My Top 10 Running Tips – From an “I Can’t Run” Mum and Exercise Physiologist

So you have decided to start running and are thinking that there is no way that your out of shape body is going to come to the party.  Yep, I’m hearing you, I have been thinking that since I finished having kids four years ago.  But its kind of part of the plan if I am going to complete an Enduro Adventurethon in Albany.  Now that I have managed to hit my 5km milestone recently I felt like I should share my top tips if you want to start running…..

1.  Buy some decent shoes.

This is where it all begins, protecting the point of impact and therefore reducing the loading through the knees, hips, and back.  This translates quite simply to less injuries.  Athletes Foot is a good starting point if you have no idea what you need in a shoe as their staff tend to be well trained and knowledgeable.  However, last time that I was at Rebel Sports store I noticed that they have a nifty little machine that tested foot loading pattern and gave feedback on what support you would benefit from and sizing info.  Usually you see this at Athletes Foot but good to see that it is a little more mainstream now.  If you have any specific concerns your best option is to review with a Podiatrist.  Also, if you find a shoe you love, I’ve learnt to stick with it!

Love my Brooks running shoes.  For me they are just so comfortable.

Love my Brooks running shoes. For me they are just so comfortable.

2.  Protect the Puppies

Researchers in Britain estimate that during sport, the average breast can move 21 centimetres (about the length of a box of tissues) in a figure eight movement. Breasts don’t only move up and down, they move side to side, and even in and out. Given the average breast weighs about the same as 1.2 litres of milk and is held in place by skin and Cooper’s ligaments, that’s a lot of bounce or slide.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/women-need-more-support-if-theyre-to-embrace-sport-20120831-255o8.html#ixzz3Dm0RsO5T

The following table is from The Exercise and Breast Support brochure that was funded by Sports Medicine Australia.

Sports Bra and exercise

So if you don’t want the boobs any lower than they already are than I suggest you do your best to bind those puppies up.  In fact, I believe that preparing for a run is like preparing for a cyclone…you have to strap down or tuck away everything that can move!   There are some great compression garments out there and I recently bought a 2XU trisuit for my upcoming adventurethon that was really comfortable.  For a cheaper option, I find wearing a sports bra and one piece swimmers under my running gear is quite good.

3.  Strengthen the Pelvic Floor

This means learning how to activate these muscles properly.  Its not just for the ladies either, men can also benefit from improving their pelvic floor strength.  You can read a little about it here and here, but sometimes its worth getting some feedback on whether you are actually working the muscles the right way.  I think it is worth the money to review with a Physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic floor training especially if you have any concerns.  There are plenty of tools out there to help strengthen the pelvic floor such as the Wave Chair (physio), the kegelmaster, Ben Wa Balls, or Luna Balls.  Just be careful googling some of those!!

4.  Participate in Regular Strength Training

Guess what, muscles have a purpose.  In simple terms muscles create movement, stabilize joints, and generate force and power.  The more muscle stability around the joints the less the risk of injury.  Also increased strength has been proven to translate into increased endurance.  Increasing core strength is also going to lead to increased efficiency in your running, reduced injury risk, and longer time running til fatigued.  Need more convincing?  Then you might want to read this article.

5.  Change your Mindset

Since having kids I have been a little overweight and not as confident in my body.  Even after losing over 25kg and getting somewhat fit I have been very hesitant to start running.  I am just shy of 5’10, and I am not lucky enough to be that lean and lanky kind of tall person.  Nope, I’m built like a good solid workhorse.  Running, after kids, has just been uncomfortable and honestly I have been happy to get my exercise fix from everything but running.  That all has to change now that I am stepping out of my comfort zone and doing an Adventurethon that includes an 8km trail run.  One of the biggest things that had to change was my attitude to running.  I started thinking about why I can run.  I started remembering that I actually used to be pretty good at running, especially cross country running.  I started to believe that it is a skill that can be learnt, endurance that can be trained.  These changes in my thoughts made all the difference, and guess what?  Running doesn’t suck quite as much as I thought it would.

Allow yourself to believe that you CAN.

