To run does not always necessarily mean just running in training.
There are other important components to being an efficient runner, such as strength and flexibility.
Last week I wrote about setting a 12-week challenge for yourself leading into summer with an event such as Run Newcastle (runnewcastle.com.au), which is on November 10 and offers a 12km or 6km run or 6km family walk.
The main thing is to build up slowly to your race distance. As a guide you could do a long run/walk once a week, a cross training session which aims to improve your strength and cardiovascular fitness and an interval session.
Space these three sessions out with rest days in between. Depending on your level of fitness, you can go for an easy walk or a have a flexibility (stretching/yoga/pilates) session on one of the rest days.
You should be able to talk freely during the longer run/walk and if you are just starting out, aim for 20-30 minutes as a guide.
An example of an interval session, which can help you with your endurance or stamina as well as leg strength and overall fitness, is to do some working intervals followed by recovery periods. An example of this would be to do 10 x 30-60 second faster intervals which might be brisk walking or running followed by walking recoveries for the same period.
Always include a gentle warm-up and cool-down.
Then a guide for a cross training session could be something like 10 squats, 10 push-ups, 10 lunges, 10 rows, interspersed with some 20-metre walks or jogs. Repeat 2-3 times then finish with some core work.
A lot of people are put off by the term ‘strength’ training because they think it means they will get big and end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. But unless you are lifting trucks on a regular basis that is unlikely to happen.
Strength training actually has a lot of benefits for a lot of people, not just runners.
I was surprised to learn that no matter how mature you are, strength training can still be beneficial. You continue to build bone density no matter what age you are, so it can be important in staving off osteoporosis.
According to the Australian Institute of Fitness, strength training has these benefits for older adults – It can ‘increase muscle or replace lost muscle tissue; increase bone mineral density; enhance functional strength; decrease arthritic pain; reduce joint pain and discomfort’, among other things.
So whatever age or fitness ability you are, strength training might be able to help you achieve not just your long-term goals but some day-to-day ones as well.
The main thing is to get active if you can. And seek advice from professionals when you need it.