I am writing this article on Sunday 26th April 2020. The Sun is shining but the streets are empty. Today would have marked the 40th anniversary of the London Marathon. Sadly this iconic marathon has been postponed till October but there’s still uncertainty that this will go ahead. The UK along with most countries must abide by this lockdown rule:
You must stay at home and only leave the house for one form of exercise a day whether that being a run, cycle or walk alone or with a member of your household.
With gym’s being closed and the limitations of outdoor activities, most areas have seen more and more people running and cycling. In fact, exercise equipment and running gear have made record sales and mostly sold out online.
The pandemic is a frustrating time for many. The world has become a stressful place with people losing jobs, businesses going bankrupt and stocks and shares plummeting. We are seeing a huge economic negative for the first time in years, possibly the worst economic crash in history. However, on top of all this, we are faced daily with people being infected by ‘Covid-19’ and death toll’s rising daily. It has now become apparent that we know at least one person that has been affected by the virus or lost someone close to us.
We live in a modern world where most people are focused and driven. We set goals in life, whether it being at work or in fitness, to keep us motivated and most importantly to help with mental health. Yet these targets have been stripped from us during isolation.
Before I continue I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Ania and have been in the fitness industry since 2001 and been working closely with Revvies Energy strips for over a year. Since I remember I’ve been goal driven, motivated and a little competitive… I’ve always had a target at work or in fitness, although since 2007 running has been my main focus and has kept me determined. Over the years I’ve built a Personal Training Business, become a coach on Fitness app EASTNINE, built a relationship with many brands as an ambassador including REVVIES, and most recently been chosen to be part of the ASICS FrontRunner UK team. However, one of my greatest achievements is having a semi-elite status in running.
I’ve always had a purpose to train whether it being a Marathon PB or trying new types of sport. Nonetheless, it has helped me with mental health. The last 10 years has challenged me mentally to the point where I suffered with depression. Although, I’m not the kind of person that gets defeated easily. What was my saviour? Running. Over the years I’ve lost best friends, seen family and friends suffer after traumatic car accidents, family fighting cancer and most importantly losing my mother to brain cancer. Without going into too much detail I cannot stress enough how running helped my mental health. The First two years of my mother being diagnosed, getting treatment and slowly deteriorating, I had to be the strong member of the family. Being the youngest this was a challenge I wasn’t going to fail. Running is what got me through this. I used it as a time to de-stress, focus and clear my mind of negativity. This is why I feel so strongly about new runners taking on a challenge to complete a 5k.
With more time on our hands staying at home and not spending precious time travelling, we can use it for something positive. With most events cancelled such as races, concerts and holidays, us as a nation are feeling claustrophobic, anxious so why not join REVVIES and take on the 5k challenge?
The benefits of taking on this program are endless. Firstly you’ll be out of the house taking in fresh air, enjoying the silence of the empty streets and appreciating the beauty of what nature has to offer. You will be getting your one exercise allowance of the day, thus creating a healthier you physically. Then most importantly your state of mind will change for the better. You will become focused again and be able to create a positive attitude during this stressful time. Exercise increases endorphins, which are the brain chemicals associated with feeling happy and capable, as well as decreasing anxiety and stress. These are all perfect reasons for you to start this journey. But how do we start? Simple - by putting on some running trainers, stepping out the door, placing one foot in front of the other and moving a little faster than walking pace. VOILA! You’re now officially a runner!
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Before you get started on your 5k training program, here are a few tips to get you going:
At the start you shouldn’t stress on running the entire distance in one go. Use the walk/run/walk method - walk for 2 minutes, run for 2 minutes and then again walk. You can gradually build into longer intervals of running and decrease your walking time. Build it up slowly and don’t be ashamed to walk. Everyone starts somewhere and we’ve all been there. Soon you’ll be able to run the distance with only a short amount of walking and soon you’ll be able to run the entire distance.
Find your comfortable running pace and don’t start off too fast. We all have a comfortable pace - this is a speed where we can jog and chat casually without being out of breath. It’s very easy to start off running too fast, so we need to rein this in before you overexert yourself, which could lead to injuries. Our bodies need to adapt, which may take some time. However, this will build a stronger running base long-term. Be patient.
