Establishing your running routines

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Running is one of the most popular sports in the world and an easy way to improve your fitness. With COVID expert precautions suggesting open air environments are the safest, running is the popular way to go to improve your fitness levels.

In recent years, the UK has slowly moved towards becoming a nation of runners, as more people take up the activity. Fast forward to today and people are not just running for their health anymore; they are running for their mental wellbeing. A good example is the record number of people that took up walking or running during the pandemic. However, as the economy reopens and normalcy slowly returns, life as we know it will begin to get busy again. From having enough energy to run after a long day to managing childcare and family life, it can be doubly difficult to keep up with a running routine. Yet, you must do so - and with a few innovative tweaks, you can. 

Benefits of running - According to the NHS website, running can reduce your risk of certain long-term illnesses including heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. In the UK, 1 in 10 people over the age of 40 are now living with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, says statistics by Diabetes UK. Another reason to take up running is that it can also promote muscle growth. Studies have shown that slow steady running can build strength in your slow-twitch muscles. 

Running is not just good for your physical well-being and fitness levels, it can also be a good tool for managing your mental health. This is because running (or most forms of exercise) is an ideal stress buster. Going for an outdoor run also allows you to spend time outdoors and get Vitamin D- both of which have been linked to better mental health.  Of course, before you begin a running routine, it is recommended that you invest in the right running equipment and gear. Start slowly, remember to stretch and build up your tolerance to avoid injury.


Avoid the trap of high mileage and focus on variety

A common misconception when running is that people tend to focus on running longer distances, instead of listening to their bodies and making it enjoyable for themselves. While it may seem tempting to run a half marathon, you can still gain the benefits of running if you used to run for 30-60 minutes a few times a week. In fact, research has shown that the benefits of running tops off at 4.5 hours per week. Furthermore, Dutch researchers have recommended that you run for 2.5 hours per week (or 30 minutes per day for 5 days a week). Running for 30 minutes per day and in different landscapes is much more achievable with a busy lifestyle.

Make it a family affair - Another way to fit a running routine into your busy lifestyle is to combine parts of it. Running with your children can be a great (and healthy) weekend family activity. As a bonus, it helps your child’s development. To keep them motivated, try mixing up your running routes and amp up the support and encouragement. Running is also great for dogs since it helps with managing obesity in pups and keeps them in shape. If you want to run with your dog, ensure your dog is comfortable with loose leash walking. To begin with, start with walking for training so that you can master them staying on one side and build their endurance. 


Add a treadmill into your routine - On those colder, darker months or days where your schedule is extremely busy, it can be more difficult to head outdoors for a run. Having a treadmill makes it easier to keep up with your running routine. Also, as employers place more emphasis on employee fitness on-site gyms in workplaces are becoming a common thing. It is now much easier to do a quick 30 minute run during your lunch hour. Alternatively, if you are working from home, you can comfortably keep up with your running schedule from the comfort of your own home, during those winter or rainy days.

Finally, don’t feel pressured to stick to a running routine 100 percent. It is okay to have a rest day as long as you keep up a consistent routine. More importantly, it is okay to listen to your body.

Contributor: Jennifer Dawson

Further top tips may be found below:

runbritain runFurther page  - tips on how to increase the length of continuous running

runbritain runSmarter page - tips on how to build your mental running power

runbritain runStronger page - tips on how to develop attributes to deal with hills, mud sand etc.

runbritain runRobustly page - tips on how to stay healthy, happy and injury free.