As summer getaways edge ever closer and the thought of digging out bikinis and swimming trunks long forgotten becomes increasingly daunting, many of us turn to the treadmill or the road to get ourselves feeling fit and confident for the holidays.
But whether you’re a complete beginner or a regular runner upping the ante, it’s important to understand your limits, just as much as when you should push yourself, to run faster and further than you ever have before. So, here are some of our top training tips to help you kick start your new fitness regime.
1. Don’t run before you can walk: This might sound counterintuitive, but often when you’ve been bitten by the running bug, the natural urge is to spend hours on your first ‘gentle jog’. At the risk of causing yourself serious injury or punishing your body so much you end up hating it, this is probably one of the worst things you could do to yourself. However, ailments and problems to arise, sometimes without fault, if this does happen, a recommended physical therapist will be able to nurse you back to full running health.
Slow and steady wins the race could not be more fitting. Take your time and slowly build up the miles in your legs. If you’ve never run before, start with a mile, or if you’re a regular runner, run a distance that you know you can finish. Once the aches have subsided (which can be helped through a qualified masseuse) from your first attempt, try and do the same distance again, but quicker. Only when you’ve mastered speed should you think about upping the distance.
2. You take care now: Whether you’re an amateur or a pro, it’s easy to twist or sprain something when attempting to add distance to your runs. Listen to your body – when it hurts, stop. A tight hamstring, aching calves or a niggling ankle means it’s time to take a break and let your body heal itself before hitting the road again. The same goes for simple fatigue – your body needs to rest after you exert yourself, so don’t be afraid to put your feet up!
3. It’s good to talk: One of the most difficult things to judge when starting out is how quickly to run or how hard to push yourself on those longer jaunts. A quick and easy rule is that when you’re running at marathon pace, you should still be able to hold a conversation without being out of breath. Why not find a running buddy to test yourself? Not only will your running improve, they’ll also be a welcome distraction from the road ahead.
4. You are what you eat: Nothing impacts your energy levels and performance during a run more than what you fuel yourself with, so avoid indulging on heavy foods such as red meat and fatty fried foods beforehand (though feel free to treat yourself in moderation afterwards!).
According to nutritionists, the best sources of energy are slow-release carbs like brown pasta or bread, cream cheese, white protein (a.k.a. chicken) or sweet potatoes, but beware – even the good stuff can give you stitches if you don’t give your body enough time to digest and absorb the nutrients. Two hours is normally a good gap to leave.
It’s also essential that you keep hydrated during your run, so take some water or an energy drink with you*.
*Note – they won’t make up for a lack of energy.
5. Spice things up: Even for the most experienced runners, a few hours of the same scenery can get a little monotonous for anyone. To help you stay focused, not to mention giving yourself a chance to develop different running muscles and improve performance, change things up. Sprints on a treadmill at the gym or in a park and hill running to boost incline performance are just as helpful as a quick jog around the block to warm down after a long run.
There are some great experts available on Bark.com too if you want a little extra help!
For more Bark.com top tips, why not check out our other blogs?
Got your own suggestions for getting in shape this summer? Give us a bark and let us know!