent satisfied, you can return them for free.
And registered physiotherapist Jenny Blizard agrees that getting the right stash is crucial.
Speaking on behalf of Simplyhealth, title partner of the Simplyhealth Great Run Series, she says that the biggest investment you need to make is a decent pair of socks and some proper trainers.
“I’d definitely recommend getting some running socks and going for a gait analysis, which ensures you’ve got the right shoe,” she tells The Sun.
“This is something people can access now through services such as the Simplyhealth Active Plan. Shoes and socks are the two things that are either going to make or break you.
“If you’ve not got the right shoes or socks then that’s going to cause blisters which are going to stop you from being able to continue to run.”
BORN TO RUN
HUMANS were born to run.
If that sounds ridiculous, consider this: humans are the only animal in the world who can keep on running for hours without collapsing from heat exhaustion.
Sure, many animals can outrun us over a short distance, but because they tend to have fur, they just get hotter and hotter.
We, on the other hand, sweat.
And that sweat enables us to keep going without keeling over from heat exhaustion.
“Humans are terrible athletes in terms of power and speed, but we’re phenomenal at slow and steady,” says Harvard anthropology professor, Daniel Lieberman.
“We’re the tortoises of the animal kingdom.“We can run in conditions that no other animal can run in.”
5. Run with purpose
One of the things that puts loads of people off running is the idea that they can’t run. So to get started, you need to set yourself realistic goals.
“Choose to power walk for 10 minutes two or three times a week, and build from there,” says Laura.
“Maybe next week, start to build up to a brisk jog and aim to stop as few times as possible.
"I like to give myself a task to think about when I am running, a challenge to tackle.
“You could decide to think about someone, dedicate a minute of thought to a person in your life, or maybe just decide to clear your mind of everything and let being active and moving because you love how it makes you feel.”
6. Avoid doing too much too soon – enjoy it!
Not only can running feel overwhelming if you do too much too soon but it can also take a massive toll on your body.
Going from 0-100 is responsible for so many injuries. Your best bet is to build your distance up little by little and make sure that you’re doing other exercises to strengthen your bones and protecting muscles.
“People sometimes have a tendency to try and do too much all at once,” Jenny says.
“If you can make the effort to do 0-5K three times a week, you’ll start to enjoy it more at which point you can start adding in more, such as Pilates and yoga classes.”
7. Pace yourself
"A 5K for some people is still a long way. I still get it wrong sometimes and set off too fast!" Jenny says.
"It’s better setting off slowly and getting your breathing right so you feel like you can last the full distance."
Don't worry if other people are setting off much faster than you. The best pace to set off at is the same at which you feel you could still talk.
Then if you get half way round and you think you could go a bit faster, start to pick up the pace.
If you can, try to take someone out for a jog with you or maybe give someone a call on your handsfree set (best done in a park as you don't want to be distracted while running on roads).
8. Get a health check before you start running
If you already know you’ve got problems or any aches or pains, it’s definitely worth getting those checked by a physio first.
If they’re there to start with, then it’s likely that they’re going to present themselves at some point along the line.
Jenny recommends: “If you’re new to running, it’s also worth having a health check – looking at things like cholesterol and blood pressure – to make sure you’re healthy when you start training.
“Simplyhealth have recently launched an Active Plan for runners, which provides access to these services.”
9. Have something to look forward to
It’s easy to jump out of bed on a sunny weekend morning and go for a little jog but when it’s early and cold outside, you might be less enthusiastic.
That’s when you need to have a treat lined up.
It could be a glass of wine and a hot bath, or your favourite dinner. Or maybe it’s booking yourself a massage at the end of the week – anything concrete that you can look forward to and help motivate you.
10. Get your playlist sorted
?♀️? BICEPS & BANTER | The Podcast, it’s finally here!!! Biceps gets her very own Podcast powered by @fitbituk_ireland ?? link in bio! Behind the scenes I’ve been putting in the work, making some dreams come into a reality and I am so excited it’s now LIVE -and you can now SUBSCRIBE to the first episode which will be released on Tuesday! I’ve been able to interview SO many incredible guests, men and women who inspire me or represent strength and resilience in many different ways. . This is my first podcast series of Biceps & Banter, and there will be a new episode dropping every week for the next 8 weeks!!! I want to take this opportunity to thank the team at @fitbituk_ireland we have been working together for a while, I’m a genuine supporter of the brand and my Fitbit is an extension of my daily life. . . Big up to my manager @noramillar the best in the land @found_entertainment and the gang at @mags.creative for delivering it, they really are incredible, I can’t wait to start this journey. . . #BicepsandBanter #PoweredbyFitbit
A post shared byLAURA ‘BICEPS’ (@laurabiceps) on
There’s nothing like a banging playlist to see you through a run.
There are plenty of running-specific lists on Spotify designed to accommodate runners of every speed.
Or if you want to be inspired at every step, you could listen to Laura’s podcast which sees her celebrate the stories of physical and mental resilience with extraordinary men and women. The Well Far: The Running Podcast by Women’s Health Digital Editor Amy Hopkinson is also essential listening to anyone thinking about pacing the streets.
It’s packed full of tips, tricks and inspo.
11. Keep a record of your success
Don’t feel like you’re making progress? Download Strava and keep a track of your runs.
As Laura says “if you’re not assessing, you’re guessing” – and having a tally of your activity will help you improve on speed, endurance and pacing.
It’ll also be hugely helpful on your down days when you see just how many runs you’ve done and how many miles you’ve run over the past few weeks/months/years.
12. Book a race
OK, this might sound scary if you’ve literally just started but trust us, there’s nothing like a race to get you feeling motivated and part of something.
Races aren't actually competitive – they're just a communal event where the only person who cares about your time is you.
There are free 5K Parkruns every Saturday at parks across the country and you can take them as seriously or not as you want.
For something a little longer, there’s the Simplyhealth series of 10K and half marathons starting this weekend in Manchester and going on to Birmingham, Newcastle and Aberdeen.
You can find out more here.
Simplyhealth are supporting runners and their families every step of the way with the launch of the Simplyhealth Active Plan. For more information visitwww.simplyhealth.co.uk/health-plans/active
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