Often when people meet me (or admittedly, see my Instagram) they assume I have always been a runner. This is not the case and as much as I now love running, it’s taken a fair few years to get to this point.
One day, approx 5 years I randomly decided I wanted to run a half marathon. I was overweight and hadn’t ran since I was at school (I’m still reppin’ my county athletics jumper now), my own mother laughed at me when I told her my plan and most people I knew never thought I would achieve it. The first time I went out for a run, I was wearing a pair of trainers I still had from school, I’m sure I was carrying my phone in my hand and gave up after getting a horrendous stitch after running about 500m. I felt defeated, like a failure. But I stuck with it and I can honestly say it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
5 years, 4 marathons, 2 half ironman’s and a stupid amount of miles later, I now feel like I’m a ‘runner’. Running really is a significant part of my life now and it’s helped me become the person I am today. It’s taken me to different places in the world for races, most of my important life decisions have been made during a long run with friends and to top it off I’ve met some incredible people through this shared hobby.
If you’ve been thinking about giving running a go, but don’t know where to start. I’ve popped together a few tips to help you lace up those trainers and get you out the door…
Take it slow.
Most people think they can’t run because they start out too quickly. It’s important to start running at a pace that feels comfortable for you. If you start too quickly it’s likely you won’t be able to run for more than a few minutes and this is likely to affect you mentally. If you can’t comfortably hold a conversation while running, you are going to fast, this is fine during a race or speed session but as a beginner it’s unlikely you will be doing either of these.
It’s also important to not to put too much pressure on yourself. Start by building up gradually, this could be only running once a week, or running to one extra lamp post on your next run. As a beginner it’s unlikely you will fall in love with running right away and committing to run 5km 3 times a week and not succeeding is only going to make you feel like a failure.
Parkruns & Couch to 5 km app.
Parkrun tends to become a huge part of most runners weekends. For those that don’t know, Parkruns are timed 5 km/3.1 mile runs every Saturday starting at 9am held in most locations around the UK and the world. It is important to stress these are not races, but a community where every ability is able to run. Yes you will always get super speedy runners, but you will also get people who walk the course, Parkrun is about getting out there and doing what you can. It might not be possible for you to run the whole course the first time you go, this is not a problem. But perhaps each week set yourself a target to run a little further each time. Parkrun is also a great way to make friends and connect with people who have similar interests.
As mentioned above a lot of people think they can’t run because they start off to quickly. If you are unsure where to start, downloading the couch to 5 km app is a great place to start. The app is designed to get you running 30 minutes solidly within 9 weeks. Each week follows a similar pattern of running mixed with walking for certain time frames. The app talks you through this and tells you when you run or walk. Each week the time running increases and the walk time decreases until you can run 30 minutes continuously.
I originally started by using the couch to 5 km app. I actually never completed this as I joined a running club, but the first 3 weeks I really enjoyed and it gave me the confidence to try running with other people.
I’m not saying you have to tell everyone you know. But in my experience if you tell people what you are doing or that you want to achieve something, it helps you progress. Making something ‘official’ by saying it out loud to friends and family or even popping something on your social media profiles means it is more likely to happen. Even now, 5 years later my Mum asks me how every single one of my runs has gone. Try finding someone who will celebrate your success no matter how small a victory.
Talking about your hobby may even inspire someone you know to also give it a go. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved, finding a friend or family member who is up for trying something new like you, will help to keep motivation levels high and will hopefully ensure you don’t switch that early morning alarm off or cancel your run to sit on the sofa drinking wine.
Invest in the right trainers.
Running is the cheapest form of exercise going. I don’t want anyone to feel put off by thinking you need to drop money on expensive kit and equipment, but investing in the correct trainers really does wonders for helping you you to both enjoy running and prevent injury. There are hundreds of different styles and structures to chose from, as a beginner this can be overwhelming, so I would suggest checking out your local running shop. Not only will they be able to suggest a suitable pair they will also be able to carry out a gait test, which involves filming you running on a treadmill to gauge your running technique.
I currently swear by the Adidas UltraBoost ST’s and normally buy from Sweatshop.
Remember to rest.
Undertaking any new challenge or exercise can put strain on the body. It is important to ensure you rest and look after yourself. You’ll never enjoying running if you force yourself to run everyday, or run faster every time. It’s also a great idea to get into the habit of stretching after each run to help prevent injury.
Also, don’t forgot to enjoy yourself! There will be times when running feels hard and like the worst thing in the world, but it’s also fun. Good luck and let me know how you get on.