Running out of steam

  • 28th Aug 20
Running out of steam

Recent statistics suggested that 858,000 people downloaded the NHS Couch to 5k app between March to June, the height of lockdown. Now restrictions have been slightly lifted, there are more temptations around and the percentage of people still sharing their Strava runs online have dramatically declined. Many people would have felt the benefits of exercise but how do you maintain your running mojo after the initial novelty wears off?

Keep your cool
Our bodies don’t react well to running in extreme weather conditions so although it may look appealing to run in the sun, you will soon become a sweaty mess and hate the entire experience. On hot days, plan your runs so you can go first thing in the morning or in the evening when the heat of the day has gone. If you do run when it is hot, be adaptable and either take a shorter route or go slower so your body can cope.

Take the scenic route
It may be that you have become bored with your normal route. It’s good to stick to the same route for a while so you can track your progress but you do need to mix it up to keep you on your toes both mentally and physically. If you are used to only running on the road, perhaps try more woody or grassier areas that have a mix of flat surfaces and hills so you can explore different scenery and challenge yourself to steep inclines.

Get a run buddy
When motivation is poor, the best thing to do is get up and get moving. But when you are in a low mood, it’s is the last thing you actually want to do, leaving you stuck in a vicious cycle. Having someone to hold you accountable is the best way to start exercising. Not wanting to let someone down may be all the motivation you need to get out there and even if you can’t actually run with them, it is still good to check in with someone to say that another run has been completed.

Interval training
Whether you are running for fun or training for a race, the best way to improve your fitness and keep things interesting is to mix up your routine. You don’t always have to run a solid 30 minutes, try finding a hill and doing hill sprints or do interval training where you run really fast for three minutes and then take it slower for two minutes and repeat. Working on speed and power will improve your overall time and give you more energy for endurance runs.  

Work on your core muscles
To be an efficient runner, you need to support the muscles and joints to create strong glutes and core. Building on these muscles will help you run taller and open up your running stride meaning that you won’t strike the ground with as much impact, which will be kinder to sore knees, shin splints and tight muscles. You can also add some free weight work to gently build the muscles.

Stretch it out
To stretch or not to stretch is often the question asked by new runners. There is quite a lot of debate about stretching before or after a run. What is not up for debate is that flexibility is a key fitness component that is often overlooked. For runners, being flexible will help to maintain a range of motion, especially important as we get older. It is recommended to stretch after a run when muscles are more pliable but if you want to do it before you set out, then make sure you have warmed up first. Move into each stretch slowly and avoid bouncing. Hold a stretch for approx. 20 seconds and then repeat that same stretch several times. Never force a movement or position and use breathing techniques to gently ease a little further each time. 

Looking good
Running in old sweatpants and a holey tshirt will not get your running mojo back. Invest in kit that doesn’t just look good, but also holds you in place, stays where it should and feels comfortable. Getting the right trainers is very little about fashion and all about keeping you injury-free. There are different trainers that work best if you have a high arch or are flat-footed and ones that work best if you are road running, training on a purpose-built track or trail running. The wrong trainers can impact your performance and actually lead to injury so it is worth investing time and money to find the right pair.

Tips for running motivation

  • Set yourself goals and challenges.
  • Create a music playlist.
  • Use an app to track your speed.
  • Focus on the finish, don’t quit.
  • Run on a Monday to set up the week.
  • Reward yourself for a week of good runs.
  • Too busy? Cut your run down but still get out.
  • Get your running gear out the night before.






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