COOL RUNNINGS

Most of us are already practised professionals, but ironically walking and running can be the two hardest activities to get motivated for.

Placing one foot in front of the other is an action most of us take for granted now, but there is a great deal of advice out there to help transform walking and running into your outdoor reality instead of an unlikely mission.

And to get you started, adults and children across Wales are being asked to recall their favourite childhood dot-to-dot puzzles!

Yes, prepare to create your very own dotty design by running and walking between the landmarks of Wales, because according to the most seasoned and sympathetic runners at the Sports Council for Wales, walking and running in Wales is a case of joining up the dots and marvelling at the lines you can create across the map.

Indeed, people in Wales are surrounded by some of the most spectacular landmarks in the UK.

From the dizzy cascades of Snowdonia, through leafy Brecon trails, sprawling countryside, sandy beaches and rugged cliff-top walks to the landmarked city-scapes of Cardiff and Bangor including grand stadiums and castles, Wales is waiting for you to don the shoes and start grooving your own jagged paths through Celtic history!

Kathryn Williams, a former athlete and sister of Welsh Commonwealth 400m hurdler Rhys Williams and Active Communities Senior Development Officer for the Sports Council for Wales, has 10 top tips for getting into walking and running:

1 Buy yourself a cool new pair of trainers that you’ll look forward to putting on – wear clothes you feel comfortable in and don’t think you have to wear lycra!

2 Just think of all the cool places you can see along the way but plan your route first so that you know when you’re heading for home and you can use familiar landmarks as ‘pushing’ points.

3 Really get to know your environment - don’t be scared to discover new places but make sure your route is marked out and well-lit so it’s safe.

4 Vary your routes and make sure they include a mixture of fun terrains and sights along the way - forests, beaches, rivers and parks are good.

5 Don’t think you have to go out for hours – run or walk to a time that suits you and fits into your daily routine.

6 Choose a pace that suits you – make it a sociable event and chat to friends while running or mix it up with some walking but remember you don’t want to kill yourself.

7 Think about how good you’ll feel when you’ve finished.

8 Think of how many calories you’re burning by doing it and what you can now eat to treat yourself – have it ready to eat and drink that you can grab as soon as you’ve finished.

9 Run in public places or make sure you organise to run with people – even if you don’t feel like it you can’t let your friends down!

10 Run or walk for a cause – target an event like charity fundraisers so you can run to raise money and feel good about it.

Sarah Hardman, a Senior Sports Physiologist at the Sports Council for Wales, gives her top 10 tips to get your motivated for running:

  1. Start with a gentle run, or a walk-run walk session depending on your abilities, and progress to longer runs, making sure you run by time and not distance.

For example:

Walk 5 min, jog 2 and repeat, walk 3 min, jog 2 min and repeat

or

Run for 10 min slow then run 2 min faster and repeat with 5 min cool down.

  1. Set yourself one realistic goal for each run and stick to it e.g. run to the top of a hill once, then in the next session, do it twice!
  1. Always warm up and cool down appropriately. This should include a gentle heart rate increase at the start of exercise, plus relevant stretching and mobility exercises.
  1. Make your run a social occasion - arrange to meet friends for a training session, then afterwards reward yourselves by going for a healthy meal or take turns to cook the post run meal.
  1. Download some of your favourite tunes and take them with you, although make sure you choose somewhere safe and away from busy roads
  1. Get into the ‘hard-easy’ training routine by following each hard session with a light one or a rest day and always remember that recovery is just as important as doing the work.
  1. As you progress and start to feel fitter, build in some higher intensity sessions e.g. speed or hills. These will not only help motivation by varying your sessions but also improve your overall level of aerobic fitness.
  1. Good nutrition and hydration is important to help get the best out of your runs and prepare for the next one. Drink regularly throughout the day and try to eat 1-2 hours before you run so you’ll have plenty of fuel on board.
  1. If you are running for a sustained period i.e. > 60 min take a sports drink with you to help keep you fuelled and hydrated during your run.
  1. Get into a routine of running/walking at the same time each week so that it becomes a regular part of your lifestyle and not seen as a chore.