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Issue #1 - Welcome to RunningFastr

Issue #1 - Welcome to RunningFastr
By Matt • Issue #1 • View online
Welcome to the very first issue of the runningfastr newsletter.
I thank you for your readership and hope that you enjoy this and many future issues.

In this Issue:
  1. A little about me.
  2. A lot about the website.
  3. Thoughts on future website updates.
  4. Regular Feature: My Favourite Place to Run
  5. Running Tips For Beginners
  6. The small print
1. A Little Bit About Me
Whilst trying not to write a description that sounds like it’s been plucked from an episode of Blind Date: I’m Matt, 41, and am a keen amateur runner, qualified coaching assistant from Berkshire in England.
I’ve been running since 2006 when I faced up to the realisation that I needed to lose weight. At the time I was classed as morbidly obese; I ate and drank as I pleased with no regard to my health or expanding waistline. It’s a bit of a cliché but I was trapped in that horrid cycle of depression and comfort eating; I was depressed so I ate for comfort, and because I ate for comfort it made me depressed.
I’ve heard it’s a familiar story for many people who have lost weight, that there is often a turning point, a moment in time when you say to yourself, “enough is enough" and I’m going to do something about this. I had that moment in 2006 and committed myself to a period of healthy eating and a run 2/3 times a week.
To begin with it was more of a shuffle rather than a run and it was a real struggle to run any distance without needing to stop (or as my good mate Andy would say, I couldn’t even “run a bath”). But I pushed on and in time the 50 meters became 500, and then it became 5000. It became easier as the weight dropped off and I actually started to enjoy it! There were times along the way that were tough, and where I didn’t want to run but I stuck with it and now run regularly not to lose weight but because I love running.
Looking back it was my discovery of running that really helped me to start feeling good about myself and helped me break out of the cycle by giving me some positive goals to focus on. From experience, I know there is no magic wand to losing weight, everybody is different and everyone responds differently to various types of diet and indeed exercise. For me, what worked was being able to replace the short-term high of a comfort food binge with the longer-term endorphin-induced high felt after a run. All runners know it’s addictive.
So that is me. In the next sections I’ll explain the reasons for starting the runningfastr.com website, how I think it can help runners of all abilities and my hopes for futures editions of the newsletter and website updates.
2. A Lot About The Website
As I mentioned in the About Me introduction, I started running in 2006 as a complete beginner. As my running developed over the early years, and I got to the phase where it actually became enjoyable I spent a lot of time scouring the internet trying to find anything that would improve my running, be it running form, training tips, nutrition advice, etc.
Now, everyone knows that the internet is the best invention since Germany’s Willy Abel invented the boiled egg slicer. Google can provide pretty robust answers to the sorts of existentialist questions that have embattled mankind since we first twigged that sacrificing virgins or livestock wasn’t having the desired effect. ‘What is the meaning of life?’, ‘Is there a God?’, ‘What colour pants shall I wear today?’
This was my dilemma when I started to get more serious about my running. Not the pants, but dealing with the volume of information and training plans out there. The vast majority of resources I could find were either too vague, too conflicting, too incomplete, too fake, or just too rubbish. There are a million and one training plans out there, but they all seem geared towards generic ability levels (beginners, intermediate, advanced) and I could find none that could help me specifically train to achieve a sub 20 minute 5k or break the 1 hour mark on a 10k.
So the idea for the runningfastr.com website was initially born out of my own training needs. As my running times improved, I started to put together training plans that worked for me along with hints and tips. All of the training plans on the site are ones that I have progressed through myself, taking myself from a walk-run-walk 5k to a PB of 16 minutes.
Putting this into a website for public consumption was a natural step from there because, firstly, I love reading, talking, and writing about running and I wanted to create something that I hoped would one day be a useful resource for other runners. It is my intention that through the runningfastr.com website and accompanying newsletter that you will have access to training plans that really help you achieve your goals.
So where to start?
You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
3. Thoughts on Future Website Updates
The plan for the newsletter is to share regular updates from the world of running. This could be all sorts of things like key news, race reviews, training hints and tips, new articles of interest, or clothing and shoe reviews.
I also want to hear from you with any ideas you have for things you would like to see covered on the website or in the regular newsletter. This could mean training plan ideas, requests for info on nutrition or injury prevention etc., or as we’ll see in the next section sharing favourite races or running locations.
Please feel free to submit any suggestions for things you’d like us to cover on the website or in this newsletter on our suggestions page.
The newsletter is new, and the website is developing so please support us. Follow us on these fledging social media channels and share with your running friends: twitter, facebook, instagram.
4. Regular Feature: My Favourite Place to Run
For this regular feature we aim to bring you a fellow readers’ favourite places to run. As it is the first edition of the newsletter I will be writing my version but from next month we will be accepting yours so if you have a favourite place to run that you would like to share then please do so here.
Tell us the where, why’s, and most importantly what makes it so special for you. Please include some pics to illustrate your description if you can.
My Favourite Place to Run
On various work trips or family holidays, I’ve been lucky enough to run in some pretty cool places, taking in sights such as the Sydney Opera House, Lake Geneva, the Coliseum in Rome, the beaches in Croatia, and closer to home the rugged coastline of Devon and Cornwall in England. All of these (and many I’ve probably missed) were special for all sorts of reasons.
