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Flagging running programme? Set some goals..

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Lots of runners find that setting new goals fires up flagging fitness plans. It redefines what you want to get from your running, reminds you why you’re dragging yourself through the park on yet another rainy Sunday, and breaks even marathons and ultra events into achievable steps of improvement.

If you’ve been running for a while, have a look at the intermediate programme, or find out what local running events are happening near you and sign yourself (and your friends or partner, if you can) –up for a 5k, 10k, half or full marathon.

So you’ve got your goals. Great. But it’s still pretty dark and miserable out there – how do you stop yourself falling at the next hurdle?

Well, this one’s down to sheer determination: you’ve just got to get out there! If the rain and cold really are unbearable you’re probably not of the mindset of the Iceland Laugavegur Ultra Marathon but seasonal running gear will keep you dry, warm and, hopefully, moving. Think in terms of layers: a warm base layer under a lightweight, waterproof jacket along with a hat and/or gloves will add extra protection to your usual running ensemble.

If the mental block remains a toughie, there are a couple of tactics you can arm yourself with.

Disassociation – adding a new element to distract you from other challenges – can be found in a new environment. If you always run or walk in the park, take yourself off to a local trail or the seaside.

Mantras and positive affirmation can also keep you moving, either in your head or bellowed out loud, depending on your embarrassment threshold. Think of positive, motivational phrases like "I feel fit and fabulous" or "I feel good" or "I'm doing it!" –whatever motivates you to keep going.

The treadmill: there’s no rule that says you have to run outdoors (although landscape, fresh air and the freedom – and the fact that it's free – is why so many choose to). If the gym is a better option for you, then use the treadmill to put the miles in.

5 tips for running

  1. Don’t knock the run:walk approach – coach Jeff Galloway has famously trained runners to complete marathons in 3:30 using run:walk techniques.
  2. Don’t forget to warm up - stretch and cool down. A brisk walk and a selection of upper and lower body stretches to cover your large muscle groups and get you limbered up is all you need.
  3. Stay Hydrated - make sure you hydrate before during and after your run, your performance and recovery will both be affected by your fluid intake.
  4. Have existing injuries? - Then get advice from a Doctor and Fitness Professional before you start any running. You may need a customised programme to prevent the risk of causing more damage.
  5. Look after your feet with the right Footwear – Good shock absorbent trainers are essential if you are going to run on a regular base. Attending any running retail specialist would be advisable. There you can have gait analysis which will record how much pressure you put on certain parts of your feet when you walk/run. With this information you can ensure you have the correct footwear for your training programme. 

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