I AM so delighted to be taking part in The Echo Virtual Women’s Mini Marathon this year.
Running, walking and staying fit has always been a part of my life, an outlet that I enjoy for the headspace it gives me now as much as anything else.
I wouldn’t call myself competitive or even good at running anymore, I like the odd 5km when my poor old knees are up to it — but the great thing about running or walking is that it is for everyone, no matter your age or your ability. It is probably the most inclusive sport there is.
The fabulous thing about this year’s virtual mini marathon is that you can do it wherever and however you like, if you want to do your 6km whilst walking around the garden; you can, if you want do it whilst running uphill; you can, and if you want to do it whilst walking around the block with friends in the evening; you can!
I plan on running the 6km but at a slow pace while I try and manage a knee injury that is not quite sorted yet.
Regardless of how you want to participate, look at it as an excuse to put yourself first if, like me, you have fallen out of the routine of getting out in the evenings and the novelty of all those lockdown pilates zoom classes wore off, much like the novelty of home-schooling!
There are a few things you can do to as part of the process to ensure your overall wellbeing and fitness improves. While 6km is a lovely manageable distance, it still requires us to be mindful of how we treat our bodies so that we don’t end up injured.
The first thing I would advise is to get yourself a decent pair of runners and a good sports bra. Once you have the foundations right, the rest is about comfort so throw on your favourite pair of shorts and t-shirt and get outside.
I always like to take a few minutes at the front door to do a bit of a stretch. I find areas like my neck and the back of my legs need a bit of attention after spending the day standing and looking down at small people aka my children! It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous; a few simple stretches start from your neck working down to your ankles.
In terms of a training programme, there are two approaches you can take — download a training plan like the couch to 5km which will, for example, tell you to run for 60 seconds then walk for 90 seconds and alternate that for 20 minutes.
That approach suits some people, but it doesn’t suit me, I prefer to listen to my body and go from there. To begin with I map out a couple of 6km routes and start by walking at a good brisk pace and then I add in some slow running.
Run for as long as it feels comfortable then stop and go back to walking and then run again when you feel up to it and alternate like that.
Over the weeks you will find you are running more and walking less, simple!
Keep the pace nice and slow, trying not to get out of breath. And remember, you will have days when you feel great running and days when your legs feel like lead, don’t get discouraged it’s just the way our bodies work; hormones, weather, what we eat and drink... all affect how we feel some days.
When you get back from a run, again it is useful to repeat the stretches you did on the way out. Stretching is a really good way of preventing you from feeling sore the next day after a run and is also important for the prevention of injury. It is worth taking a few minutes while you catch your breath to do a warm down.
If you have a bathtub, I would highly recommend using a walk or a run as a perfect excuse to fil up that tub, add in some Epsom salts to help any sore muscles, then lie back and relax feeling very contented with all your progress!
Once a week, or twice if you can manage it, it is essential to incorporate some strength and conditioning, work especially if you have had a baby. This is something that I have previously neglected to do and ended up with a very sore knee injury that took many months of physio and targeted exercises to improve.
Even if you haven’t had a baby, pounding the roads as a walker or runner can be tough on the body so it’s important to make sure you are strong as well as fit.
I think it is safe to say that after our many months of lockdown, a quick google will unearth any number of YouTube tutorials for pilates or yoga and you can be even more specific and find ones suitable for runners which usually feature a little more work on the core and quads.
HOW TO SIGN UP
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