It has been a while since I published an article. I just restarted and I hope that you would continue to follow us. I was very busy with work but I still managed to squeeze in some run time in the evenings. I even packed my running gear when I flew to Sabah and ran with my uncle and cousins; and by the way, I have not seen my cousins since over twenty year ago.
Anyway, as I had mentioned before, the objective of this blog is to help people get started in leading a more healthier lifestyle. A while back I got a small group of people together for a run in the park. As they were not the running type, it became somewhat a walk in the park. It all started with the idea of running a 5 kilometer race. Most said that it was too long a distance and that they only wanted to run casually; so I did not mention the distance we were going to cover until we had completed it. We actually walked / ran 2.76 kilometers in just over 30 minutes but nobody realized that they did. Without telling them that one lap around the park was one kilometer, they joined in without prejudice and thus completing almost three kilometer. See with a little training, anybody can run a 5 kilometer race.
I also learnt something myself. I learnt that it can be quite difficult for a person to just get up and start running. See, when I started running I did not feel it so much because I already have a weekly badminton session and I had started cycling too. Most would just shrug off the very idea of running a kilometer or two until they actually do it and suddenly a five kilometer distance doesn’t look that intimidating anymore. I came to conclude that a beginner needs a different kind of training program. This is actually a “getting started” type of program for you to break that mental block of hearing the words “kilometers” or “miles”. I will break this down for the couch potato who need to get past his or her front door to get a workout.
We will start with a location. Look for a park or a lake. This location should be a public place where many people would go to on the weekends to exercise but it has to be scenic. A scenic location distracts your mind from whatever preconceived pain that you don’t actually have. Having lots of people around you also means that you can get lost in the crowd and not feel embarrassed that you cannot run a complete lap around the park. For some people this can be a motivator; to run a complete lap or two if only to look good in public. Either way, what you want is a location that can distract your mind through the entire run.
I have discovered that most parks in Malaysia, in particular the ones with a lake, tends to be about a kilometer per lap. This would make it easy for you to track your distance. Starting with an easy walk half way around the park is a great way to warm the muscles up. Keep the last half a lap for cooling down. This way if you completed three rounds and ran most of it, it would be a good two kilometer run.
WHAT TO WEAR
Wear light loose clothing. A sports t-shirt and sports shorts should do. Sports apparels are made from light breathable material that will help dissipate sweat. Women should wear a sports-bra.
Wear a sport watch so you can time yourself. Some sports watches have interval settings. Learn how to use it. It will help you for the Beginner Training below.
Get a small light weight pouch with just enough space for your keys, mobile phone and a little cash. A large pouch can be uncomfortable with everything bouncing around inside it as you run. You can probably buy a decent running pouch from the local sports store.
Running or walking shoes are a must. Don’t use sandals, boots or soccer shoes. Running and walking shoes are light and more comfortable for your feet. And for heaven’s sake, leave your All-Stars Converse at home. They are not sports wear.
Sock is another must have. Wear them so you don’t get blisters. Also, your feet won’t smell so bad. Proper sports socks will taking in your sweat and protect your feet and shoes. Wear a fresh pair for every run.
Most parks have a stretching or warm-up corner with some simple exercise stations bolted to the ground. Before a run you need to stretch a little bit. You don’t have to follow what everybody else is doing but you can steal some ideas some them. The basic idea of stretching is to wake your dormant muscles from its sleep state. For a start, I would recommend you do the following exercises slowly 5 times each.
- Neck stretch 1 – Look up, look down
- Neck stretch 2 – Look left, look right
- Shoulder roll – place your fingers of both hands to touch your shoulder. Now draw circles with your elbows.
- Arm stretch – lock both hand together with your fingers. Stretch out your arms in front of you. Stretch out above and over your head
- Back stretch 1 – Sit on the ground with your legs folded in close to your body and your feet against each other. Hold your feet together with your hands and try to touch your head to your toes.
- Back Stretch 2 – In that same position, adjust your hands accordingly and try to touch head to knee. Left first then switch to your right.
- Back and legs – While still in seating position, straighten your legs but keep them together. Use your hands to stabilize by holding onto your legs as you bring your head to your knees.
- Leg stretch – Stand up and spread your legs about 3 feet apart. With your right hand reach to touch your left toes. With your left hand reach to touch your right toes
That’s it. Now you can start walking your first lap. The best is spending a good 10 to 20 minutes warming up. Expect to sweat lightly during a warm up.
HOW TO RUN
This may sound dumb to some, but a lot of people do not run properly and this is why you get injuries and muscle sore after attempting to run. A proper running pace must be established first especially if you have not run in a very long time. Don’t run too fast. Keep it easy and keep it steady. The one second pace would be a good start – start by counting at a one second pace. Your foot should hit the ground at each count. If your heart rates starts to race after a few second, slow it down, otherwise maintain the pace. This is an easy running pace. Keep to this pace for at least 5 sessions and then you can slowly increase your running pace. You must do this gradually or you will suffer the agony of pain.
Heel to toe. You land on your heel and roll to your toe. If you hear yourself stomping or if you hear your soles brushing on the track, then you are doing it wrong. Make minor adjustments until you get it right. The best is to start this from a walking pace for at least half a kilometer and gradually increase speed keeping your stride and footing in check. Also, don’t over control your stride; allow you body to move naturally. It knows what to do.
SET A GOAL
What you need next is a goal. You cannot go out for your run without a goal or you would quit after running for two minutes. A park or lake has a set route. It is a full circle. This makes it easier to set your running goal. Don’t gauge the distance, simply set a goal to complete three to five full circles.
Alternatively, you can set a time goal. Thirty minutes of walking and running in the park would be a good start. Alternate between walking and running. Here’s a simple routine to get you started; start with a two minutes walk and a 3 minutes easy run. Repeat it twice and then run hard for one to two minutes and repeat the cycle. Repeat the whole process another two more times and you would have completed 30 minutes of exercise. Finish it off with another 3 to 5 minutes of walking as your cooldown process.
RESTING AND COOLING DOWN
Cooling down is as important as warming up and you must do this for every workout. This is not a heavy workout. If you feel a need to rest during a run, just slow down instead. Don’t stop until you achieve your goal. When you reach your goal for the day, walk easy until your heart rate is nearly at its resting rate.
Hydration is important. Bring a small bottle of water and sip it along the way. You don’t need a sports drink for this workout routine and you most definitely should avoid sodas. A sports bottle is easy to grip as you run and it has a spout so you don’t have to cap and uncap it all the time.
This is a very important aspect of working out for the beginner. It is always more fun to have a running buddy or two. It can be a better distraction than the scenery. You would be talking so much and before you know it, you did an extra lap. This also helps to pace your run. You should be able to hold a conversation when you run.
If you start running like this once or twice a week, you should be able to join in the five kilometer run in three weeks. Set that as a personal goal.