The annual London Marathon takes place on Saturday and with the glorious Spring weather we’re having, eye-care should be at the top of your priority list in prepping for the event.
However, if you aren’t taking part you can always kickstart your fitness regime just as the summer season is picking up. We’ve put together a list of training tips for those of you who love running, run competitively or are just plain thinking about starting to run to shape up for swimsuit season. No expensive gym fees or special equipment required; just a decent pair of running shoes, your iPod and perhaps even a pair of shades!
Think Of The Benefits
We all know running is supposed to be good for us but thinking about why should certainly inspire you to lace up your sneakers and hit the tarmac. Not only does running greatly improve cardio health and lung capacity – thus reducing risk of heart disease, diabetes and improving symptoms of asthma – but running also is proven to help condition all over muscle tone, strengthen bones and joints, enhance stamina and improve posture. It is also a great way to get outdoors and has been proven to alleviate mood and improve mental health; perfect after a stressful day at work or horrendous 45 minutes stuck in traffic. Plus, even a 5k run at a relatively slow 11 minute mile can burn up to 300 + calories! It really is the quickest and easiest way to get fit. Simply stick your favourite playlist on, pop your earphones in and get moving!
One of the best ways to get motivated is to feel good even before you begin and the quickest way to feel confident in hitting your route is to invest in a running kit which makes you feel comfortable, inspired and ready for action! Stella McCartney may be the queen of stylish sportswear but Adidas, Nike, Topshop, H&M and ASOS all offer cheaper alternatives by way of running shorts, microfiber running shirts, sports bras, leggings, windbreakers and sweat socks for men and women. Try to opt for breathable fabrics which are designed to wick away sweat, useful compartments for your keys and and always go for comfort and practicality over style as battling with the elements is sometimes a valid issue!
The same rule goes for your trainers as it does for your running gear and a comfortable, well fitting pair of running shoes go a long way into preventing injury and improving performance. If you suffer from issues such as shin splints, weakened knees or fallen arches it might be an idea to get properly fitted in a specialist store. Finally, leave your kit somewhere in sight so you can chuck it on first thing in the morning or when you come in from work so you don’t have a chance to get lazy!
Many people think sports eyewear is only for cyclists, racers and golfers but specially designed sports eyewear can be your savior if long distance running if your thing. Specialists usually advise that we should wear sunscreen at all times; especially when participating in outdoor activities for a lengthy period of time and the same goes for your eyes. All that squinting and eye-strain in the least of your problems…
The Oakley Radarlock and Radarpath sunglasses are specially designed with a comfort fit and adaptable lenses so you can adjust in any condition. Fitting snugly to your face, they are any marathon runners’ greatest investment as they not only provide total UV protection (thanks to their wrap around design), they vastly reduce glare and are sturdy enough to withstand impact should you accidentally take a tumble! The Oakley Flak Jacket also offers plenty of benefits for runners whilst StormTech and Animal ranges are a cheaper alternative which don’t break the bank!
There’s a reason eating right is an important part of your training and that’s because you need suitable energy for your daily run as well as a sustainable eating planto prep for a full blown marathon.
All good marathon runners will tell you to indulge in more carbs a few days before the event through snacking. Fruit, nuts and flapjacks will give you ample energy and sugar to burn whilst wholemeal pasta, sweet potatoes, green veg and brown rice have a slow burning effect thanks to their high carbohydrate and fiber content. However, don’t go to bed on a full stomach if you are preparing for a marathon and make sure you replenish what you’ve lost afterwards with protein rich foods such as chicken, eggs, lean meat and fish to feed those muscles! For your training, a carb-heavy lunch should improve your performance on an evening jog whilst a banana an hour before your run will give you that extra boost! If you’re running in the morning, try avocado on toast, poached eggs with spinach or porridge as a hearty post-run treat!
Drinking too much water during a marathon can be major faux pas so if you do have to take a water bottle, try adding a specialized hydrating energy drink loaded with electrolytes as you’re going to want to make the most of your beverages over 26 miles so you don’t lose any minerals
However, on shorter runs and training, a bottle of water you can occasionally sip from is fine; try not to glug it down until after your workout, a swishy stomach is never fun!
Plan Your Training
New runners should always start off gradually and give themselves realistic yet challenging targets to beat such as running their first mile or completing a 5k run with 30 minutes. This then gives room for improvement and Apps like RunKeepr and the Nike running App are great for helping you to keep track of your distance, pace, times and calories burned. The best way to improve your pace and time is to couple your long-distance training with splits and interval training such as sprints and uphill runs. Some athletes recommend sprint-shuttles and tackling steep hills/stairs to work on stamina and form whilst reducing pace on downhill stretches to improve stride and minimize back strain. Sprinting, jogging and walking interchangeably throughout a short run also allows you to build up your stamina in a natural way whilst running on different terrains can also help performance as your body works harder to balance so don’t be afraid to mix it up and try out your routine on grass or sand which will be less hard on your joints and tougher on your muscles.
If you’re taking part in a marathon it is also recommended that you allow your body to recover the two weeks before the big day. You should do this by gradually reducing your mileage and intensity whilst keeping up the amount of runs a week. Trust us, you’ll thank yourself for it on the day!
Mix It Up
Believe it or not, one of the key ways to improve your running is not to ‘run more’ but to mix up your training with other sports. Swimming is a great way to work out on rest days because it takes the pressure out of your joints and allows your muscles to stretch and build in a low-impact way. Not only does swimming improve all over muscle tone, it also helps with breathing and stamina as well as improving upper body strength. Cycling is also excellent for building leg muscle with minimal risk of injury. For non-cardio workouts try something new like yoga or pilates; these slow but intense exercises condition and stretch out tired muscles and improve flexibility as well as core strength. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), kettle bells and light weights are also great ways to do cardio on non-running days. However don’t forget rest days too; taking time to recover and not pushing yourself too hard are just as important to your workout.
Are you keeping active this summer?
Tell us your running tips below!