Running is a great workout that reaps so many benefits; it strengthens muscles, burns calories, improves cardiovascular health and reduces stress. It’s that one hour of your day where you can get out, clear your head and feel that endorphin rush. But we are always looking to improve, to get faster and run for longer. There are so many different opinions around the best way to improve your running. So we asked professional triathlon coach and Auro trainer Lucy Hurn to provide the answers to 7 burning questions every runner has thought of at some point in their fitness journey.
1. How do I start running?
Running newbie? Welcome to the club! First things first; get a training plan that tells you the bare minimum of what you are going to do. This gives you some structure, motivation and more importantly some accountability to yourself. Research suggests that holding yourself accountable for something is critical for success and productivity. Start with small goals and build this up. Slow and steady wins the race! You will get where you want to be a lot faster if you just stay consistent with your pacing and distance. A lot of beginners run too fast and burn out, to stop this from happening, ask yourself: ‘Can I keep going without increasing my heart rate?’ and ‘Can I keep this going whilst just breathing through my nose?’. If the answer to either of these two key questions is no, slow down and relax! Running your hardest to begin with will most likely result in injury and exhaustion, and let’s face it, that’s no fun. Just relax, go slow and reach your little goals on the journey to succeeding in your ultimate goal.
2. How do I plan for a race?
Firstly, you need to know the distance and date of the race, then work backwards from here. To ensure a steady build of your fitness, make sure you have plenty of time for recovery. In order to do this, build up your running for 2 or 3 weeks, have a recovery week, then start to build up again. Always remember – you do not get fitter from training; you get fitter from recovery from training. Your body repairs itself during recovery and allows you to feel better and stronger. But don’t get lazy! A recovery week doesn’t mean do nothing; it simply means to reduce the distance of your runs. If you are training for a 10K, try to reduce your recovery week runs down to 3 to 4K.
Top tip – start your training plan a few weeks early. You may be thinking, why does it have to be even longer than it already is?! But the truth is, life gets in the way. If you live a busy lifestyle, especially if the only time you have to train is on the weekend, you may get ill, have family responsibilities and have a social life! Therefore, starting a couple of weeks early leaves you with time to be flexible with your training plan without decreasing your fitness levels.
Auro training plans range from 2 to 12 weeks! If your goal is to jog your first mile or run a half marathon, Auro has the right training plan for you.
3. How do I improve my speed?
Think about your pace, start with your easy running pace (remember, breathe through the nose), slowly build up your distance and see if you can still run at this easy pace. It may feel as if you are going too slow, but this is an effective way to build an aerobic base. If you have a certain time goal for a race (e.g. you want to run your 5K in under half an hour) then do a time trial before the race. This will build your confidence and give you an idea of how your body is before the big race day.
Secondly, consider strength training, whatever your goal is, it’s about building up strength and consistency. Your body likes consistency. Therefore, try and keep your training even each week, don’t do loads of long runs one week and one short run the next week. Keep it even and constant.
4. How do I restart running after an injury?
If you are injured, consider adding cycles into your training plan instead of running. Cycling is not a weight bearing exercise like running, therefore it won’t put as much strain on your injury. This will ensure you don’t make your injury worse and you don’t lose your fitness. Please note that this is just a consideration and if you have an injury you should seek professional medical advice from a medical professional.
The ideal thing to do is prevent an injury. The best ways to do this include strength training to build up your muscle, consistent training, recovery days and good nutrition. At the end of the day we should all listen to our bodies, if you feel pain in your knee once you hit 10K, then you should do something about it, find the root cause and follow professional medical advice. It doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot reach your goals; it just means you may have to take a different journey.
5. What other exercises should I do to complement my running training plan?
Break any additional exercise down into 4 components: mobility work, stability, strength and power. Mobility work is something you should do pre run to warm up to get the body moving. Then it is about stability, ask yourself – do all your muscles hold you in the right place? You could be squatting heavy weights in the gym, but do your glutes give you the stability you need to run? It’s not necessarily about strength, it’s about whether they can they cope with being tired and still work and carry you across that finish line. As we’ve been previously discussed, building up strength in your legs will help you get faster and prevent injury. So, mobility and stability are the key basics, but if you have time in your week to add in strength and power training this will give you added bonuses.
Don’t worry if you don’t have weights for strength training, you can use your bodyweight! Auro have plenty of bodyweight exercises available at the touch of a button, so you can build strength at home without the gym.
6. What role does nutrition play in my running training plan?
Exercise and healthy eating go hand in hand, but sometimes it’s tricky to know if you are eating the correct amounts of food on an increasing intensity plan. Think about what you are eating day-to-day. What you eat directly effects your training. Of course, a good, clean healthy diet helps, but it is important that you are eating enough carbs to replace the glycogen supply in your body and fuel you up for your longer and faster runs.
Eating sufficient levels of protein is also important in terms of recovery. Protein is the building blocks of our cells; they help re-build your muscles after they have broken down. And of course, probiotics (vegetables, seeds, nuts etc) help protect your immune system, which is essential in the weeks running up to your big run or race days.
In terms of energy and refuelling whilst you are running, work out what you are going to use on race day. For example, for a 5K race, you don’t need to fuel up on glucose gels during the run. However, anything above this you may need some sort of fuel as you will be using up a lot of energy. Use your training runs to find out what works best for you in terms of refuelling and which product is best for you. Training your stomach is just as important as training your legs to run, you must familiarise your stomach with the food so it can successfully use this fuel for energy.
Not sure where to start in terms of a nutrition plan? Let’s face it, it is time consuming and a hassle to find! That’s why Auro are launching some delicious and nutritious meal prep plans for you to use! Eat your favourite foods and nourish your body at the same time. Our plans already have the macros written out for you, so all you need to do is cook and enjoy!
7. How do you stay motivated when you are doing a run you don’t want to do?
Work out what your goal is and why this matters to you. Close your eyes and picture this goal. How important is this 10K race to you? What emotions will you feel once you cross the finish line? Use this as the reason you get you out of bed in the morning and run.
Even better, write your goals down! Research suggests that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Get a diary and write down your small goals each week and then watch as you achieve them throughout your journey.
Get rid of any barriers that may be holding you back, make meal plans to save you time in the morning, run whilst kids are at school or even on your lunch break at work! Find what works best for you and cut out the negative aspects in life that are holding you back.
Finally, you will always have the motivation of our expert personal trainers right there beside you throughout every run. Providing support, tips, motivation and entertainment, and helping you achieve your goals.
No dream is too big! At Auro, we want you to feel like the best version of you. Whether you are training for a 5K race, a half marathon or just want to get out for 20 minutes to clear your head, we will be right there beside you, guiding the way! Start your free trial with Auro today.
Blog reproduced with kind permission of Auro. Click here for a 14 day free trial and save 20% on membership by using RUNCHAT at the checkout