On your marks for Marafun

Jo McColgan, chartered physiotherapist and sport scientist.
Jo McColgan, chartered physiotherapist and sport scientist.

Time is ticking down for the Angus Rotary Marafun which takes place on Sunday, May 25.

We have teamed up with Jo McColgan, a chartered physiotherapist and sport scientist, who works alongside a team of chiropractors and podiatrists at The Grekin Clinic in Forfar.

She has 16 years experience working with people with a wide range of spinal, muscular and joint problems including trauma, work related and sports injuries.

She has worked with many elite athletes at The Scottish Institute of Sport and currently undertakes some fitness work with some of the teams at The Dundee United Youth Academy.

This is the first of a series of articles which we will run to help teams prepare for the big event.

Jo writes: “If there was a safe drug that helped to keep you younger, sharper, healthier and enabled you to live longer would you take it?

Well there is such a thing. But it doesn’t come in a pill - it’s called exercise!

Running is one of the cheapest, less time consuming and beneficial forms of exercise. As well as being one of the easiest ways to boost your metabolism and change your body shape, it has numerous, scientifically proven health benefits.

These include helping to prevent the following conditions: obesity, type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers and osteoporosis.

Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that running also helps to combat stress and anxiety, improve sleep and help with concentration.

Some research has shown that running also helps to slow down age related mental decline.

So, running is good for us ....not just for our physical health but also our mental health!

The good news is anyone can run. To get started you just need a little bit of motivation, some guidance and a goal.

And what better goal than to aim to take part in ‘The Angus Rotary Marafun’ on May 25 this year?

Through a series of articles I will give you a step by step guide to starting running.

I will advise you how to build up slowly and safely so you can ultimately run for longer and minimise the risk of injury. I will cover everything you need to know from footwear and diet to giving you a weekly programme to follow.

So, now you know ‘why’ running is good is so good for you, I will show you ‘how’.

It’s just a case of getting your mindset right and getting started!

It is important, that, if you have any health concerns, underlying conditions or joint pain before beginning an exercise programme, you should get advice from your GP first.

It is not advisable to start a running programme if you have a condition that affects your joints. However, there are other beneficial forms of exercise you could participate in that could help your joints. Again, this would best be discussed with your GP, or a chartered physiotherapist who could prescribe you a more appropriate exercise programme that is suited to your needs.

If you have no underlying problems and you are keen to give running a go, then you have 16 weeks to start reaping the benefits before ‘Marafun’ day.

Tip 1. Get the right shoes. Wearing the right shoes is crucial for both comfort and injury prevention You will need to get well fitting shoes that are designed for running, have good cushioning and shock absorption and that match your foot type.

There are a few good running-specialist stores in the area that are worth a visit.

These will be able to offer good advice and assistance in purchasing the right type of shoe for you.

Tip 2. Wear the right clothing. You don’t need to go out and buy fancy running clothing. The main things to look out for when choosing what to wear when you go running are: that your clothes will be comfortable to run in; that you won’t get too hot when running (the extra heat you generate when running can make you feel a lot warmer once you get going); is bright enough that you can be spotted easily by traffic if running in the dark.

If you do want to invest a little more in running clothing then certain synthetic fabrics will help to keep you cool and dry whilst running. Again, a specialist running shop can give you more advice on these products.

Tip 3. What and when do I eat before I run? Carbohydrates provide the best form of energy for running. These should be eaten two to three hours before you exercise. Good sources of carbohydrate are whole-grains such as wholemeal rice, wholemeal pasta, porridge, wholemeal bread, muffins or bagels.

Wholemeal carbohydrates help us to sustain our energy levels for much longer and provide us with more nutrients and fibre than the “ white” variety.

The “ white “ variety will give us spikes and sudden drops in energy and are simply not as good for us. They are also inflammatory promoting and so not as good for the joints.

A little protein, eaten along with your carbohydrate snack before you run, will also help to sustain your energy for a longer period.

Tip 4. Stay properly hydrated. The best fluid to drink to stay hydrated is water.

Eating a banana, along with the water, is one of the most beneficial ways of keeping us well hydrated both before and after exercise.

Tip 5. Throughout your program stay focused. Keep in mind the one reason why you started running in the first place.

Try and find an exercise friend. Someone of similar ability and with a similar goal, so that you can be supportive of one another.

Tip 6. Listen to your body. Expect a few minor aches and pains when you get started. These are often just a sign that your body is adapting to the exercise and as you get fitter, these minor aches will soon pass. Learn to tell the difference between an ache and pain.

If you experience pain then stop exercising and follow the Ice Regime rest for a few days, ice the area regularly for up to 10 minutes at a time but protect your skin, add compression to control any swelling and elevate the joint when resting.

This should help to bring any niggles under control. If you have pain that doesn’t settle after a few days then you will need to consult a chartered physiotherapist, or your GP for advice.

When starting running for the first time it is important to start slowly and let your body adapt.

The programme will consist of three workouts a week. Try and space these out so that you do the workouts a day or two apart.

You may walk, cycle, swim or rest on the days in between but never run two days in a row. This will help you to get the most out of the workouts and minimise your risk of getting injured.

Don’t worry about how fast you run. Your pace will improve naturally as you get fitter. The most important thing is that you build up the time that you are able to run comfortably. Don’t jump ahead and try and do more, or run too fast, as this can lead to injury and
drop out.

If you find the programme is too strenuous then you may repeat a week of the programme before you are ready to move onto the next one.

Here are weeks one and two of your 16 week program.

Week 1: workout 1 - 25 minutes steady walk; workout 2 - 25 minutes steady walk. Workout 3 - 20 minutes brisk walk.

Week 2: workout 1 - -Walk five minutes; 5 x (0 secs jog, 1 min. walk) - walk 5 mins. Workout 2 - 5 mins steady walk, 20 mins brisk walk, 5 mins steady walk; Workout 3 - walk 5 mins; 5 x ( 0 secs jog, 1 min walk) -walk 5 mins.

The next article will provide you with weeks three to six of your programme and include some tips on stretching to keep you running fit and injury free.”