About the Author
Not only is Dr. Nicholas Tripodi a fun run enthusiast, he is also a Co-director and Osteopath at the Competitive Sports Clinic located in the Essendon District. Nicholas has particular interests in sports injuries, exercise rehabilitation and running and cycling analysis. He regularly competes in triathlon events, and is a keen runner and cyclist. If you’d like to know more you can visit the CSC website here, or if you’re in the Melbourne area you can visit them at their practice on Keilor Rd, Essendon.
Completing Your First Fun Run
Getting into running can be quite daunting for some people, and it may not come naturally. As an osteopath, I regularly work with people who are preparing for their first fun run. And, having also completed a few myself, I’ve compiled a list of important points to consider in order to get through your first fun run successfully, and injury-free (hopefully). So, here are my easy-to-follow steps to get you off the couch and onto the track as smooth as possible!
1. Set Your Goal
It seems obvious, but is often an oversight for too many people. The first thing you should do is set out the goals you want to achieve. Set both short-term and long-term goals. For instance, your short-term goal may be to run 3 times in a given week, and your long-term goal may be to complete a 5k run in less than 30 minutes. You may also like to share your goals, whether it be with friends, work colleagues or, dare I say, on social media. This can help you be accountable to your plans and stay on track.
2. Get a Program
If you’re doing your first fun run, you probably don’t have an extensive history of running. Therefore, you probably don’t know how to best structure your training. This is where a good running coach or therapist can tailor a running program for you. They will take into account your goals, sporting and exercise history and current level of fitness, amongst other things, to work out a program that is perfect for your needs. They will also typically oversee and assess the effectiveness of the program and adjust certain elements as required. If you are not keen on guidance from a coach, check out Couch to 5K (link: http:// www.c25k.com/) or most fun run websites will have a basic program for you to follow too.
3. Track Your Progress
This is now super easy to do with modern smart watches. Most come with an in-house or 3rd party app where you can upload all of your training data to see how you are progressing. The problem is that smart watches are so good at giving data it can be confusing to work out what you should actually pay attention to! Some key points you should be looking at are: distance, time, speed and heart rate. If you are getting fitter your heart rate should start to become lower when you’re training at the same speed and terrain. Just don’t get into the trap of trying to beat your time every session – this is unsustainable and can lead to injury. Save your best effort for race day!
4. Do Some Cross-Training
If you’re new to running it can be very unwise to run every day. You should only be running 3 or 4 times a week to avoid injury and burnout. To build up some extra cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength try some alternative exercise to running. Some great options include swimming, cycling, rowing and resistance training. There are a range of strength training resources online, and programs to follow along with on Youtube.
5. Aches and Stiffness is Normal, Pain is Not
The body is amazing in its ability to adapt and change to the stresses placed on it, and running adaptations are no different. Some minor aches and stiffness is your body’s way of adapting to increased load – this for the most part is OK, as long as it only lasts a day or two and doesn’t get progressively worse. If some general aches and stiffness start becoming persistently painful it’s a sign that you’re over-doing it. It’s at this point you should probably see a therapist for some information and guidance.
6. Congratulate Yourself
Once you reach your goal make sure you take stock and enjoy your achievement. Reflect on where you started from, how you got there and what you want to do next. If you didn’t achieve your goal, think about why that was case and what you will do differently next time. The road to success is a long one, it may take more than one fun run to achieve your goals.
There you go! Six tips to help get you to, and through, your first fun run. If you plan it out, take it slow, track your progress and celebrate your achievements, you can’t go wrong. But first, make sure you see a certified health professional before commencing any training program. Happy running!