Starting your training
Don't run before you walk! A common problem with many novice runners is that they leave their front door and sprint as fast as they can. By the time they reach the end of the road they're red faced and puffing on the floor, muscles feeling like lead and thinking, 'I knew it, it's no good, I can't do this running'. They give up and drag themselves home, exhausted, disappointed and dejected.
Walk the walk
If you haven't done any exercise for a while – don't panic. Spend the first few weeks of your new regime regularly walking (yes, that's right, walking!) and build up until you feel confident and competent enough to break into short periods of jogging with regular walk breaks. Depending on your fitness levels, or how you feel, you can very the length of time you walk and run. Gradually lengthen the time you spend jogging and shorten the time you spend walking until you can keep going without stopping for 30minutes on 3 to 5 days a week.
Build routine and consistency first
There are no hard and fast rules about how long to run for: it's all down to personal circumstances, motivation, fitness levels and goals. What does matter is that a little running is better than none at all. It takes time for your fitness levels to improve and don't expect miracles over night. After about 3-4 weeks you should start to notice some differences in how you look and feel. The investment into consistency really is well worth it and will lay the foundations for when you really start to think about your half marathon build up.
From steps to strides
- Be gentle, start slowly. Don't be too ambitious and expect to run before you can walk.
- Be smart. Build up progressively. Slowly add extra minutes to your walk / walk-jog / run.
- Take walking breaks. Don't be afraid to stop and walk.
- Do it regularly. Establish a routine. Protect the time to run.
- Focus on frequency first, then build duration then introduce some intensity as the weeks progress.
- Get a running buddy. Double your motivation by running the event with a friend.
- Once you've started your running programme, don't stop! Keep up momentum.
- Plan your route - know where you are to go. Set yourself a target
- Always check with your GP before starting a new exercise programme.
Warming up and cooling down
Before embarking on your regular run it's important to warm up appropriately to reduce the risk of soreness and injury. This also helps get you focused and raring to go. As a general rule include 5-10minutes of very light activity (walking/jogging) and some gentle joint and muscle mobility exercises. Give your body time to cool down and recover after each workout. Some simple stretching or pilates exercises will help increase flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.
Make the time
The thought of finding extra time to fit in a walk, walk-run or run into an already overbooked and busy life may sound chilling but you'll be surprised at how simple it can be to fit a run into your day. Going for that run will revitalize, invigorate and refresh you, helping you to continue to juggle your daily tasks better. Try running early, before you do anything else, or at lunchtime, or immediately after work before going home.
Ringfencing Run Tips
- Take control: Prioritise what is important to you and spend time doing it,
- Don't feel guilty about going for a run,
- Create boundaries around your running time,
- Be creative and flexible with your schedule,
- Find a time slot that works for you and stick to it.
Staying motivated and sticking with the plan!
Becoming a successful half marathon runner is a mixture of patience and persistence! It doesn't happen overnight! You will experience highs and lows in your journey. Enjoy the highs, accept and learn from the lows. Set yourself realistic, challenging, rewarding and achievable targets. Evaluate your progress and be confident in your ability. Set yourself an aim or a target each time you leave to exercise.
Don't be daunted by the challenge you have set yourself! Get out and get started and you'll soon find that once you get into it you'll actually want to go for your run. Each time you do leave the front door run with purpose, passion and intent. Do it because you can and you want to. It helps to have a reason to run. Stay focussed by reminding yourself why running is important to you, why it's important to complete a half marathon and believe you can do it!