Spring has arrived and it is the start of the running season with plenty of people training for marathons and half marathons. It really is never too late. Many people take up running in their 50s and 60s with the aim of achieving a goal – perhaps a 5k or a full marathon.
The American medical journal, Jama Internal Medicine (formerly Archives of Internal Medicine) published a study on a group of runners in their mid-70s who had been running for several decades. They were found to have better function and overall health, with fewer disabilities than similar non-running individuals.
If you have a medical problem you may want to check with your doctor or physiotherapist first if you are concerned about starting regular running.
Here are our top tips:
1. Set yourself a goal – perhaps a 5k Park Run or a charity run. Having the goal helps with motivation.
2. Download a training plan – there are plenty online. The NHS Couch to 5K is an excellent programme.
3. Keep a diary or chart of your progress.
4. Wear the right gear. Although you don’t need to buy top of the range, expensive running wear it is essential to have a good pair of supportive and well-cushioned trainers. Go to a specialist sports shop and get fitted for trainers properly. A good pair of running shoes will reduce the risk of injury.
5. Man-made running garments that are soft, don’t cause skin irritation and wick away the sweat help to make you feel more comfortable. Cotton becomes heavy when it is wet and can cause rashes and blisters on the skin.
6. Start slowly – for the first two weeks you will need to begin with a combination of running and walking. The aim is to get used to spending more time on your feet. Don’t compare yourself to other runners. You will all start from a different point in terms of general fitness. Other factors, such as age and previous injuries, will also affect the rate at which you can increase your running.
7. A common mistake for beginners is to run too fast and good indicators of this are if you feel sick or very breathless. Running should be a relaxing activity, so take it slowly and be patient. Complete your planned training time but take more walking breaks if necessary.
8. If you have been injured you have to do your homework to get fit enough to return to running. Follow the advice and rehab programme provided by your physiotherapist and do not be tempted to start running before your therapist has indicated that you are ready to do so.
9. Run tall and relaxed with loose shoulders and a comfortable length of stride.
10. When is the best time to run? At a time that fits in with your lifestyle, either outside or on a treadmill. Just remember though – if you are training for a race, you will need to train outside.
11. Cross train at least one day a week. Go cycling, swimming or take a Pilates or Yoga class.
12. Beginners should stick to flat ground to start with but, as they progress, doing some hills helps with speed and endurance.
13. Join a running club or find a friend to run with to help you stay motivated.
14. There are lots of gadgets such as fitbits, watches and apps. They are not essential but can help to keep you on course to reach your goal.
15. When you start a new exercise programme it is normal to experience some aching and post exercise soreness. This should ease within 48 hours of exercising. If it is very uncomfortable then use rest, ice and NSAID gel to help relieve symptoms.
16. You should never feel severe pain after exercise. If this is the case, stop exercising and seek advice from a physiotherapist.
If you would like to discuss any issues raised in this blog, or wish to make an appointment, please click here to contact us.