How to Start Your New Year Running Routine
A new year is upon us and many of you will have made resolutions to get fit and healthy. Running is a great way to get going on this journey towards better health, but how best to start? Fitness coach and endurance athlete, Ben Seymour gives us the rundown.
So, you've seen everyone else getting into running but you don't know where to start? Well, I’m going to let you in on a few of the things that keep me motivated to get out and start running, to enjoy it and most importantly, stick with it!
What are the essentials every runner should have before they get started?
A smart watch or monitoring app will come in very handy. These can help to keep you motivated if you use the specific in-built goals functions to monitor things like steps, calories burnt, heart rate or standing targets. Not only that, but this is also the way in which you can monitor your speed and distance!
Depending on what your needs are, these apps or watches are pretty cheap these days! In terms of checking your progress, they’re basically a one-stop shop, so a very worthwhile investment.
Once that’s on your wrist or the app is downloaded and set up, it’s time to make sure you’re dressed the part. If you don’t have some already, purchase yourself a pair of good quality running shoes to ensure your feet have the full support. Some airy exercise clothes will do wonders too so your body temperature is regulated and you feel legit.
What’s a good way for new runners to get started?
One of the best ways to get started is to set yourself a goal. Perhaps a distance you’d like to cover, or an amount of time you’d like to run for uninterrupted. This will give you something to strive towards.
Now, with all of the running events wiped off the calendar (thanks COVID-19), this can be a bit more challenging. These event runs are great goals to work towards as they often have varying distances for different levels of runner.
Having said that, there are plenty of virtual runs happening at the moment, for obvious reasons. Sign up to one of these! It works the same way, except there won’t be a sea of people to contend with, which you may prefer.
Another great way to get yourself going is to find a friend that has the same or a similar goal to you that you can train towards together! It’s enjoyable to see your friends and it will help to keep you accountable (or maybe even harness a healthy bit of competition).
When you do start, as a beginner, look to find your base level by going on a flat run for 15-20 minutes. If you need to stop a few times and walk, that's completely fine. You’re not expected to be amazing on your first go. Wait until you get your breath back and then start running again.
Once you complete this 20 minutes of running without stopping (aim for 1-2 times a week), add 10-15 minutes each week. This will ensure a slow build up to mitigate any room for injuries but still allow you to progress in your routine.
What are the essential parts of every running session?
Keeping yourself hydrated is definitely an extremely important thing to do before and after a run. You might think, “During?” as well, but in the early days, you likely won’t be going on any runs long or intense enough to warrant carrying water with you. Less to carry means the run will be easier too.
Some dynamic mobility drills are a good place to start in your warm up, to stretch out your hips, hamstrings and calves. These include things like lunges, open gate walks and mountain climbers. From there, go into a 500m - 1km slow jog as you warm up into your actual, full run.
Once you’ve finished, don’t forget those stretches to cool down your muscles and prevent soreness later on. After all that’s done, now is the time to dig in to your favourite My Muscle Chef meal to help the recovery process by restoring energy stocks.
What would you say to motivate people into getting started running and to people already running to persist with running?
It might seem hard to get going, but always know that you’ll feel much better for doing it once you’re done! Sometimes, rather than looking for motivation, it’s about having discipline to get it done. That positive endorphin rush you’ll get when you’ve finished is also plenty of motivation.
How should people increase their load as they progress?
Start by increasing time and/or distance in slow/small increments each week. Perhaps add 15 minutes to your run time each week (but this isn’t a solid number, whatever is comfortable for you) until you build up to your desired distance.
Once you’re hitting your targets consistently, from there, you can start doing shorter, faster runs to work on your speed. Always ensure you get your one long, slow run in each week though; this is a non-negotiable! It’s unlikely you’re sprint training for the Olympics, so some good, consistent cardio is an absolute must.
What are some ways people can change up their running routine to keep it interesting?
Location, Location, Location
Running is a great way to explore new locations. Always change it up and look for different routes as much as you can. Go coastal one week, then head towards the city the next. The different scenery will help to keep you motivated and ensure you don’t get bored.
It can be easy to favour, well, easier routes. But don't always avoid a direction due to things like hills. They might seem like a slog, but these will be beneficial for you in the long run! And the more you attack them the better you’ll be at handling them.
Personally, I love including some hill or stair sprints every couple of weeks. This will make you a stronger runner, as the better you get at going up inclines, the faster and smoother you’ll obviously be over flatter surfaces.
Change of Pace
Incorporating interval or speed training at least once a week will help keep your training interesting and is also great for increasing your pace! Among other types of training, I currently do one medium distance run, a fast/interval run and then a long run each week. The variation is fun and ensures versatility in my running.
Meeting new people keeps things interesting, so why not join a running group? Being a part of a group (or more than one!) will help to keep you accountable and is a great way to meet new people with similar goals to you. It’s fun to work towards something as part of a team!
Get App Happy
Running apps like Run Hunters and Strava will help you with a lot of these things I’ve listed. Run Hunters even has running tracks mapped out all over the world, so no matter where you are, you can always get one in.
What would you say to people who feel discouraged by their progress? How can they address this in a positive way?
If we’re talking about running ability, change isn’t going to happen overnight. So, if after a week or two, you’re not suddenly a master marathon runner, don’t be discouraged. These things take time!
However, I think it's important to be critical of yourself in this situation and address exactly why you aren't achieving the progress desired. Maybe it’s because you missed a few sessions or you haven't been eating as well as you could be or you’ve been drinking more alcohol. While it’s easy to get down and blame these things, they’re all things you’re responsible for and are easy fixes!
I'm all about balance, but when it comes to a goal I want to achieve, I won't let any distractions take me away from it! Learn from your mistakes and build from there. Look for something that will challenge you, don’t choose the easy option and follow the program!
Do you have a mantra that you use to keep yourself motivated?
If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
You'll need fuel to give you the energy to undertake this new running routine. My Muscle Chef's delicious, high protein meals are perfect to keep your engine pumping all day long.