If this year’s ASICS London 10K is your first race, or maybe just your first in a while then you’ll need to walk before you can run – quite literally. ASICS FrontRunner and personal trainer Ania is here to help though.
How do we start? Simple – by putting on some running trainers, stepping out the door, placing one foot in front of the other and moving a little faster than walking pace. VOILA! You’re now officially a runner! Whether you’re a complete beginner or it’s your first race, we’re here to help you.
At the start you shouldn’t stress on running the entire distance in one go. Use the walk/run/walk method – walk for 2 minutes, run for 2 minutes and then again walk. You can gradually build into longer intervals of running and decrease your walking time. Build it up slowly and don’t be ashamed to walk. Everyone starts somewhere and we’ve all been there. Soon you’ll be able to run the distance with only a short amount of walking and then you’ll be able to run the entire distance.
Find your comfortable running pace and don’t start off too fast. We all have a comfortable pace – this is a speed where we can jog and chat casually without being out of breath. It’s very easy to start off running too fast, so we need to reign this in before you overexert yourself, which could lead to injuries. Our bodies need to adapt, which may take some time. However, this will build a stronger running base long-term. Be patient.
Remember that this is a lot of stress on the body if you’re a beginner. Even if the first run went well, give your body some time to recover. Try not to get too enthusiastic and train every day. Let your body adapt and build your fitness slowly. Always remember to stretch after your runs and also to refuel and hydrate.
Warm Up and Recover Right
Warm up and recovery are extremely important, whether you’re a beginner or a professional, make sure you warm up and do dynamic stretches before your run. Once you’ve finished, keep the body moving by walking or shaking out. Three examples of recovery techniques are:
- Using a foam roller
- Sports massage
- Ice bath
- Epsom Salts bath
These will help reduce muscle pain, inflammation and soreness.
Drinking plenty of fluids will help flush out any lactic acid, and reduce post-workout soreness, so drink up!
Nail Technique and Form
Pay attention to your technique. Make sure you’re landing softly on your feet, not over striding and relaxing your upper body. As you relax your shoulders you should have a natural swing in the arms, which helps to rotate the hips. Short, easy steps are the way forward. Gradually you’ll be able to build into longer, faster strides.
If you’re training for your first race then why not attempt the length of the course with the walk/run/walk method to get a feel for the distance and time on your feet? For example if you’re running your first 10k then see how long it takes you to walk/run 6 miles or 10 kilometres and set that as a goal to beat each time. Once you build your running stamina that time should start to decrease and will give you an amazing sense of achievement and also an indication on how you are doing. Eventually you should be able to run the entire distance without stopping. However, do not stress if you do need to stop and walk. We’ve all done it!
Try Different Terrain
Make sure you invest in some decent road shoes, as well as trail trainers. Mixing up your running surfaces will make you a stronger runner. Running on road or a pavement is good for faster running and you’re less likely to sprain your ankle. However, it’s tough on the joints. Don’t just pound the pavements. Mix up your terrain with some trail running. Running through the woods or parks provides cushioning, although take note that you should only do this during the day where it is clear to see where you’re stepping. It can be dangerous to run in the woods and parks with poor visibility because of roots, tree trunks, rocks and rabbit holes. Stay safe. Another option is a treadmill. Remember that most people run differently on a treadmill to the outside, so gait analysis that are done in the shops are never accurate. The treadmill is also great for interval and speed training; I highly suggest you try this out if you don’t have access to a running track. Another positive of the treadmill is the belt has a shock absorber, so it’s a lot easier on the joints and helps you land softly.
Don’t Forget to Cross-Train
As a beginner it’s very easy to get caught up in just running. The reality is we all need to cross-train. This can be anything from swimming to boxing and yoga. Strength training is a great way to build muscle to protect the joints and will also help you build strength in your legs and glutes for any hill work. Classes such as pilates are fantastic for strengthening your core and improving your posture. Having a strong core is crucial for a runner to prevent injuries. Only doing abdominal crunches is not the answer, you need to strengthen your back as well as your front.
Some people hate stretching and usually struggle with flexibility. How about a yoga class? As well as stretching and building flexibility, yoga is a great way to clear your mind and relax. If you have time I suggest pilates and yoga at least twice a week. If you don’t want to go to a class then have a look on YouTube. It’s amazing what you can find online.
Every Race is Different
If you are attempting your first 10k then also bear in mind not all races are the same. You’ll have 10k races with uphills, downhills and windy roads. Also remember trail races will take a little longer to complete due to the terrain and constantly looking where you are going. If you find you didn’t enjoy your first race then don’t give up! If you’ve put in the hard work then set out to complete a different race with different terrain, a different medal and at a different time of year. Weather, terrain, goodie bags, crowd support and most importantly health make a huge difference on race day. So if that 10k didn’t go to plan then try again and don’t be defeated!
Make It ‘Me’ Time
Last but not least HAVE FUN!! Remember running shouldn’t feel like a chore. Yes, the race may seem like a challenge but the feeling you’ll get stepping over that finish line is euphoric. It’s a gift just to be able to run, so embrace it. It’s also a great way to spend time with family and friends, so find someone to go out and run with. Also remember you can use it as ME time. Pop in some headphones press play on your playlist or podcast and zone out. It’s just you, the road and a journey to becoming a great runner.