12-Week Guide to Running

Start to enjoy the benefits

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WEEK SIX
You’ll already be starting to feel better and fitter. This is what you’ve been working for…

There’s an example of a man who so loved takeaways and meeting his friends for a beer that he decided to take up exercise. “Hang on,” you might be thinking, “that doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.” Ah, but you see, his logic was blindingly simple, if a little odd: “As I get older all this fried food and beer is adding weight to my stomach I don’t want, so it’s either give up what I love or take up some exercise that allows me to continue eating and drinking what I please”.

Now, while he realized this sort of argument was unlikely to be found in any fitness manual, he figured that doing something was better than doing nothing at all. He slowly started exercising and even began to enjoy it, and then one day in the office canteen he found himself ordering a healthy chicken rice and salad instead of the usual burger and fries. It wasn’t as if he had suddenly become all pious and ‘found health and fitness’, it was simply that the running was having added positive effects and his body wanted something better to fuel this new-found exercise.
Setting a goal (such as running 5 km) will set your subconscious to attract things to support the goal. As you get into training and maintaining focus on the goal, you may find yourself drawn to new strategies relating to nutrition, kit, or running techniques and so on.

As we stressed at the start, trying to change too much in your life at the same time is simply likely to lead to you giving up altogether. Starting exercise is a positive step already so there’s no need to change everything. However, as the story above highlights, other positives are likely to follow. You may have already found yourself skipping your ‘one for the road’ glass of wine because you want to feel clear headed for your run in the morning, or maybe you have started drinking more water in the day. Don’t force changes, no matter how enthusiastic you may be feeling, simply keep focused on training and the end goal and these other positives will start to follow.

For now, enjoy the benefits you are hopefully starting to feel already from exercising, such as sleeping better, waking up feeling more refreshed (if a little stiff) and feeling less jaded during the working day.

Now onto your target goal: you running 5 km. There are still a few weeks to go, plenty of time to get those muscles ready, so if you haven’t already done it then now is the time to start thinking about where you will complete your challenge.
The obvious thing, and certainly the most fun, is to identify an organized race that coincides with your target date and enter it. There are numerous organized races, all widely advertised, so there’s likely to be one near you, although it would be more fun to celebrate your challenge with a weekend away somewhere that has a race. Grab your partner, family or friends (or all of them!) and head for the coast, mountains, big city, wherever it is that excites you the most. This will also give you an added spur in the coming weeks.

Entering an organized race gives you the added benefit of support, with water stations, marshals for road safety and, of course, the distance has been measured out exactly. Although there are some specific 5 km events, many of these races are likely be attached to a full or half-marathon race or linked to festival or special regional weekends where there are a series of different events. These races are usually well supported and are packed with people running their first race. Most races are held on weekends so there should be no problem finding one that falls on a Saturday or Sunday of Week 12 of your training programme.

If, however, you really do draw a blank with a race date, or just prefer to keep this as a solo exercise, there is no problem in organizing your own ‘race’. It’s easy enough to measure out your own 5 km in a car or on a bike in advance, then come ‘race day’ it’s down to you, your legs and a stopwatch.

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