Are you interested in taking up jogging? This section provides some top tips that you should consider before pulling on those running shoes and hitting the path. If you are new to jogging you'll find some great help and advice to get you started.
•If you are new to jogging and out of condition or overweight consult with your doctor before you start. In fact even if you think you are in pretty good shape there is no harm in mentioning to your doctor that you have taken up jogging.
•Don’t skimp on the shoes. It’s worth spending a few extra pounds to get a comfortable and well-fitting pair. Think practical comfort, protection and durability and forget the flashy labels and designs!
•Don’t attempt a long run in new trainers. Run them in gradually first or you’ll soon find blisters on your feet.
•Remember to warm up. It’s best to have a short gentle jog followed by some stretching exercises before you set of. This allows the body to warm up and muscles to stretch, which can help to prevent injuries.
•Don’t try to ‘run-through’ pain. If something is hurting then your body is telling you to stop. If you continually find part of the body painful during jogging, (i.e. your knee) seek expert advice, as you could be making a problem worse.
•For best posture, try to keep your body upright with only a slight forward lean. Hold your head up by looking at the road ahead.
•After your run don’t forget to cool down. Stopping straight away can cause the muscles to contract too quickly and could cause you an injury. At the end of your jog slow your pace until you are walking briskly. Follow this by some more stretching exercises.
•Your breathing should be steady and rhythmical. If you start to get breathless slow down or walk, but you should still try to complete your full routine. It's the length of time you exercise thats important - not your speed. And each time you complete your course, you'll find it that little bit easier the next time.
•The more you exercise, the more fluids you need! During exercise, you can loose 500-1000ml of fluid an hour. Make sure you always drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Even before you start exercise it’s good to drink up to 500ml of fluids. For short workouts water is fine, but for longer runs (one hour or more) an energy drink can be useful. These provide glucose for energy and can replace the sodium lost in sweat.
•Watch what you eat. Most studies indicate that a diet high in complex carbohydrates and low in protein and polysaturated fat is the most fuel efficient for high intensity exercise.
•Train with a partner. It's so much nicer to have some company on those long runs when it is dark, cold, windy and rainy.
•If you are preparing for a race have two pairs of good training shoes. Wear one pair a third of the time and save for Race Day.
•Dirt paths are better than asphalt, and asphalt is better than concrete.
•Running should be enjoyable, so pick scenic routes and vary where you run to add some variety.
Avoiding Common Injuries
The list below provides some basic advice in how to avoid common medical complaints that can often arise with jogging. As with any medical complaints if pain persists, or you have any questions about an ailment, be sure to consult a doctor.
•Black toenails- Caused by blood collecting underneath the nails, which may fall off if not treated. To avoid this happening ensure your trainers have enough toe room.
•Blisters- Common in warm weather (chance would be a fine thing!), when sweat increases the friction between your feet and shoes. To avoid try rubbing petroleum jelly over your heels and the balls of your feet.
•Chafing- Discomfort and sometimes bleeding of the skin caused by the friction between clothing and the skin. Once again petroleum jelly is the answer, try rubbing on the inner thighs, nipples and other problem areas.
•Dizziness- Often caused by over-training or dehydration. Try cutting back on you exercise programme and make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids. If dizziness persists consult your doctor.
•Pulled Muscles- Make sure you warm up thoroughly before exercise.
•Runners Knee - Usually described as a pain just below the kneecap, which gradually gets worse. This is normally a result of bruising near the bottom of the kneecap, and is caused by over pronation (the foot rolling too much during jogging), which can be made worse by inappropriate running shoes and excessive increases in your training load.
•Shin Splints- Wear running shoes that provide good shock absorption, stability and cushioning to the foot. If you run up to 10miles each week, consider replacing your shoes every 9-12months. Choose a smooth, flat, soft surface to run on. Avoid hills, which can increase the stress on the ankle and foot.
Warming up helps loosen your muscles up and get them ready for more intense activity. Five to fifteen minutes is all that it takes. Choose a light activity such as walking or slow jogging. After a brief period of light aerobic activity, do some stretches to help avoid muscle stiffness. Hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds, and don’t bounce.
