Whitney Larkin, triathlete
We recently caught up with Whitney Larkin, an up-and-coming triathlete and BULK POWDERS™ athlete, to speak to her about taking running more seriously, and to find out her top tips for starting out in the sport. Here is what she had to say:
I started out as a swimmer, never doing any other sport and I never thought about running. I consider myself to be relatively new to it all. I have only been running for the last 2 years, and only took it up because it was one of the disciplines in triathlon and I want to be a successful triathlete.
You don’t need much equipment for running but make sure you are comfortable. I would say that a good pair of running shoes is the single most important piece of kit that you will need. I’m not an expert and definitely not qualified to give advice on running shoes, but what I would say is make sure your shoes fit properly and suit your foot type. Badly fitting shoes can also cause blisters and will have a detrimental impact on your performance.
There are loads of types to choose from, but get them fitted by professionals. Go to your local running shoe shop. They will be able to assess your feet, watch you run and tell you which brand will work best for you. I personally only ever use Asics, I find that these support my style of running really well.
But don’t forget about the rest of your outfit; the wrong running kit can affect your performance too. Using the correct clothing will allow you to train comfortably, keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter. You need to boost your visibility during the winter so use reflective clothing when possible. Staying safe is very important to me.
Top Tip: Moisten the air
On winter days or in cold weather, try breathing through your buff or snood for the first few minutes of your run. I find breathing in cold air makes my throat really burn and starts to feel sore. Use your buff so that your exhaled air can moisten your next inhalation. I know it can feel a bit damp and you get that horrible wet feeling breathing through your snood at first, but it does help on cold nights to get you going.
Build up distance gradually
When first starting out, especially if you have not been active for a while, you are best to build up your fitness levels slowly. This will help you to avoid injury and you will enjoy the experience more. My advice would be to ease into your running and increase your distance and pace gradually over time – this is what I did. When I started out I was always at the back, chasing everyone else and I hated it. When I introduced distance into my training all I could think about was ‘OMG how much further?!’ It is surprising how quickly your fitness improves, and I even started to look forward to the harder sessions.
Top Tip: Focus
Don’t stress out about how much further the session has to go, choose something to focus on. I would pick a landmark in the distance like the next lamppost, the next tree or the next corner. I would focus on reaching that then choose my next target. I found this really helped me and it also made me want to push myself as I would start to think, one more tree then finish; by the end of the session I had run further than planned.
Keep things varied
Keep your training varied. I always set myself challenges to push myself. Always running the same route can become boring. You can vary your distances and routes to mix it up and keep your running interesting. It also helps me to keep a training diary or log book, this can be your tool to record everything you do. Include what you did in training, what route you took and the distance and time, record how you felt so you can look back to see your improvements. My advice is to write down everything, no detail is too small.
Top Tip: Track things
Keep a page for PB’s – it’s great to look back and see how much you have improved.
Set realistic goals
If it’s your first ever run don’t set yourself unrealistic goals or it can be counterproductive. You need to set a goal that is tailored to your fitness level. Whatever your level, setting goals is important for staying focused and can help with motivation. I found going on the treadmill to get used to running first was a great help. Park runs are also a great way to get into longer distances. When doing the 5k on a Saturday morning as you can be as sociable or as competitive as you like, and it gives you a target to work from.
If you have someone to run with this is great too. as you can encourage each other and stay motivated. You could also join your local running club, as this is a perfect way to commit to run sessions on a regular basis.
Hydration during my exercise is very important especially for longer run sessions. I don’t normally hydrate during my run unless it’s a 10K or longer but I always hydrate beforehand and immediately after. Always make sure you have a bottle of water or sports drink with you whenever you train. Dehydration is a performance killer so always monitor your hydration levels. I never turn up to a training session without my Complete Hydration Drink™ from BULK POWDERS™. I have used different sports drinks in the past but Complete Hydration Drink™ and Complete Recovery™ have consistently helped me to perform at my best.
Running is now a big part of my life. My friend’s roll straight out of bed and into their slippers; I’m out of bed and into my trainers. They think I’m crazy but I just love it! You don’t have to be the fastest or the best, running is something everyone can do at any level of fitness, and you can do it to compete or just for the fun of it. What are you waiting for? Start running and enjoying a healthier lifestyle today!