The youngest member of Team Vhi-Herald has made impressive gains with her running programme and is well on her way to a successful Vhi Women's Mini Marathon.
Niamh’s training for her first Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon is progressing well. When we last spoke she had been trying to get out for a few jogs a week and was mixing it up with some spinning classes but she has now committed to running the Park Run each week in various locations around Dublin to help get her prepared.
She did the St Anne’s Park Run two weeks ago in an impressive time of 35 minutes, although she felt good for the first half, after about 2.5km Niamh’s calves got really sore so she had to walk a bit. She said she has always had tight calves but I advised her to make sure to stretch all leg muscles particularly her calves after each run. She also used a foam roller and that helped ease the pain.
It would be advisable to get in at least one flexibility class a week if you experience tightness or soreness in muscles during or after running. Yoga, Pilates or Body Balance classes are widely available or you could even spend at least 10 minutes a day doing some home stretches (while you’re watching tv!).
Another cause of muscle pain or tightness is inadequate runners, Niamh was fitted with new trainers after testing her gait analysis (which found that she over pronates- landing on the inside of her foot when running). The new trainers have made a huge difference and she said she can notice her running technique improving since wearing them.
Not letting the holidays interfere with her training, Niamh ran the Cabinteely Park Run with her mum and a group of ladies on Easter Saturday. She took a well deserved break on Easter Sunday! Recovery is something that is often neglected by people following fitness or training plan. Many people are overly enthusiastic and are afraid to miss a session however you do need a day or two at least each week to rest and let the body recover.
This will be Niamh’s first 10km run so she is not too focused on time but rather on completing the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon comfortably and enjoying the experience- a good goal for anyone who has signed up. Her target will be to run as much of it as she can but she might break it up with some walking. The spinning classes Niamh is attending will help increase her cardio fitness and as it’s a non impact exercise it won’t affect her calf tightness. Any type of cross training like spinning/cycling/ rowing machine or aerobics will compliment Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon training as it will help increase cardio vascular fitness and will give your joints a break from regular running on hard ground.
With over 9 weeks to go there is still plenty of time to prepare, increase your fitness and set a goal for June 6th. I would advise however that if, like Niamh you are already completing 5km regularly you should gradually starts to increase the distance as we get closer to the event. By adding on just 500 metres or an extra 3 or 4 minutes to your current training plan you will start to build endurance and can get your body prepared for covering the extra distance on race day.
At just 16, Niamh is setting a great example for teenage girls across the country who aren’t always getting enough exercise. Obviously there are many pressures on teenagers but the benefits of regular exercise are huge when it comes to mental health, focusing on study and of course keeping you fit and healthy.