BBQ and beer garden season is here. Jumpers can finally be shed in favour of shorts, vests and thongs (oi oi, sandals). Apart from the fact that you’re pastier than Michael Jackson, something else appears to be not quite right. You might have been hitting the gym three times a week since January, but somehow you’re not the mass of quivering muscle you expected to be, come summertime.

It is about now that you realise that despite chugging various protein shakes and spending several countless hours bench pressing/dumbbell juggling you just look fatter than you did before. Why? Lifting weights does not reduce your body fat percentage. Without doing any cardio vascular exercise, that rippling six-pack will just stay hidden under a layer of flab. Sad, but very true. The answer? 30 minutes of aerobic activity a day. Our suggestion is running. No, seriously. You need the least amount of equipment, it costs nothing and can produce results after just two weeks.

Don’t start with the excuses. It’s not snowing out there anymore remember. Buy a decent pair of trainers, download some blood bubbling tunes for your ipod, and get going!

Of course there is another kind of motivation...

 

The ultimate running guide

1/ No Gung Ho mentality

Woah there! Don’t for god’s sake, think that enthusiasm can suddenly boost your fitness level by 200 percent. If you can only do ten minutes before collapsing in a pulsing sweaty heap, don’t despair. Run at least three times a week and you’ll soon be breaking Forrest Gump’s record. Remember to do some sort of gentle warm-up before stretching. Stretching when your muscles are cold is ineffective.

2/Get loose

Quadriceps, hamstrings, lower back, ankles, calves – don’t forget the soleus muscle attached to the achilles tendon - all need a once over. But don’t rush it. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. Don’t bounce and avoid putting pressure on your joints. More stretching tips here.

3/ Start slow

Start with a fast walk and build up to a jog when you feel comfortable. Some fitness experts suggest stretching again after the first five minutes of exercise, to really make sure the joints are lubricated. If you begin to experience searing pain in any area of the body, slow down and then stop. It’s not worth it! Build up the amount of time you run for, little by little each time.  Or take advice from the London Marathon website, which offers training programmes for beginner, intermediate and advanced runners.

4/Pace yourself

Some runners find it useful to count their footfalls in nines. e.g. Accent right foot, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, accent left foot, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 etc. It might sound a bit daft, but it ensures that you’re training both legs equally and can take your mind of those pesky stabbing pains in the left side of your chest.

5/Run on empty

Make sure you don’t eat for at least one hour before running. If you are eating a big meal wait 2-3 hours for the food to settle; it’s best to feel a little hungry, but not starving before you start. Running on a full stomach is not only uncomfortable and distracting, but it also saps a lot of your energy, because the oxygen your taking in and the body's glucose stores are trying to replenish your digestive and respiratory organs.

6/Hydrate, hydrate, then hydrate some more

When you’re not training you’re meant to consume two litres of water a day. When you’re running, the need to hydrate is far greater. Try to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks before exercising (even if they are energy drinks) which are diuretics and make you want to pee more than normal. As well as being inconvenient, caffeine can give you headaches and make you dehydrated.

7/Route planner

Try to have a vague idea of where you are going to run or go to mapmyrun.co.uk where they can plan your route for you. Aimless jogging is unproductive and you’re also more likely to stop and scratch your head a lot, making it virtually impossible to get going again. Don’t give yourself the excuse. Set a new distance target each week to keep motivated.

8/Put your best foot forward

The recession bites, but you can’t afford to be stingy with your footwear. Fashionable, or just crap old trainers could cause shin splints, ankle sprains or muscular strain. Basically it will hurt more than it has to…much more.  Profeet are among the best in the business at providing trainers which not only fit your feet perfectly, but can also improve your running technique.