Going running is a great, free way to keep fit and get active. Most people live within jogging distance of a good running location and having a goal, such as a 5K, 10K or even half marathon can be ideal motivation to get moving.
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Y! Lifestyle spent an energetic day with SportsShoes.com’s personal trainer Neilon, to find out how to boost our training. Here are five easy steps we’re putting into action immediately:
1. Change your warm up
Most people do a basic static warm up, says Neilon. But actually that stretches your muscles out, weakening them slightly. You’re better off with a dynamic (moving) warm up, as seen above, that gets your muscles ready for exercise without stretching out the fibres.
2. Have your gait analysed
You’ve probably heard this one before. Even if the shoes you’re wearing are super comfy, very expensive and add inches to your height, if they’re not right for the way you run they won’t do you any good. Most running shops do gait analysis that can show you how your foot lands on the pavement and how your leg compensates for this. We tasked trainer experts Saucony to explain how what they look for (and pick us out the perfect pair).
“Gait analysis involves running in neutral shoes [with minimal support across the whole foot] on a treadmill for a few minutes so we can see how your feet land without support,” explains gait analyser Ken. “We look at the angles between your foot and calf and recommend a type of shoe that gives you extra support on any area that needs it.”
Once you know your gait – whether it’s a neutral pronation (the most efficient style), overpronation (when your foot rolls inwards) or underpronation (where it doesn’t roll inwards enough) - you can always find a shoe that supports your individual running style.
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3. Go barefoot
Alternatively, ditch shoes altogether. Well, not quite. Though it can mean exactly that, barefoot running is more about running in neutral shoes that encourage you to run on the balls of your feet rather than relying on padding in the heels. Neilon explains that most people are so used to running in very supportive trainers that the way we naturally run. “It’s different for everyone,” he explains, “but try just running on the balls of your feet for five minutes during you normal run and then maybe for 10 minutes the next week.”
The best way to get started is to rise up on your toes and then lean forward until your weight takes you forward. Getting it right can reduce the likelihood of running injuries and can help you run further and faster. But getting it wrong can cause injury and wear you out so if you’re not sure, ask an expert to give you a demo.
4. Eat right
You need energy to run, particularly if you’re training for distance. Running is a big calorie burner so even if you’re using it as part of a weight loss programme, you still need to be consuming enough to allow you to get the most out of the exercise.
Make sure you’re eating balanced meals of protein, starchy carbs and fruit & veg. If you feel hungry try adding more protein to your meal. Lucy McCrickard from LGM Nutrition says, “Never cut out a food group. Your body uses something from each so cutting out a major section of our diet is counterintuitive. My rule is 80/20, eat well 80 per cent of the time and you can have the odd treat.” She also recommends eating seven to eight pieces of fruit and veg a day (as if getting five wasn’t hard enough!) and drinking plenty of water, particularly on days you’re training.
5. Cool down carefully
Skipping the cool down might save time in the short term but when you wake up aching all over and can’t run that day it won’t feel worth it. Here’s where the static stretches come in, you’re lengthening the muscles and easing out any lactic acid that’s built up during the run. Not sure you’re doing it right? Here are Neilon’s top post-run stretches..