A run isn't everyones favourite form of exercise, this we all know!
Some find it mind-numbingly boring and don't like the repetitive nature of running, others are insecure about bouncing all over the place and some people still feel like running regularly will mean they'll have to have double knee surgery by 55. (Unless you're trying to be Usain Bolt, you should be fine).
Others however, love it! The versatility of a run can be one of its biggest upsides. You can run along the beach while on holiday, in your own neighbourhood before/after work, in-doors on a treadmill or outside in the rain (people do it, trust me).
With the current lockdown and closures of gyms and recreational facilities, people have been getting much more in touch with their fitness and at home routines have become incredibly popular! A run around the block has never been so enticing as it is in our current climate with outdoor exercise in our own neighbourhoods one of the only times we're allowed to leave the house. Adding a run to your daily isolation routine will help the hours pass by quicker and help with your health and fitness goals too.
Having a routine to go with your run means you'll be able to set goals easier and get the most out of it, even if running isn't your favourite way to burn calories, yet.
Whether you're a marathon master, a casual jogger or haven't ever put your feet to floor and would just like to try something new, there are things you can do before, during and after a run that can make the difference to whether it's great or 'meh'.
Before a run, you need to make sure your muscles are ready for movement. Try doing 5 minutes of simple stretches to promote blood flow and wake those legs up. Even though it adds a bit of extra time to the beginning of your routine, it's a great opportunity to relax and control your breaths, stretching before any exercise can help prevent injury.
- Alternating standing squad stretch
- Seated hamstring stretch
- Alternating calf stretch on a wall
Have a snack!
Your body needs fuel to be able to smash through those kms. Having a small nutritious snack before you head out can be the difference between burning out and pulling through when you're half way done with a run (especially if you're going after work, before dinner time!)
A couple of free-range boiled eggs, a handful of kumara fries, small serve of coconut yoghurt or better yet, a protein bar are all satisfying snacks that will help your energy levels without giving you the stitch once you get started.
Create a killer playlist
Having a playlist to suit your run and mood is a sure fire way to make sure you stay motivated and keep a good pace. If you're into slow RnB jams or heavy metal, make sure to mix up the vibe and tempo every few tracks to keep your mind stimulated. A playlist is also a good time keeper; your goal might be to run for 4 songs, then 6, then in no time you'll be keeping a good pace to the entire new Justin Bieber album!
It's really important to be hydrated when doing exercise, and that doesn't just mean having a glass of water when you've finished a run, but making sure you're not dehydrated before you even attempt it. Drink water throughout the day, especially on days when you're going to be doing something active. Adding amino acids or Creatine to your water is a great way to kickstart and/or enhance your hydration and endurance.
Know where you're going
A lot of people will go for a run and will stop or turn back when they're feeling tired or out of breath. Planning a set route is much better for allowing you to set goals and pace yourself so that you don't exert too much energy by sprinting for the first 200 metres then not being able to carry on. Scout some beautiful spots in your area to run in, then up the distance and alternate the routes as you become more fit.
Breathing is key
Catching yourself out of breath is common during a run whether you're a pro or not. Having calm, consistent breaths will allow you to feel less fatigued and more in control of your run. Breathing only in and out of your mouth can have a slight hyperventilating affect and only breathing in and out of your nose wont provide your brain with enough oxygen to sustain a good run for very long. Try alternating between the two.
Running outdoors can be really peaceful and motivating. It is important though, to remain aware of your surroundings and alert to any changes, especially when running at night or early in the morning when it's not very light outside. Don't become too distracted by that killer playlist you created that you can't see traffic, obstacles or other runners around you, and remember the two metre rule!
Everyone's post exercise recovery is different depending on their individual goals, level of fitness and preferences. There are a few staple things you can do no matter your frequency of runs.
Hydrate again! Make sure you are having enough water to replace all the sweating you've done while hitting that pavement. Have a drink once your heart rate settles down and your breathing has come back to a normal pace.
Refuel your body with some protein. Yes, even after cardio, protein is the best supplement to help recover your muscles so that you don't walk around the next day as if your legs are made of noodles.
Have another stretch, wind down and reflect on what you've just achieved. It's important to give your muscles another little stretch post run, so that they stay flexible and don't seize up.
Don't forget to congratulate yourself! If it's the first or the fifth run of the week, you just did something to benefit your body, well done!