Gardens aren’t the only thing that burst into colour in spring. Easter’s chocolate indulgence is the last hurrah for many before starting on their plan to get the ultimate summer body. Before you know it, footpaths and gyms are full of Lycra-clad runners in a rainbow of colours, all pounding away the miles to lose weight and shape up.
The Benefits of Running
There are several good reasons running is popular with those looking to get fit. Firstly, it is accessible – all you need is some supportive trainers and a path, road, or treadmill, and you’re set. You can fit it in around your schedule, and do it on your own or with friends. Running is an effective way to lose weight as it burns around 100 calories a mile, it also strengthens bones, and relieves stress and anxiety.
How to Start Running
The first step as a runner should be taken slowly. There are a number of apps you can download to your phone, including the excellent NHS Couch to 5K app. You won’t go from couch potato to Mo Farah in a week, or even a month – it takes time to build your fitness and stamina safely. Your initial speed should be one where you can breathe easily enough to talk clearly. You should not be gasping.
Three sessions a week is ideal for beginners. Start with a combination of walking and jogging, aiming to increase your jogging ratio each time until you can comfortably run at a steady pace for 20 to 30 minutes. You do not need to run every day to get the benefits, nor do you have to go for a long distance. If you are not using an app or programme, set yourself a goal such as 15 minutes or one mile, and increase your effort or distance as your fitness improves.
You will need supportive trainers when you begin but you shouldn’t spend a fortune on them. Start with a gentle walk for a few minutes, swinging your arms. Three to five minutes is all you need to loosen your muscles, joints and tendons, and get the blood flowing to the muscles you will be using. Jog gently for a few minutes, then pick up the pace to where you’re comfortable.
Running can exacerbate some health conditions so you should speak with a health professional before embarking on a running programme if you are significantly overweight, pregnant, or have any pre-existing medical conditions.
The Dundee Healthy Living Initiative (01382 435824) organise Health Walks around Dundee City and surrounding towns, and can also help you find your closest running club.