Running Tips for Beginners, Couch to 5K Training Plan + Confessions of a Health Blogger

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This week I was delighted to be invited to guest post for http://www.healthyandpsyched.com

This is a great blog all about healthy living.  Rachel runs a fun series called confessions of a health blogger.  To read my running related confession click here

Out of all the sports that I do, I love running the most. For me it is so simple, I don’t have to think about it, I just put on a pair of trainers and go.  That’s not to say it is easy, but it doesn’t really require any brain power which means that I can totally switch off.  I can sort out all the thoughts in my head and organise myself. After a hectic day at work, an evening run gives me the chance to think through everything that has happened and de-stress and re-charge.

Running is really versatile.  It can be a solitary or a social sport and there are many different types of running clubs you can join or running sessions that you can do. But first, before you dismiss the thought of joining a club because you can’t run, I am going to show you how to get from zero to 5K in 10 weeks.  And this plan works!  I used this plan after a period of hospitilisation when, quite frankly, I nearly didn’t make it.  I had never really been a runner, I did the odd run here and there but nothing consistent or serious. When I came out of hospital I was the weakest and most unfit I had ever been in my life. Add on to that respiratory complications from collapsed lungs and I really didn’t know where to start.  On my first session I felt like I had been stabbed through the lung but 10 weeks later I was crossing the finish line of a 5K race in 28 minutes.  I have since gone on to run 10ks, 10 milers, half marathons and 2 full marathons.  Running then led me into triathlon which has been the most amazing experience.  If I can do it , so can you!

To help find your mojo read Finding Your Mojo: Creating the Motivation to Exercise

Gradual Exposure

Like any exercise that you are new to, its all about gradual exposure.  By that I mean not doing too much too soon.  Too much, too soon just means that:

  • It will be so hard and uncomfortable you wont enjoy it
  • You will hurt so much afterwards you wont be able to train again in a couple of days time
  • You risk injuring yourself

Gradual exposure will help you to feel the positive benefits of running and build yourself a good solid injury free base on which to build on.

Couch to 5K

All you need to do is hit every session. You will be training 4 times a week and the longest session is 40 minutes. We can all find a spare 40 minutes in a day.  And this is running so we are not restricted to gym/pool opening hours.  OK so you may have to get up an hour earlier or you may have less time in front of the TV but you will feel so much better for it. And along with all the super speedy, healthy recipes on this blog there are no excuses!

Don’t be tempted to think this is not enough or I’m not hurting enough afterwards so therefore I haven’t achieved anything.  Trust in the plan and see you on the finish line!

Wk1to3Wk4to6W7to9wk10

For extra inspiration I recommend buying a book called:

Running Made Easy by Susie Whalley and Lisa Jackson.

It includes this running plan plus extra ones to progress to for longer distances, lots of advice and real life inspirational stories and a handy dairy to track your progress.

What do I need to buy to run?

Not much!  Just wear some clothing that you are comfortable in. Yes you will see runners in special coats and shorty shorts or other forms of lycra.  This are specially designed and are useful especially on longer distances. I have all the gear!  But they are not a necesscity and for 5K you can pretty much wear what you want.  If you are on a budget don’t worry about special clothing. There are however, two things you should invest in:

  1. A good pair of trainers
  2. A good sports bra (if you are a female)

Trainers

A well fitting pair of trainers will help to protect you from injury and make running much more comfortable. If you can find a sports shop that does gait analysis (for free).  This will involve jogging at your pace on a treadmill for a minute or so.  Your feet will be filmed and the sales person will be able to see how your feet land and which parts need to be protected and supported.   They will advise you which type of trainer you need (cushioned, pronators, sub-pronators etc.) and they will also give you a selection of trainers to try.  They will ask you to pick 2 or 3 pairs and ask you to run in the new trainers to see which ones correct your gait the most.  If you are on a budget be up front at the beginning and tell the sales person what you are willing to spend so that they do not bring out trainers that are beyond your price range.

Sports Bras

Sports bras do not have to be too techinical! As long as they give you good coverage and hold everything in with minimal bounce that’s all you need.  This will make running so much more comfortable and protect your breast tissue from damage. You might want to think about how you need to put your bra on.  Some have no fastenings and just pull over your head.  These are really comfortable but if you have limited movement in your arms or shoulders it might be a bit challenging.  You can also get front fastening and back fastening bras which you may find more easy to put on.  I personally prefer ones with no fastening as there is nothing to chafe my skin and my preferred brand is Shock Absorber.

A note on drinks bottles and headphones

For this distance you don’t need either! I think that many people take a drinks bottle with them as a bit of a comfort blanket.  I know I used to!  But in reality you only need to be taking water on in a training session that lasts more than an hour. They are a pain in the butt to carry and can cause imbalances when you run.

Headphones, again I used to use these as I thought that I would get really bored when running and to “take my mind off it”.  I stopped using them when I started racing properly as you are not allowed to wear them in races and I wanted to know what it felt like to run without them.  That’s when I discovered the real therapeutic benefits of running. Running without headphones allows you to be in the moment, to think, to listen to your breathing, listen to the rythym of your feet and allows your mind to relax. One of my favourite sounds is when you are in the bunch at the start of a race and its silent apart from the padding of everyones feet on the tarmac.  I would like to challenge all you headphone runners to try without because you don’t know what you are missing out on. I also don’t miss getting tangled up in my wires and ripping the headphones out of my ears, having to stop to sort it out or find another playlist to listen to.

However the most important thing is that you run.  And if a drinks bottle and headphones is the difference between you running and not running then I am not going to judge.

I hope that this article has shown you that you can be a runner. Start gradually, follow a plan and with a good bra and a decent pair of trainers you will become a runner.

If you have any further questions please ask!  You can leave a comment below or you can email me at hello@cleanleanbean.com

I will be writing some more advanced articles on running over the coming months.  To ensure that you don’t miss these please sign up for email alerts by clicking the follow button

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