Friday, May 4, 2007

Keep On Running

10 tips on how to make sure running is part of the solution and not part of the problem.

1)Set yourself a demanding but achievable goal.
Make sure it isn't too far in the future to be relevant to you. Visualise what it will be like to achieve it. Promise yourself a treat.

2)Don't try to stick religiously to a detailed daily programme.
Use your programme to guide you on the amount of running you are aiming for, and the type of running you should be doing, but don't worry too much if you can't fit in a particular session on a particular day. Run according to how you feel: don't let it become a duty.

3)Keep a running log.
You can use your log to track your progress. You may be surprised at how effective this can be at maintaining your interest, as well as providing useful information about what works for you.

4)Take off a day every week, have an easy week every month, and take a month off every year. Your body cannot go on working hard every day of the year.
Have a day off every week - if you want to exercise, cycle or swim instead. Each month, have an easy week where you don't push yourself so hard. And take a month off running each year. You'll find you return to running refreshed and enthusiastic.

5)Vary your routes.
Don't just run the same old routes every day. Go out and explore your neighbourhood, or take a train out to the countryside. Try to find a trail in a forest, or along a river, or a path in a park, so that you are not running on road the whole time. (You should in any case vary your route for your own security, and to avoid injury, as well as avoiding boredom.)

6)If you feel you are getting stale, run for a week without wearing a watch. Run how you feel, not according to the time it is taking you.

7)Join a running club.

You will meet other people, find new running partners, hear about interesting events and learn from people who have been running for years. A running club is a good way to find out about events that you might not have tried, like cross country, track and field, or triathlons.

8)Enter races.
You don't have to be a great athlete to run races - people of all ages and abilities enter them, and they are a fun day out. You can use them as a training run, or to test your progress. They are also a great way to go for a longer run, because the route will be marked out for you, free of traffic, and there will be water tables on the way round.

9)Run in the mornings.
Although you may not be at your best in the morning, you can at least be fairly sure that nothing will intervene to prevent you going out. If you run in the evenings, you may find you have to work late, or an unexpected social engagement gets in the way. Use your morning runs to clear your head and plan your day.

10)If you do not enjoy running, do something else instead.
Running is unquestionably good for you: it will help you lose weight, get fit, manage stress and (according to some studies) will improve your sex life. But if you do not enjoy it, you are not going to keep it up. You might better off finding something you do enjoy, such as swimming, cycling, aerobics or football.

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