More than 20% of women love running and will take to the verdant trails and run to their heart's content.
Whether for pleasure, to feel well, to stay in shape or to tone your body, if you're a woman, make no mistake – running is perfect for you!
Female anatomy and physiology
The female and male bodies differ in several ways. Women see earlier bone growth, and their muscle and joint systems are different from those of men. On the one hand, this stems from a less developed musculature and greater flexibility in the ligaments. As a result of having much looser ligaments, women have joints that are more susceptible to injuries and pain. On the other hand, females also have a higher percentage of body fat than men (25% vs. 15%). Due to these characteristics, it is especially important for women to reinforce their musculature and joints by engaging in a variety of sports such as gymnastics, swimming and fitness training.
Running for women: protecting and strengthening your joints and ligaments
When running, choose flat surfaces like grass, public gardens or parks.
Always do strength training, core strength and stretching exercises before and after your run.
How the female body uses oxygen
During endurance sports like running, women utilise less VO2 max (maximum oxygen consumption). This lower use of oxygen leads to early fatigue and consequently hinders performance. However, regardless of these physiological differences, regular running is equally effective for men and women as a way to improve endurance.
Important: You love running, so treat yourself right! Pick a personal training programme which is gradual and well-suited to your needs and do not focus exclusively on performance.
Plan out your running with a programme which is customised for your level:
Running for women! (cont'd)
Racing for women...or for men
In every sport, motivation is the most important element for success, allowing you to push beyond your limits to achieve your goals.
Whether you are male or female and whether you are running to stay in shape, maintain your body weight or for pleasure, a small dose of willpower and perseverance will help you achieve your goals.
For everyone, endurance is developed through regular running training.
If you're a novice runner:
Start by running short distances, from 2 to 10 km.
To stay motivated, select a training programme suited to your physical abilities which bears in mind the length and intensity of your runs and the number of training sessions.
In terms of gear and safety, wear good running shoes and special running garments which are both loose-fitting and breathable.
If you're running for fun:
Run several times a week. You will quickly feel the exhilarating allure of running.
Do a variety of sports, including cycling, swimming and walking.
Set aside large blocks of time so that you can exercise without pressure or constraints.
If you're trying to lose weight:
Run at a slow pace for 30 to 40 minutes, which will help your body burn fat.
Make sure to eat a well-balanced diet and drink enough liquids. Stay away from yo-yo dieting or diets which restrict your intake of foods.
If your goal is to compete:
For road running, follow a clear training plan which bears in mind the distance of runs, your fitness level and your schedule.
Be safer: If you'd like to take advantage of the benefits of running, but you're hesitant to set out alone.
Follow Kalenji's advice:
Run with other people in well-lit areas.
Tell your family and friends what route you are taking and what time you plan to get home.
Always carry your mobile phone or a whistle and pepper spray.
Join a running club or association.
Try the ideal pleasure sport for women, running!