In the third instalment of our beginners’ guide to running, jog leader Christine looks at making the transition to keeping on the move non-stop, crosstraining and choosing the right kit.
Where has the time gone? If you’ve been following our Beginners’ schedule from the start, you’ll now be about three months in to your new life as a runner. Give yourself a huge pat on the back and get ready for the most exciting part: being able to run non-stop.
Your Next Six Weeks
Up until this point, our programme combined running with walking. As your time running increased, your time walking decreased. Eventually, the portions became roughly equal. Now it’s time to decrease the walking further, until it has completely disappeared.
Your target at the end of the next six weeks is to run non-stop for between 15 and 25 minutes. That might seem like a big jump, but in truth, by the time you’ve reached week 17, you’ll have been running for 35 minutes in total per session with only the shortest of breaks between repetitions. As always, you should adjust your outings to suit your own progress – but always remember, you can do it!
You’ll have noticed by now that our schedule doesn’t just including walking and running. The longer, optional Sunday sessions call for a brisk walk or something called ‘crosstraining’.
Simply put, ‘crosstraining’ means building up strength and endurance for your main sport by doing another. If you really just want to be a runner, the idea may not make sense at first – but there are enormous benefits to varying your fitness regime. For a start, swapping out one run each week for a non-impact sport like swimming or cycling can give your body a chance to recover from the repetitive action of running. Adding strength and conditioning exercises into the mix can also help prevent injuries by providing flexibility and more balanced muscle tone.
But crosstraining isn’t just about the positive effects on your body. The variety and different focus that come with enjoying other activities can also have benefits for your brain. All sorts of activities that get your heart rate up count as crosstraining, from organised fitness classes to hillwalking. So do what you enjoy most, and keep in mind that the time you spend crosstraining isn’t taking anything away from your running. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
I’m always sad to see new runners throw in the towel after just a few outings because they weren’t comfortable. Having the right kit is important for all runners, but it’s absolutely essential for those new to our sport.
First and foremost, take the time to have your shoes fitted by an experienced professional in a specialist store. And no, it’s not just manufacturer hype: you do need to change them regularly (see box). If you’re on a budget, ask for last year’s models or stock up during of end-of season sales. Choose running-specific socks to go with your new trainers and replace them regularly, too.
As for outwear, a comfortable shirt made from a technical ‘wicking’ fabric is your best bet, paired with a light wind and/or waterproof jacket for layering in changing temperatures. Choose shorts or tights that make you feel comfortable and confident – not just what everyone else is wearing. And ladies: get fitted by an expert for a running bra rather than just buying one online in what seems like your size. Trust me on this one: even 100 metres is 100 metres too far to run in a bra that doesn’t fit properly!