15 Dec “One step forward and change your life!” by Nick Bishop
There are so many different exercises, classes, expensive gym memberships and fads on offer in the New Year, yet one of the purest forms of exercise can offer you the greatest return.
Here are some of my tips to get started on this fantastic form of exercise which boosts your health, vitality, fitness, younger looks (yes it’s true!), and endorphins which will drive your own “feel good factor.”
All you need to get you started is a decent pair of running shoes best purchased from a specialist running shop, who will check that you buy a pair that suits your foot and gait. Ideally you should have a technical running top to wick away moisture and help to keep you warm and a reflective jacket or “hi visibility” top for darker nights. Once you have the bug, you can look to invest some more.
I have enjoyed a running lifestyle for 50 years, and whilst I can’t compete to the level that I used to, I still benefit from regular training but get most satisfaction from helping others to get enjoyment from and to improve their own running performances.
Remember this positive affirmation “I am a runner.” The moment that you first start out and even if you only run for a short distance, you have run! You are a runner.
Starting out can seem daunting, but there will be others that feel the same way. Ask friends to join you. Making a commitment ensures your run does happen. Some people feel uncomfortable running in public initially. Don’t worry, you will be fitter and certainly gain more benefit from being a rookie runner than the majority of people that you see.
Like all goals that we set for ourselves, there needs to be some reality. That said, as you progress, you can build a little bit of stretch to provide exciting yet achievable milestones. For those setting out for the first time, often 10-15 minutes is enough, including a mixture of walking and running. Lampposts are a good guide if you start by walking and running. Some runners use a watch and run for a minute and then walk for a minute. It really is down to what suits you. Start by running just a couple of times a week and as your routine becomes a little easier, adding a few more minutes each week to your run and try to walk less frequently.
It is important to concentrate on your breathing. Try not to be too laboured but keep nice and relaxed. Similarly, be mindful of your posture – relax and don’t tense up. Soon, this will become more natural.
After your run, remember to rehydrate and carry out some simple stretches by gently holding the stretch for 20 seconds before slowly releasing.
From starting out to being able to run 5K (3.1 miles), will vary from person to person, and the base level of fitness, age and inherent ability. It’s possible for everyone to consider running 5K (even it involves walking a few stretches) within twelve weeks. The NHS recommends the Couch to 5K Running Programme to improve your health, energy, and enable weight loss.
One of the greatest global running initiatives is parkrun. A weekly organised free 5k timed run. They are open to everyone, are safe and easy to take part in.
A word of warning! Both running and parkrun can become highly addictive with all the benefits and free supply of post run endorphins!
If you are just about to start out and take your first running steps, you may be surprised to learn, that many progress from 5k to longer distances, some even progress to running a marathon. Those who achieve this goal will tell you that the magical 26.2 miles is a life changing experience.
As you develop your running career, new opportunities are everywhere. The pleasures of running off road in parkland, along the promenade by the sea, or up and down dale!
Clubs are not just reserved for Olympic champions, many actually organise beginners groups where you will find yourself surrounded by like minded individuals. By signing up to club runs and social activities, before you know it, you will soon be racing in your new club vest!
It only takes one step to start…When will you?
Nick has been an active runner for fifty years and has represented his County on Road, Track and Cross Country. He now spends more of his time coaching, and has delivered an England Athletics workshop. Nick is currently Chairman of the Manchester Area Cross Country League, Selector & Team Manager for the Cheshire Fell Running Teams and a Race Director at parkrun Bramhall (Stockport).