Signed up for the City to Surf and haven’t a clue how to start training/just really, really suck at running and kinda wish you hadn’t done this to yourself? Rather than trying to wing it (read: death sentence) or ‘washing your hair’ that day, we have a few quick and easy tips to help you get on track (pun intended!).
See, you can actually train yourself to be a good runner in a fairly short amount of time. You just have to be consistent with your training and committed to putting in the effort. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves here, but you may begin to actually *like* running!
The best part? Running has tons of benefits for your overall health and wellness. Director of Flow Athletic Ben Lucas says, “For starters, as running is a weight-bearing exercise, it helps to build strong bones. It can also improve your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your muscles, improve your VO2 max [maximal oxygen uptake], and it can help you burn fat and maintain a healthy weight."
“In addition, it is free! It is a good way to get out with nature, and if you like to have something to train for, there are so many running events that you could do both in Australia or internationally, so it can also be a challenge to work towards and a travel opportunity, too.”
Inspired? We sure are. Check out three things you can do to become a better runner.
Ease yourself into it
If the last time you clocked up some decent kilometres was at the school carnival in Year 7, don’t try to go from zero to Forrest Gump. You’re going to want to take your training slowly and ease yourself back into it. So, make sure you don’t go too hard too fast: “You need to build up your kilometres gradually. If you go straight for your desired distance, you run the risk of injuring yourself (your Achilles for example), or disliking running,” says Lucas.
“One of the biggest mistakes that I see new runners make is that they get disheartened when they can’t run 10km in the first week. You can’t play the violin in the first week either, but that does not mean you should give up!”
The best way to get started? Lucas says to mix up your training between distance and speed. “Start slow and run for a shorter period of time in the beginning. Break up your training days into a sprint or interval training day, a long run day (maybe start with 5km for a beginner and work your way up each week), and possibly a hill sprint day, especially if you are preparing for an event where there will be hills - such as City to Surf.
If you’re *completely* new to the whole running game, Lucas says to start with just 10 minutes of running. “Break it up into a 30-second jog and two-minute walk, and repeat this four times, then work your way up from there.”
Work on your technique
Don’t underestimate the importance of technique! “Make sure you keep good posture with your shoulders back, abs sucked in, head up, as over time if you are flailing all over the place you can end up injuring yourself. Let me tell you, poor posture over a marathon distance hurts for days afterwards and may even require a physiologist appointment!”
“Your stride, hip movement and foot placement are always fairly important. Your running training is a good time to practise good technique that will hopefully be second nature by the time your event comes around,” says Lucas.
Make running part of your daily routine
We get it, it isn’t easy to stay motivated to run, especially when it’s zero degrees every morning (thanks, winter), and all you want to do after work is curl up into a ball and eat/sleep. But Lucas says there are a few things you can do to help keep you moving and to make running part of your everyday routine. His first tip? Create a new playlist! “Apple has some great playlists specifically for running, and songs with the right beat count to keep you going,” he says.
Splashing out on some new gear can also help spark a little motivation (because who doesn’t love new threads?!). “Not only are appropriate running shoes and a new outfit fun, but the shoes especially are important so that they support you while you are running.”
Another great type of motivation? Your bestie. If you get your friend involved, you’re more likely to stick to your workout plans. So, encourage your mate to sign up to a marathon with you, and you’ll both have something to work towards and be able to hold each other accountable when it comes to training. “Make yourselves a schedule and make sure you stick to it,” says Lucas.
Want to track your progress? Why not try out one of the top running apps like Couch to 5k, Strava or Nike Run. If you’re one of those fancy people with an Apple Watch, you don’t even have to install an app – it’s all on your wrist, you lucky bugger! “Gamification is a great way of helping people stick to their goals as they can see their results and want to do better,” adds Lucas.
What not to do before a big run
Now we’ve covered what you should do, there are also a few things you should avoid in the lead up to a big run. The most common mistake? Burning out before race day. Lucas says, “In the week leading up to race day you should be tapering your training so you are not injured, sore or exhausted come the big day. The day before race day is NOT the day to run 20kms.”
Secondly, you need to make sure you stretch! Having a good recovery practice in place will ensure you’re not feeling like absolute death before you even start the race. “Roll out, stretch, do some yoga, wear compression, have good nutrition. All of these are important things to be doing after your training sessions so you can recover. Remember what you take from your body you need to give back,” explains Lucas.
Also, be careful with what you’re eating - don’t get weird with your diet the day before race day. Lucas says, “Don’t eat anything you wouldn’t usually eat as you don’t want to have an upset stomach. Also don’t eat too little as you need energy.”
Lastly, make sure you wear the right shoes or clothes for you. “Just because something is on Instagram does not mean that it works for you. Get a professional to get you fitted for shoes. Wear clothes that are unlikely to chafe you. Even consider wearing nipple chafe if you are a guy as I can speak first hand to the fact that chafed nipples during a marathon run sucks!”
Nipple chafe. Welcome to the glorious world of running.
Looking for some tips on how to make early morning workouts easier? Check out seven tips that’ll help you stay motivated to train.
Have you signed up to the City to Surf or another running marathon? What are you doing to prep for the big race? Share with us in the comment section below.
Main image credit: @karliekloss
Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.