By Hayden Shearman // We are just under three months out from Wellington’s massive festival of running: Cigna Round the Bays.
On 22 February, the weather will be perfect (isn’t it always for Round the Bays?) and we’ll once again descend, in our thousands, on the waterfront for this incredible event. To make sure you’re ready for the big day, every fortnight I’ll be providing tips on how and where to train.
This week is the perfect time to just get the ball rolling on your training. Don’t worry about distance or speed, the next few weeks are just about creating the habit of running or walking regularly. Three or four walks/runs per week will be plenty for most. And remember that every little run or walk is a success!
This period of training creates a base of aerobic fitness and gradually adjusts your body (your ligaments, muscles, heart and lungs) to the new exercise regime, preparing it for the greater workload levels to come.
This preparation is done by consistency alone, so keep your runs shorter (only increasing your longest run by 10 per cent or 1km each week) and your pace easy (being able to hold a conversation while you are running is a good sign you’re working at the right intensity, meaning you may need to include some walk breaks).
Another tip for building this consistency is to make your runs as fun as possible.
Arrange to run with friends, join a club (find a club here and check out Wellington Running Meetup), track your runs with a GPS (Strava and Mapmyrun are great), load up your favourite playlist or audio book, and simply focus on enjoying yourself. Hint: When you’re starting out, the infamous runner’s high can be a little elusive, so adding in some other forms of stimulation is a great way to kick start the running/walking habit.
Another great stimulus for improving your running experience is to find somewhere beautiful to run. As we are just looking for short, easier runs, here are my top three recommendations for runs in Wellington that fit the bill:
1. Polhill Reserve, Aro Valley
This inner-city bush reserve is a little hilly but super beautiful amongst native bush with fun (and soft) dirt trails. Plus, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the harbour. Start on Aro Street and follow the Transient Track up and then Planet Ride back down (about 4.5k total).
2. Korokoro Stream, Petone
Sheltered from the wind and mostly flat this 4.2k each-way trail is one of Wellington’s hidden gems. Follow the stream as it winds it’s way into the Belmont Regional Park then retrace your steps back to the car park on Cornish Street. Or, if you’re up for the challenge of the hills, head up and over Maungaraki, back down to the car park via Percy Scenic Reserve).
3. Bothamley Park, Cannons Creek
Porirua locals have done well to keep this little treasure under wraps up until now, but the secret is out and it’s high time more Wellington runners and walkers made the most of this tranquil valley park. Start at the car park off Champion Street (opposite Windley Street) and use the out-and-back 5k Porirua parkrun course, which has permanent distance markers set up.