Running has become a very popular pastime and a lot of people are getting on board as part of new year's resolutions to get fit. Whether your goal is a 5 or 10K run (Sun Run, perhaps?) here are Karen Nichol's tips for starting a successful running program.
ASSESS - Are you ready to run? If there any nagging little lower body injuries that have been bothering you on a daily basis - maybe some knee pain with stairs, squatting, twisting? - a visit to an experienced physiotherapist can ensure you will not be doing further damage by beginning a new exercise routine.
PREPARE - Some simple core exercises that can be done before starting a running program will help not only in preventing injury but also in improving your performance. Try planks, side planks and single leg dead lifts.
GET FITTED - Make sure you have the right shoe for your foot shape and strike pattern. Small, independent running stores tend to have the edge on this with their experienced and professional staff members. My local faves include Fit First in Burnaby or The Runners' Den in Port Moody.
HAVE A PLAN - There are many structured run programs available now via online sites, phone apps and in person at running stores or rec centres. Download the 13-week Sun Run training program here. If you are coming off an injury, visit a physiotherapist who is experienced in running and let them help you create and succeed with your goals.
FIND A GROUP OR PARTNER - In addition to making it way more fun, having someone to be accountable to minimizes your odds of skipping a workout. Put these workouts into your calendar just like you would a work meeting and treat it as such. FIt First and The Runners' Den both offer great structured running clinics from the beginner to the advanced runner. These include 5 km, 10 km, half & full marathon programs.
GET ACCLIMATED - Expect that in the beginning of any exercise program your body is going to experience all sorts of new sensations, various aches and pains as well as an overall sense of feeling “wiped”. This is when most beginner runners give up. Keep in mind that these are all normal sensations and understand that it takes up to 4-6 weeks to acclimate to a new activity. Your awareness of these preliminary effects can help you fight through this phase and before you know it you will get through the worst and feel stronger than ever.
ENJOY THE PROCESS - Whether it’s getting that new pair of sneaks, buzzing along a trail listening to your favorite tune, feeling the aches from a hard workout or crossing that finish line, enjoy all of it! Running isn’t just about reaching that 10 km goal (although that’s great!) it’s also about connecting with your body, nature and new friends. Now, doesn’t that sound fun!