Considerations for the novice runner: Increasing your race distance

Taking part in and completing your first 10 km, half or marathon holds a fantastic feeling and achievement, after all it’s a serious distance to run with a considerable amount of commitment to training and effort required, not only on the day but also the preceding weeks, especially if you are new to running. It may be the case you have run some 5 km’s before or perhaps you are starting from scratch and have given yourself a good challenge to kick start 2020. There are some considerations and approaches that will help you make the transition to an increased distance, an enjoyable and rewarding experience.


The most important thing when starting your training and succeeding in completing the longer distance is motivation. As a fitness coach one of the key roles alongside educating the client is also making sure motivation is both provided during training sessions and also to encourage self-motivation during the rest of the week when the client will be having to push themselves to get out there and train and also to keep within the structure of a good progressive training plan. If you can stay motivated then the rest is relatively easy. There are two key principles and areas of focus that will help you to succeed and stay on track.


· Set realistic goals with your training that fit in with your current lifestyle and the time available to you as an individual to commit to your training.


· Create a habit. Make sure you stick with your pre-determined plan so you are able to feel and see the benefits of what you are doing.


Follow these two things and you will be more likely to keep motivated and develop your running to a level you want and more importantly what you need to complete the race distance. Also perhaps link your motivation to something. A charity, an agreement with a family member or something that’s going to give you that extra push will always be useful when it comes to motivation and commitment.


When doing your weekly training keep a record of your efforts, distances, times, how you felt etc and see this as an integral part of the overall achievement of what you are doing. See these individual training runs and weeks as short term attainable goals that help develop you as a runner and feed towards the greater goal and sense of achievement of running the half marathon. Training runs can soon seem insignificant or negative if you keep comparing them for example to a 26-mile run. If you are an inexperienced runner many of your training runs may well be Pb's, give yourself a pat on the back for these important progressions.


Try and follow a structure running plan that is progressive but also well defined in terms of how it fits in with your weekly time allowance for running and any accessory activity. Try not to over commit early on, be realistic with what you can achieve on a daily and weekly basis. There are a multitude of generic running plans online to suit most people’s needs.

Invariably over the run up to the race day your training may well slide at some point due to lack of time, illness or some other unforeseen reason. If you miss a training run don’t panic, enjoy the extra days rest and don’t try and cram in the missed session on top of everything else you have planned. Perhaps fit the run in on a day that you have a planned x-training session instead. The most important thing is to get back on track as soon as possible and stay with your plan.



Alongside having the will and sustained motivation with your training there are some more practical elements that will make for a comfortable training experience. Below are some pointers for preventing Injury and staying comfortable when training:


· Correct footwear is a must if running, many a niggle or injury is born out of using inappropriate training shoes. Whatever you do don’t buy a brand new pair of running shoes just before the race, make sure any footwear is well worn in before race day.


· Visit a specialist running store so you can purchase the appropriate footwear. Many running specialist stores will provide gait analysis and let you try before you buy on a treadmill to make sure you are comfortable and have the shoes that are right for you. Try and wear polyester fabrics or clothes that ‘wick’ and take moisture away from the skin.





· Think about doing some form of X-Training i.e. cycling, swimming or to support your running in an aid to develop good leg and upper body strength. Consult an exercise professional if you think a bespoke programme built around your needs is what you need to achieve your goal. Some form of resistance programming is a must to compliment your running. Even if it is just body weight exercises at home. You should look to do 1-2 sessions a week that focus on leg/glute and core development. This will progress your running for sure!



· Learn to distinguish between an ‘ache’ and a ‘pain’. During or post running your legs may feel fatigued and you may feel the odd niggle. If these niggles subside after 10-15 minutes then that’s ok, if you have sustained ‘pain’ then best to stop and get it checked out.


· Think about a sports massage every now and then to keep your soft tissue in great shape.


· Introduce some regular form of mobility or flexibility work alongside your training sessions to maintain a functional range of movement and efficiency in your running gait.


· Include some running drills or trail running into your plan. Don’t just pound the concrete day in day out. Through giving these variations, your body will thank you in the long run.


· Vary your training pace. Even if you are a novice runner its vital not just to train in second gear from start to finish. Use hill reps, intervals and Fartlek sessions to keep things fresh and allow you to get a feel for your own physiology and physical capabilities.


One final piece of advice I would give is to enjoy your running, at the end of the day, like any other form of exercise it should be enjoyable, if you can make it sociable too, join a group of friends or running club. Take into consideration some or all of the points above and you should be set to get on track and increase the overall distance you are comfortable to race at. Good luck for 2020!


We hold bi-weekly running sessions at the Creation studio on a Monday and Thursday. Have a look on the classes page of our website for more details: https://www.creationpt.com/classes





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