Martin White is a qualified Neuromuscular and Physical Therapist, Fitness and Swimming Instructor based in West Cork. He runs weekly Jog 4 All running/jogging classes in Clonakilty. Newly appointed as Physical Therapist with Cork City FC, Martin answers some of Mary O’Brien’s questions on how to get started and keep going if you’re interested in taking up running in 2014.
What is the best way to get started if you’re considering taking up running?
Ask a close friend or work colleague with similar fitness levels to run with you. Working as a pair means you can motivate each other. Pick times in the week around your schedule and stick to it. Choose proper and comfortable footwear and comfortable clothing and rain gear, which enables running in all conditions. As my old coach used to say, “There no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!”. Joining a group is always a great motivator and an even better social outlet. I have joggers in my classes that I sometimes reckon turn up for the chat and the banter, which is important too!
How frequently should you be running?
Initially, for beginners, I believe twice a week is enough to encourage the body to adapt and strengthen the ligaments and tendons in the body — too much too soon can come back to haunt you in the medium to long term. Allowing at least 24 hours recovery is recommended. I would encourage beginners to walk on rest days or go for a swim to loosen out the joints and muscles.
Regular runners can do as much as four or five times a week of training, but every session should be varied. Resistance training, which may be in the form of circuit training or kettlebell training can be very beneficial in shredding body fat and enhancing your running experience. Alot of times, these can include different types of core work, which stabilises the body for a smoother running technique and reduces the risk of injury.
What is interval training?
Interval Training involves alternating between a high and low intensity of running/jogging with varying distances and rest periods. Its main aim is to increase speed and cardiovascular fitness. This form of training is extremely effective for fat loss due to its metabolism-boosting effects; the start-stop effect enables a little recovery period before starting again. Its amazing how after a few sessions your need for rest decreases, which shows that fitness levels are increasing and this is a great motivator for the individual. In a class situation, many different runners with different fitness levels can work at their own pace. Rest periods may include walking or light jogging, again depending on ones level of fitness, restarting when the heart rate is lowered and the body is ready to restart. Jog 4 All includes many different forms of this type of training.
Does Jog 4 All cater for all fitness levels?
Yes it sure does, as with the interval sessions, people will tend to work at their own level, rest as needs be and stick with runners/joggers at a similar pace to their own. The joy with coaching a class is that you get all different levels with everyone progressing at a different rate. Those who attend regularly and put in the effort are always rewarded in the long term, and there is no magic formula! The class situation always gets more out of an individual, and can become enjoyable as opposed to a chore.
Are there different stretching techniques?
The two main types of stretching, which we deal with, are Dynamic Stretching, which we perform in our warm-up phase and Static Stretching, which we do at the end of our session in the cool-down phase. When used at the right time, these can have a big impact on increasing flexibility and improving performance.
Dynamic Stretching involves moving a joint or muscle in a repetitive range of motion, going a little further each time, ideal before a run to keep the heart rate up, increasing the flood flow to the muscles and getting them ready for the work load ahead.
Static Stretching involves holding a body part (ie a hamstring) in a fixed position for 30 to 60 seconds, which increases flexibility in the muscle and helps eliminate the build up of lactic acid, (ie muscle stiffness).
Are there certain things you need to keep in mind when starting to run?
Always start off with a walk and build up into a light jog. Alternate between the two and gradually increase the length of time you jog while decreasing the walking periods. Have a realistic goal, no marathon talk before you get a mile in. Many people tell me that they follow couch to 5k programmes, which is an achieveable goal. Don’t worry about time or speed, that will all take care of itself later on. Many people don’t realise how much they are capable of, it’s amazing what the body will allow you to do.
Do you have any nutrition advice?
