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Set yourself a plan of action

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VIRGINIA WINDER
Last updated 08:44 15/05/2012
tdn run stand
JAY RODGER
Goal setting: Pick and event and then start training with a buddy.

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The races have been entered. The foundations of fitness have been laid. Now, the hard work begins.

My original triathlon goal, the Port of Tauranga Half, is only eight months away.

As a lead up to that I'm doing the Tinman triathlon at Mt Maunganui on December 2 and before that my first goal is to run the Taranaki Daily News Half Marathon on October 7.

That's just 21 weeks away.

At the weekend, a whole bunch of people in Marlborough completed the Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon and a lot more will have watched in wonder or thought, "Damn, I meant to train for that".

There are a few options for you in Marlborough and Nelson during August, October, November and December, so you can look up the running calendar and choose your goal.

No 1 is to choose a challenge, then stick to it.

When I decided to move the goal posts, so to speak, my coach sat me down and gave me a gentle-stern talking to about sticking to my original plan.

I had decided to be loyal and do the New Plymouth half ironman in February instead, but coach Clint, from my sponsor, KCL Property, said why not compete in that event as well and perhaps as a team. He suggested my husband could do the half marathon.

He's not yet convinced I'm a runner, you see.

But with 15 books beside me and a plan ahead of me, I will be.

In fact we all will be, won't we? This is where you all come into it - those of you who have always wanted to run or walk a half marathon and perhaps further.

Over the coming months I'll be gleaning tips from Olympians, veteran marathon runners and an ultra-distance star.

Today is the start.

First, you need to have proper running or walking shoes. A relative of mine, who will remain nameless, has been training in hand-me-down shoes and others that don't give her proper support. As a result she has been in pain.

You need to be fitted by an expert.

Then you need to have comfortable clothes, especially shorts or tights, and shirts that fit well enough so you don't get chaffing. Believe it or not, cotton is not the best for this. Choose synthetic fibres that draw moisture away from your body.

Good-quality socks are another must because they help prevent blisters. I also find lathering my toes with good old Vaseline helps too, although experts might roll their eyes at this.

In winter, you'll need a jacket for wind protection, a cap to keep the rain out of eyes and covering for legs and arms for warmth, but you can't be deterred by rain because it could be wet on race day.

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This story is aimed at absolute beginners and runners who want to step it up.

You can find books and internet training plans for both, but whichever camp you fall into, the advice is same - start gently and build up slowly.

Restraint - that's a word that Clint has regularly thrown at me and it's a word you have to listen to.

Trust me on this, because a few things can happen if you go out too hard, too fast.

You can injure yourself. Your fitness levels won't match your expectations, so you'll feel unnecessary pain. You'll feel bad about yourself and won't want to keep up this running or fast- walking lark.

One of the three best books I found in Puke Ariki, our local library, was Marathon and Half Marathon: From Start to Finish by Sam Murphy (second edition).

At the back of the book, he has training schedules for beginners and experienced runners and it's broken up into sections - the perfect world, real world and bare minimum.

So when you sit down and work out your training schedule, be absolutely realistic.

What can you fit in your life? What other commitments do you have?

Once you work those out, book training into your diary, just as you would put in anything else - make your personal fitness a priority until the event.

Next, keep a running log book or diary. For those of you who love social networking, you can do this via your iPhone and mapmyrun.com and share it with your friends on Facebook. This will help you see how far you've come, how fast you're running, how many kilometres you're clocking up and see if there is any pattern to when you're feeling good or not.

Some people, like me, prefer training solo. Even though I'm one of the most social and outgoing people you're likely to meet, when I'm training, I like to "get into the zone" and lose myself.

Despite that, I will be joining running groups for this half- marathon effort because I need to learn to run with a lot of people.

Also, there are people in my community with a huge amount of running knowledge - athletes who have gone the distance and who are willing to share their wisdom.

So join a running group and get yourself a buddy to stride out with. That person needs to be on a par with you, so you can improve together and push each other. Choose carefully.

When you start your running programme, add cross-training into your weekly plan. This will help boost your fitness and prevent boredom.

Cross-training is simply another exercise, which could be swimming or biking.

Next, you'll find yourself on track for a triathlon.

Rest is the other must. Every week, you have to choose a rest day and stick to it. Your body needs time to recover from the schedule you are putting it through.

In line with that, you must listen to your body. We've all heard that phrase again and again, but to avoid injury and getting extremely sick, you have to do this when you're training hard.

An ignored "niggle" could put you out for weeks and you should never train if you've got the flu or a fever. Be kind to yourself on this journey.

Next is consistency. Get out there and do this regularly. Keep going, even when it gets tough. Look back at how far you've come. That's why the log book is so necessary. I've kept a blog for this and a friend regularly reminds me what I've achieved and so does Clint.

They tell me I can do this and I believe them.

That's why I know you can too.

Just take the first step.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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