With the lockdown set to be with us for a while its more important than ever to keep ourselves healthy and fit, not just physically but mentally too.
For many of us, being locked up for days upon end can be a very isolating and claustrophobic experience so it’s important to get outside and use our exercise time wisely.
Its proven that just 30 minutes of cardio based exercise three times a week will reduce anxiety, depression and will even improve our mood and self-esteem. Not only that but with the favorable spring sunshine we’ve been having, a good dose of vitamin D will really help to give us a lift.
For some the opportunity to lace up their favorite running shoes, set the GPRS tracker and head out on a long run is a regular thing but for others, well not so much. I mean let’s be honest here, more than one of us dreads seeing running come up on Chalk It. But a good run is a great way to burn calories whilst getting all that cardio-based goodness. And with the streets fairly empty now is as good a time as any to give it a go.
On Your Marks and Getting Set
If this is the first time you’ve decided to go out running here are a few things to think about before you lace up and set out. Take a look outside and check the weather, just because it looks sunny doesn’t mean its necessarily going to be warm. Although running will get the blood pumping and the temperature up, if you’re going for that early morning run chances are its going to be pretty fresh out there. Its still a good idea to put on a jumper and even some gloves if the wind is up. Alternatively, if its mid-day then the sun is probably at its peak so think extra water and possibly some sun cream, although best to wait till the temperature has started to drop a bit.
Make sure you wear some comfy trainers. Ones that offer a good deal of cushioning. As nice as those fashionable white tennis shoes may look they aren’t very practical for hitting the pavements or dirt tracks and nobody wants blistered feet or jarred knees.
Next up is the warmup. It’s so easy to forget but a brief warmup before will definitely help to loosen the joints and muscles and goes a long way to preventing any sort of unnecessary injuries or aches post run. When it comes to warming up think about what parts of the body are going to be doing the work, calves and quads are the first to come to mind but the hamstrings and core will also engage when we run. Butt kicks & high knees, toe walks & heel walks can all be done on the spot and in the comfort of your own home before you even get out of the door so spent 5 minutes getting prepped.
So, you’re warmed up and ready to go, time to talk about how to run. One foot in front of the other right? Well yes, essentially but there are a few things to think about here. You’re going to want a nice stable midline and by that we mean keep your head straight with your ears in line with your shoulders and chest up. Think about standing tall rather than hunching over. Then pushing your hips forward, gently let gravity pull you forward.
Next think about how your feet are making contact with the ground. The aim is to strike the ground with the area between the back and the middle of the foot, about an inch from the back of the heel. Then roll the foot forward onto the toes. Try not to be heavy footed with the strike and keep contact light, as you would if hopping on the spot.
Finally, the usual mistake most of us make when new to running is to go out too quickly and then end up gasping for air 20 meters down the road. Dial back the effort to a very slow jog for the first 10 meters or so and then start to increase the pace until you find a comfortable rhythm. Remember this isn’t a 200m sprint it’s a casual distance run so keep it light and find your happy pace.
Feeling the Burn
At some point down the road it’s likely that you will reach a point where you feel the need to stop and catch your breath. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? As much as you want to just stop there and then, resist the urge and focus on something in the distance, make that your marker and once you get to it begin to walk rather than coming to a complete stop. This will help you to build up the lung capacity so the next time you run you’ll make it that bit further before reaching your limit.
Using lampposts is a great way to give yourself good work to rest intervals, by running and walking between them. As you improve increase the running portion whilst keeping the walking section the same. A common issue for new runners is a pain in the shin area and is caused by underdeveloped and under prepared muscles. To combat this, build up the distance gradually run by run and let the muscles get used to volume. Don’t go for a marathon on day 1 even if you feel you can.
The Finish Line
You’ve been out and put the kilometers in but before you sink down into the sofa get into some stretches. Stretching after a long run is a must as the muscles will begin to tighten and contract. A combination of classic calf stretches and calf raises will take care of the lower legs and for the quads and hamstrings use pigeon, lizard and couch stretches to ease off any tightness. A minimum of 1 minute each side for each stretch is a good rule and can be done easily in front of the tele to pass the time.
Finally grab a glass of water to replace any fluids you will have lost during the run, sit back and relax. That’s the first run down and you’re feeling good, now make sure you give yourself time to recover before you go for that PB.