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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tips for non-runners to learn how to run.

Before April this year had not run for more than 200meters straight I don’t think!! As I said in an earlier post - I could not even do the C25K program in the beginning because I could not do more than 3 intervals of 60sec running!!! However - intervals are definitely the way to start to run. I probably should have gone to 30sec and 30sec if I couldn't do 60sec... That way I still could have built up. Eventually the C25K would have been ok to keep going with. (See link on right for C25K). I ended up giving up for ages, doing other stuff and by the time I came back to it I could do the 60sec...

I remember in my early days of trying to run my PT told me not to kill myself - just go for an easy jog.... I didn’t understand - I was mystified. What is an easy jog?!? All jogging is hard!! Jogging for 2 min killed me at that stage. A few months on I have some sort of inkling of where she was at even though I can barely jog for 20min on the treadmill!!! I'm guessing by 'easy' she meant - put the speed down and do a short amount of time... which I am absolutely overjoyed to say is a possibility these days! So, to all you non-runners out there - a few months is all it takes to understand the meaning of 'easy' jog!! :-) I remember telling her at one stage I was going to teach her how to teach someone like me how to run.

When I was researching this I ended up looking at a lot of marathon training stuff. Not because I wanted to run a marathon - but because 5min of straight running for me was like I WAS running a marathon. The mental tricks they teach people who are training to do marathons helped me to keep running and pushing to run more - and they are still helping!!

Things that are helpful mentally when trying to build up time running.

Realising that RUNNING IS HARD!! If it was easy - everybody would do it!! Yes - your legs get tired and your arms get tired... Well - Running tires EVERY part of your body out.. That's why it's great to do!! :-)  BUT it is possible with the right mental strategies (and believe me I have tried to research them all) time and practice!! I read the only way to get better at running was to RUN!!

Associative (thinking about yourself and what you are doing) and dissociative (thinking about other things) thought patterns which are basically things like:

1. Visualise yourself somewhere else, perhaps running along a beach on a beautiful day - Personally I don’t find this helpful, but a friend of mine does..
2. Repeat positive thoughts over in your head, - You have strong legs, this is easy, you can do this… etc…
3. Think about relaxing your shoulders and the action of lifting your legs (and perhaps slowing your breathing).
4. Another thing I do when it gets really hard which sounds dumb is count my steps.. It stops me thinking about the fact it is hard and stops me thinking dumb things like, “I am tired, This is hard, I can’t do this.” If I have even a hint of that while I am trying to run I go back to number 2, 3 and 4!!  Stupid - but it is working for me.. I am able to run for longer each week and each week what I did the week before seems easier - which helps step 2!!
5. Concentrating on music works now too - it didn't do it for me in the beginning because it was just SO hard to run that I couldn't focus on anything but keeping on going to the required number of minutes to build on the last time!!

Things I found helpful to know about learning to run.

The running program must improve the cardiovascular system (aerobic capacity). You should run at a speed where you can still talk to be improving this. At this pace you are training your heart and lungs to become more efficient at absorbing, delivering and utilizing oxygen. The harder you run, the faster your heart beats trying to deliver the oxygen demanded by the muscles. At some point, your need for oxygen will exceed what the heart can deliver and this is what we call anaerobic exercise (exercising without oxygen). In order to improve our aerobic capacity we must run below this threshold - avoid running to fast.

This was hard for me at the start because my heart rate was always to high - even at a low speed. I ended up persisting with the speed I wanted to run at and now my heart rate is heaps better. Most articles supported the stuff above - but there were some I read (below paragraph) which argued that anaerobic stuff is better for improving aerobic capacity so I felt ok doing it that way - and it seems to have worked!!

Running at this low intensity (aerobic building) is great for building an endurance base and for recovery between hard workouts, however, perhaps optimum improvements in aerobic fitness occur when running is performed at an intensity over 90% max HR (perhaps with interval running). This is because training at this high intensity targets improvements in VO2 max (lung capacity). Short bursts of speed stimulate the anaerobic metabolism and the aerobic system is used during the recovery phase.

A healthy and effective workout routine will combine both aerobic and anaerobic sessions. Start by incorporating 1-2 sessions per week of high intensity running (anaerobic) and 1-2 of continuous running (aerobic). Make sure you warm up well before hand and try to leave a rest day between running days. This will allow your body to recover and improve and reduce the chance of over-training or overuse injuries. (Trust me - I've had to put up with different tendons having a hissy fit at their level of use!!)

At the moment each week I do one run for as long as I can (and I try to do longer each time). I also do one interval day - pyramid runs are good for this. Before classes I try and fit in an "EASY" 5-10 min jog.. Hehehe.. I can say that now!! YAY!
Helpful stuff I learnt about running form.
Relaxing your shoulders is a big one. When it is hard I tend to tense up which seems to make it harder. If I think about relaxing my shoulders and lifting my legs a little more it feels easier to run and I can breath better. Things I've read talk about actually dropping your arms and shoulders and shaking your out hands.
You want to land on the balls of your feet - not your heels like with walking. If your heels are striking the ground first they are too far in front of your body.

Breathing.
I have never really understood this, but I think the general idea is that you use your diaphragm (deep belly breathing) and slow your breathing down. The times I have concentrated on the breathing side of things I end up dizzy - so I don't worry to much about it. It happens - I breath. :-)

Treadmill vs outside.
In a nutshell, the treadmill is heaps easier than running outside when the gradient is on 0 - it's equivalent to running down a hill. To train to be able to run outside you need the gradient to be set on at least 1-1.5. BUT I am only just doing that now!! I wanted to get the time I could run up first before playing with the gradient and making it harder!! :-)
Articles I found helpful.





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