How can I get started?

I would love everyone to run, I’ve fallen in love with it, so basically everyone must see what I see, and love it too.  But don’t worry, I’m not some mad woman on an evangelical-running-fitness crusade.  On the other hand, show me an inkling of interest in running, and I’ll… well, run with it🏃🏃‍♀️.

So, the other day I was asked by Eben’s pre-school teacher, how can I get started at running, what advice would you give me?  We didn’t have a huge amount of time to talk, and I could have talked her ear off, but the only thing that came to mind was, just get out there and do it, try it, and don’t worry, it might be hard, but it will get easier.

At the time, the words just tumbled out of my mouth, but this speaks volumes to my personality.  I’m a jump in the water and try it type of personality.  I sew without pinning, I paint without sanding, I cook without measuring, and I run whenever I can – often dashing out the door in a bad sports bra and socks with holes in them 😳.

It’s hard, I can’t lie

The thing is, the whole just getting started thing is hard.  It feels hard.  It hurts your lungs, your chest, your heart pounds, and if you manage to get past all that – then your body will probably start to protest against this extra exertion you are putting upon it.  And if you’ve managed to push past the cardiovascular and physical strains, and keep going – yay – then your mind will kick into gear and start playing tricks on you – saying you are not a runner, and that you are doing it all wrong.  I’m really selling it – eh?

Top Tip: Read Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley – a great insight into what getting started is like, and what to expect – which will make you laugh out loud, promise.  Most memorable bit for me had to be the mid-run-scary-pub-loo-dash 🤣.

Getting past the hard bit

If you are running to get fit or lose weight, then you might put up with all those bad bits I mentioned above, and push through, as you know you are doing something good for your body 💪.  The number of people who tell me that they run, but that they really don’t like it, is surprising.  I mean, for me, life’s too short to do something I don’t like – even if it is good for me.  I think the trick to ‘liking running’ is the realisation that you are doing something good for your mind, not just your body.

I use running for a few different reasons – to be able to eat chocolate and pizza, to be a part of a community, to be fit, to be competitive, but the key one, is that it is my sanity.  Tough day in the office, kids making my climb the walls, too many chores, feeling blah, feeling sad, I know that a run with sort me out.  It’s like the jolt that goes through my body each time my foot hits the ground, jumbles up the thoughts in my head – until all those troubling ideas and worries have re-organised themselves and I have a unique opportunity to look at life in a different way.

So, are you ready?

There really is no ready, don’t wait until next Monday (or next week, or next month) to start your running adventure, start the next time you have a free moment, even if it’s a seemingly random (and un-social media friendly) Wednesday afternoon.

Ready is simply wanging on a sports bra (if you are a girl), lacing up your trainers and running around the block.  Tick mark – run done.  You might have hyperventilated, you might have sweated like a pig, you might have had chaff that could start a bush fire, but you did it.  I promise, if you go for a run, you are a runner.  No one cares what you looked like, no one cares how fast you went – they only care that you went and did it – welcome to the running community – you’re in, entrance exam passed with flying colours ✅.

What next?

So, I’ve already said that those first runs are hard.  After your run, relish the feelings of accomplishment and pride, and try to forget any uncomfortable feelings you experienced while actually running.  Now, here are some ideas to keep your running journey alive:

  1. Get your boogie on – Music is a great tool, it helps let your mind wander and possibly drowns out the sound of your rasping breath. Invest in a new running soundtrack and look forward to some tunes each time you go for a run.
  2. Be an instarunner – the running community on instragram is amazingly supportive. Start an Instagram account just dedicated to your running (you don’t even have to share it with your friends or family if you are too shy) and reap the rewards of an online community cheering you on and giving advice.
  3. Track your runs – download a free app like Strava or RunKeeper and take your phone with you when you run. These nifty apps track distance, pace, give you a little map of where you went, and are a great way to see your improvement over time.
  4. Be a Park Runner – ParkRun is a weekly free timed 5KM run in local parks. I can bet that you probably have one near you if you are in the UK.  It isn’t a race, it’s just a run, with a bunch of other runners, just like you (all abilities, ages, shapes, and sizes).  You can even walk the whole thing if you like. It’s free and you don’t even have to pre-register before you show up.
  5. Challenge yourself – this could be anything from signing up to a race, following a training plan (like couch to 5KM), or simply going that little bit further or faster on your next run. Write down your goal and pin it up somewhere so your family can all see it and encourage you to make it a reality.

Are you just starting out on your running journey?  Do you run for physical and /or mental health benefits?  Do you run, but still don’t like it?  Please share, I’d love to hear from you and learn about your running journey.

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