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Marian Brennan qualified physiologist / diabetes educator

If you’ve ever thought about doing your first organised fun run, now is the time! There are plenty of events for just about every running/walking ability over the Spring and Summer months. But I know, the prospect of signing up for one of these events (let alone completing one!) can be daunting and overwhelming. Don’t worry, I am here to make sure these fun runs live up to their name.

I remember the first ever City to Surf I signed up for when I was in my youthful high school prime! I had never run more than about 3 or 4 km (or whatever a lap of Lake Monger was at that time), and I had just signed up to do the 12km City to Surf! My plan? Run 10km around the bridges a week before just to make sure I could do the distance, and everything should be fine! Well, I made it around the bridges, but it was not pretty; I couldn’t walk for a couple of days and I had been severely mentally scarred! I was dreading the rapidly approaching event, an extra 2km and with hills!! So needless to say, I was relieved to finish my first ever City to Surf but I did NOT enjoy it!

I write to you now with a few more years of study and running under my belt and I can reassure you, these events can actually be super fun and rewarding. There is no need to endure the suffering that I experienced in my first attempt. Let’s go through a few training principles that will ensure a pleasant experience!

  1. Talk to your GP or exercise physiologist: If you are new to running and or have pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, it is important to have a chat with your treating health professionals to make sure you’re good to go!
  2. Allow enough time to prepare: The amount of time you need to train will depend on your base level of activity and fitness, your goal (participation versus performance), the distance you are aiming to run, and your ‘training years’ or past training experience. A comprehensive run program would typically span the course of 3-4 months for distances of between 10-42km. Programs may not need to be as long if you are aiming for a shorter distance, or if you are already an established runner.
  3. Gradual build: I would advise against approaching your first event like I did all those years ago. Building training volume and intensity gradually is key to making this an enjoyable and successful experience, free of injuries. Avoid big jumps in duration, distance, and intensity. Increasing your ‘long run’ each week by about 10 minutes or 1-2km is a sensible way to progress. Using a run/walk strategy (like that used in the couch to 5km program below) is also a very useful strategy to build your volume.
  4. You do not have to run every day: It is not necessary to run every day of the week. This is a case of quality over quantity. Three to four quality runs per week is enough. If possible, it is always a good idea to avoid running on consecutive days. Some people find cross training on the other days useful, for example, swimming or riding a bike, or you might choose to have a rest day. As a general rule of thumb, depending on your goals, you might consider one long run, one shorter run, and one interval-type run per week.
  5. Follow a program: Sometimes following a program can make things a bit easier. There are plenty of generic run programs available on the internet. A very successful and well-known program is ‘Couch to 5km’ which follows these training principles. Couch to 5K: week by week – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
  6. Consider nutrition: Depending on how long you will be running, you may like to consider fueling your body before, during, and after your runs. As a general rule, you should consider eating between 30-60g or carbohydrate per hour for activity lasting for greater than about 60 minutes. It might be useful to speak to a dietitian to ensure you are meeting your daily energy and nutrient requirements across the course of each day, particularly if you are living with diabetes.

If you are living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, there are a couple of extra considerations:

  • If you are using insulin, you may need to reduce this to avoid low blood glucose levels. You may need a bit of extra carbohydrate before, during, and after activity if you cannot alter your insulin dose. You can speak to your diabetes educator or endocrinologist about this.
  • Monitor blood glucose levels before, during, and after you train.
  • Carry a ‘hypo kit’ when training – monitor and quick acting carbohydrates
  • Tell someone where and when you’re running or run with a buddy
  • Check your feet before and after each session. Speak to your GP or podiatrist if you notice any change to the appearance or feeling in your feet.
  • Keep hydrated

Useful links for running events and training around Perth:

Programme | West Australian Marathon Club (wamc.org.au)

Fun Runs and Running Events in Perth, Western Australia (runningcalendar.com.au)

home | parkrun Australia

HOME | perthruncollective

Masters Athletics Western Australia (mastersathleticswa.org)

Perth Trail Series | Trail Running Events Perth | Uncivilise Yourself

Free Running Group Perth | Perth Urban Runners

Diabetes WA have launched a new service, Perth Physical Activity and Diabetes Institute, which offers individual exercise advice for those living with diabetes and associated health complications. Our dual qualified exercise physiologist/diabetes educator, Marian, can even write you an individualised program for your chosen up coming event! Marian will be down at the Fremantle Run Festival on the 28 November, come have a chat or reach out if you need some last minute training or diabetes management advice! www.perthpadi.com

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