Remember that this is a lot of stress on the body if you’re a beginner. Even if the first run went well, give your body some time to recover. Try not to get too enthusiastic and train every day. Let your body adapt and build your fitness slowly. Always remember to stretch after your runs and also to refuel and hydrate.
Warm-up and Recovery are extremely important; whether you’re a beginner or a professional make sure you warm-up and do dynamic stretches before your run. Once you’ve finished, then keep the body moving by walking or shaking out. Three examples of helping you to recover are stretching, using a foam roller or getting a sports massage. Another key recovery point is to have either an ice bath or Epsom salts bath to help reduce muscle pain, inflammation and soreness. Drinking plenty of fluids will help flush out any lactic acid, so drink up! Try drinks that contain Magnesium and electrolytes to restore any salts that you’ve lost throughout sweat.
Pay attention to your technique. Make sure you’re landing softly on your feet, not over striding and relaxing your upper body. As you relax your shoulders you should have a natural swing in the arms, which helps to rotate the hips. Short, easy steps are the way forward. Gradually you’ll be able to build into longer, faster strides.
Make sure you invest in some decent road shoes, as well as trail trainers. Mixing up your running surfaces will make you a stronger runner. Running on road or a pavement is good for faster running and you’re less likely to sprain your ankle. However, it’s tough on the joints. Don’t just pound the pavements. Mix up your terrain with some trail running. Running through the woods or parks provide cushioning, although take note that you should only do this during the day where is clear to see where you’re stepping. It’s extremely dangerous to run in the woods and parks due to poor visibility of roots, tree trunks, rocks and rabbit holes. Stay safe. Another option is a treadmill. Please remember that most people run differently on a treadmill to outside, so gait analysis that are done in the shops are never accurate. The treadmill is also great for interval and speed training; I highly suggest you try this out if you don’t have access to a running track. Another positive of the treadmill is the belt has a shock absorber, so it’s a lot easier on the joints and helps you land softly.
As a beginner it’s very easy to get caught up in just running. The reality is we all need to cross-train. This can be anything from swimming, boxing or yoga. Strength work is a great way to build muscle to protect the joints and will also help you build strength in your legs and glutes for any hill work. Classes such as Pilates are fantastic for core work and your posture. Having a strong core is crucial for a runner to prevent injuries. Only doing abdominal crunches is not the answer, you need to strengthen your back as well as your front. Some people hate stretching and usually struggle with flexibility. How about a yoga class? As well as stretching and building flexibility, yoga is a great way to clear your mind and relax. If you have time I suggest Pilates and yoga at least twice a week. If you don’t want to go to a class then have a look on YouTube. It’s amazing what you can find on social media.
Whilst putting this article together I asked various questions on social media. The first being ‘How many weeks training did it take you to complete a 5k?’ – This varied from 3 weeks to 3 months. We tend to guide you to your first 5k over an 8-week plan. However, remember to listen to your body, as everyone is different. If you find after 8 weeks you’re still not ready, then do not stress! Remember this program is here to help you. Use the time to enjoy it.
The next question I asked was ‘What did you struggle with?’ This is always a great question to ask, because you’ll be surprised by how many people suffer with the same problem - The main answer being ‘PACING’. As I’ve mentioned above, try not to set off too fast. Find your comfortable pace, and remember the tail of the ‘tortoise and the hare’ – Slow and Steady wins the race.
Here is a question on how you will benefit from this program - ‘How has running helped you during lockdown?’ The top answer: “Keeps me sane!” as well as “Better mood, less irritable and something to look forward to”.
Last but not least – ‘What bit of advice would you give to a new runner?’ My inbox was full of responses for this question: “Enjoy running for the sake of it.” “Slow and Steady.” However, out of all the responses I received, these stood out the most:
“Don’t give up, it’s so easy to stop but if you persevere you will never regret starting.”
“Don’t be afraid to start and don’t worry about how long It takes.”
Remember Revvies are here to help you! Running during this pandemic should be fun! There’s no pressure on how long it takes you, so use the program as a sense of realisation that it’s a gift just to be able to run during this time of uncertainty, so embrace it. Pop in some headphones, press play on your music playlist or podcast and zone out. It’s just you and the road and a journey to becoming a great runner.
WRITTEN BY ANIA GABB
INSTAGRAM - @Ania_G_PT
REVVIES ENERGY STRIPS
INSTAGRAM – @Revviesenergy