As I pull the runners back on and start ramping up the miles again in preparation for my third half marathon this July, I thought it worth sharing a couple of things I have learned about running since I entered my first 10k race five years ago.
Buy good trainers. It’ll cost you about £80 up front but will save you a ton of money if you end up having to fork out for physio later due to rubbish treads. Have your gait analysed by a decent running shop. It only takes 15 mins and they will give you the right shoes to support your running style. This will reduce the chance of getting injured. Also make sure you change them as soon as you start to see wear on the soles.
Buy good shorts. Lycra ones which hug the body are best as they reduce friction and therefore chafing, even if they are a little, er, revealing. When I was training for the London marathon last year my thighs got so big (yeah, baby) I couldnt run for more than 10 mins in normal shorts before chafing.
Don’t be afraid of Vaseline. On runs of 10 miles or more I sometimes get weird chafing in all the places no-one wants to chafe, but a quick application of lube always sorted things out. Those little tins that you can buy for lips are ideal for runs.
Whatever you do, leave a good hour between eating or drinking and the start of your run. When I flout this rule I get really bad stitches. I try to eat a banana and a small bit of chocolate washed down with some water about 90 mins before my run.
Cross-train. You’ll reduce the chance of getting injured if your core stomach muscles are in good shape, and if you’re using complementary running muscles. I try and do a bunch of body pump or weights exercises in early training along with some cycling to keep things interesting and then only switch to a running-only programme for the last 6 weeks or so of training.
Fartlek is good for you. Running in intervals where you exhaust yourself sprinting for a couple of minutes before recovering for a minute or so at a jog pace is a good way to build up stamina, even though it’s quite painful.
Don’t be afraid to pull out of a race if you aren’t ready or if you fall ill. Don’t put yourself through the pain or risk serious injury by doing a race when you’re not ready for it. It’s frustrating but ultimately the right thing to do.