Running for beginners
Running, it seems like everyone is doing it these days but what is the appeal? Well, for starters it is free. All you need is a pair of trainers and a bit of motivation. Secondly, it is a great way to get in shape and has physical as well as mental health benefits. According to the NHS running is good for:
- Your heart and lungs
- Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight
- Increasing bone density which can protect against osteoporosis
- Boosting confidence and self-belief
- Relieving stress and has even been shown to combat depression
The Telegraph newspaper found a series of studies that claim that runners havehigher libido, make better thinkers – the same bodily process that helps fuel the body efficiently, also improves memory and learning. Runnerstend to be happier as kynurenine, a substance in our blood that accumulates during times of stress and is believed to be linked to depression, is eliminated from our blood after aerobic exercise such as jogging. Runnersprotect themselves from cancer – a study spanning 17 years following a group of middle-aged runners found that there was “a 50% reduction in the risk of dying prematurely from cancer,” when the runner ran 30 minutes every day. And just to top it off, runners can hear better – running increases blood flow to your ears which improves your hearing. If you want to read the full article you can find it here.
Sign me up!
So aside from the obvious health benefits, how do you get into running? Well, it has never been easier: the Couch to 5K or C25K app is available for free on all app stores and breaks beginner’s training down into manageable chunks with a virtual coach to encourage and motivate you along the way. Most parts of the country now have a Park Run – a friendly 5k run or walk around your local park every Saturday, it is completely free and organised by volunteers. There is also an abundance of running groups for everyone from ladies beginner groups inspired by the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign and ‘Good Gym’ groups, whose volunteers litter pick as they run to running groups where you are rewarded in beer (yes, you read that right)!
Finally, you don’t need a coach to get started, you can track your own progress. Running apps like Strava, RunCoach, MapMyRun, Nike+ run club, which can be used with your smart phone or a running watch, help you track your distance, pace and some offer free training plans too. Check out Runner’s World’s top apps here.
Two of our Cheltenham clinic team, Alex and Georgie, recently completed a very muddy half marathon trail run in Wales: the Gower Coastal Trail Half Marathon (14.75 miles).
Alex used to be a 100m sprinter so even though he had a sporting background and some strong legs, it’s safe to say that 23 kilometres is a tad longer than 100 metres! Georgie, on the other hand, had never enjoyed sport at school and lacked confidence when doing sport. So how on earth did these two complete a tough trail half marathon?
Georgie first got into running by using the Couch 2 5K app and then completing a park run. In her words, “I was completely shocked by how positive and encouraging people were when I was jogging at snail’s pace and as a result, I became so much more confident and started to enjoy myself.” Soon after, she signed up to a 10K (6 miles) with a friend, then another and another and several 10k races later, she set her sights on the half marathon. Alex, accidentally fell into trail running whilst on Exmoor, which, in case you didn’t know, is very hilly and not for the faint-hearted. He asked a friend if he could show him a nice running route and ended up running 11 miles. In spite of his burning legs and lungs, he decided then and there that actually, trail running was actually quite good fun.
How to describe the race? Muddy and at times boggy, really tough and oh so long but what stunning scenery! Set in the Gower, the landscape for the Endurancelife CTS Gower Half was spectacular. Within the first 3 miles we ran up high onto the cliff that peers down to Worm’s Head, an outcrop of land that is cut off when the tide comes in. Then we careered down the coastal path, past some very nonchalant Welsh ponies and sheep, sliding down several muddy hills (one runner opted to sit down and slide her way down) before forcing ourselves back up the other side in the blistering cold rain, a final dash along the beach and across the finish line. Absolutely brutal. All finishers received a medal and a race t-shirt and no sooner had we received ours, then we were signing up to our next half marathon, this time … on Exmoor.
In recent years the number of running events has skyrocketed from free Park Runs all over the country, 10k, trail runs and especially at this time of year: Santa runs. Let us know which runs you have signed up to and we’ll see you there!