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Run for your life

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Author: Will Mbanga, Posted: Thursday, 26th September 2019, 09:00

Running is probably the easiest form of exercise to access for the majority of us, and given the beautiful green spaces in Gloucestershire, there is the added incentive of not having to run on roads and breathe car fumes!

As a coach, I find myself torn between celebrating the fact that I see people out running, and not stopping people to correct their poor or dangerous technique. Running is a skill and the more efficiently you perform it, the better your fitness outcomes, as well as reduced risk of injury.

In the interests of not embarrassing myself, I would rather share some tips, particularly to beginners and recreational runners, to help make your running more enjoyable and biomechanically efficient (i.e. reducing the risk of injury), while helping you get fitter and lose weight faster.

Start with your foundation

It is well worth finding a Podiatrist or having a Gait Analysis assessment done to find the most effective type of running shoe or inserts for you. Having a pair of running shoes that fit you, while providing your feet and ankles with appropriate support, is critical.

Most specialist sports retailers will have an advisor who can help fit you with the right shoe; making the investment in at least one pair of dedicated running shoes will be a game changer for your feet.

Take some lessons

Once your foundation is taken care of, you will need to brush up on or take some lessons in running technique to minimise injury risk, which at the same time will also improve running performance and help you reach your associated fitness goals (weight loss, Charity Run, etc.)

A running coach can help with this and ensure that you know what your ideal technique looks and feels like, as well as giving you a few drills that you can perform in your own time to reinforce good running mechanics.

For beginners, a good place to start is exactly where you are. It may be as simple as a brisk walk, slowly building up to ‘walk to one lamp post, jog to the next’. Then you can move on to jogging around the ‘block’ or your local park.

You can run for time or to cover a certain distance. For example, 20 minutes of running 3-4 times a week is a good start. Or perhaps you can aim to run 1km without stopping, then 2km and so on.

Once you begin, remember that consistency is key. Start and maintain a comfortable pace and build up speed, distance or time gradually, with the aim of achieving your target time or distance without stopping. Along with a good warm-up routine and efficient technique, this will help you reduce injury risk and allow you to make progress.

Up the intensity

Running buddies are a great source of support and accountability, but remember, everyone’s fitness journey is different. As you become more experienced and comfortable with running, it is important that you up the intensity. This may mean you end up out-running your training partner and you have to go it alone.

While running at a pace that feels good for you will enable you to run longer distances, eventually the body will adapt and any initial gains in fitness or weight-loss will no longer continue accruing.

My recommendation for this next phase is to “get comfortable being uncomfortable”. Happy trails!

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