You see them on your way to work, at the beach, even on weekends. The ones who seem to glide across the ground in colour coordinated lycra, looking the picture of health. I’m talking about runners. And if you’re already a seasoned strider, well done! But for those who long to speed up their shuffle to a sprint (or, ahem, a light jog), we’re here to tell you: you can do it, too. And you should!
According to a UK study, pounding the pavement can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke, by up to 50 per cent.* The best bit? It’s free, fun and you can do it anywhere, anytime. Our four-week marie claire running regimen has training tips from fitness experts and nutritionists to help keep you on track – and all the way to the finish line. Ready to run 5km? On your mark, get set, go!
Week 1: Start running!
Focus on building an aerobic base and reaching a comfortable pace, advises Dominic Svarc, exercise specialist and owner of DS Fitness. Fuel your body with low-GI carbs, such as wholegrains, legumes, fresh fruit and dairy, “and concentrate intake around your runs”, says Sydney-based nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan. As you’re just starting out, don’t overestimate how much extra food you need. “Provided you include about a quarter of your plate as a low-GI carb food, you’ll have adequate fuel for your runs,” states Dr McMillan.
Monday: Clock it! Time how long you are able to jog without having to stop for a rest. This will be used as a baseline measure of your fitness. Use the MapMyRun app to measure distance and trace your route.
Wednesday: Jog 1200m (3 x 400m laps of a sports oval). Jog as much as you can. Only walk if absolutely necessary.
Friday: Plan your route using the MapMyRun app and jog 1600m (or 4 x 400m laps). Jog as much as you can. Only walk if absolutely necessary.
Sunday: Do a yoga class to strengthen your core, improve your stability and prepare your body for the second week.
Week 2: Persevere
Work on improving your aerobic fitness by increasing running speed and distance. Feeling fragile? Push through the pain. “People stop at the first sign of soreness inappropriately,” says Marcus Dripps, president of the Australian Physiotherapy Association. “General muscle soreness in large muscles of your legs is to be expected. As a general rule: if the pain outweighs the enjoyment, that’s when you need to reassess.”
Monday: Clock it! Time how long and how far you can jog without walking. Note your improvement on Week 1.
Wednesday: Jog 2000m (5 x 400m laps). Jog as much as you can – only walk if absolutely necessary.
Friday: Plan your route with the MapMyRun app and charge it up with aerobic intervals over a distance of 2400m (6 x 400m laps). Briskly jog for 200m and then very lightly jog for 200m. Continue alternating for 6 laps. Do your best to avoid walking.
Saturday: Pool recovery session. Walk 8 laps of a 50m pool (walk until you reach neck height, before circling back). Do 2 sets of 10–15 lunges and squats to relieve sore muscles and joint pressure.
Week 3: Time to push
You’re nearly there! The intensity is upped this week thanks to anaerobic (sprint) intervals, which means you’ll need to up your energy levels, too. “You may need an extra serve of carbs a day, but on rest days be sure not to overeat – particularly if you’re trying to lose body fat,” advises Dr McMillan. Pair up with a friend, as “you’ll work harder and it’ll keep you accountable”, explains Svarc. And incorporate body-weight exercises, such as calf raises, squats and lunges, into your sessions. “Running requires strength and these exercises will complement your cardio program,” points out Dripps.
Monday: Clock it! Time how long and how far you can jog without walking. Use the MapMyRun app to measure the distance and map out your route. Note your improvement on Week 2.
Wednesday: Jog 2800m (7 x 400m laps). Jog as much as you can – only walk if absolutely necessary.
Friday: Plan your route with the MapMyRun app and include aerobic/anaerobic intervals for 3600m (9 x 400m laps). Lightly jog the first 135m, moderately jog the second 135m and sprint the last 130m. Continue alternating between the 3 speeds for 9 laps. Do your best to avoid walking.
Saturday: Pool recovery session. Walk 10 laps of a 50m pool (walk until you reach neck height before circling back). Do 2 sets of 10–15 lunges and squats to take tension off sore muscles and relieve joint pressure.
Week 4: You made it … you’re a runner!
Lace up your trainers and cue your Spotify playlist – it’s time for the 5km finish! Start slow, remember to breathe and most importantly, enjoy yourself!
Monday: Clock it! Time how long and how far you can jog without walking. Use the MapMyRun app to measure the distance and map out your route. Note your improvement on Week 3.
Wednesday: Your first five kilometres! Plan your route using the MapMyRun app and slowly jog 5000m (12.5 x 400m laps). It should now take you about 35–45 minutes.
Friday: Stretch sore muscles, such as your quads, hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings and calves, and go for a light walk to promote blood flow.
What you need to get started:
- Tunes: Get your playlist sorted. Research from UK’s Brunel University in 2008 found that the right tempo can boost motivation and increase exercise endurance. Music-streaming site Spotify.com conducted a survey on the most popular songs Australians play when working out. The resulting playlist, “Top Workout Songs”, was released this year.
- Get new gear: Invest in a good bra – a study** from the Australian Sports Commission showed that B cups can bounce by up to 8cm during exercise, increasing by up to 18cm for DD cups. Breast bounce can cause ligament damage and sagging, so ensure you have support. Well-fitting shoes are also important for injury prevention.
- Track your progress: Download the MapMyRun app (www.mapmyrun.com/app) to your smartphone to plan and record details of your jogs.
*British National Health Service (2011). **Sports Coach, Australian Sports Commission, Vol 29, No 4 (2007)