Getting started is one of the toughest times for any runner and that's before you taking into account the altitude and hills which make Nairobi even tougher. Don't be put off and, with a little bit of consistency, you'll be amazed at how much progress you can make in a short period.
One key thing to keep in mind is that running requires adaptation. Among other things, we need to build aerobic fitness and strength in order to be able to keep going and to help avoid injury.
If you're just starting out, here are our top tips:
- Be realistic about your goals: most of us can't go from 0km to 10km and trying to do so can be both disheartening (when you quickly out of breath) and potentially injurious. Depending on your starting point, run-walking can be a great way to get moving again and begin your running journey. However, if you're very unfit or very overweight, then even a run-walk programme might be too much. In this case a fitness / weight loss program of graded, low impact exercise, may be a more appropriate first step towards running
- Follow a programme: sometime it's easier when you don't have to think about what you're doing and committing to programme can give you that extra boost to get out of the door. Google "Counch to 5km" and there are hundreds of programmes you could potentially follow to get started. If you don't currently do any running then we recommend the UK NHS's programme (linked and below). With just three runs a week, the nine-week programme builds up to 30 minutes continuous running and there's a podcast that you can download which tells you when run, when to walk and gives encouragement along the way. Whichever programme you follow (and if you already have good base fitness from other activities, then a couch-to-5km might be too easy), the important thing is that progressions are appropriate. We would discourage the use of any programme that contains large or sudden increases in the frequency, duration or intensity of the activities. Finally it's never to late to get into good habits, so we'd always recommend finding time for some strength work in your programme - for running this doesn't necessarily mean pumping heavy weights or using gym machines. But for most of us, 10-15 minutes of bodyweight exercises once of twice a week can positively impact our running (we'll write more on this elsewhere)
- Track your progress: tracking your progress gives you the added satisfaction of seeing your distance go up as you clock the miles, as well as the sense of achievement when you look back at where you came from. There are lots of free phone apps out there that you can use for tracking. We'd recommend Strava, just for the number of runners that are on it. You'll soon be getting kudos and motivation from sharing your runs with friends and family
- Find a running partner: finding a running partner or joining a running group offers both emotional support and encouragement, plus that extra kick of knowing someone is waiting for you on those days when your wavering. At Run Beyond, we're looking to run regular beginner groups: drop us an email at [email protected] if you're interested in joining
- Listen to your body: by their nature, most running programmes are generic. Always be guided by your body as you progress and make sure that you're ready to move onto the next step. If you find a particular week very challenging, consider going back and repeating the week before, or repeating the week again until you feel confident to move on. You need to recover to adapt, so whilst aches and pains are normal, if you're still sore from your previous effort then consider taking more time to recover or doing an easier workout. If you feel an sharp or acute pain, then stop and consult an appropriate clinician
NHS Couch-to-5KM Programme
For your 3 runs in week 1, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then alternate 1 minute of running and 1-and-a-half minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.
For your 3 runs in week 2, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then alternate 1-and-a-half minutes of running with 2 minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.
For your 3 runs in week 3, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 2 repetitions of 1-and-a-half minutes of running, 1-and-a-half minutes of walking, 3 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking.
For your 3 runs in week 4, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 3 minutes of running, 1-and-a-half minutes of walking, 5 minutes of running, 2-and-a-half minutes of walking, 3 minutes of running, 1-and-a-half minutes of walking and 5 minutes of running.
There are 3 different runs this week:
Run 1: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 5 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking and 5 minutes of running.
Run 2: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 8 minutes of running, 5 minutes of walking and 8 minutes of running.
Run 3: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 20 minutes of running, with no walking.
There are 3 different runs this week:
Run 1: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 5 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking, 8 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking and 5 minutes of running.
Run 2: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 10 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking and 10 minutes of running.
Run 3: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 25 minutes of running with no walking.
For your 3 runs in week 7, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 25 minutes of running.
For your 3 runs in week 8, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 28 minutes of running.
For your 3 runs in week 9, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 30 minutes of running.