A couple of people have asked me how I carried on running after I got through Get Running. The good news is that I've done really well -- my last training run was 12K, which I didn't find that difficult, even though there was a lot of uphill.
The bad news is that I've not been following any particular plan. I've just been getting out there and running. If I've been following any advice, it's mostly been from John Bingham's book, No Need for Speed, which I've been gradually reading as I move up the distances.
So, that makes it a bit difficult to give a specific recipe. I think I can probably give a few general guidelines, but before I do, here's the most important thing: listen to yourself. Listen to your body and your mind, how your body feels, is it giving you any pain, do you really feel not like running today, or are you just making an excuse, and so on. Try to get in touch with your "inner runner", who probably started to emerge during the course of the C25K.
And on to the specific advice:
- Get some good shoes. Really. Go to a running shop, have a gait analysis done -- even if you're worried about falling off the treadmill, like I was -- and get some shoes that really work for your particular feet.
- It might also be time to invest in some proper running clothes, if you haven't already. I found a technical (non-cotton) top made me a lot more comfortable when I was running.
- If you're in two minds about getting out of the door, then decide instead to go for a walk in your running gear, or go for a run, but only around the block. Or if you run on a treadmill, decide just to go and do 2K. The biggest barrier to running is your front door. Once you're on the street, the track or the treadmill it's a lot easier to keep running.
- Run two or three times a week. To build up from 5K to 10K, I ran two short runs (4 or 5K) in the evenings, and a longer run at weekends, gradually increasing the distance on the longer run.
- Keep doing some runs you know you can do. If you're not feeling that energetic, get out there for a 3K rather than a 5K. If you've had a couple of weeks off ill, or whatever, get out there for a 1K or a 2K! Keeping up the momentum of getting out of the door is more important than how far you run. Eventually you'll feel like doing something longer.
- If you're not feeling good about running for a few runs in a row, try to figure out why. Is something aching? Are you bored with your normal route? Figure it out for yourself, or ask someone for help, maybe in these forums, or at your local running shop. I just went through a bad couple of weeks until I figured out why I my hip was aching: I'd worn out my first pair of running shoes!
- Don't increase your distance all of a sudden. People say 10% (total distance) per week is the most you should increase. Got to admit, I didn't stick to this, but when I exceeded it it was often by accident, because I hadn't planned my route properly.
- Increase your distance when you feel ready. I'd go out doing the same distances for a few weeks, then one day the sun would be shining, I'd feel particularly energetic, and I'd add an extra kilometre onto one of the runs. Once I knew I could do the distance when I was feeling cheerful, I'd be more confident about doing it on an average day!
- If you run outside, see if you can find some routes that give you options, where you can decide while you're out to increase your distance just by turning left instead of right. Have a look at them on maps in advance, figure out how much you'll add. Use the Gmaps Pedometer or go drive the route to see what it looks like and how far it is.
- If you do increase your distance, give yourself a break afterwards. I figured out that, for me, the next run after a run where I'd bumped up my mileage (kilometreage?!) was a lot harder than usual. So, if I went for a distance-beating weekend run, I'd give myself a couple of extra days to recover and only run once during the week after, rather than twice...
- Edit to add: Stretch! I still do a five-minute walk to warm up and to cool down, and after the five-minute cool-down, I stretch. I'm never sure how much good it's doing me -- until a day I forget to stretch and end up with really sore legs the next day! The further you run, the more you should stretch at the end. There's entire books on stretching (really!) and I'm not in any great position to advise on particular stretching; I just do a routine I learned in karate classes...
In general, though: unless there's something obviously wrong, the important thing to do is to keep getting out of the door as regularly as possible, two or three times a week, and work out what keeps you interested...