Run safely in 2024
Running is a popular form of exercise. It’s effective, is easy to fit into our day and requires minimal expense and equipment. Whether you are returning to running or looking to start running for the first time, it’s helpful to be prepared. It’s important to have a plan so that you can train smart. Here are our top tips to help you along your journey.
Before your start
- Assess your baseline fitness – are you already active? If not, start off with a walking program. For example, walking 3-4 times per week at a comfortable pace (even if it’s 5-10mins) and gradually build up to 30-45mins per walk. This is an effective way to start conditioning your body.
- Are your muscles strong enough? You will benefit from starting to run specific strength exercises. Ideally starting 4-6 weeks prior to beginning a running program. This can help your muscles to tolerate the new loads associated with running.
- Do you have the right shoes? I recommend you take the time to go to a dedicated shoe store to try on shoes and walk/jog in them to see how they feel. The key factor should be that your shoes feel comfortable.
How to form a running plan
- It is important to remain consistent to make progress. Structure your training plan around 2-3 runs per week. Begin running on alternate days with rest days in between. If you are already active, you can walk on the days in between or cross train (E.g. gym, swimming, Pilates, cycling).
- Warm up and cool down. 5-10mins of dynamic stretches and exercises beforehand, with 5mins of cool down activity afterwards can go a long way.
- Start with a walk/jog interval type program. There are multiple Couch to 5km programs out there which can be simple and effective, but knowing which one is right for you is important. Programs that make a big jump in running time, could lead to injury due to overloading your tissues. Consider talking to a running expert who specialises in helping runners.
- Run for time, not distance. In the beginning when you are building your tolerance, running based on time allows you to settle into a pace that suits you. Aiming for a distance often creates pressure to push harder and run further. For example, you might start off with 1min jogging and 2min walking for a total of 20mins, repeating this each session for the first week and gradually building from there.
- Your run/walk programs can be modified to suit your ability. If you are struggling with 1min of running, then replace the running portion with a fast power walk and the walking portion with a recovery/slow walk until you feel able to begin running.
Extra running tips
- Focus on building time running (volume) and be consistent for a period before you add speed, hills, intervals, or races.
- Running specific strength and mobility work is important. These are key components to include in your overall exercise routine and can limit injury and assist running longevity.
- Your fitness may improve faster than your tissue’s ability to adapt. You may feel able to run further or faster sooner, don’t! Take your time. Running injuries can often show up 3-6 weeks after a “training error”.
- It is normal to feel muscle tightness or stiffness the day after runs, but persisting niggles, pain or restriction affecting day to day life is not normal. Do not continue to run through this. If your body is telling you to take a break – then take one. If pain persists, see a health professional.
Enda specialises in treating running-related injuries, as well as providing training plans and strength and conditioning advice for runners. An experienced runner himself, Enda has completed multiple marathons, including qualifying for the Boston marathon, with a PB of 2:47:21. He has finished a 100km ultramarathon and in recent years has started to take part in triathlons, with an Ironman planned for 2024.