6.  Learn How to Run

Seems simple doesn’t it?  Learning to run correctly from the start can make all the difference to how you go with a running program and is an important strategy for injury prevention.  Check out this video.

7.  Use a Running Program to get you Started

I am following a Couch to 5km program that is designed to get beginners running 5km in about 9 weeks.  I love having a set program to follow.  I don’t have to think about it or worry about when I should be running next….I just do as I am told.  I have tried this program before, not long after having the twins, when I was still quite overweight and had no strength training behind me either.  I really struggled and found it very difficult.  This time round I was excited to find the first 3 weeks quite comfortable and I was tempted to skip ahead.  However, even though my endurance was up to standard, I wanted to give my body a chance to catch up and develop the right muscles needed to run further and faster.  No injuries!!  If you need a little more support and encouragement then you may want to check out Operation Move.

8.  Stretching and Foam Rolling

If you are going to all the trouble and hard work in order to improve your running distance or times than set aside 10-15 minutes at the end of your exercise sessions to stretch.  Keeping your muscles loose, pliable, and hydrated means that your joints and ligaments stay healthy too.  Prevention is so much easier than rehabilitation.  I strongly believe that the roller has played a significant role in keeping me injury free during my training and really urge everyone to give it a go.  Check out my blog post on what foam rolling is all about.

9.  Enjoy your Rest Days

This is actually harder than it sounds.  I found that the more I improved the more I wanted to keep working at it, but intellectually, I also knew that I had to give my body time to repair and get stronger.  The rest day is a crucial part of the training program.

Rest Day

10.  Select Your Tunes

I actually don’t mind running with the wind in my face and only my thoughts to keep me company.  It makes a nice change from the noise and chaos that is four boys asking millions of questions.  Its a chance for me to sort through the things I need to do, any emotions, the good and bad things from the day, and finally to allow myself to dream big things.  In saying that who hasn’t gone for a run and been lifted up by an awesome song and gone that little bit faster or further.  Sometimes I have even run a little longer just to hear the end of the song.  And who hasn’t run to this song at one time or another….

 

I am linking up with Jess for IBOT so come on over and check out her latest post.

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20 thoughts on “My Top 10 Running Tips – From an “I Can’t Run” Mum and Exercise Physiologist

    • The shoes make all the difference. My last pair of shoes I tried a different brand of shoe, similar characteristics, but they just were’t the same and I was always getting shin pain and some niggles in the knees. Swapped back to my trusty brooks and we will never be apart again. lol. Good luck with the shoe shopping!

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    • Strengthening the muscles around the ankle will help (think balance activities, single leg calf raise, squats, step squats, lunges, walking lunges etc) but unfortunately if the ligaments are damaged its never quite going to get back to full stability. Maybe an ankle brace if you are super keen to get back to it. Otherwise off to plan B! Nothing like a long run to get your novel written in your head!!

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  1. Thank you so much for these awesome tips! I’ve never been a runner but I’m desperate to start. I am recovering from abdominal surgery and have recently been diagnosed with arthritis, and it all seems a little disheartening. Love your advice on strength training, it’s obviously something I need to do to overcome some roadblocks, that and stock up on crop tops!
    xx

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    • I’m glad you found it helpful, and yes I really think strength training is the way to go. It can be especially beneficial for arthritis management also. It sounds like you would benefit from having a chat to an exercise physiologist…Do you know you may be eligible for sessions under medicare? Talk to your GP about it or I am happy for you to email me if you want more information.

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  2. This is a really well written article Beth. I have had to learn from a few mistakes myself. It is the middle of the night, so will check out your links later, but it is a VERY “right to the point” and “right on” article.
    FINALLY got the Liebster award post which you kindly nominated me for.
    http://theoldfellowgoesrunning.com/2014/11/05/the-liebster-award-a-network-for-new-bloggers/
    have a GREAT day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These are great tips! I love my Hoka Hoka shoes. I’ve been running the best I ever have since buying them. As for my foam roller – we have a love/hate relationship. Lots of groaning going on when we spend time together 🙂

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