Posted on August 18 2023
Top 3 Tips for Getting Started with Running
Build up pelvic floor function: If you know you have a weak pelvic floor, or you’re afraid you’ll wee yourself when you run, put the work in to improve this. A great starting place is to do pelvic floor exercises – making sure you can relax your pelvic floor is as important as being able to engage it – and if you’re still experiencing issues, or your pelvic floor feels heavy or strange when you run, then seek advice from your GP or a women’s health physio.
Consistency over intensity: Often when we start things, we’re laden with enthusiasm and we go hard. And then we run out of motivation or it feels disheartening to think we have to match a previous pace or distance. Instead, aim for consistency over intensity. I personally really enjoy several 20 - 30 minute runs over the week rather than one long one.
Start slow and build it up: That first run is often an exploratory one as you get into the running groove. But start slow and finish before you feel tired, so you’re left eager to get your trainers on again. You can build up speed and duration as you progress so there’s no need to go all out at the start. By starting slow, you will also get more of a feel about the types of runs you enjoy, and will reduce your risk of injury.
Tips for keeping up with the running:
Set a Schedule: Establish a regular running schedule. Consistency helps turn running into a habit rather than just an occasional activity. For example, I really enjoy my local Park Run, so each week I make that my non-negotiable. Plus, it gets me into the right headspace to dive into a hectic weekend looking after my three kids! It also helps that I have a bunch of friends who also do the Park Run, so it becomes a bit of a social event too, and I have accountability.
Practice Self-Compassion: Understand that not every run will be perfect. Be kind to yourself on days when you struggle or don’t meet your expectations. There are days when runs can feel really heavy, and others where you feel like your spirit animal is a gazelle.
Find a way of running which works for you: Some people like to run as fast as possible, others like to take it slow and long. Take the time to try different things and get to know what kind of runner you are. I personally enjoy headspace runs where I don’t push it, and I listen to podcasts as I run.
Find inspiration in others: Running can feel a bit ‘samey’ after a while. Mix things up every now and again, or find inspiration in running-related articles, books or blogs. I love tracking my runs on Strava, not only so I can see my progress, but also so I can be inspired by the routes and times that others have run.
How to stay injury free while training for a race:
Get the right equipment: If you’re training for a race, the chances are that you’ll be increasing your miles and running regularly. The right equipment can really help you stay injury-free. For me, the two things I have to have when I run are running trainers which are right for me (many running shops do gait analysis and can recommend appropriate trainers), and a supportive sports bra. There’s nothing like worrying about your boobs when you’re trying to run! I also like a comfy pair of shorts which don’t chafe.
Progress gradually: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your running prowess. Avoid the “too much, too soon” trap. Gradually increase your mileage and intensity. Your muscles, tendons, and ligaments need time to adapt and strengthen to the demands of distance running.
Don’t skimp on the warm-up: Warm-up routines are your pre-race rituals. Dynamic stretches like leg swings, hip circles, and light jogging get your blood flowing and muscles primed for action. A warm body is less prone to injury, so don’t skimp on this vital step, even if you only spend a few minutes on it.
Get your strength training in: Incorporate strength training exercises that target your core, hips, glutes, and legs. A strong foundation supports your running mechanics and helps distribute the impact evenly across your body. I love squats, lunges, planks, calf raises, and bridges. You don’t have to do anything too crazy either- simple exercises work well.
Proper running form: You want to run like the wind, but do it smartly. Aim to maintain an upright, slightly forwards posture and avoid overreaching on your stride. Shorter, quicker strides help reduces impact on your joints and minimises risk of common injuries such as shin splints and ITB pain. Working with a running coach who can analyse your movement can really be beneficial.
Protect your pelvic floor: As you pick up the pace and increase your miles, make sure your pelvic floor has the function to match this. Build strength and speed through a mix of strong pelvic floor engagements and also quick squeezes. If you want to lessen the impact through your pelvic floor when you’re running, take it slowly to walk on the downhills and run up the hills. Running down hill creates more force on your pelvic floor than running uphill.
Eliza is the pre and postnatal personal trainer behind The Warrior Method. She believes that everyone faces battles daily, from the monumental to the mundane, and there’s a whole new dimension of challenges and triumphs as a parent. These battles demand not only mental resilience, but physical strength too. As well as helping parents feel happy and healthy in their postnatal bodies, she also helps women return to running in an achievable and step-by-step way.
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