Eat regularly throughout the day, but watch your portions. A good healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner with healthy snacks in between. Prepare a homemade healthy lunch the night before and cook your own meals so that you know what you’re eating. Snack on nuts (brazil nuts, almonds, cashew) which consist of the healthy fats), fresh fruit and veg (avocados, carrots, celery, blueberries), try some Green Tea, adding honey as opposed to sugar, where possible cut out creamy and sugary foods and eliminate desserts during the week. Complex carbs in the form of Wholegrains (ie brown rice/pasta), which release energy slowly hours after consumption, are great especially on days of activity.
Protein in the form of beans (ie Kidney beans or aduki beans), lentils, eggs, fish or lean meats are great also. Alcohol should be cut down to one evening a week or even better eliminate it completely (pretty tough I know). A max of two glasses of wine with your dinner at the weekend should be enough, not two bottles! Drink plenty of water, up to two litres a day, depending how active you have been, and cut out takeaways to once a month.
Exercise Rule: Always eat healthily after exercise, DO NOT FAST AFTER EXERCISE. Extremely important, as your muscles are crying out for nutrition and it’s great for recovery.
How important is a warm-up / cool down?
Both are extremely important, the warm-up, which includes the Dynamic Stretching, gets the body and mind prepared for the work load ahead, increasing the body’s core temperature and heart rate. We always start with a gradual increase in activity, and focus on the muscles being used for the session. Both upper and lower body muscles need a kickstart before running and the breathing rate is vitally important for a better performance and experience. For a beginner, these are all so important, gaining confidence in the early stages may be the difference between one continuing or giving up!
The cool-down, which includes the Static Stretching, is often neglected with regular runners but is very important for both flexibility and reducing the risk of longterm injuries. I deal with a lot of clients with repetitive strain injuries or over-use injuries, as people don’t take care of themselves. This consists of low intensity exercise, and stretching the main muscle groups which have been working, during the stretch, should not be painful. Do not hold your breath…breathing should be slow and easy.
Any advice for someone training for a race for the first time?
Mix up your training, varying between Interval Training, Resistance or Weight training (for example Kettlebells), mileage Training (1 mile, 21miles or 10k, depending on your race type). With the distance — never add on more than 10 per cent of the distance onto your next distance. For example, if you were training for a half marathon and ran 10 miles, your next long distance the week after should be no more than 11 miles. This is very important for the body to be able to adapt, and decrease the possibility of injury. Beginners, as I already stated earlier, shouldn’t worry about time or speed. They should enjoy the experience, take it all in and enjoy the complete buzz and excitement because believe me it’s one of the best experiences you can get…well maybe second, scoring a goal in a West Cork League soccer match is obviously the best!
Is it possible to overtrain?
Absolutely yes, and this is very common. One of the most important areas of training is, and I’m always explaining this to my clients — recovery. If you don’t recover from a session, you’re not gaining the full benefits of that session. For example, if you go to the pub after a training session, you may as well have not trained. The benefits and body changing process starts as soon as your session has ended, you need to let the body adapt. You need to avail of your ‘Window of Opportunity’, which in the Sports Science field is the 20 mins after we exercise, eating the right amounts of proteins, carbs and fats to fully maximise your training session. The sooner the better, and getting your six to eight hours of sleep is vital.
Is it better to run in the morning or evening?
Personally, I prefer the morning, but it’s really a matter of choice and depends on your schedule. Many people with spinal issues or back problems are commonly advised to train in the afternoon or evenings. It is great to start the day with exercise, waking up your body and metabolism, and studies prove that your productivity in the workplace is multiplied (employers, send your employee to Jog 4 All if they ain’t doing the business!). Morning or evening depends on what you’re used to.
Martin White is based in the GAA Sports Complex at Ahamilla, Clonakilty. As well as running weekly Jog 4 All running/jogging classes, he also teaches Kettlebell classes and does personal training on an individual and group basis. Check out his class timetable on Jog 4 All facebook page or contact him on 087 7075204.
Using massage work and rehabilitation and stretching techniques, Martin deals with sports-related and non sports related injuries.