Running is a great activity for anyone trying to get fit. It is free and reduces risk of heart diseases and diabetes and requires very little equipment. If you are just starting out you will need a comfy pair of running shoes, a well-fitting sports bra, music, a training partner and a willingness to be fit.
Where to run?
As a beginner pick a location that appeals to your senses. Find a place with dirt paths or grass and stay away from pavements.
When running up a hill, shorten your strides and pump your arms. This strengthens your legs and burns calories faster. When going downhill let gravity do all the work while you lean slightly forward.
Running on a treadmill is perfectly fine too. Training indoors minimises the chance of injury while enhancing your form as a runner.
What should I eat?
Eat plenty of protein to rebuild muscles, and healthy high energy foods like whole grains, vegetables and plenty of fruits.
If you are running for weight-loss, remember that diet is key. A well balanced diet will help you achieve your ideal weight while running will help you maintain it and tone your body in the process.
Start by planning a training schedule
1. Start small (20 minute runs)
Do not be too ambitious when starting out. Ease into it and increase your pace as you go. Focus on the minutes instead of the miles you need to run.
2. Adopt the run-walk method.
Pioneered by the Olympian Jeff Galloway, the method eases you into running and minimises injury by giving your body ample recovery time. Start by running for 30 seconds then walking for two minutes. Then move on to running for 1-5 minutes and walking for two minutes. You will notice that you will start covering more ground in less time, when this happen, increase the time from 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Train time should be three days a week. Go for short runs twice a week and a longer run on the third day.
4. When not running, do a bit of cross training e.g. soccer, swimming, golf or yoga. Focus mostly on activities that will tax other muscles not utilised while running.
Always rest after a workout for the muscles to repair themselves.
5. Your running pace should be easy enough to allow you to have a conversation without losing your breath.
6. Set a realistic goal to remain motivated – Identify a marathon you want to run in and start practicing with it in mind. Most beginners start with a 5kilometre race.
What to expect
• Sore legs – this will subside if you continue with your work out. If it is too painful, stop for a couple of days to recover. This is to avoid injuries because a healthy runner is better than an injured runner.
• You will be out of breath the first time. The short runs twice a week should increase your cardiovascular strength.
• Side stitches – these are caused by lack of oxygen in your gastrointestinal muscles. Slow your pace and bend at the waist while exhaling hard until it subsides. Also avoid eating heavy food 2 hours before a workout.
Tip: Breath in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth when running.