Fitness, well-being and learning go hand in hand and, as a primary school teacher, I believe that PE is very important for young children to set them on a health path for life. If a passion for sport and active living is not cultivated in early life, it is more difficult to embrace in later life, with all the health consequences that could lead to as a result.
Modelling is a highly prized technique in teaching, and it is pleasing to see colleagues modelling health lifestyles and fitness beyond a yearly egg-and-spoon race on sport day.
It can be difficult for teachers to stay in shape. The hours are long, the workload is high, and the staffroom has chocolate and sticky buns. But at least you get a bit of a workout carrying your marking to the car.
This magazine was originally published at the end of January 2019, meaning that most of those fitness New Year resolutions will have faded into memory by now, but now is the time to re-double the effort with a little support for the UKEdChat community. Here are some tips to get you moving, and eventually, running.
Firstly, whatever your goal, a little more activity is better than none. Be realistic about what you achieve and keep your initial aim small so you can use it as a milestone (perhaps literally!) to build on. If it has been a while since you have done any vigorous exercise you may like to consult for doctor first.
One of the great things about running is that you only need a good pair of running shoes to get started. But it is vital that you get real running shoes to protect you from injury. Visit your local running shop for personalised advice. If you plan to make this habit permanent, it is worth the investment. See a selection running shoes at uked.chat/runshoe.
Don’t feel like you need to run on your first time out. Walk and slowly pick up the pace until you are ready to jog a few metres. As the days/weeks go by alternate between walking and slow running, and continue to increase the amount of running compared to walking ratio, but make sure it is comfortable. Overdoing it with too much pace and/or distance and you may injure yourself which will put you back on the couch. Increase your running mileage by a maximum of 10% per week.
Running and Keep Running
While it is difficult to get out of a comfortable bed, especially when the weather is cold, being active in the morning means that it is less likely that things will crop up and prevent you from running later. Make it easier by getting your exercise clothes out and doing other preparation the night before. Stretch out and jog around slowly before you get going to warm up. A running commute is a great, but requires some preparation, especially if you normally need to carry things between school and home.
Can’t run in the morning? Make a schedule for the week and stick to it. Lunchtimes or straight after school are an excellent opportunity to run in a group with colleagues. Running with others is a great motivator. Perhaps you can’t beat your line manager, but you can certainly aim to beat them around the block!
If you don’t have anyone to run with, or even if you do, you can get support and a little healthy competition using the new ‘The School Run’ Strava club which UKEdChat has set up so that teachers can support teachers who are trying to improve their fitness. Go to strava.com/clubs/SchoolRun to get started. We will continue to add fitness tips and help you connect to running groups and events in your area.
Technology is a great motivator in many other ways. As a data geek, I have found wearable technology to be a good reminder to keep going as the kilometres tally up. My personal recommendation is the Fitbit Versa uked.chat/fitbit, but there are watches and gadgets to suit every budget and need.
Games are also good for keeping your on (the running) track. Zombies Run is an audio game where a runner must save the day by outrunning the un-dead, and in Run An Empire you must run to earn coins to build an empire to crush other local runners. Find them at zombiesrungame.com and runanempire.com.
Lastly, turn your running into social good with goodgym.org. Run to a location where a social project requires volunteers and help your community.
Staffroom Couch to 5K in 10 Weeks
Begin and end every session with a warm-up and cool-down. Not ready to go to the next level? Just repeat the previous week routine.
Week 1-2 Your main goal is to keep it up, an get out to do 30 minutes of walk/run three times a week, not worrying about the speed or distance. Start making being active a habit!
Week 3-4 Still 3x 30 minutes a week, try to run (slowly if necessary) for at least half the time). Get used to being a little out of breath. Finding it difficult? Slow it down a bit.
Week 5-6 Set yourself a realistic goal, such as a kilometre running without stopping, and add it to the beginning of one of your 30 minute session with it.
Week 7-8 Increase your distance to at least 3km per session, but run/walk as needed. Add your previous ‘realistic goal’ to the end of a 3km run/walk session. Try to mix up your routes to keep things fresh.
Week 9 Starting with a slow run, go as far as you can without stopping, increasing the pace a little as you go. If you don’t get to 5k, walk the rest of the way.
Week 10 Keep the routine above up until you reach 5 km. Now you have achieved your first 5k run. Now you are ready to try your local parkrun.org.uk, an open 5k event which happens in local parks weekly across the world.