Running is one of the simplest forms of exercise and, when done correctly, a great way to keep fit. Without gym fees and the need for fancy kit, it's a great activity for anyone to take up. But how do you start running and ensure you don't hurt yourself?
Injuries from running are common! As a yoga teacher as well as a personal trainer, I hear A LOT of people tell me "I used to run, but I hurt my knees". However, I also see veteran runners going well into their 60's, injury free. So what is the trick?
Know your injury threshold. This will be different for everyone, but we all have a limit. Studies have identified thresholds at 11, 25 and 40 miles a week, and exceeding the limit that is right for your body will result in injury.
Don't try to run before you can walk! A lot of people take up running with a specific goal in mind, such as a long distance race. However, going from 0 to 41 miles in a few months does not give your body enough time to build up the correct strength and adapt. Running experts have recognised this and suggest the 10% rule, building up an additional 10% each week. For example, if you run 10km on week, run 11km the next week. For some, this may still be too fast. It's better to start slowly and make running a regular habit before trying to take on big challenges like marathons!
Know your injuries. If you have old injuries these could be aggravated by lots of running, or indeed any new exercise. Do some research and be aware of what you need to do to protect the injuries you have recovered from. And when you do have an injury, or even just a niggle, rest!
Stretch. Releasing tight muscles after a run will help them to recover. Save the longer, deeper stretches for post-run recovery and stick to dynamic stretches as a warm up.
Strength train. This will build all-round, balanced muscle, helping to improve your running performance and posture. It also gives your body a rest from running, which is needed as too much of anything is not good.
Listen to your body. Each body is different, we have our own thresholds and limitations. Nothing can tell you what is best for you other than your own body, and when it says 'ouch' it's time to stop.
If you are interested in grabbing your trainers and heading outside, why not join our next Beginner Jogging & Fitness group, starting in March. Our 6 week course will get you outside and running confidently and safely. Contact us for more information