Fun Run Guide for Beginners

Fun runs are so much more than just race day!

It is the preparation to the event that is even more important than the actual race itself, as the race is more of a single achievement and the lead-up work is where the real work is done. Training for fun runs can also be a great motivational tool to trigger a more active lifestyle post-event and becomes routine.

This blog explains a number of factors you need to consider prior to training for the event.

  • Motivational factors
  • Goal setting
  • Diet and hydration
  • Treatment and injury prevention
  • Time management
  • Training program


Motivational factors

Building mental stamina and dealing with mental hurdles such as those tough days where you lack the energy and also during the run when you’re exhausted. One thing to keep you motivated when you absolutely do not want to run is the ‘10 minute rule’ where you give yourself 10 minutes of running and if you still not in the mood you can turn back (most of the time after 10 minutes you’re keen to keep going). Also setting long and short term goals through aiming for certain times or distance can be another way to measure gradual improvements.

New clothing or gear can really be effective under the concept ‘look good, feel good’. Dressing the part is a great way to feel like you belong in the crowd of runners and having the right shoes and season appropriate clothing can really help your performance and ease of movement during your run.

Running with a friend running groups work for those who work better in a team environment as you’re not only letting yourself down but others too if you decide to take a day off. Also having someone else to run with and set the pace is a great way to take your mind off running!

Running to music is another way to get you through your run when you begin to tire. Anything from motivational/ pump up music to whatever embarrassing songs you have on your ipod that can get you through that last few kilometers.

 

Short and Long Term Goals

Your training routine will overload gradually over the first 6 weeks so for the first week, remember that feeling of mental and physical exhaustion after running 1-2km’s. This will act as a short term measure of personal improvement for those days where you’re feeling like your training has plateaued.

When it comes to training, quality over quantity is key for improvement. Over the 12 weeks there will be plenty of training sessions so at the beginning it’s vital to have quality individual training sessions instead of doing too many mediocre sessions too early. This also gives your body more recovery time by listening to how your body is reacting to the gradual increase training loads by starting small and finishing big! Training isn’t the same as uni exams where you cram before the exam, it needs to be steady with gradual improvements

 

Diet and Hydration

Diet and hydration are a key component of exercising as it’s what you put in your body will aid in what you want to get out of your exercise routine. Melbourne and Sydney based dietitian Elisa Rossimel has written 3 points to consider for exercise as good nutrition is simply one (important) aspect to fuelling the weekend warrior.

Hydrate before you dehydrate. Sweating is a healthy, natural response to exercise, but whether you are training or participating in an event, not replacing fluids adequately can be detrimental to your performance. Losing as little as 2% of your body weight in fluid loss can decrease both physical and mental performance. Fluid needs differ for everyone, based on: the distance you’re running, the weather, and how much you sweat. Whilst thirst is not a good indicator of hydration (especially whilst exercising), urine colour is - aim for very pale yellow urine on a day to day basis. Ensure you start exercise well hydrated, and replace losses after running. Water is perfectly fine for shorter duration or lower intensity activities, however for runs lasting longer than 60—90 minutes, sports drinks with carbohydrates and electrolytes, such as Gatorade, can be beneficial in improving performance.

Don’t run on empty.  If you skip breakfast, the carbohydrate stores in your liver have been depleted overnight and you rely on carbohydrate stores in your muscle for energy as you exercise. After approximately 1 hour of exercise the body then has to use protein and fats as a fuel source, which is a less effective form of energy. To get the most out of your run, aim to eat a light carbohydrate-based snack 1-2 hours prior to exercising. Low fibre options are good to prevent stomach upsets during your run. Try toast, crumpets or English muffins with jam or honey, a small bowl of cereal, some fruit and yoghurt, or a smoothie.

Reward your body the right way. Grabbing a burger or a chocolate bar because you’ve “earned it” may give you short term pleasure, but it won’t help your body the next time you choose to run. Glycogen and protein re-synthesis (replacing your carbohydrate/energy stores and repairing and rebuilding muscles) is highest in the 30-minutes after exercise, so this is the best time to have a snack containing both carbohydrates and protein. Easy to digest options include smoothies or flavoured milks, a small bowl of cereal and milk, or yoghurt with fruit. A follow up meal containing protein (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, tofu or legumes) with carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potato or bread) along with plenty of vegetables should be eaten within 2-4 hours of exercising to ensure sufficient energy, vitamins and minerals.

Following these three simple tis will get you on the right track to staying fit, happy and healthy over winter. Keep in mind this is general advice, and if you would like personalised advice based on your individual requirements and activities, head to Sports Dieticians Australia to find an accredited sports dietician.
 

Treatment and injury prevention

It’s really important that if you have any pre-existing injuries or current injuries that will affect your training that you get them assessed by one of our physiotherapists prior to starting. The importance of assessing your gait through a podiatrist or a physiotherapist for those who get pain while running particularly through their feet and legs is vital for pre-training preparation.

Another important form of treatment is getting regular remedial massage every 1-4 weeks to loosen tight muscles, increase range of movement for joints and to prevent injuries. When you begin running and begin to increase your training, the ‘finding muscles you didn’t know you had’ expression will be experienced from tightness and delayed muscle soreness. Massage can be used for pre-training, post-training and between training session recovery depending on personal preference.

When it comes to recovery aside from getting physio/ remedial massage, it’s really important after a run that you ice any sore spots. When you get back into training too quickly, the most common injuries are all inflammatory injuries due to muscle weaknesses which can cause overuse injuries. Ice immediately after your training session and mention this next time you’re getting treatment for assessment.

 

Juggling work, life and training

In the first few weeks, the gradual build up from 1km to 3km really shouldn’t take up too much time as each kilometer will be ran around 5-7 minute kilometers. However, when you get into weeks 9-12 when you’re running around the 7km distances you will really have to factor 45 minutes of your day to your program. This can be the same for meal preparation for the week too if the diet is also getting a makeover instead of take away convenience lunches.

 

Training Program

Here is an example of a training program that can be used to get to running 10km’s in 12 weeks complete with recommended days off before a big run.

The ideal times to get physiotherapy treatment would be prior to week 1 and after any injury sustained throughout the training. The ideal times to get remedial massage and myotherapy is during week 3, 6, 9 and 12.

Please note this is just a guide and may need to be tailored to your personal needs from a Richmond Rehab injury and training assessment. It is based on 4 days on 3 days off over a week with gradual increases at the start and ramps up towards the end which can be an effective training method, however the can be more effective programs to suit you.

 

For Melbourne fun run calendar and details visit the Melbourne fun run website here.

Best of luck with your training and did you know that less than 1% of the world’s population has actually completed a full marathon? Maybe one day you could aspire to be in this illustrious group!

Kyle Michelle

Myotherapist

This article has been prepared by Kyle Michelle.  If you have any questions for Kyle or would like to know more about training for running, please leave your comments below.