Running is a great way to get fit. It’s not easy. It is lonely. It is tiring. But devotees hit the pavement for many more reasons other than fitness. It’s not just about speed and skill – it’s about a mindset. The freedom and accessibility. There are no fees to pay, or hi-tech gear needed. You just need a simple pair of trainers and you can run anywhere, any time. So there’s no reason YOU can’t become a runner too. Try these steps…
Your first run may only be five minutes long. It may not feel like fun at all. But your next run will be more fun. Stick with it and eventually every run will be fun. Promise. Setting yourself a benchmark that you can achieve will give you the tiny sense of victory you need to want to do it again, and mark your progress. For example, challenge yourself to run as far as a certain landmark, like a stop sign. Next time you do it, it will feel easier. Baby steps, but you’ll get there eventually. Another strategy is to sign up for a 5km race. Once you’ve committed you’ll have something concrete to work towards.
You may have an image in your head of yourself charging down the road, sweat forming on your upper lip and your hair swaying in the wind… Forget the fantasies. If you push yourself too hard initially you could set yourself up for injury and feelings of failure. You want to build your aerobic endurance and teach your body to become more efficient. You can do this by running at any pace. A good guide is to run at a conversational pace, meaning you should be able to talk on-the-go.
Keep your thoughts away from how tired or bored you feel. Make a playlist of all your favourite songs that you loved back in your teens and twenties. You’ll know all the words and won’t be able to stop yourself singing or humming along. Happy brain! Or play a game to keep yourself going. For example, count 20 red cars on the route and when you have got there you can stop for a drink of water.
It may sound simple, but making running part of your schedule will give it a greater purpose. Put it in your diary and then mark how far you ran when you finished. Three months down the line you’ll be able to look back and see how your slow, but steady, progress has paid off.
When you run at time when you feel energetic, you’ll be more likely to actually enjoy it. Try out different times of the day to run to see when you feel your best. You may find that running a few kays in the morning is easy peasy compared to mustering up enough energy to run after work. Keep in mind that even seasoned runners sometimes have an energy funk. You can get rid of the heavy feeling in your legs (and dread in your mind) by taking a few minutes to jog slowly to warm up your body before you get going.