A few years ago I hated running. Now it is my form of free therapy, a chance to think through my problems or to completely shut my brain off for the day. Peaceful, uninterrupted time for me to unplug and enjoy the outdoors. I usually use this time to listen to something that can inspire me or help me to relax such as music, a podcast or an audiobook. There are so many reasons to learn to love this invigorating, energising activity.
Of course, the first time I ran (and the second, and third etc.), it was none of this! I was like many others who “hate running”. It was hard, painful and left me gasping with a stitch. Fortunately, I stuck with it and learnt to love it. Here are some things to keep in mind when learning to run:
Make sure to have the correct equipment, women’s gym wear, running trainers and, an essential, is a well-fitting sports bra. Other items to consider is an arm phone holder for your phone to track your run or to have music on. Download any tracking or running apps that will help you along the way. At first, you may need a water bottle with you too.
Nutrition is important but be sure to avoid running when you’re starving or have just eaten. Increase your protein intake with healthy meats, greek yoghurt, and eggs.
Have a training plan for your run to act as a guide. A plan is helpful for keeping you on track and motivated so that you can train successfully without injury. Running buddies aren’t essential but can make it far more fun and helps to challenge yourself. Be sure to know where you plan on running, roads, paths, parks or beaches and perfect if you know your trail.
Always be sure to warm up with a brisk five-minute walk. When you start running remember to start slow and keep the pace comfortable. When you start running for the first time, you probably won’t be able to run for more than a few minutes without stopping. Be aware of this and incorporate walking breaks. I started with Couch to 5K and run double to build my fitness level gradually. You want to be able to run well for a long period of time. Slow down and have less focus on your pace, just enjoy the feeling of running.
Consistency is vital so push through on your dedicated running days, even on tough days. When you wake up tired or unmotivated, stick with your plan or have your running buddy drag you out of the house. You will feel better after a run and for sticking with it. If you are consistent with your runs, it will pay off in the long run.
Set small goals at first and don’t be discouraged if your improvements seem minimal. Enjoy any little victories and reward yourself.
Once you’ve achieved a comfort with running, consider signing up for a race or charity fun run. Committing to this helps with your motivation and feels great to be a part of a running community.
Not everyone likes having goals and racing but even if you don’t care about how long it takes you to finish running a certain distance can be what excites you.
Cool down and stretch with a casual five-minute walk. You will be sore after the first few times but keep with it. After your run be sure to eat a snack or meal with protein and carbohydrates. Post-run be sure to stay hydrated too. Finally, reward yourself! Your aim is for running to become a habit so satisfying yourself is crucial. Let yourself feel good about your performance, monitor your results or share your progress online.
It may seem unimaginable that running can be so rewarding right now, but follow some of the steps above and give it a go.You may be surprised at how quickly you learn to love it!