Get running: Treat yourself to stronger, faster and injury-free running
At the end of this programme you will have run 100km. It’s time to look after your body
Work out where you are tight and build stretches into the end of your run. Photograph: Thinkstock
I hope you enjoyed trying out our new approach to hills last week. Keep practising the technique tips and start to think more about your arms when you are running. We will keep with the hills this week in some of our sessions. The more you run on hills, the easier the flat becomes. Don’t always avoid the hills. Search them out and when you come back to the flat you will find yourself much stronger and more confident.
You have six weeks of consistent training in your legs now. By the end of the programme you will have run more than 100km. It really does sound impressive. We just need to remind ourselves to look after and listen to our body to avoid pain and injury. We need to take responsibility for our body and make our running habit more than just pounding the pavements.
There is nothing worse than being an injured runner. You become miserable, frustrated and generally jealous of every other runner you see. Trust me; you don’t want to become one. To help you avoid injury, here are my top tips for looking after your body.
Do your stretches: You are probably already tired of me encouraging you to do your post-run stretches. Work out where you are tight and build stretches into the end of your run. If you can’t stretch directly after your run, it is still very beneficial to stretch later in the day. You can even stretch or try some yoga on your rest days for the areas where you feel tight.
Get a sports massage: A good sports or deep-tissue massage will loosen out tight muscles and the professional will be able to tell you the areas you need to work on for strength and flexibility.
Do leg drains: This is a very simple exercise to freshen the legs. Lie on the ground with your legs up in the air resting against a wall. Stay like that for up to 10 minutes. When you return to normal, your legs will feel very light and refreshed.
Have baths: Blow your water budget now and then; a nice hot relaxing bath works well for everyone. Some people find Epsom salts very good in the bath for the muscles. I won’t suggest you try a cold bath, although I do this myself after very long runs. You are safe from this unless you have your eyes on a marathon in the future.
Use a tennis ball and a foam roller: Loosen out tight areas by applying pressure to your body with a tennis ball or a foam roller. I find the tennis ball great for my feet and the foam roller very good for the outsides of my legs.
In this week’s video, which is in the training plan at irishtimes.com/getrunning, you can see how to get the most out of each of these.
Be sensible: Very simple advice, which we often ignore, is a combination of rest and good food. Eat well and get to bed early. Nice and simple, and surprisingly effective.
Also this week, we will experiment a little more with speed in the midweek runs. I would like you to start very slowly, and every five minutes you can pick up the speed a small amount. By the last five minutes you should be well warmed up and able to push yourself on towards the finish. Give it a try. Remember, if you start too fast, you are only making it harder for yourself. You won’t get the most out of the session and may have to walk in the second half of the run. Instead, start slowly, let the body warm up, and finish good and strong.
That’s all for this week. Best of luck, and we will catch up next week for the final week in our programme.
nGet Running: Stay on Track is designed for people who can squeeze a 30- to 40- minute run into their busy life three times a week, but who need a kickstart to get going, and support when they run out of excuses.
To sign up to this, or to any of our running courses, see irishtimes.com/getrunning. You can also keep up with us on facebook.com/irishtimesrunning, @IrishTimesRun and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our next live Q&A with Mary Jennings will be on Monday, November 3rd, from 5pm to 6pm. If you have any questions relating to running, please log on to irishtimes.com/getrunning then. You can email questions in advance to email@example.com, or tweet them to @IrishTimesRun, and Mary will answer them during the liveblog.