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Beyond Couch To 5k – Running Tips From Nikki Bartlett

Nikki Bartlett is a professional triathlete who took her first win at Ironman Lanzarote in 2019 and is a race guide with the British Paralympic team, hoping to qualify for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo this year.

At the start of 2021, Nikki became the latest pro triathlete to join the elite squad of Team ERDINGER Alkoholfrei, which connects more than 5,000 professionals and amateurs, as anyone whose heart beats for running, cycling or triathlon, can be part of the team.

Here she provides her tips to help encourage new couch to 5k’ers to keep going and enjoy their new-found love of running. 

Nikki’s Top Ten Tips 

Motivation  

Even if self-motivation sees you through most weeks, create a team around you to encourage you and keep you going.

Sharing your goals and achievements with family and friends gives you something to aim for and their support is invaluable.

If you’re able to run with someone (lockdown restrictions permitting), even better, as that will give you more enjoyment and satisfaction and if you’ve got kids, involve and inspire them and let them come on your run by cycling alongside.

Let them be a part of your journey and track the distance you cover together with goal rewards along the way  

Diet  

Good nutrition is a round-the-clock matter and getting a balanced diet helps your general health and wellbeing as well as fuelling your runs.

Keep your prep simple with some carbs and protein – some of my favourites include peanut butter and jam on toast or a bagel, porridge or some yoghurt with banana and honey.

Some people struggle to have food before a run, so maybe even try a smoothie before; my go-to is banana, strawberry, high protein good quality yoghurt, with some milk too.

I tend to eat some protein with carbs soon after 

Any treats?  

When you’ve done your run, enjoy the satisfaction of a great days’ work by enjoying dinner with your feet up and an ERDINGER Alkoholfrei to replenish electrolytes lost and top up on vitamin B12.

If you’re vegetarian, like me, not eating meat can restrict your vitamin intake, so this is one vitamin source you can replenish with  

Keep it consistent  

Consistency is important, not just for performance but for time management, self-confidence, fulfilling goals and getting things done.

Plan your food, training and rest based on your commitments and keep it realistic. Make sure your running plan is sustainable so you don’t get disheartened by trying to do too much.

If work and family life allow, try to keep to a regular running schedule and do it for you in your time – don’t compare your exercise with what other people are talking about on social media!  

Running kit  

Running equipment is so personalised and individual, and especially shoes, so I’d advise you to try before you buy (if possible) to get the best option for you.

If you’re serious about continuing your running, find a specialist local retailer who can look at your running style and give advice on what will suit you best.

And remember, invest in quality because if you buy cheap, you’ll buy twice – get a decent pair of running shoes to help prevent injuries and a jacket that will keep you dry if it rains  

Vary your route  

I LOVE mixing up my training locations but it has been harder to do this during lockdown because of restrictions.

Try to mix it up as much as possible and think about getting some good off-road shoes to make the most of a quiet environment and some beautiful scenery.

You’ll be surprised at how much difference it makes to your strength, too. And spend time looking over a map and plot some routes to look forward to once you’re able to travel further afield  

Strength and conditioning activity  

To support your running try to add in some strength and conditioning activity. I do two sessions twice a week and there are some great YouTube clips you can use at home if you can’t get to a gym 

Rest  

Giving your body chance to rest and recover is as important as exercising, so don’t drive yourself too hard, especially if you’ve just completed couch to 5k and think you need to push the limits.

Allowing time for recovery and repair is a critical part of your exercise regime, regardless of your level of fitness and gives you chance to recharge your batteries before you go again  

Keep yourself entertained 

WOW I love podcasts, and follow about 100, but also rely on Spotify for my runs with one of my favourites being my ‘Have a good day’ playlist. Listen to some of my go-to podcasts for inspiration:  

1. Don’t tell me the score  

2. We Do Science  

3. Not another Nutrition podcast  

And give my key sponsors a follow:  

  • ERDINGER Alkoholfrei F: erdinger.alkoholfreiUK T: @ErdingerAF_UK 
  • HOKA T: HOKAONEONE  Insta: hokaoneone_eu 
  • Clif Bar T: ClifBar  Insta: clifbar 

Keep it fun  

Keeping your running fun is key and staying connected is also really important. If you feel ready, look for a local running club or online fitness group and be part of a community.

Always, ALWAYS remember there is ALWAYS someone around your level of ability who shares your goals and aspirations and running sessions can always be adjusted to adapt to running with a buddy.  

Joining a local club or online community holds you accountable for your goals, gives you chance to learn from experts, scientists/coaches, access advice on nutrition and equipment and share stories from training and running that make the whole experience more fun.  

We all run because we love it, so don’t overthink what you’re doing and lose that passion  

Follow Nikki for inspiration  

I’m an athlete on social media who loves to share the whole truth, not just the highs, but being open and transparent through the tough times.

I love learning from other people’s challenges and how they’ve overcome them. Now more than ever through this pandemic, we are stronger together and my social channels are always open for your messages  

Twitter: NikkiBartlett1

Insta: nikkibartlett1

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