The popularity of running as a form of exercise is booming like never before.
Yes, every year we see people taking up fitness related hobbies in January to shake off those unwanted turkey and celebrations related pounds but, you must have noticed an uplift of people doing so this year, particularly on social channels.
According to TikTok, the hashtag #running has more than 15.7 billion views with the hashtag #runningchallenge garnering 636 million – viewing numbers not to be scoffed at! Google search data meanwhile details that throughout the month of January there were more than 2.5 million searches for running shoes and associated terms. That’s more than one in thirty Brits searching for running shoes over the course of a 31-day period.
What many people are looking for along with this, however, is tips. Support on how to improve their pace, increase their distance, and limit injury.
In order to support those who feel like they might be misfiring on their running goals, we’ve put together a handy five point guide. Are these the things holding you back from running forwards?
Number one – unrealistic benchmarking
Whether you’re starting out for your very first 1 kilometre run or you’re preparing to bag a marathon personal best, your fitness levels are completely unique to you as an individual.
There are more than 7 billion people on this planet and nobody is a replica of another – this goes for running too.
Comparing yourself and your progress to a friend, a youtuber, or a professional athlete is incredibly problematic.
Some runners can bank 100km a week without so much as a niggle, while some will log a tenth of that distance and feel the impact heavily on their heads, shoulders, knees & toes. Benchmark yourself against a previous you and bid to better it. Discover where your limit is using the five heart rate training zones and stay below it.
Number two – acceptance
Not every week is going to go exactly to plan.
Sometimes you don’t sleep well, you pick up an injury that wasn’t accounted for, or an impromptu social event crops up and you end up having a few alcoholic beverages. You know what? That’s life…
Even the most successful runners are forced to take a break, alter plans, and go back to the drawing board.
When you spend all your time focusing on the perfect pace, diet, and mileage, it’s important to accept that things won’t always go swimmingly but, that’s just part of the journey and the process. What’s important is to keep looking forward and refrain from becoming fixated on past events that are out of your control – reset and go again.
Number three – neglecting much needed rest
For runners, the importance of rest and recuperation is as high as, if not higher than, the importance of getting out and pounding the pavement. Taking time off can seem daunting and counterproductive to reaching your next milestone but it is essential.
Whether it’s a running split that suits your physique, dedicated recovery days, or even an extended break, it’s vitally important to listen to your body and put your feet up.
Planning regular recovery periods is essential to avoiding musculoskeletal injuries which, if they occur, will significantly inhibit your process.
Number four – running too far, too fast, too quick
Patience is a virtue when it comes to running. The slow, zone 2 runs that aren’t going hammer and tong may feel like a bit of a slog and often feel unproductive but, these are the runs where you build your aerobic base and the ability to continually increase pace and distance.
Don’t force progression – it’ll come by showing up day after day with consistency. Nedd Brockmann, the gutsy 23-year old Australian who ran from Perth to Sydney in 47 days said in a recent interview: “just keep showing up because it will get better.”
Number five – wearing the wrong shoes
According to research by footwear manufacturer ASICS, 85% of runners are running in the wrong shoes. That’s more than four in five runners risking injury every time they go out.
Rundoctor.com details the 7 signs you are wearing the wrong running shoes:
• You’ve had your shoes for more than 6 months or clocked more than 300 miles
• Your feet are aching during or after your run
• You’re experiencing plantar fasciitis
• You’re losing toenails
• You’re getting blisters and calluses
• You’re getting tendonitis
• You can’t get your shoes off without loosening your laces
When it comes to running, don’t over complicate things. Rest when rest is required, respect the process, accept that life gets in the way sometimes, only ever compare yourself against yourself, and always wear the right shoes.