Here is an accumulation of the tips I noted to help me improve my performance. They are in no particular order, just copied straight from my reflections (posts) of each C25k run.
My Running Kit
These are the items I have laid out ready before every session (clothes not shown). Each of these items have contributed to ensuring my session 'runs' smoothly.
- iPhone and earphones - for coaching, music and GPS tracker.
- iPhone armband - to hold the iPhone as I am jogging.
- Headband - to hold the earphones in my ears (I put the earphones on with the cord behind my neck so I do not accidentally catch on it as I am jogging).
- Support and control running shoes - to manage my foot movement.
- Sunglasses - protection from the Australian sun.
- Lip balm - so my lips do not become dry and chapped from my breathing as I jog.
- Knee support - for my right knee as I put more weight onto my right side.
- Glass of water - I drink two full glasses of water before my session.
- (For the ladies) Sports bra - ultimate support and no slipping straps.
- T-shirt, shorts and socks - I always feel great when I wear new, colourful and coordinated training clothes
- Before you begin the program, spend a week getting back into exercising. Leisurely walk for 30 minutes as many days as you can.
- Follow a routine. Your frame of mind is very different to when you stick to the allocated time for exercising compared to when you have missed it.
- Never break your schedule, you can run anywhere. Plan your time so you can still fit the run in wherever you are and take your gear with you. It is harder to get back into the rhythm than actually doing the run on the day you were going to skip.
- Always prepare your training clothes and water the night before. Make any work lunches the night before also. Don't give your brain any excuses of why you can't go, "Because I have to do..."
- If you aren't feeling it, don't skip it! Just go at a slower pace. You will find you will get into it once you have started.
- Don't give in to those evil lazy thoughts. You actually do feel happier when you have completed it and not the guilt, anger and disappointment you would feel if you didn't.
- Don't give up on the runs. You will finish it and you will feel so proud of yourself.
- Focus on what you are achieving and doing well, rather than getting caught up in what you haven't done right (such as jogging too slow...you were jogging, woo hoo!!).
- For your last run of the week, set yourself mini goals during the session. It may be to jog a little faster, walk a little brisker or get to a certain point. When you achieve your goals it will set you up with confidence in moving to the next level.
- Day 1 is all about achieving a new feat in the program. Run at a moderate pace to ensure you complete the new times and do not worry about trying to go fast or hard.
- It does get easier as you get fitter (and firmer)! Don't let previous hard weeks or days haunt you - there will be some.
- If you are not feeling it, play a couple of up beat tunes before your session, which are not on the running playlist. This may help you get into the zone.
- Still not feeling it? Just put your jogging gear on, spend a bit of time in it and your mind will soon be swayed into exercising.
- Do not get deterred by what a session 'might be like'. The program is designed to ensure you will be ready for the upcoming running time. This doesn't mean it will be easy, but your body will be ready for the challenge.
- Do not put off your scheduled session, even for a couple of hours, you made that time for a reason (such as weather).
- Psychological and endurance barriers are something you need to try to push through - dehydration, dizziness and injuries are alerts you will need to listen to.
- Just because it is a certain special day, or your on holiday, doesn't mean you still can't stick to the program - it is only 30 minutes of your time and it will make you feel so energetic for the rest of the day!
- Use the sessions as a time that is only about you and your body. Leave any negative thoughts behind and make this time a personal escape from the world.
- Do not put yourself under discouraging pressure to complete a session before you actually start it. Go without this tension and you will find that a natural want and desire to succeed will emerge as you are exercising.
- As you are learning to jog, it is about completing time goals. Pace and distance aspirations (that is, the 5kms in half an hour) give you something to strive for and motivate you after you have achieved the 30 minute time goal.
- Set your goals according to what works for you. You will learn (as your exercise regime develops) about what motivates and stimulates you. This exercise routine is for your whole life, not a short-term fad, so if you don't complete a target this week, alter the way you go about it and try again next week. Then, once you have achieved that feat, set another challenge for yourself to strive for.
- Always remember your mind will give up long before your body - you will be pushing your mind to break through the barriers, not your muscles!
For the run:
- Drink a big glass of water before the session.
- Take the time to stretch, before and after. Do not slack off on the stretching or you will pay for it!
- Further on that, schedule 10 minutes before and after the session to stretch. Find an area of your home that is relaxing where you can quietly warm those muscles.
- If you get a moment, also do some stretching the night before, it can put you in a good frame of mind ready for the run in the morning.
- Put on lip balm before your run. Dry lips when running feel awful.
- Try to find an area that has grass to run on. This will lessen the impact on your developing muscles
- Do not drink coffee before the exercise session - it will really dehydrate you, even if it is an hour before.
- Hydrate your body right from the day before, aim for eight glasses during the day to set your body up for the exercise.
- Do not do the session at a time when the temperature is starting to really heat up (especially when it is climbing to a maximum of 36°C, like I did one day). You will physically suffer.
- What you eat the day before will effect your running efficiency. It is simple, nice salads, fruits and meat, chicken or fish = energetic run...cakes, biscuits, chocolates, white bread = sluggish run
- Go to the bathroom before you exercise. Your mind will look for any excuse to get out of finishing the jogs (...any excuse).
- If you had any shortfalls in your last session, make conquering them a priority.
Please refer to Helpful Information to view stretches.
- You decide how fast and how hard you go.
- Definitely have upbeat poppy songs to sing to, singing along (miming!) makes the running minutes go faster and helps your pace.
- Wear a headband to hold in headphones.
- Set mini distance goals to achieve before the time finishes. This will help you keep up your pace.
- Ensure your posture is correct during your run. To help, pretend someone is pulling your head up towards the sky. This may assist in straightening up your neck and back.
- Try not to concentrate on how many minutes are left of a run. Try to achieve distance goals instead and before you know it, the time will be up.
- Keep your eyes up and looking forward when you run. Staring at your feet and the ground makes the runs harder and longer.
- Don't slack off on the final cool down walk. Ensure you keep up a reasonable pace.
- To ensure you keep up a reasonable pace during the walking sections, really swing your arms and your legs will follow suit.
- Add a new song every now and then to your usual running playlist, it will add another zip in your step.
- Try your hardest to finish each run. The regret of not finishing will hurt you more than the struggles you endure in completing the minutes.
- Always remember you will finish each run, as long as you push through the barriers, no matter your speed.
- If you do fail to complete a session, it is okay, you can always try it again or just move on. There is no race to finish the program - you can repeat days or weeks.
- Have external motivations that may help you break through the psychological endurance barriers and ensure you finish your jog. For example, the want to not have to repeat a week of the program helped me.
- If you have a distance goal in mind, keep going in order to achieve it, even if you may go slightly over the program's time.
- If you find yourself lagging, first, ensure there are no obstacles ahead (so you don't trip) then look up into the trees or the sky as you are jogging. Before you know it your legs will have picked up and you would of covered a positive distance.
- Take a moment to enjoy your environment during your run. You will then feel a bit more relaxed in your workout, rather than intensely counting down the seconds.
- Feet not quite getting up off the pavement? Concentrate or focus on the speed of your arm swings and your feet will follow suit (without the message having to be sent all the way down :P).
- As mentioned above, STRETCH!
- Have at least 30 minutes rest time after the run.
- In the last minute of your shower after your run, turn the water to all cold. This will help wake up your body.
- Let yourself experience the pride and gratification of achieving your goals.