Does running come naturally to you or does it take you nearly tripping over your trainers left out the night before to motivate you? Whether you are a regular runner, a recent Boris hour runner or someone who is wanting to join the ever growing 5k movement there are many benefits to be had from running. The benefits from running can be felt within just 30 minutes and can improve all of your body systems from your head down to your toes.
How many times a week should I run?
A frequently asked question is “how many times should I run a week?”: That all depends on your fitness levels and overall goal. The current exercise recommendation for adults 19-64 years is 150 minutes a week and this can be broken down into 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Running can either be done as a main exercise or as part of a fitness training plan alongside other physical activities or sports. The importance of cross training is great. Often people will say they don’t run and don’t realise how much mileage is clocked up when playing sports including football and hockey. According to Runners World 8/10 people would say cross-training should be done to prevent injuries, which is true, but it isn’t the only reason. Cross-training can improve your overall fitness by increasing your strength, power and motivation for running to prolong your running career. You can additionally increase your overall training volume per week by cross-training without having to just solely run. If running is your main goal, make sure you mix up your runs with other training types to avoid overusing muscle groups which can lead to injury. Incorporating lower intensity exercise sessions including swimming, yoga and Pilates 1-2 a week as well as strength training and weights 1-2 times can really improve your all-round fitness and running.
What are the health benefits of running?
You may have heard the phrase “exercise is medicine”; studies have shown that running can help prevent health conditions including obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure. Scientists have additionally shown that running helps to vastly improve the quality of a person’s emotional and mental life. Whilst the physical benefits of running are more well-known such as weight loss and improved cardiovascular fitness, the mental health side of running has only more recently been talked about. Have you ever heard of a “runners high”? Running always makes you feel better – the rush of feel good hormones! Exercise helps protect you against anxiety and depression and taking part in moderate exercise can help you even after you have finished running. Running can become addictive, this runner high can leave you being able to concentrate better, have more energy and even sleep better. The running community is fantastic too – there are some great local running clubs and communities that you can join including Park Runs every Saturday morning. During the Covid-19 pandemic and UK lockdown a number of running groups and organisations have offered virtual running groups where you can share your runs online or run separately but with the feeling of being together and work towards a collective mileage goal, often raising money for the NHS charities. A fantastic initiative has been the “Run For Heroes” that hit success on social media – run 5, donate £5, nominate 5 people and has recently been recognised by Boris Johnson and awarded The Point of Light Award for outstanding volunteering after raising over £5m.
What types of running are there?
There are many types of running and phrases such as fartlek and tempo can be confusing to a new runner. Here are some of the different types of runs you can do and how they can fit into your training plan:
Base Run – these types of runs make up the bulk of your weekly training mileage and are short – moderate length runs at your natural running pace
Progression Run – a step up from your base run, this type of run starts at your natural pace, but the end segment is completed faster to be a moderate challenge
Long Run – a run long enough for moderate to severe fatigue to occur and are included in your training plan to increase your endurance fitness
Recovery Run – a relatively short run at an easy pace that is best done as your next run following a hard workout
Fartlek Running – a mix of intervals of varying duration and distance and included into training plans to help develop fatigue resistance (becoming tired)
Tempo Run – a run of sustained effort at lactate threshold and includes warm up mileage and an increased effort in the middle and cool down mileage at the end. These types of runs can range from 20-60 minutes depending on your fitness levels
Interval Running – repeated shorter segments of fast running separated by a slow jog or standing recovery (think sprint a lamppost, jog a lamppost)
The benefits of running really are plentiful and we really encourage everyone who can to go out and make use of the hour of outdoor exercise. Where to start? Running is a high impact exercise and if you go from having never run before to everyday you can quickly pick up injuries. Andy Jeffries owner of Probalance Personal Training recommends doing a gradual increase in distance of 10% when starting out to help avoid injury. In addition, Andy recommends including regular foam rolling into your training plan as the roller can make tight muscles more receptive to stretching and mobility. If you are looking to improve your fitness and add strength training into your running plans get in touch with Andy for a consultation today. Probalance are currently offering Personal Training through home-based video call sessions to help all clients maintain and improve their fitness during this time, they are also doing 2 group onlines on Monday’s @7:30pm and thursdays @7pm.
Article Written by Jade Mottley
Twitter / Instagram: @Jademottley