As the weather warms up and the days get lighter, we’ll take any opportunity for fresh air we can get, whether that’s a steady jog or mixing it up with some Fartlek interval training. After all, time in the sun is proven to be good for your health.
But once you’ve got the hang of the tough mix of pacing yourself, breathing right and dodging others on the pavement, you could really learn to love it. So, whether you just want to incorporate more movement into your life, or are looking for a way out of your workout rut, we’ve got top tips that will help you make the most of running.
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RUNNING TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
COMMUNITY IS POWER
While joining a running isn’t an option right now, you can still find motivation from others. “Decide to go running with someone else in your household, or plan to go running at the same time as a friend two or three times a week, and message each other when you’re done,” advises runner and PT Georgie Okell. Not only will it keep you accountable, but you can discuss your technique and mindset on individual runs so you know how to improve.
Running coach Emma Kirk-Odunubi also recommends virtual communities: “There’s a bombardment of advice on social media, but checking in with communities like UK Run Chat, which is a page where your running questions can be answered, will motivate you.”
Take it slow
If you’re used to doing an intense 45 minute workout, a 30 minute run might sound easy. “People can get so demotivated when they’re struggling three minutes in,” says Emma. “Don’t be so hard on yourself and break yourself in slowly.”
Both Emma and Georgie recommend starting with intervals. That means running for one minute then walking for one minute for a total of 15 minutes, and working yourself up so you’re out for 20 minutes. “As your running fitness starts to improve, you can increase the running intervals and shorten the walking ones,” says Georgie.
Your workout playlist is essential regardless of the activity, but getting it right is even more important when running. In fact, Georgie actually recommends running without any music at all: “This might sound like hell on earth, but it’s really important to be able to hear how hard our feet are hitting the ground and how hard we are breathing. Try noticing how your body is responding and focusing on keeping your step and breathing light – you’ll be able to go further.”
If being alone with your own thoughts sounds too exposing right now, podcasts like the NHS Couch to 5k can help steer you along. If music really is your jam, Emma recommends finding a Spotify playlist that’s targeted to how fast you can go. “One ranging from 160-180bpm is roughly what you should aim for. Then you just need to make sure you’re running to the beat,” she says.
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Get the body ready
As well as the mind, you need to prep the body. “Your running gear doesn’t need to be super fancy, but a decent sports bra and a pair of trainers that haven’t been in the back of a cupboard for five years will make a real difference,” says Georgie. We’ve got all of that kit recommended on the Strong Women site and on our Instagram Stories highlights.
As well as what you put on your body, think about how you’re working with the muscles and joints inside. “Rather than pegging it straight out the front door, limber up, swing your legs out, move through a few squats, lunges, inchworms, so that your muscles aren’t going from a standing start,” she says. For Emma, that also means prepping the breath: “That is what will stop you the most. Try not to breathe from the top of your ribs and hold tension in your shoulders. Relax through the upper body and it will be easier for you.”
Set a goal
“I’ve noticed that during this time it’s been really important for me to have a goal. It makes you feel like you’re achieving something even though everything else is so out of our control,” says Emma. They can be small: getting out twice a week, running for five minutes without stopping. Or they can be long term: nailing a 10k by the end of the year. But having something to work towards will make pounding the pavement feel a little bit more worthwhile.
TRY OUR STRENGTH TRAINING FOR RUNNERS PLAN AT THE STRONG WOMEN TRAINING CLUB
Attention all runners, joggers and plodders: start your 14-day free trial at the Strong Women Training Club and join us for four weeks of Strength Training for Runners! Over the course of the plan, you’ll strengthen key running muscles, improve core control and work on any imbalances that may be causing injuries. It’s all bodyweight focused so don’t worry about having to buy any equipment. If you decide it’s not for you then cancel after 14 days without spending a penny. Get ready to run stronger!
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Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).