Ready, Set, Run: Your Ultimate Guide to Pounding The Pavement - Women's Health

2022-05-05 02:52:42 By : Mr. Arthur Li

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Whether you’re a running newbie or seasoned regular, the pages ahead have you well and truly covered. From a four-week plan for beginners and pro strategies for race day to empowering stories and the strength workout that’ll put even more of a spring in your step. time to lace up…

Not currently a member of the pavement-pounding club? no sweat. you’re just four short weeks away with This expert-designed plan that’ll get you running for 30 minutes non-stop.

An express pedi, a sneaky WFH nap, an episode of Emily In Paris – in most cases, 30 minutes will whizz by. Until you start running, that is, at which point, time inexplicably turns to treacle. I

t’s the reason lacing up and getting out there can feel more than a little daunting; a feat best left to those in the club. Not so, insists running coach Tashi Skervin-Clarke.

“There’s something about running that feels intimidating and exclusive, but it’s just as natural a movement as walking – and finding it hard doesn’t mean you’re not built for it,” she says. “Running is a skill, and, like any skill, the more you train, the more you’ll improve.”

Whether you want to build up your fitness to smash out a 30-minute run, or turn an occasional hobby into a weekly habit, this four-week plan, created by Skervin-Clarke, will get you there.

Designed to increase your endurance, confidence and strength, the plan is easy to follow – all you need to do is stick with it. There are rest days built into every week, so you’ll have plenty of time to recover.

With consistency, you can expect to progress quickly, and by the time you’ve seen it through to the end, you’ll be able to take yourself off for a half-hour run, no problem. Ready? Let’s go. 

This plan is for anyone who wants to make running a regular habit but struggles to keep going after 1km or so.

You’ll need to have a base level of fitness; if you stay relatively active during the week (by doing moderate home workouts, walking or cycling) you’ll be able to do this. But you don’t need to be a regular runner – that’s what the next four weeks are for. You won’t be expected to run further or faster with each run – although you will eventually.

Instead, the plan focuses on different types of runs that will tax your body in unique ways, to help increase your speed, endurance (the amount of time your muscles perform an action) and your VO₂ max (a measure of how much oxygen you can consume during exercise – a good indicator of how fit you are).

Improving on all three fronts is what will turn you into a competent, confident runner. “Varying your training like this also keeps it feeling fun and fresh,” Skervin-Clarke adds. “This will help boost your motivation and keep you on track to achieving your goals.”

Each week, you’ll do three runs, plus one strength session. “It’ll help you develop the muscles you use most during running, which, in turn, will make you a faster and more efficient runner,” says Skervin-Clarke. Strong glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves are key, but so is core. “A strong core will help you stabilise your body as you run.

This means you’ll be less likely to injure yourself as there’s minimal unwanted movement through your hips and upper body. Less non-essential movement also means you won’t be using up energy unnecessarily.”

Check out Your weekly timetable on the right. and get the most from your time with our running lingo guide .

There might be some terminology you’ve not come across before. This index explains what you should be aiming for during each type of run.

This type of running is a great way to up your distance without training your muscles to the point of exhaustion. Your steady runs are performed at a much slower pace than tempo and interval runs – they’re more about increasing blood flow to the muscles to boost recovery than working up a serious sweat. 

You’ll start at the pace of a steady run and gradually increase your speed, finishing at a fast pace. This kind of running is great for building your endurance. 

Your work and rest periods will vary; you’ll perform short bursts at a higher intensity, which will in turn help you build speed, improve your running economy (how much energy you use) and increase your overall body strength.

This effort level is just outside your comfort zone. You won’t work as hard as in interval runs, but you won’t feel like a steady run either. Tempo runs increase your lactate threshold (the intensity of exercise at which lactic acid accumulates in the blood faster than it can be removed), which will help you run faster for longer.

In the plan, you’ll need to play close attention to your rate of perceived exertion (RPE), which really just means how hard you’re working on a scale of one to 10. Let’s call it effort. Anything below level 4 doesn’t really constitute a workout.

4-5: You could have a long chat with a friend at this pace.

6-7: You can manage a few sentences now, but it’s less comfortable.

8-9: You’re breathing hard and can only manage one word at a time.

10: This is your absolute max. Talking is not an option.