Whilst the above locations would definitely fall under the ‘most memorable’ run category, if I were under pain of blister to pick a favourite place it would probably be considered a rather boring choice as it’s right on my doorstep and is the River Thames towpath in Berkshire. What makes this run so special for me is largely driven by the changing of the seasons; I’ve slipped and slushed along it in my trail shoes in the depths of winter and bounded along it on a summers morning just as the sun cuts through the trees. I’ve tripped on roots and ran over depleted Autumnal leaves and dashed past the daffodils of early spring. Each run seems different, each run seems memorable. And although it’s always the same route there isn’t the same monotony as a road run for me. Following a brief look at my Strava history, I have probably run along the river 100s of times over the last 10 years and I can honestly say that I never get bored of it.
What also helps is that I love running by the water. Whether it is a *lake, river, or Ocean I find it a most calming influence.
So that is my favourite run. Let us know yours by submitting a paragraph or two explaining why it’s so special to you here.
* this excluded Dorney Lake in Berkshire following a particularly harrowing half marathon attempt around the wind battered rowing lake.
5. Running Tips For Beginners
Here’s a list of running tips primarily aimed at beginner runners, but useful to all from the runningfastr website:
1. Don’t run tomorrow, run today
I personally would never look at a training plan that started with Day 1 = Rest and it always amazes me the number of training plans I see that do. Today is the only day that matters and if you don’t start your training plan today, the chances are you won’t start it tomorrow. If it’s important enough to you, you’ll start it today.
2. You don’t need expensive sports drinks
Second on the list of running tips for beginners is that you don’t need to waste your money buying expensive sugary ‘sports drinks’. Unless you are experienced at exercising with these products and/ or are looking to run super-quick times I would avoid them and stick to water. Water contains all the hydrating properties the body needs. If you need a little more taste, add some sugar-free cordial.
If you are new to running or are not running for long periods you do not need to consider anything other than water and a good balanced diet to support your new running career. Do not get fooled by the plethora of sports drinks advertised on TV promising to make you run faster for longer. It’s a gimmick. These drinks are often full of sugar, are expensive, and can lead to digestionary problems. During the run, provided you were hydrated from the start, your body should cope quite nicely for up to an hour without additional fluids.
When you get to the stage where you are looking for marginal gains and are considering hydration and nutrition seriously then you can weigh up the benefits of a such drinks. For now, just get out there and enjoy your run without the complication.
3. Vary your route so you don’t get bored
There can be some comfort in plodding the same beaten track. You don’t have to think about where you are going for a start and if running with a watch it can allow you to easily assess any improvements in the distance you’ve achieved. That said, a good running tip for beginners is to vary your route where possible. These variations can give you experience of different terrains and gradients. After all, the body is a wonderful thing; it can adapt very quickly and so if you are running 5k on a nice flat road every other day, it’ll learn to be able to cope with that rather quickly but will possibly be left exposed if you then tried running uphill. Variation is the key.
There are many online mapping tools out there that you can use to plot routes and use routes other people have created. My favourite is mapmyrun.com as it’s free, easy to use, and it provides indication as to the gradient.
4. Don’t Worry if You Need to Stop
It is okay to stop. When you are first starting out running, or are returning to running after a long-term injury or a baby you may well need to stop. That’s okay, just get your breath back and kick-on again when you can. Remember where you had to stop and try and get past that point the next time you are running that route.
5. The 10% Rule
This one applies to beginner runners just as much as it does for experienced athletes. You should never increase your distance by more than 10% at a time. Obviously only a madman would attempt a marathon after only just completing his first 5k but it’s important to remember that 10% isn’t much when it comes to 5k. A 10% increase on 5k would see you running just 500 meters more to 5500 meters (or 5.5k). Take any increase in distance steadily to avoid any unnecessary injuries (aren’t all injuries unnecessary?).
6. What Goes in, Must Come Out
Try to avoid eating immediately before you go out for your run; try and get your meal/snack in at least 1-2 hours before you go out.
And unless you want to make some unfortunate pitstops along your running route try and avoid foods that are high in non-soluble fibre.
There are two types of fibre: water-soluble which is found mostly in fruits and vegetables and there is the non-soluble kind found mostly in whole grains. It takes about two hours for fibre in your body to leave the stomach and into the intestine so plan your pre-run intake accordingly. Either leave plenty of time for nature to take it’s course or leave the fibre-rich foods until after your run.
I once ate an entire pack of dried apricots before a run, foolishly thinking this was a decent source of carbs for running fuel…I only did it the once.
Instead, have a slice of toast, some porridge, or a banana; it’ll take a little bit of trial and error to find out what works best for you, but take my advise and stay away from the apricots!
7. Don’t skip the Warm Up
Remember to do some dynamic stretches before you start running or at least ease into your running pace gently. Your body will not thank you for going from cold to flat out at the kick of a heel. Studies have shown that dynamic stretches are more effective at reducing muscle stiffness and thus reducing the risk of tears than the static variety. They will also increase your heart rate and body temperature in preparation for the task ahead.
It’s important to note that static stretching still has its time and place - it’s important for increasing motion and flexibility, but for warming up your body needs dynamic stretches.
6. The Small Print
Before embarking on any new training/exercise regimen or nutritional plan you should always consult your physician or other healthcare provider.
Any training plans/advice heeded to in this newsletter or on runningfastr.com are done so at your own risk.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Matt
By Matt

Regular updates bought to you by Runningfastr.com.
Home of structured training plans covering 5k, 10k, half marathon distances and above average content on tips and tricks for newbies, intermediate and advanced runners.

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