It is now over two years since I took up running seriously and along with a lot of trail and error I have learnt a lot on the way but please note I still am learning, still have weight to lose, still seeking to get healthier, setting new targets,and pushing my body my journey has not finished in fact I feel as if it has only just started, so for those of you who are just starting out, learning to redo what we used to do so naturally as children, welcome and feel safe in the knowledge that we are all trying to achieve the same thing and I hope you learn to love running as much if not more than I do and that running brings you the health benefits both mentally and physically that is has bought me.
I have a pair or asics Kayano 15's when it comes to running they are considered the holy grail! They ain't cheap but the amount of miles I am putting in I figured with every step I take they are giving me back my money ten fold. I just got a new pair which I will be spending the next few weeks breaking in for the marathon. ttp://www.startfitness.co.uk/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=4074&P_ID=37961
Pounding the pavement can be hard going on your legs so it’s worth investing in a good pair. You will probably have one of three running style, Neutral, underpronater or overpronater the website link below explains it all a lot better than I can. In short it is the way which your feet hit the ground when you run, weather they roll inwards, outwards, e.t.c.
Many of us start too fast are put off because it's hard and think running is not for them, no since trying to run like you did way back when during sports day at school or you may end up burning out, huffing and puffing like a steam train, within ten minutes, Slow and steady is the way to go.
Speed will come later once you’ve built up your stamina and your body has got over the shock that your running, even if people are walking faster than you, don’t worry you will get faster and remember in the end the tortoise beat the hare!
If you’re consistent, you will see improvement. I was surprised at the quick improvements I made when I started running again, how much following a programme really helped. The first part of a run can feel terrible, sometimes It can take 10-15 minutes or so for me to start feeling good, so just give it time if you don’t feel to great at the start of a run, it will get better, I promise.
Make a commitment to running, promise yourself your going to run a number of times a week, if you can’t find the time make it, I run to the bank put a cheque in and run back home, run to the mechanic to pick up the car. Run home from a school's I’m teaching at. Sometimes running first thing in the morning can be great, you get it out of the way and it’s done. If you really want to do it, you’ll find the time, you find the time for your man, your family and work, now find the time for yourself.
If you do not feel safe to run alone, (we don’t all live in nice quiet leafy suburbs), convince a friend to join you, if not, There is always some one around who wants to shed a few pounds all you have to do is convince them to join you. Loads of areas have running clubs you can join.
If you wear headphones, keep the volume low, or do not wear them at all, you don't want no crazy bastard trying it on, cause you weren't paying attention, but saying that you will now have the strength to beat them off or run away!
Watch out for dogs they love things that run, especially little dog's those rat catchers are the worse.
Watch out for dog mess, Lord it can be a big problem, especially for someone like me who hyperventilates whenever they come across any.
Take a phone out with you,for safety reasons, you never know when you might need it.
Take a pound coin with you, you never know when it might come in handy.
Think carefully about where your running, no lonely, bushy places,
Be aware of your surrounding, it's so easy to zone out when your running, Watch out for cars, bikes motorcycles and even people, basically anything that moves and even things that don’t, broken pavements, potholes, but especially women with buggies, they can be lethal.
Whilst training for the marathon I devoured everything I could on running, books, website, magazines
You don’t need to spend loads, but if you think your ready to commit yourself, then why not treat yourself to a couple of nice pieces of running clothes to make yourself, feel and look good.
Running tights are great, you may not feel confident enough to wear them in the beginning, but if your brave enough buy a pair, they will make you feel like and look like a runner and they feel as if they are a second skin.
If you live in an area where wearing skin tight gear may bring out the wrong type of attention, then put on anything you feel comfortable in, save the running tights for the running club or a race.
To be honest the most important thing is to get out there and do it, so at first just throw anything on and start running, once you start getting serious you may want to think about upping your standard of running gear and getting something cute and maybe even sexy!
These tips are not based on fact or science I am just sharing what works for me. I hope I do not come across as if I am preaching, I have learnt the hard way that dieting alone is not a good thing, that weight gain, being unfit or both can effect self confidence and body image and how you feel about yourself and effect what you can achieve on a day to day basis. (Running for a bus, train or tube is so much easier now).
I have also learnt the only person who can help you to change is yourself. I want to break this negative cycle I have adopted over the last few years of losing and gaining weight. Most importantly I want to be healthy, regardless of dress side. I write this blog also to keep me motivated and to keep reminding myself of how far I have come and what I need to do to continue on this journey which is life long.
I still have weight to lose and fitness to gain, and once I reach those goals, I will carry on, I do not want to go back to being heavy and unhealthy and deep inside uphappy with the way I look and feel. I am not perfect writing these down helps me to keep on the straight and narrow but as with everything in life, all we can do is try out best.
1. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
Try and be patient, everyone is looking for a quick fix, but when it comes to running you have to give your body time to get used to your new routine, you will start to see the benefit soon enough, but remember it is not what you do after one week, it is what you do over months that matters. It took a while for me to see the change in my body and my fitness, and at times I would get frustrated but I kept at it, kept trying no matter how challenging I found it. No I was not perfect but I done what I was supposed to do exercise and food wise 90 percent of the time and eventually the changes started to happen.
2. RUNNING LOG
I found keeping a running log really useful it does not have to be anything great maybe just write how far you went, how you felt, that way you can chart your improvement and keep a track of your training. I found it very motivating to look back over the log see what I had accomplished not just physically but I also wrote down how I felt and it was great to see how my moods changed over time,how much confidence I gained and how much quieter my negative voice became.
One step at a time can get you where you want to go.
Be consistent, consistency is the key, set yourself a task to meet each week, wether that is run two times, three times, four times or more, and stick to it come hell or high water. Bar death, family emergency or something of that nature, do this for yourself and no one else. Let everyone know that when it comes to your running do not mess. To me my running is more important that anyone elses needs, without running I would not be such a positive person,or healthy person I think we can all find a little time in our day to dedicate to ourselves, regardless of wether we are mothers,grandmothers have partners or are carers.The healthier and happier we are the happier those around us will also be.
4. FIND A FRIEND
Meet up with a friend once a week if you can, or more, running with someone can make the time and miles go quicker. I'm not a member of a running club but I know people who are and find them very helpful and motivating. Since completing the London marathon I have been joined on some of my runs by my partner and I cannot lie it is lovely to have the company, I still like to run alone as well,find it is a great time to clear my head, be creative or just be me, but company is never a bad thing either.
5. SIGN UP FOR A RACE
Book in a race a 5k is a great way to start, it will give you something to work towards and help you set a goal, the thrill of a race, will help to motivate you and get you out of the house, even if you do not feel like it. Plus if you manage to drag in a few friends it can become a goal that you all work towards. Races give me focus and something to work towards, some people never sign up for races and thats cools, the most important thing to do is whatever works for you.
How about a RACE FOR LIFE 5K?
6.TRUST YOUR BODY
It is important to trust your body, it will become stronger you will be able to run for longer times and you will become faster. It may not happen overnight but it will happen. Be aware that if you have not exercised for a long time or if you are carrying a bit of weight your body will need time to adjust.
If you are very overweight or have health problems it is worth getting yourself checked out by your GP before embarking on an exercise regime, just to make sure everything is in good order before you fling yourself into your new routine. It took my body a while to respond one day I could just about run 3 miles and a month or so later 3 miles were not problem and I was running 6,8,9 and so forth, It will happen.
Be good to your body, make sure you eat foods that are going to fuel your body, if your exercising, eating lettuce all day is not going to give you the strength you need to run. Extreme diets we all know work for a small amount of time but the weight usually goes straight back on. I don’t know about anyone else but I am sick of gaining and losing weight, for me this time it is all about health and to run I need to eat properly and not be so restrictive I don't have the strength to train. For me being healthy and athletic is more important that being skinny so that means a combination of regular exercise and eating a healthy diet.
Water drink loads of it, it’s your best friend, I try to drink 1.5-2 litres a day, I don't always manage,but I try, be aware your bladder will protest at first and you’ll be visiting the toilet quite a lot or you may find yourself doing your old childhood wee, wee dance until you find one, but once your body gets used to the new intake of fluid it will settle down. Water is great not only for your skin, hair, nails, e.t.c but it will keep you hydrated when you run and also fill the gap when your hungry as sometimes we think we are hungry but we’re we just thirsty.
9. GETTING HOT
If the weather is heating up, I wear a cap all the time to be honest helps me to feel a little anonymous, and keeps the weather off, sunshine, rain or snow, sunglasses are great for keeping flies and other critters out of your eyes, and again help you to feel anonymous on a run, just be careful if they are dark, watch your step. If it is very hot, watch your pace no need to kill yourself by going like Speedy Gonzales, and drink, carry a small bottle of water, I find drinking small sips help, large gulps always give me a sloshing belly which is not a great feeling.
10. EATING BEFORE A RUN
If I head out first thing in the morning I tend not to eat, but for anything longer than 45 minutes I would have a something, that could be a banana, porridge or an apple at least an hour before I run.
For a lot of us it is hit and miss finding what works for us, some people find eating too close to a run gives them a stitch, other people can eat close to a run and be fine, some people cannot run without some food in their stomach others do not need to eat at all. This is where keeping a running log can help as writing down wether you eat or not can give you an idea of what works for your body, what doesn't and adjust accordingly.
(My friend Simone and I after finishing a RACE FOR LIFE 5k, in the city of London July
2009, I put the tu-tu's together, makes running so much more fun.)