Do 30 secs of exercise , followed by 30 secs of exercise , then catch your breath. Repeat each superset 3 times, resting for 1 min before moving on to the next one

1. Standing with your feet hip-width apart, hinge at the knees to come into a squat position – making sure your knees track over your toes.

2. Pushing through your heels, return to standing and squeeze your glutes at the top.

1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then bend down to place your hands on the floor in front of your feet.

2. Walk your hands away from your body until you’re in a plank position, bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor.

3. Push back up to plank position and walk your hands back to your feet to return to standing.

1. Start on all fours and draw your belly button to your spine to engage your core. Extend your right arm out in front of you and your left leg out behind you, pushing through the back heel.

2. With control, bring your arm and leg back to the starting position, keeping your core tight. Repeat on the other side.

1. Stand with one foot on the mat, with a slight bend in the knee and one foot slightly raised. Hinge at the hips to push your bum and raised leg back until your upper body and raised leg form a horizontal line.

2. Use your glutes to return to standing, trying to keep your raised leg floating off the ground. Switch sides halfway.

1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core and take a big step back with your right foot. Bend your knees until your left thigh is parallel to the floor.

2. Push up and step back to the starting position. Now, repeat on the other side.

1. Lie down on your back on your mat, with your arms by your sides.

2. Using your core and keeping your legs straight, bring your hands and toes up to touch. Lower back down slowly, tapping your hands and feet to the floor, and repeat.

1. Start in tabletop position, with your knees lifted a few cms off the mat.

2. Lift your right leg and right arm to move to the right. Follow with your left leg and left arm to come back to tabletop. Now reverse and move to the left. Repeat, moving side to side.

1. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor. Pushing down with your heels, lift your hips until you’re in a straight line from knees to shoulders.

2. Without over-arching your lower back, squeeze your bum as hard as you can at the top, then roll down.

1. With hands on your hips, take a big step back with your left leg, crossing it behind your right. Keeping your body upright, bend your knees until your right thigh is nearly parallel to the floor.

2. Return to the starting position and repeat, alternating legs.

1. Start in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked over wrists.

2. Bring your left knee in towards your left elbow and back to the starting position, then do the same with your right knee.

Cat Roberts, 27, a theatre lighting technician, let go of years of disordered eating and now fights to help female runners feel safe on the streets.

“I was 16 when I went for my first run. I was going to high school in a rural area, so it involved navigating a lot of muddy hills. With my lungs burning, I felt like I’d run a half-marathon after about half a kilometre. My goal was to be as slim as possible, so I’d head out at least three or four times a week, always under-fuelled. 

It wasn’t until I went to university that I began to beat my body demons and find the healthy positives of exercise. I joined a running club to make friends and, from the sense of community to the endorphin kick I got from training, it showed me that exercise didn’t have to be a punishment. Granted, the first few sessions were tough – I’m naturally an introvert – but the club was the catalyst for turning my life around. 

The trainers taught me plenty about running. I learnt about intervals to build my speed and cardio endurance, and strength work, which I now practise more than ever, both to prevent injury and to help with my job. As a lighting technician, I’m often on my feet and lifting heavy sets. I generally try to run three times a week – one speed run, a tempo run and a longer distance run – complemented with two strength sessions.

My diet has progressed over time. I became vegan in my final year at uni, which forced me to think about nutrition to ensure I was getting enough protein and nutrients from my food. Veganism has had a positive impact on my athletic performance – I rarely feel fatigued and have plenty of energy. A typical day starts with a bowl of porridge topped with peanut butter and fruit. Lunch is usually a stir-fry or a jacket potato. For dinner, I eat a lot of potatoes, vegetables and also tofu.

Street harassment is the only negative I’ve experienced from running. I’ve been catcalled, followed, had men grab me – the lot. I’m stubborn and I won’t let it stop me doing what I love, but I make sure to let my housemate know where I’m going, or run in well-lit or well-populated areas. It breaks my heart that some women second-guess heading out, so I now campaign to help them feel safer – I’m proud of being vocal and I won’t give up. 

On a personal level, 10 years since I first took to the pavements, I’m noticeably more neutral about my body. I now see it as a tool to help me run, rather than something I don’t like. I finally feel comfortable with who I am.”

