If you're training for the Great North Run, professional fitness consultant Steve Harris gives some valuable and practical training advice.
First things first, you must have a medical OK from your doctor or a trusted medical practitioner.
If you have any doubts whatsoever you must seek advice before you start running.
• The second most important thing is to make sure you have the proper equipment, and this includes a pair of proper running shoes, not just fashion trainers.
• Get along to a professional running shop and have your gait (your style of walking and running) measured so you can get a pair of trainers that have the appropriate padding and cushioning.
• Next, establish a training plan. As humans we are lazy, and we need to establish patterns to force us to work. As a personal trainer, I try to involve small elements of guilt as part of the motivation process.
• The best plans work on the progressive overload principle, it's the most basic idea of fitness professionals.
• You must make sure your plan increases as your training goes on, even if you just increase your time in five minute intervals.
Great North Run stretching guide
• Before you start, you need to stretch.
It's one of the most important parts to running, and it's crucial you get it right.
Watch our stretching guide on the right for advice on how to warm up properly before your training session.
• Make sure you dress according to the weather. It sounds obvious, but you don't want to be too cold or too hot when running. Avoid baggy jogging bottoms.
• You can buy specialist running clothing for relatively little, it's even stocked in some discount clothing stores and supermarkets.
• Don't think that a cotton top will suffice, it will be cool but once you start sweating the top will become damp and if there is a slight breeze you will quickly become cold and chilled.
Running on roads
• You should aim to run 30% of your route on grass. When you run on tarmac, the vibrations through your heel strike could create problems with your knees, lower back and ankles.
• Running on grass softens the strikes, so try and incorporate some into your route.
• You should run in all weather conditions. You don't know how wet the race day will be so it's best to prepare for all weather.
Time not distance
• Don't think about the distance. Measuring your time is much more important. You need to be able to run for your target time. This is what you should be aiming to achieve, not trying to run for more than 13 miles.
Great North Run under two minutes
• If you can run 10 miles you can easily run the 13.1 miles of a half marathon. The adrenalin, crowds and atmosphere will get you through the rest.
Watch the video on the right to see the entire route from start to finish in under two minutes.
• Remember, it's all about small goals and making small plans.
Are you running the GNR in 2009? Get in touch and tell us your story. Send an e-mail to:
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