29 Jan How to ace your first fun run: Tips from the experts
So, you have signed up for your first ever fun run?
Fun runs are a great way to get you moving with friends and family, and usually to do your bit to help out with charity. There are hundreds of different runs you can compete in and a range of different distances.
For most, its an opportunity to set a clear goal towards and kick-start their running journey.
Like everything, knowing how to train efficiently for something is the hard part.
Luckily, we spoke with Australian record holding runner Jessica Hull, who provided Exercise Right her best tips for someone training for their first ever fun run.
Advice from a pro!
“When you’re beginning your running journey, it’s important to start from the ground up! Finding some soft surfaces and the right footwear is so important.
Running on grass is a great way to get started! It reduces the impact of each foot strike, improves strength and stabilisation of the feet and ankles and saves the rebound of harder surfaces for race day. You’ll also feel faster on race day when you hit the road for your fun run and the surface returns some bounce!
Finding the right footwear for your body and form is crucial to keeping you running and making sure you can get to the start line on race day! My favourite running shoe at the moment is the Nike Infinity Run 2. These are designed specifically to keep runner’s running! Add these to your rotation and you can run fearlessly towards your fun run!,” says Jess.
Follow Jessica Hull’s journey on Instagram – @jessicahull
Tips From The Experts To Get Your Started On Your First Fun Run:
We tracked down some Accredited Exercise Science experts and asked them what their advice would be for ‘fun run newbies’ and this is what they said.
Jacci Allanson, Accredited Exercise Physiologist
My tip! People forget that running is a skill! If you don’t know where to start always consult your accredited exercise professional to create a plan and address your unique needs.
Injuries and running appear to go hand in hand. Muscle weakness and tightness, previous injury, carrying extra weight can make injuries much, much worse. This is why consulting a professional is a vital part of your running journey, especially as a beginner!
Elias Fulthorp, Accredited Exercise Scientist
Avoid cheap footwear. Cheap shoes tend to have poor support (arch support or cushioning) which may, over the duration of training, lead to an overuse injury or alter running mechanics unfavourably.
Nolan Woo, Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Running volume is key, get good at setting a running schedule and sticking to it. If you can train or self-start when you least feel like it, you’ll get good mental toughness. For beginners it’s not distance but duration which is more important.
Caitlin Marshman, Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Listen to your body at all times. Especially look out for prolonged leg soreness, sharp pain particularly in the ankles, feet or lower limbs. I always figure if your lunge technique is poor then you shouldn’t be running.
Carly Ryan, Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Don’t forget to do a warm-up on the day to help prevent injury. There are usually lots of people at the starting line, so you may be standing around for a while. Try and keep your body moving before the race and gradually build your pace once you have started.
Complete the race at your own pace. It can be tempting to try and keep up with the pack but be careful not to overextend yourself or you may fatigue too quickly and be at risk of injury.
Warm down. Once you reach the finish line it can be tempting to sit down straight away with refreshments and celebrate your achievement. However, to ensure you don’t experience too much stiffness and soreness the next day try some active recovery e.g. slow walking for a few minutes, and some stretching. Your body will recover more quickly. Being couchbound for the next three days won’t help your motivation to tackle your next fun run.
Mark Simpson, Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Have a training plan which includes frequent achievable goals. Engage your friends to help give you support and don’t put too much pressure on yourself – it’s meant to be fun!
Esmé Soan, Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Don’t forget that stretching is important and myofacial release! Focus on your hip flexors, hamstrings, ITB and calves!
Anna-Louise Moule, Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Running is essentially transferring from one leg to the other, so you need to look at training this movement and being able to complete single leg stance movements with good pelvic stability, knee stability, glutes firing and core engaged.
Jonie Darrington, Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Don’t overdo it otherwise it will lead to have major setbacks – only run maximum 4 days a week.
Richelle Street, Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Small and steady steps. Ensuring that you have SMART goals along the way (i.e. fortnightly mini goals). Slowly increase your rest to running time intervals until you can run for a minimum of 10 -15 minutes continuously.
Be sure to track your progress and acknowledge those achievements so your motivation improves along the way. And most importantly have fun. Maybe sign up with a friend as that extra social support may be just what you need on the big day.
Need help getting started?
Training is unique for everyone as we all have differing needs and issues. If you are looking for some expert help to get you started find an accredited exercise professional near you who can help you smash those goals.
We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series.
The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is the professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.
Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.