Running is a fantastic way to get fit and keep your weight and mental health in check. However, as with anything new, it’s important not to dive in the deep end too soon. Do this and you may risk getting injured - meaning you have to rest and start all over again.
We sat down with Kate Percy, athlete and sports nutritionist who is on a mission to inspire and help others eat and live better. (She is also the author of the best-selling Go Faster Food recipe books.)
Kate gave us her expert advice and tips to get us off the sofa and on our way to achieving a 5k run!
So Kate, you have a wealth of experience in athletics and nutrition, where would you recommend a keen runner to start?
Invest in the right shoes and clothing
First of all I’d definitely suggest getting the right footwear and clothing as it’s really important to ensure you’re comfortable while you run. You don’t want any rubbing to ruin your run so going for something fitted is preferable – running tights are great and the right shoes are crucial.
Head down to your nearest sports or specialist running shop for advice on what’s best for your feet. Everyone is different; they might suggest conducting a gait analysis to determine what type of runner you are and what footwear suits your feet.
Getting some new gear also helps with the motivation to start too; there’s no better incentive!
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Don’t overdo it; Start slowly and understand your fitness levels.
Try to ease yourself in gradually and set small goals each week. Start by doing 5 minutes fast walking and then 5 minutes slow jogging, alternating for 20-30 minutes.
Try this no more than 3 times a week to begin with, then increase when you feel physically fitter.
Don’t forget to warm up to help prevent injuries (some dynamic stretches are best here, like lunges and body-weight squats).
Stay hydrated and fuel your runs with real food to give you the energy you need, before, during and after exercising.
So we’ve got new running gear and we’ve started slow, what else?
Boost your motivation by joining a local running club or find a running partner!
Running clubs are incredibly welcoming so don’t be shy. There may be more advanced runners, but you’ll be surprised at how many different abilities there are and how encouraging everyone can be at helping you work towards your 5k goal.
You can also look for motivation by downloading a running app like Strava. Most running apps allow you to plan your routes, see what routes others complete in your local area, monitor progress and of course, add a little friendly competition!
Rest, Recover, Refuel.
Recovery is vital to allow your body time to adapt to the new stimulus, and get ready for your next run. Nutrition is a key part of this.
Focus on high-quality carbohydrates to replenish energy, protein to recover muscles, and fluids for hydration. I have created my own 100% natural energy snack balls called Go Bites® that can deliver the right type of energy at the right time – perfect to boost, refuel or help you recover.
Stretching will help to alleviate tightness in your muscles. Sleep is also extremely important too as this is when your body recuperates.
No matter how much you are enjoying your new-found fitness, remember to take rest days and perhaps try some strength training to compliment your running on your non-run days – this is great for helping to prevent injuries and can improve your running performance too.
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Set goals and monitor progress
Making a weekly or monthly plan to schedule in your training time will hopefully help you to commit to your training. Share your schedule with your partner or friend so they can encourage you and not tempt you with other plans (although I’m sure once you’ve started you’ll be hooked in no time and won’t need that extra motivation!).
You could also keep a diary so you can monitor progress – it’s so satisfying to look back and see how far you’ve come!
So just to wrap up, Kate’s advice to achieve that 5k, is to:
- Invest in the right footwear and clothing
- Start slowly and understand your fitness levels
- Find a running club or partner
- Rest, recover and refuel
- Set goals and monitor your progress
Sounds easy broken down into steps like that! Well I’m off to get some new running gear, are you?
Kate Percy is a sports nutrition cook, athlete and founder of Go Faster Food. As ‘Food guru’ for Athletics Weekly and Great Run, author of best-selling Go Faster Food recipe books, and creator of the highly-acclaimed ‘Eat Like An Athlete’ education programme, Kate is on a mission to inspire and help others to eat better and live better. Most recently, she’s turned one of her recipes into a fantastic new product – Go Bites® Energy Balls.
Kate Percy’s Go Bites®
Kate Percy’s Go Bites® are tasty bite-sized energy balls expertly tailored by Kate to deliver the right type of energy at the right time – whether it be to Boost, Refuel or Recover from exercise. They are made from 100% natural ingredients and are wheat free, dairy free and gluten free; two of the three varieties are also vegan. Go Bites® are available in three flavours from independent health food shops, sports shops, online and in Holland & Barrett. Shop Sports Nutrition
(Remember the 3 R’s?)