Wish exercising was easier? Feeling frustrated that you’re not as fast or fit as you’d like to be? Whether you’re new to jogging or a seasoned sprinter, finding your running mojo can be a struggle. No matter how energised you feel while pounding the pavement, or how satisfying the feeling afterwards, being motivated to leave the house can be a big ask.
From Couch-to-5ks to marathons, running has never been more popular, with more than two million people in the UK reported to run every week. If you’re keen to kickstart your running routine, we’ve pulled together everything you need to know.
The science: running boosts body and brain
The health benefits of running include improved cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, a decrease in body fat, improvement in lung capacity and increased flexibility.1
When you’re active, your brain releases dopamine and serotonin - the ‘feel-good’ chemicals, which are known to improve your mood. It’s a natural high that also reduces harmful changes in the brain caused by stress.2
Getting fit? You need the right kit
- Wearing fitness gear that looks as good as it is practical will incentivise you to get out there. Breathable and sweat wicking fabric will help you go the extra mile without feeling uncomfortable. If you’re running when it’s dark, wear clothes that help you stay visible2
- Invest in a good pair of trainers with a neutral sole. Did you know that running in a neutral shoe can be more beneficial than running in a shoe with the heel higher than the forefoot? A specialist running shop can advise on the best footwear for you. Consider the 10% rule – set a distance and wear your new running shoes for 10% of it. For the remainder of your training run, wear your old shoes. With every run you do, increase the distance you wear your new running shoes by 10% until you feel comfortable to wear them for the duration. This will allow time for your feet to become used to the shoes and support they provides, meaning you can run more efficiently3
- Women are strongly recommended to buy a decent sports bra – not only can exercise with poorly supported breasts trigger pain and sagging, it can also leave women feeling self-conscious 4
- Listening to music or podcasts can help you maintain momentum, and with specialist headphones available you can still hear the world around you
- Eat right. Enjoy a healthy, balanced diet packed with nutrients: proteins, such as lean meat, eggs and beans help build muscle and a strong immune system. Carbohydrates, like starches, sugar and wholegrains, give energy. Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day offer vitamins and minerals to regulate body processes
- Snack sensibly. After a run, your blood sugar levels become depleted. To restore your energy levels, re-fuel your body with a high protein snack within 30 minutes post-run. Protein allows the restoration and repair of the damaged muscle fibres from the run and allow the muscles to recover effectively5
- Drink plenty of water - your performance will be significantly hampered if you are dehydrated. Dehydration thickens the blood, increasing your heart rate while lowering the amount of blood your heart can pump with one beat. Dehydration also makes it harder for fat to reach your muscles and convert to fuel. After your run, aim to drink 500ml of water within half an hour to re-hydrate
- Track your progress with a fitness tracker that records your personal bests and shows you new routes