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Monday, May 01, 2006

Starting off Running on the Right foot

Starting out in running should be simple, stress-free and fun. It is a time to enjoy yourself, not to weigh yourself down with expectations and unlikely goals. In fact, I believe the reason so many runners don’t keep up their running after the first few attempts is because they fail to make it the release valve it should be, and let it become yet another stress in our already stressful lives. Once it becomes a duty or a drudge you’re just around the corner from giving up – another broken New Year’s resolution to haunt you year after year!

So, how about this for advice: if you’re doing a run but you’re out of breath and you’re honestly not enjoying it… well just stop. Walk for a while or just sit on the grass. Enjoy the scenery, watch the other runners, listen to the birds (or the cars). Maybe do some stretching. Be honest, would it be that bad if you never got round to running and just walked every day for 30 minutes? If you were taking no exercise before, this is a huge improvement in your fitness.

You will run when you’re ready, when you want to, and when it’s fun.

The second big mistake is burn out. Most people can manage a big one-off effort if they must. This is what you see when people are shamed into doing some parent and child event for charity. Mums and Dads who have hardly raised themselves from the couch in ten years drag themselves round a circuit without any training. This is how some people start out on their training program, with the one big effort to prove themselves. Unfortunately with untrained muscles, you may need two weeks off before you’re fit to go again. By which time you’re just as unfit as you were to begin with, and the next session feels just as hard as the first. It would have been far better to do 15 minutes of perfectly manageable walking or jogging every two or three days, because your muscles would begin to get used to the idea of running, your lungs would begin to open a little. You’d be building up rather than breaking down

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