So, you’ve decided to take on your first running event. or maybe you’re a seasoned runner and it’s been some time since you last stood on the start line. well, consider this your guide to getting race-day prepped. Whether you’re running five or 42km, this countdown (Feat: tips from veteran runners) will set your mind and body up for success. Disclaimer: add this advice to your toolkit but avoid trying anything on race day that you haven’t tested during training.

“Plan your schedule from wake up to competition, when you’re going to eat, nap, hydrate and refuel… If you can minimise stress by being organised, there’s more energy to focus on racing well,” says Olympic hurdler and Puma athlete Liz Clay.

Sports psychologist Adrienne Langelier has these race-day mantras. She uses, “I have worked hard for this” before the race, “Steady rhythm” during the race and “This is normal” when things get hard.

Don’t worry about sleep

“Consider sleep a bonus. If you don’t [sleep well], the pre-race nerves that kept you up will give you an extra boost once you run,” says marathoner Becky Wade.

Lay out everything you plan to wear and bring the next day, such as:

✓  Race-day clothes and face mask if needed (plus extras in case of cold or rain)

✓  Accessories such as sunglasses or headphones

✓  Hair ties, including extras. “I always wear a high bun – it won’t come unravelled, no matter what,” says Alexi Pappas, a 2016 Olympian in the 10,000m

✓  Gels or other mid-race fuel (for longer races)

✓  Race number and pins. “Pin it on your vest the night before so you don’t forget,” says Shawanna White, a 2:45 marathoner

Wake up, drink the coffee

Have your coffee when you wake up. It can help move your bowels and prevent a mid-race emergency. Emily Infeld, a 2016 10,000m Olympian, drinks her coffee at least two hours before a race.

Infeld eats something plain and easy to digest, with simple carbs, two to three hours before a race: a bagel, porridge, toast or a Clif Bar. Aim to drink an additional 3ml per 0.45kg of body weight before a race. And, “if you sweat more, drink more”, says Starla Garcia, a registered dietitian and 2020 US Olympic marathon trials qualifier. “Keep heat and humidity in mind, as well as personal history of dehydration.” 

Give yourself ample time if you’re driving or using public transport. Drop your gear then warm up for 15 minutes. Infeld recommends easy jogging, light stretching and strides 30 minutes before your race starts, giving you time for a final toilet stop. Clay adds, “Keep everything simple and the same as you would on a normal practice day. Racing is simply about repeating what you’ve already done in training, but under pressure.”

Wake up, fuel, drink your coffee immediately

Three and a half hours before the gun, Wade eats something filling and easy to digest. Her favourite: a bagel (any kind except whole wheat, because the fibre makes it harder to digest) with a tablespoon of peanut butter on each side, a sliced banana on top and a drizzle of honey. Hydrate according to the 3ml rule. Worry about your bladder later, says Pappas.

For larger races, allow 30 extra minutes for traffic and parking, says Lauren Ross, a 2:45 marathoner. She advises having multiple parking options. “If you’re running a new-to-you race, find a recap online,” she says. “They often mention logistical hurdles like walking to the start, gear check and toilet queues.”

Join the toilet queue as you arrive, Ross tips. If the queues are long, have your snack – some fruit gummies or a muesli bar – while waiting. Ross has an easy-to-digest carbohydrate with extra electrolytes, such as Honey Stinger chews.

Pro marathoner Sara Hall warms up 45 minutes before a marathon with 10 minutes of light drills and strides. For a half marathon, Wade warms up at an easy pace for two miles. “With the longer stuff [like a marathon], you’ll warm up in the first mile or two. Conserve your energy for the final miles,” Wade says.

Repeat your mantras and stay relaxed. Clay says, “Focus on what you can control: your mindset, how you acknowledge nerves and what you do with them, your body and your actions. Competition is about enjoying the rewards from training you’ve already done, plus extra adrenaline and excitement. You are in charge of the process!”

Morgan is WH’s digital fitness writer with a penchant for brutal HIIT classes and thick post-workout smoothies. Her CV includes advertising trade publication, LBB Online, and sister publication Women’s Health Australia. Now on UK soil, Morgan spends the majority of her time in the gym or rolling out her yoga mat at home, she’s passionate about making fitness accessible for all, no matter the location, level or budget. Goofy by nature she’s always up for a belly laugh or burpee, although preferably not at the same time, please.

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