Ask Jo

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

Jo Pavey’s sage ad­vice on run­ning for the first time

It’s great that you’ve de­cided to start run­ning. Tell your­self not to worry about what oth­ers think, and be proud of your de­ci­sion. It’s more likely peo­ple will be im­pressed by your mo­ti­va­tion, and I’m sure many non-run­ners will be wish­ing they could muster the same de­ter­mi­na­tion. Even ex­pe­ri­enced run­ners had to start some­where and they would have felt those same anx­i­eties.

The first few times may feel daunt­ing, so per­se­vere and give your­self time to gain con­fi­dence. Fo­cus on the pos­i­tives, such as the huge ben­e­fits to your phys­i­cal and men­tal health. To be­gin with, build con­fi­dence by run­ning early in the morn­ing or evening, when there are fewer peo­ple around. Run­ning with a friend will help – per­haps you could even per­suade an­other new run­ner to take up the chal­lenge with you. Wear cloth­ing that you feel com­fort­able in, as well as a good pair of run­ning shoes.

The great thing is that run­ning is such an in­clu­sive sport. Go along to a parkrun and you’ll see peo­ple of all abil­i­ties run­ning to­gether, shar­ing their pas­sion and en­cour­ag­ing each other. If tak­ing part seems a big step, you could just watch at first, and you’ll see that run­ners are a friendly lot. There are plenty of wel­com­ing begin­ner groups, too.

As you start your jour­ney, build up your run­ning grad­u­ally to al­low your body to adapt. The Couch to 5K app helps be­gin­ners to build up sen­si­bly. Hav­ing a goal with pro­gres­sion steps along the way will help keep you mo­ti­vated. I’m sure you’ll soon won­der what you were con­cerned about as your en­joy­ment and sense of achieve­ment out­weigh any wor­ries. Good luck!

I get an achy lower back af­ter long runs. What’s a good postrun stretch to help this?

Lie on your back and stretch your arms out straight. With your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees and place them to­gether. Keep­ing your shoul­ders firmly on the floor, slowly lower your knees to the floor on one side, con­trol­ling the move­ment and en­gag­ing your core mus­cles. Hold for about 30 sec­onds, then gen­tly re­turn to the start­ing po­si­tion. Re­peat the ex­er­cise, low­er­ing your knees to the other side. This sim­ple stretch, if done in a con­trolled way, will work your core as well as stretch­ing tight mus­cles. Get­ting an achy back af­ter longer runs prob­a­bly means you need to work on pos­tural issues. Stretch­ing out your lower back mus­cles is im­por­tant, but so is work­ing on your core strength so that you can main­tain good pos­ture while you are run­ning and ease the strain on your lower back.

Why do my toe­nails some­times go black af­ter run­ning?

A black toe­nail is a bruise un­der the nail, of­ten caused by repet­i­tive im­pact, es­pe­cially in longer events. It can also re­sult from the toe hit­ting the front of the shoe. It’s usu­ally best to buy run­ning shoes in a slightly big­ger size than your other shoes. Al­ter­na­tively, judge it by en­sur­ing there’s a thumb­nail’s width be­tween the end of your long­est toe and the front of the shoe. Con­sider the shoe’s shape, too. It may ta­per in­wards around the toes or be too nar­row in the toe­box, and there also needs to be enough height be­tween the up­per and the in­sole. Keep­ing your toe­nails very short will also re­duce the risk of nail trauma.

BY JO PAVEY YOUR QUES­TIONS AN­SWERED BY OUR RES­I­DENT OLYMPIAN

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