I’d love to do a Park Run but I’ll never be able to run 5k

Firstly Park run is a run and not a race, so you can walk it if you want. Many park runs are two laps so you could run one and walk one, or you could try running for a couple of minutes, walking for a minute and building up that way.

The Couch to 5K programme is too hard!

You might have tried the Couch to 5K programme and found after a couple of weeks the amount of running ramps up too much and seems like hard work, you may also be developing niggles - from doing too much too soon. The Couch to 5K is great for people who are already quite active, doing other sports, but if you are just starting out, it is too aggressive. You might be surprised to learn that nearly half of people who embark on the couch to 5K programme, give up after a couple of weeks and never run again.  There is a gentler way of doing this, human bodies are not machines, they need a bit longer to get used to training.

Start walking purposefully

Start walking purposefully: walk tall, avoid holding anything in your hands (put it all in a small rucksack), swing your arms forward with your palms facing inwards brushing the side of your thighs, match opposite arms and legs and walk with your feet pointing forward. You will feel your bottom and upper back working as you pick up speed.

Ready to start jogging?

Once you can comfortably walk for half an hour, or so you are ready to start interspersing with a little bit of jogging.

Take your time warming up

Spend time on a really good warm-up, do some drills: walk on your tiptoes and heels to help strengthen your calves. Don’t forget your upper body, swing your arms forwards and backwards to warm it up. For a new runner, a warm-up could take half an hour. The body needs time to adjust both physically and psychologically to exercise.

Starting running - small milestones

Start with tiny intervals: 10 - 15 seconds jogging followed by 30 seconds walking, repeat several times, move up in small intervals, you may only actually do a few minutes running in your first few sessions. Avoid running the next day but do a walk as much as possible.

During your next session, start again with tiny intervals followed by walking, continue to do this in the weeks ahead to build your confidence at the start of each session.

Setting goals - not always running further or faster

You could work towards increasing the length of time you are running continuously, or your goal could be recovering quicker, or sleeping better. Even ten minutes of exercise gets you used to the movement patterns and perhaps more importantly builds a habit. However long it takes you to build up, you are still putting on your trainers and doing something towards the British Medical Councils guideline of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.

11 February, 2020

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