Running – From casual to legend
Almost 1 in 4 Australians participate regularly in jogging, with younger individuals making up the bulk of participants (up to 48% in woman aged 14 – 24 years old!). Running is a fairly low-cost activity and it’s never too late to begin. But what if you want to take the next step from regular jogging to running and casual racing?
Here are six easy steps to take your running to the next level!
Step 1 – Set a goal
What is it that you want to achieve from your running?
- Run a local race?
- Park run 5km?
- An obstacle course race?
- Keep up with your children on the weekend?
- Make new friends and social groups?
- Simply keep fit?
Whatever it is, you need a direction before you can set a training program!
Step 2 – Check your baseline (your starting level)
Without knowing what your current level of fitness is you can’t plan for and check your progress. There are plenty of ways to get a baseline that you can check back against later. The easiest and cheapest option is a to pick a running route that you know and set your best time. Come back after a block of training and hit the same route to see how much you have improved.
The gold standard way to test your fitness is the VO2max test. This is a lab-based test where your fitness is tested on a treadmill whilst wearing a heart rate monitor and a gas analysis system, testing what you breathe out. The benefits of this type of testing are the amount of information and accuracy of the data that you can get. The con is the cost (around $200); however, if you can participate in a clinical trial you might be able to get one done for free!
Step 3 – Plan your training
I cannot stress enough that if you don’t know what you are doing when it comes to writing training programs you will most likely fail at achieving your goal. Get a coach, a mentor, a personal trainer, or an exercise physiologist to help you through the beginning stages.
Join a club and talk to other runners about what they do, how much they do, and where they run. You can find a list of clubs in Brisbane below:
Step 4 – Don’t give up!
When the going gets tough and you’ve missed a few sessions, listen to your body. Putting on a “brave face” and running through an injury is never a good idea nor is missing a week (or more) of training sessions and continuing with your training schedule anyway. You aren’t Superman.
Step 5 – Check yourself before you wreck yourself
Up to 70% of casual runners have an injury within the first 12-months of beginning their training journey. Most injuries occur at the knee joint (42%) with the next most occurring at the foot and ankle (17%).
These injuries are mostly due to overuse and improper monitoring of a training program in one or more of the following areas;
- Too many training sessions (Frequency)
- Running at a high pace (Intensity)
- Length of training sessions (Time)
- and the kinds of training sessions you are doing (Type).
Following a training program based around sound training principles, such as FITT (Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type) and constantly checking the training load will help reduce the risk of injury.
Step 6 – Have fun!
If you’re not having fun, you’re probably not going to stick at it. Running isn’t for everyone, but when it’s done correctly it can be an absolute blast and a great way to socialise or grab some ‘you’ time!
And just as a reminder, here’s a list of some potential benefits of participating in regular exercise:
- Reduce the risk and help manage type 2 diabetes
- Improve overall well-being
- Build strong bones and muscles
- Improve your ability to complete tasks of daily living
- Improve posture and balance – reducing the risk of falls
- Promote an improved sex life
- Help manage mental health issues
- Reduce your risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, high blood pressure and some cancers
- Assist with weight maintenance and loss
- Improve your cardiovascular fitness and strength
- Reduce your blood cholesterol and sugar levels
- Improve your energy levels
Written by Alistair Mallard (Exercise Scientist).
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