Mixing it up

mixing-it-up-winter_copyIt can be tough maintaining the motivation to go running at this time of year. Dark nights, lots of festive parties, big family occasions where running is not on the agenda. But whether you are an all-weather outdoor runner or prefer the warmth of the gym, one way to keep motivated is to vary your running.

You might have been following the same running route for months? You might run at the same pace mile after mile. Do you pull on your training shoes with a weary air of 'here we go again? If you are getting bored with your training then that is a clear signal that you need to vary things a bit.


There is no doubting the benefits of running. It is one of the best ways to lose weight, and you don't have to run marathons or sprint up hills, it is all about finding ways of running that best suits you.


However, if you run the same distance, at the same pace every week, then the chances are that your body will not get the benefits of running because it has adapted to the exercises and so will not improve further, and you will start to hate every session through sheer boredom.


A few simple changes to your routine could make a huge difference 

  • To improve your fitness, the most important thing is that your body is put under stress. If you always do the same workout your body will get used to it – it will reach a plateau – so change your route, your distance and/or your speed.

  • Depending upon the number of sessions you do a week, add variety to each work out. Do one long run; make your second weekly session a speed session, by doing a series of short, faster runs; and maybe your third run could mix slow and fast running. By mixing the speeds, you will kick start your metabolism into burning calories at a higher rate and your muscles will have to work harder to cope with the demands.

  • No matter how much you are enjoying it, do not fall into the trap of running every day. This will lead to exhaustion and injury. Add different activities to your weekly routine, such as cycling, rowing, a boxercise class or a fitness circuit. You will still burn the calories, but you will be using different muscle groups, improving your cardiovascular fitness and burning extra calories without overloading tendons and joints.

What are the benefits of running?

  • If it is weight loss you are seeking, then running is an excellent way of shifting the kilos. In the first few weeks of your running program you will lose weight quite rapidly, as long as you are controlling the calorie intake.
  • Running also helps improve bone density, so you will be less prone to osteoporosis in old age.
  • Regular exercise, such as running, will help you stay fit and healthy and free from diseases associated with obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.
  • It is a cheap way to get fit. There are no gym fees, no personal trainer costs, and you can run just about anywhere.
And these are the other benefits to be gained from running. You will feel less stressed, you may find you are sleeping better and you will have a greater level of self confidence. The adaptations that occur in you are very personal and depend upon many factors.
How much effort should you put into running?
  • As a guide, when you are running at a steady rate (at less than 80 per cent of your maximum effort), you should be able to talk while you run without a stressed, 'choppy' voice.
  • In the short sprints (45 seconds or less), you will be working at a greater rate than 80% of your maximum heart rate. You will not be able to talk during these sprints

Two examples of varied speed sessions:

Session One

Warm up for 10 minutes with a power walk or light jog and then introduce some speed changes – running faster for between 15-45 seconds with a jog in between. Repeat this 10-15 times during the run. Finish with a 10 minute cool down, again a light jog or walk. A cool down will help you recover better. 

Session Two

After your warm up, run for two minutes at a harder pace, followed by one minute at a gentler pace. Increase this to three minutes of hard running, one minute gentle; four minutes hard, one minute soft; and so on until you are running for seven minutes at a hard pace and one minute slowly. Do a five minute warm down at the end of this session.

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Anonymous
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