As January ends and the evenings get longer, things are looking up

In week four of our beginners programme, I share more motivation tips to help you get out the door

Warming up exercise by Mary Jennings in St Anne’s Park, Dublin, before a run. Photograph: Alan Betson

Warming up exercise by Mary Jennings in St Anne’s Park, Dublin, before a run. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

January was a month that offered more excuses than most to skip a run. The weather certainly lived up to its crisp and damp expectations. You may have been restricted by ice and snow and the practicality of running safe in the dark.

Even with the best of intentions there may be a few blank entries in your training log. The good news is that January is on the way out and a new month, with longer evenings and brighter mornings is right around the corner.

With three weeks running already in your legs, your running future is looking even better for February.

Running Buddies

Regardless of the promise of spring, it’s still easy to let running fall down the priority list. But nothing keeps a runner on the straight and narrow more than the knowledge that another runner is waiting from them outside. If you are a procrastination expert, a running buddy might be just what you need to eliminate choice from your running day. Not only will they make you stick to your schedule but the minutes and miles will fly by as you solve the world’s problems on your journey. The support and camaraderie will carry you both through tough days and there will always be someone to understand your achievements and share the celebration on your joint running milestones.

Beginners Notes

In this week four of our beginners programme, I share more motivation tips to help you get out the door. Also, introduce the basics of good running technique focussing on posture. My weekly training video shows how to make running feel easier and lighter. Learning good technique from the start is a wonderful bonus. It’s infinitely better start right than to have to fix bad habits in the future.

Midway Check-in

While the beginners reach a milestone of double-figures in their running minutes this week, they still have a while to go before they line up at a race start line. Our 5k and 10k runners should however mark the midpoint of their training programme with a 5k race or parkrun. This is perfect way to track progress over the weeks and see how the hard work has paid off in terms of pacing, fitness and running confidence. If you are nervous about such an event, I have included some tips for your first race day in your training plans and videos.

Running up that Hill

What do your arms do when you run? Most of us move our arms when running, but don’t really consider how efficient the movement is. Our arm action can certainly help our running and reduce the amount of effort our legs need to put in. This is especially evident on the uphill when we don’t have gravity on our side. While our beginners can avoid hills for now, our 5k and 10k runners should start to embrace hills by including them in their runs and practising good technique to take the pressure off the lower legs. This week’s video for the 10k runners shows some simple tips for effortless hill running and how using our arms can help us on both the flat and on the up. If you have been avoiding hills due to breathlessness or sore lower legs, it’s now time to think technique.

Roll on February

Finally, take a few minutes this week to jot down your running highlights of January. Consider your best memories and how running has made you feel. You may also have made mistakes or have reasons for not progressing as quickly as hoped for. Put it all on paper and draw a line under it. We cannot change January but we can take the lessons learnt into February. Our new running month is here. Let’s make it a good one.

Sign up for one of The Irish Times' Get Running programmes (it is free!) and Get Healthy for 2018. 
First, pick the programme that suits you.
- Beginner Course: This programme is an eight-week course that will take you from inactivity to being able to run 30 minutes non-stop.
- Stay On Track: The second programme is an eight-week course for those of you who can squeeze in a 30- to 40-minute run three times a week.
- 10km Course: This is an eight-week course designed for those who can comfortably run for 30 minutes and want to move up to the 10km mark.
Best of luck!

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