At the end of your run cool down by slowly reducing your pace to a gently jog. If you are too tired to keep jogging try walking briskly instead. A gradual decrease in activity allows your heart rate to safely adjust to a normal level. This cooling down period does not need to exceed 15 minutes. Include some stretches that will help prevent muscle soreness and increase your flexibility. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and don’t bounce.
Stretching can help warm the body up, and reduce the risk of injury to muscles, joints and tendons. However, if not performed correctly they can actually increase the risk of injury. Things to avoid include bouncing, which can pull or tear the muscle. Also don’t rush your stretches. Try to stretch slowly and hold for about 20-30 seconds.
There are numerous warm up stretches that you can undertake. Below we provide some key stretches which you should try to carry out before jogging.
Hamstring Stretch: Place the heel of your right foot up on to a bench/wall. Straighten out your right leg, and keep your left knee (the leg you’re standing on) slightly bent. Reach for the toes of your right foot with both hands. Hold stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat with other leg. Do this several times, gently at first. Stretch slowly and steadily and don’t bounce.
Calf and hamstring warm up: Put your left foot on a bench/wall, while keeping your knee close to your body. Your right foot remains on the ground. Place your hands under your left knee, holding onto the thigh. Tuck your chin to your chest and curl down slowly. Hold and count to 10, and don’t bounce. Come back up slowly, keeping your chin to your chest.
Calf Stretch: Stand facing a wall, arm’s length away, and place both of your hands against the wall at chest height. Keeping your right foot on the floor, and your right leg slightly bent, move your left foot back behind you, keeping the knee straightened and the heel flat against the floor. When you feel your left calf muscle stretch, hold for a count of 10. Don’t bounce. Repeat the stretch with the other leg.
Back Stretch: Grip your elbow with the opposite hand and gently push your arm across your shoulder until your hand reaches between your shoulder blades. Slowly push your elbow to guide your hand down your back as far as it will comfortably go. This should be repeated with the other arm.
Hip and lower back stretch: Sit on the ground with your legs crossed. Lift your right leg and cross it over the left, which should remain bent. Hug the right leg to your chest then slowly twist the trunk of your body to look over your right shoulder. Repeat using the other leg.
Lower Back Stretch: Lie on your back and bring both knees to your chest. Hold both knees with your hands and pull them down on to your chest. Hold for 30 seconds.
Groin Stretch: Sitting, put the soles of your feet together. Hold your feet with your hands, then gradually with your elbows push out against the inside of your knees. You should feel the stretch in your inner thighs.
Shoulders: To improve the flexibility of your shoulders you can perform windmills. To do this walk at a brisk pace and swing your arms in full circles, alternating sides as if you were performing backstroke when swimming.
Water and Fluids
Water is an essential ingredient of your body, in fact 60-70% of your body and about 80% of your blood is water. As you sweat this can lead to a fall in your ability to exercise, with your cardiovascular less efficient at getting oxygen to your muscles, as well as the danger of dehydration. You should always make sure that you drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to replenish what you loose in sweat, particularly in hot weather. You may wish to stop drinking for the last couple of hours before a race to avoid the need to stop behind a tree en route. If you are running a particularly long distance you may also wish to choose an energy drink instead of water. These are absorbed into the body quicker than water and can contain carbohydrates to boost your energy levels. A good tip to tell if you are drinking enough water during exercise is to check the colour of your urine. We’ve all been for a run and ended up with pee like concentrated apple juice. Urine is not supposed to be green or yellow, but clear, so if yours is dark you need to drink more fluids.
You should also be aware, although it is rather rare, that there is a danger of drinking too much water, as well as too little. Over hydration by drinking too much can cause hyponatraemia (low blood sodium) which in extreme cases can be fatal. If you drink sensibly you should be able to get the balance right. It’s a good idea to keep a note of how much you drink each day in your training log so you can roughly determine your best liquid intake levels for different distances and in different weather conditions.