So James, we’re ready to run. What kit do we need to get started?
A good pair of trainers is the single most important element so head to a shop that specialises in sports and choose a pair that suit your running style and terrain. A decent shop will be able to determine your gait and help you find your perfect pair, which are comfy to wear and give you the right support in all the right places. Wear them indoors for a few days first to check they’re right for you. If they’re not, return them and keep on searching until you find The One.
What are your top tips for staying motivated when the only marathon you’re dreaming of involves your latest box set and a day under the duvet?
Give yourself a target. It doesn’t have to be a marathon – maybe your goal is to run for 10 consecutive minutes, that’s fine. There’s lots of great fun run events in London throughout the year as well as running clubs when you need to give your get up-and-go a boost.
There must be some great spots to run in London – which are your most inspirational favourites?
Absolutely! There’s lots of opportunities to check off London’s landmarks as you cruise through the city. I love to run along the Thames, the views are stunning. We’re also spoiled for choice when it comes to the city’s parks. Hyde Park, Regents Park and Bushey Park are a hive of activity so great for watching the world go by as you run. The canal network that sprawls across North London are also a great little jogging spot with great views.
So, what about the warm up?
The colder it is the more important the warm up. To be honest, and contrary to what many will tell you, the warm up isn’t so important. Some light stretching and a gentle five to ten minutes jog is all you need to get your body prepared for the run ahead. The warm down however is crucial, so gradually take down your pace and then spend time stretching your whole body, holding each for 30 seconds to make sure your muscles are best prepped for recovery.
And how should we be fuelling our run before, during and after?
You should avoid running on an empty stomach so eat a light snack around an hour before your run to make sure you have plenty of energy with enough time to stave off that stitch. A banana, flapjack or some toast and honey are all great options. Hydration is really important, especially in the summer months, so make sure you have lots of water before and after you run. A fruit juice is just as good as a specialist sports drinks in giving you a nice little energy boost too. It’s really about trial and error and personal preference, so see what works best for you.
So now we’ve got the basics covered, how do we improve our stamina and distance?
Ok, so now it’s time to start building up your running times, just try not to increase your longest run by any more than 10% per week to avoid putting unwarranted stress on your body – your development should be gradual. Speed work is great for stamina so try some short sharp bursts of sprinting followed by some recovery jogging. Hills are also great for strength and stamina. Just remember to give your body time to bounce back with a rest day every other day to give your body a much-needed rest.
Ok, so my legs are pretty sore from all this running, help!
Stiff legs are completely normal and is something I still experience after heavy training or a challenging race. Take two or three days away from the training schedule to relax and recuperate. A soak in the bath or a gentle sports massage can also work wonders.
So what playlist are you pounding the pavement to?
I actually don’t listen to music when I run but it can be a great motivator. Just stick to parks when you have those headphones in!