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Want to start running? We’ve got the Canberra runner’s essential guide…

Alison Senti

It’s fun run season!

If it’s been a while, or you are starting out for the first time, then the mantra of ‘slow and steady’ really does apply to working up to regular jogging or running. Here are a few tips to get you started and keep you on track to a successful entrée into the world of running.

Set a goal

Pick an event, pay the registration fee immediately and then tell everyone about it. Seriously.

As soon as you tell people, Facebook or tweet it, you are committed! If you are looking for some extra motivation, set up a fundraising page for your favourite charity. Everyday Hero and Fundraise Online are just two of the many sites you can set up your page.

You will be surprised how interested people are in your new pursuit – use the extra attention as motivation!

How’s your kit?

The old netball shoes that have been gathering dust under your bed for the last five years won’t cut the mustard. Sure, they’ll get you through 5km, but if you plan to run more than a couple of times a week, you run the risk (pardon the pun) of sore knees, hips and feet if you don’t have the right shoes.

Feeling daunted about the myriad of running shoes out there? Visiting a specialised running shoe retailer like the aptly-named The Runners Shop in Phillip will pay off in spades. These stores are staffed by runners selling shoes to runners, and will make sure you leave with a pair that is best for your feet – not just pretty-coloured sneakers (well, we’ve all been guilty of that at least once!).

And ladies, we need to be frank here: look after your boobs. Even if you think you don’t have enough to worry about, buy a supportive running bra to suit your ‘situation’. Trust me – you’ll thank yourself later!

Otherwise, kit up in any comfy tights, shorts and tops you feel you can move freely in. Best to steer away from 100% cotton which gets heavy with sweat and will chafe – nearly all exercise gear these days contains ‘moisture wicking’ properties.

Buddy up

Ok you’ve picked an event and you have the right kit – now find a friend! As the old saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. The same goes with running, but in reverse – you double your fun, motivation, and yeah, share the ‘low-mojo’ days too.

When you are tempted to roll over and hit ‘snooze’, knowing that your run buddy is waiting for you can be all the motivation you need to turn a run ‘fail’ into fun.

If you can’t convince a friend to join you, then Canberra is blessed with many fitness groups for beginners. Females In Training (FIT) conducts several different swim, run and bike sessions for newbies. YMCA Runners Club of Canberra has 5km, 10km and half marathon (21.1km) training groups, and organises the monthly Women and Girls Jogalong, a 5km handicapped event so you can improve on your time. Triathlon clubs with training programs also abound in our fair city. Get in touch with a group and see what they have to offer you.

Fuel the fire

Make sure you are in the best position possible to enjoy your run by eating the right ‘fuel’. As a general rule, for a 5km jog/run, you should not need to eat beforehand if running early in the morning, nor should you need to carry a drink with you unless the conditions are extremely hot.

Try not to eat two hours before you run as you may end up with a ‘stitch’. Good, easily digestible pre-run snacks include toast with jam, a banana or porridge with honey. Washed down with a drink of water, this should be enough to fire your pistons.

Après-run, plenty of water and a healthy brekky or snack will replace any expended energy and help with muscle repair.

Mix it up

Canberra is a runner’s city – just ask any Canberra runner! Whether you choose the pristinely-manicured paths around LBG, the snaking bike paths of the burbs, or the rolling trails of Canberra’s perimeter, mix up your running routine to keep you interested.

Nothing screams boredom more than running the same 5km loop, three days per week. Your body will get used to the run and you’ll soon mentally tire of the same old landscape. Websites like MapMyRun can help you find routes in your area that you may not know about.

Listen to your body

It’s natural to feel sore in the first few weeks of running, but if you start to feel intense pain , back off for a couple of days until you are sure you haven’t done any damage. Ice any sore muscles, soak in a bath or do some light stretching to your comfort. Blisters and chafing can become major irritants if not managed properly. Any further pain should be investigated by a physiotherapist.

A couple of days of cross-training like cycling, swimming or a gym class can be the perfect antidote to ‘low-mojoitis’… 

Celebrate!

So you completed that event, fundraising goal or fitness program – well done! But you don’t need to wait for the end to celebrate. Congratulate yourself every time for getting out there and doing something amazing for your body and mind.

Have coffee with your running buddies, treat yourself to some fabulous running kit (hello Lululemon!) or a sublime full body massage – whatever floats your boat.

Personally, every morning I get up and run, I am rewarded with the most spectacular Canberra sunrise. It’s hard to stay grumpy when Mother Nature puts on a jaw-dropping show, just for me.

[Alison Senti is a regular Canberra runner (some would say obsessed) and the above information is purely from personal experience – I am not medically or fitness qualified in any way – I just have lots of kms in these legs….!]

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Alison Senti

Alison Senti is a child-rearing, part-time working, globe-travelling, gourmet-gutsing, marathon-running, shoe 'collecting' second generation Canberran who likes to take life by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake. Most of her stories on Her Canberra are selfishly of interest to her personally! More about the Author

  • Brooke

    It’s also important when running to make sure you stretch properly and run with good technique, to avoid getting injured! There’s a good running App developed here in Canberra which I use and find helpful. it’s called Running Technique Basics (you can download via the app store for iPhones, and I think from Google play for android phones).

  • Sarah

    I found the motivation to start running at Parkrun (http://www.parkrun.com.au/) It’s a weekly, free, timed 5K run against yourself. It’s suitable for ALL abilities. They’re held every Saturday morning in Belconnen, Gungahlin and Tuggeranong. I highly recommend Parkrun for their welcoming and inclusive communities.

  • Jen

    Another option is downloading the couch to 5k app that teaches you to run. There are many lunch time runs in Canberra that you could run or initially just walk- Google Canberra lunch time runs, also run or walk options for those over the age of 30 through ACT vets – these are held on a monthly basis on pretty trails around Canberra. Women’s jog along is also once a month run by YMCA which provides free child care to members. As already mentioned park run 5k held every Saturday and a great running group in Canberra is speedy geese – again google this. Free interval sessions and because they are held in a small area it doesn’t matter how far you can run or how fast and they are a very friendly bunch. Finally the australian mountain running association has lots of great trail events some of which are walks also.