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Couch to 5k running tips


8 January 2020

It’s a new year habit, isn’t it? To set ourselves fresh fitness goals and start the year right. Here are some top training tips from professional running coach and personal trainer, Jenny Dixon, to help Lily supporters stay on track.

A head shot of a woman running towards the camera

Jenny Dixon, a professional running coach and personal trainer at Fit4LIfe, gets us started with her top tips for beginner runners, or those who are coming back to running after a break. If you've signed up to a Lily running event, or are just keen to get the year off to a healthy start, then have a read of Jenny's top tips to set you off on the right track.

1. Go slow!

Jog as slowly as you possibly can. Yes, it may seem that you could walk faster, but it will help you to keep your steps short, avoid over-striding and reduce the risk of injury. One of the most frequent mistakes I have come across with beginners is running too fast, which is tough on their cardiovascular system, makes them feel horrible and as if they have failed somehow. Don’t be afraid to use walk/jog intervals, as this is a very effective way to improve your aerobic fitness.

2. Plan your runs

Pre-plan your run sessions for the week. Look at your diary and plan when you can fit your sessions in, write them down and treat them like any other appointment. This helps with adherence. If time looks to be an issue, can you change the way you do something currently (such as run to work, run home from the school run, run back or part-way back from somewhere you’re going with family or friends)?

3. Be smart with snacks

Avoid eating for two hours prior to running. Beginner runners are more prone to getting stitch and whilst there is no definitive explanation behind the causes, many runners find that leaving a decent period of time between their last meal or snack does help reduce the chances of stitch occurring. The good news is that the fitter you become, the less frequently you will get that dreaded pain in the side!

4. Follow the 10% rule

One of the most common reasons people incur injuries is due to ramping up their training too quickly (I myself have learnt this lesson the hard way in the past!). A general rule of thumb is not to increase mileage, time or intensity by any more than 10% each week. Following a well-designed training plan, such as Couch to 5k, can help you keep to the right level of intensity for your ability and keep the increases in line with recommendations.

5. Rest and recover

Try not to run on consecutive days, if possible. Your muscles, ligaments and tendons need time to adjust and adapt to this new form of physical activity and your recovery days are a very important part of this process. That’s not to say that you need to literally rest all day... just rest from running. A different form of activity is fine and generally just keeping moving frequently throughout the day can actually help with any DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) you may be experiencing post running.

Training for a Lily fundraising event is a great way to get fit without paying expensive gym fees! Signing up is free, and we have places available at some of the UK's most popular charity runs, rides and obstacle courses. To find out more about all the challenges available, and join us in the fight against mitochondrial disease, visit our events page.

Coming soon...