“If you take a peek around the corner, you’ll spot March and with it, the daunting realisation that you have already forked out on a pricey gym membership, splurged on trainers before you paid your bills and that January hasn’t been that dry,” explains AJ Odudu, TV presenter and qualified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. “So, if ever there was a time to get a fitness boost, it’s now.
“My tips to get you running don’t begin and end with ‘run’,” continues AJ. “As the dates for the London Marathon come closer it’s important to realise that it isn’t just about pounding the ground and even if you haven’t signed up for a big race, running is still one of the best aerobic exercises for physical conditioning of your heart and lungs. It’s also a great way to relieve stress, tone your entire body, lose weight and quite simply, it’s convenient.So grab your running shoes as I give you my top five tips.”
“The first hurdle to confront is motivation, which, unsurprisingly, is easier said than done when the street lights are still on. I challenge you to write down some goals. Maybe you’re training for the London Marathon or Great North Run, or maybe you want to shift a few pounds. Or it could be that you want to simply be fitter. Write these goals down and stick them up on your mirror or somewhere you look often, as a daily reminder. On a more immediate note, try keeping your fit kit by the door before you hit the sack as quite often it’s the thought of exercising that puts us off.
Tight hamstrings? Sore back? Stiff hips? Loosen up! You don’t have to be a bendy yoga bunny, but your flexibility is important when it comes to running. During your runs, your flexibility enables your joints to move through their full range of motion, helping your muscles work more effectively and therefore boosting your performance whilst reducing your risk of injury. Quad, cobra and standing lunge stretches will improve your flexibility greatly and if you can make it to a yoga or pilates class weekly, even better.”
“Naturally, when we fatigue our running form weakens. We curl up our shoulders, hunch our backs, our arms tend to flap by our sides and our breathing pattern becomes irregular. Weakening our technique means our performance suffers whilst putting us at risk of injury. However, improving our stamina reduces all of those side effects, enabling us to run for longer before fatigue kicks in. Try combining strength training with cardio whilst reducing your rest times in between workout sets, in order to boost your endurance.”
“As great as running is, it is a high-impact workout, and highimpact exercises aren’t always kind to our joints. Luckily, strength training will increase the ability of your bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles to withstand the high impact of running. Weight training dramatically increases the strength of your muscles when done so safely and even adding small amounts of resistance to your workouts with a resistance band will strengthen your muscles.”
“When running, muscle strength in your hips and glutes are really important for stabilisation and your core strength is important for your posture. So, the stronger and more stable you are in these areas, the better your running form and performance. Try push ups with your feet on a medicine ball, a one-legged squat reach, single leg dead lifts and raising one leg off the ground when planking.”