Running: 5 tips to get you started
As running was my first step into being a “fitness” person, it feels only right to start with just that! More specifically, some tips and tricks on how to get going.
It seems that running is a bit like marmite, you either love it or you hate it. Some rave about “Runner’s High” collecting medal after medal, whilst others struggle to get round their first mile.
There’s a common misconception that fitness equals running. I’ve worked with a number of clients who tell me they “don’t run” straight off the bat. Running is by no means an essential as part of a healthy lifestyle, and there are so many ways one can get cardio into their routine.
Personally, I find running different to other forms of exercise. I think it is quite liberating to do a form of exercise that requires nothing but a good pair of trainers (and a good sports bra) - no fancy equipment or an expensive gym membership. Running allows my mind to wander, to day dream and experience a little bit of escapism. Combined with endorphins, I usually feel massively elated on my return.
We are born to run. It’s not a form of exercise that requires hours of mastering a skill before you can even give it a go. A run can be anything you need it to be – quiet and peaceful in the early morning, motivating and empowering as you pound the pavement playing Little Mix on Spotify or just a time to catch up with a friend.
Many people are drawn to this idyllic idea of running, but in reality, it can be much harder. Getting to the stage where you can switch off on a run and enjoy the freedom takes time. It isn’t easy and getting started may be challenging, but running is an endurance activity and if you want to reap the benefits you need to be in it for the long game. Here are some tips to get you started:
Just run. Your first run will most likely not be enjoyable or far or fast, but so what? Just get out the door and go.Try to not set expectation, but just run as far as you can - if that is 38 minutes or 8 minutes, that is great! You have your starting point.
Keep it consistent. I genuinely feel that the main reason I ran marathons is because I was consistent and that is all. Anything you do with consistency becomes easier and you become better at. Give yourself a target for how many runs you aim to do a week - 2 or 3 would be a good place to start. Then make it happen, plan those runs into your weekly routine, focus on getting out the door as that is usually the hardest part!
Increase gradually. So, you‘ve run for 8 minutes? Next time can you run for 9? Or run to that next street corner or to when the song finishes. Increases don’t need to be far and they don’t need to be overwhelming. Increasing you distance slowly and steadily over time, adds up.
Keep your mind occupied. In my opinion, running is just as much a mental challenge as a physical one. For me, I always run with music as I find each song a focus and keeps me motivated. For others it could be an audio book or something as simple as mentally breaking down the run and aiming to reach certain points - “I know once I get up this hill, it’s only 5 minutes downhill” or “once I get to that crossroad, I can stop for a stretch.”
Set a goal. Register for a race. Start a challenge. Commit to something! The thought of signing yourself up for a 5km race might fill you with dread but once it's done, it’s done. Making that commitment can you give a little shift in attitude – knowing every time you push yourself out the door, you’ll make race day that little bit easier. Crossing that finish line or completing that challenge will fill you with so much confidence. It is a leap, but maybe one you need.
There you have it, 5 quick tips from me to you. Running takes time and not all your runs will be great. Still to this day, I have runs where my legs feel like bricks and they just feel hard from start to finish. But running is about the bigger picture - the great runs you do have, how much better you feel after a run, how you feel your energy increase and finding you are no longer puffed out running for the bus.
I hope this helps any aspiring runners to get started!