Running your way to fitness

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Marathon Runner

Our latest article focuses on the exercise that is the simplest and, to my mind, the most effective way of keeping fit and healthy – running.

Whatever your level at the moment, running is an activity which always offers room for personal improvement as well as new challenges. If you are a regular at the Park Run, how about stepping up the distance to a 10k? If you have been road running for years, have a go at a trail run. For those who want to push even harder, look at moving to a tough mudder or even combine activities and go for a triathlon.

And training for running can be varied and fun as well. It is not just about churning out the miles on the road; add some sprint sessions, some weights sessions and some gruelling hill training to improve your performance and balance your training regime.

Here are some guidelines for getting the best out of your running, no matter what standard of runner you are.

For novice runners

The first thing to do is make sure you are kitted up correctly with a good pair of shoes – visit a running specialist such as Up and Running – some comfortable socks and running gear that fits well and doesn’t chafe anywhere.

Then it’s all about consistency. If you start with a gentle weekly routine and gradually build on your distance and speed, you will soon start to notice your progress. Using a treadmill is a great place for a novice runner to start, it gives you an idea of your speed and distance and, if you need to stop, you are in safe place.

For regular runners

When you have been running a while and feel confident, it is worth joining a running club or entering an event to boost your motivation. Running with different people, doing group training or setting specific targets are all ways that you can help move your running to the next level.

Try to mix your routine up as well. To improve your running, some time spent in the gym doing weights will improve your muscle strength and doing regular yoga sessions will stave off injuries.

women weight lifting

For running pros

If you are moving into the world of marathon and ultra marathon running, then you need to think beyond just running. Check out the conditions you are likely to encounter and train for them. If you are doing an ultra marathon, then train with a back-pack and make sure that pack has everything you are likely to need. If you are running in very different climatic conditions, such as desert or mountain, then get plenty of acclimatisation training in before-hand. Preparation is key to a successful event.

And finally…

As a runner, of any standard, you need a decent nutrition plan – this will help you stay healthy, train harder, recover quicker and perform better. Base your main meals on complex carbohydrates for energy and add a generous portion of vegetables and fruit for the vitamins and minerals you need. You also need protein for muscle repair and healthy fats that you get from nuts and seeds. And don’t forget to stay hydrated.