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