Couch to 5k and beyond
Running is probably the best way there is to get fit, lose weight and beat stress – and it’s free. What’s more, if you live in the borough, you don’t have to do it alone for we have Melton Running Club.
It meets every Monday at 6.30pm outside the council offices at Parkside and twice a year (mid-summer and January) starts a new beginners’ running class alongside its regular three, four, five and six mile groups. It’s free and you don’t join, you just turn up.
The so-called ‘couch to 5K’ sessions, backed by Run England, have a great success rate with scores of graduates continuing to enjoy their running, doing everything from parkrun to ultra marathons or volunteering as run leaders for future beginners’ groups. I call that ‘couch to coach’!
The secret to the club’s success is its friendliness and the support and encouragement runners give each other. The attitude is ‘it doesn’t matter if you’re a five minute miler or a 12 minute miler, you are still running a mile and you are a runner’. It’s a recreational running group, not a competitive running club.
So what do you need to get started? Here are my top tips for new runners.
Before you start – If you have any health concerns make an appointment to see your GP and discuss it with him or her first. Running regularly will improve the health of your heart and lungs, boost your mood and can also help you lose weight, especially if combined with a healthy diet.
What to wear – A pair of running shoes is definitely advised to reduce the risk of injury and you can get a decent pair for under £50. Running socks can reduce the risk of blisters, while for women a sports bra will give additional support. Apart from that just wear something loose and comfortable. You can always treat yourself to some running kit later as a reward for sticking with it!
Eating and drinking – Keep hydrated during the day and a light snack, such as a banana, before running is fine. Some people like to have a water bottle with them but only drink according to thirst, don’t overdo it or you’ll be running for the loo!
Warming up and cooling down – Each session will start with a warm up and stretch while at the end keep walking around until you’re fully recovered. You may want an extra layer of clothing for this to stop you getting cold.
What will the sessions entail? Couch to 5K is all about building up fitness and stamina literally step by step. Sessions last about 45 minutes and at first you may walk more than you run and that’s completely fine. Run at a comfortable speed for you and soon you’ll reach that tipping point and will be running more than walking. Build up gradually by 10 per cent each week and by week 10 you’ll be able to run continuously for half an hour or so and hit your 5K target.
How to run – Good running technique will help make your runs less tiring and more enjoyable. Try to land on the middle of your foot rather than on your heel or toes. Your foot should land below your hips, not out in front of you.
What if I miss a week? If you’re feeling under the weather – and particularly if you have a temperature – don’t run. If work is hectic or family life gets in the way don’t worry, just get back on track next time. It can help to bring a friend or buddy up with someone for motivation. And don’t worry if someone else reaches the goal quicker than you – we’re all different and this is about you, no-one else. Just give it a go and you will get there!