Guest blog by local running coach Chrissie Stephenson, who gives some tips to people thinking of trying running as their exercise allowance during the COVID-19 lockdown.
If you’re looking for a new exercise during the lockdown (now that the gyms are shut) and are thinking of trying running, here are a few tips that have worked for hundreds of runners I’ve coached, from newbies to those running sub 3 hour marathons.
I hope this blog helps answer any questions you may have about running and encourages you to take part in a wonderful sport for both physical and mental wellbeing.
FOOD AND DRINK.
Do you need to eat before you run?
This question is like the length of the proverbial piece of string. The answer depends on your fitness level and what your standard nutrition is like.
The general rule is that if you are going to run for under an hour, you should be okay if you don’t fuel beforehand.
For those who are just starting out running, this time-frame may be closer to 30 minutes.
(Please note that during the current lockdown, whilst there are no official guidelines regarding time allowed for daily exercise, one Government minister has suggested a 30 minute limit for running. Please check for latest advice.)
Other food-related points to note:
- Cramp is an indication that your electrolytes are low, so you should top up on foods that contain potassium, such as bananas (I usually take a banana with me whilst running as it’s easy to hold and I can take a bite every 30 minutes or so to keep my energy topped up).
- Giddiness is a sign your blood sugar levels are low. Carbohydrate intake will help.
After you have finished your run, your body will need energy to help repair your muscles. Carbohydrates and protein are key. I’m a big fan of poached egg on toast with added spinach for iron.
If you’re running to help reduce your waistline, be conscious that a 30 minute run will burn about 250 calories. Remember though that it’s important to gradually build up to the longer distances.
On the subject of running and food, a lot of the runners I coach often say how running has helped improve their diet, because they feel so much better in themselves.
Finally, remember the importance of hydration. Drink plenty of water before and after your run and, on longer runs and during warm weather, take water with you.
However long you are planning to run for, spend at least 10 minutes warming up.
Start with a super slow warm up jog for around 5 minutes. Aim for an ‘easy chatting’ pace. During this period, you are not just warming up and loosening your muscles, you are also warming your heart up and firing up all your neural pathways.
Follow the warm-up run with some dynamic stretches. These will promote the release of synovial fluid around your joints, which will help protect them while you run.
Click here for more details about warm-up runs, drills and stretching.
OTHER RUNNING FAQs
How to prevent getting out of breath?
Being out of breath is a sign that you are running too fast for your body and that not enough oxygen is getting to your muscles… so slow down!
A tip I give to runners is to count your footsteps and see if you can get 100! This is a trick I learned from a professional Iron Man athlete I used to train with who used it during a world championship marathon race.
At mile two of the marathon, he wanted to give up. His body was tired and didn’t want to work. He decided he would run 100 more steps. He then ran 100 more after that, and another 100 after that. Eventually he not only completed the race but finished second despite nearly giving up early on. Counting helps distract your brain and slows you down to a pace where your body can get enough oxygen to your muscles. Give it a try and let me know how you get on.
How to stay motivated?
This is a common problem for beginners. I know of many runners who start running with great enthusiasm, but as the weeks go by, their motivation wanes. Some of the ways I help runners include getting them to run in groups with manageable targets for beginners, on-demand training, live coaching and Q&A sessions, and progress tracking.
Obviously, in the current COVID-19 situation, social distancing is of paramount importance, so only run on your own or with people from your household.
About the author
Chrissie Stephenson is a successful local running coach who helps people of all abilities and ambitions. Whether you want to jog round the park or run a marathon, Chrissie can help. Following a serious accident, which at one point threatened amputation of her leg, Chrissie faced a long recuperation period during which she literally had to relearn how to walk before she could run again. The resilience Chrissie showed in the face of such adversity has helped her inspire many people to start and continue running. Read more about Chrissie’s story here.