I knew I wanted to become a runner when I watched this years London Marathon. I found myself gawping in amazement at all those people. I mean, running a marathon?? Jeez, what an awesome achievement. I wanted a slice of the action, I wanted to achieve something, to feel the high and to also get super fit – I wanted to become a runner!
It wasn’t easy, I’ll tell you that. But it was incredible journey!
I began six months ago, clueless, uncomfortable and nearly collapsing & throwing up after my first 1.8 mile (which I blogged about here). But after completing my first half marathon a few weeks ago, I am now extremely proud to call myself a runner. Not that you need to take part in a race to pass some sort of test! In fact, as I learnt from this article, it’s not about how many medals you have, or setting a record, or even being fast – it’s just about running.
But it’s getting started that is the tricky part; those first few runs, finding your way, making the time and putting in the effort. But don’t fret, YOU CAN DO IT – here are the steps I took towards becoming a runner, and I hope they help you or anyone else out there hoping to give running a go.
1) Make sure you’re Comfortable with…
WHERE. Move out your Comfort Zone: a statement I would usually swear by. But not when you begin running. You need to feel comfortable and confident, or you won’t enjoy it or want to do it again. If you really feel self conscious running outside, then try a treadmill. If you don’t have that luxury (not many of us do) and you really don’t want to run on the streets, head to a local park. This is where I started, I found that it was mostly other runners, dog walkers and Mums with buggies, not exactly an audience I would be worried about seeing me flap about out-of-breathe. Eventually I built up enough confidence to run TO the park, and FROM the park, and these days I only go once a week, choosing instead to run road routes and very rarely even noticing the people and drivers surrounding me.
WHEN. Make sure you choose a time that suits you. Some people are night time runners, some are early morning joggers, whilst others prefer to pop out on their lunch break. I’ve pretty much tested running at every hour; from 6am runs, all the way through to 7pm runs, before eventually deciding I prefer morning runs or lunch time. It’s about finding what works for you, your lifestyle, your work routine, and your comfort.
WEAR. It’s also important you feel comfortable in your clothing. Don’t feel pressured to wear tiny shorts or completely skin tight running clothes, or alternatively if you do want to jog in a pair of black hot pants, then dam well rock them – just do whatever you feel comfortable in, and don’t feel pressured to conform to what everyone else is wearing on their runs. I also advise investing in a decent pair of trainers. I got my Nikes from Runners Need where I was tested on a treadmill to find the exact type of shoe for my running technique. Having the wrong kind of trainer will only lead to very sore feet.
2) Set yourself a Goal
I’m definitely someone who HAS to have a goal to work with; no goal, no action. I need to have a clear direction, so I always set myself a challenge. But rather than just starting to run and seeing how I do, I threw myself in the deep end and signed myself up for a Half Marathon before I had even put my foot in a trainer!
If running a race doesn’t sound like your thing, or you want to prepare more first, then just set yourself a personal challenge. Write it down, blog about it; do it whichever way will work for you. If you DO want to take part in a race or a fun run, make sure to find out all the information about the run before you commit – how long is the run? Where is it happening? Are you giving yourself enough time to train? It’s great signing up to that 10k, but if is happening next week and you’ve done zero miles training, it’s going to hurt like hell.
I had just under six months to train for my Half Marathon, which I felt was the right amount of time to fit in training around a busy work life (and which you can still sponsor me for HERE) Worried that I would get all flakey and be in the mindset of ‘I’ve got plenty of time’, I also signed up for the 10k Race For Life which was happening 3 months before my HM. This meant I had a half way goal to work with too.
3) Pace yourself and listen to your body
Yes you have set a goal, yes you are ready to smash it, yes you want to be an awesome runner, and by golly you will be, BUT pace yourself. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. In those first few runs don’t push yourself too hard, just take it easy. In this post I talked about how I did my first run in 20 minutes and I hated it. That first run actually turned out to be my fastest pace, I’ve never been able to match it. But I also didn’t enjoy it because I was running too fast and pushing myself too hard, and I genuinely thought I was going to collapse!
It doesn’t matter if your slow and being taken over by the 60 year old man whose slow-jogging with his big dog – or in my case, panting so heavily whilst holding jangling keys that I actually sounded like his dog – just pace yourself. Pushing yourself too hard at the beginning of training or running could lead to an injury or could just completely put you off running. Just relax and take it one step at a time – literally!
4) Join the online Running Community
If you’re reading this blog post then there is a 99% chance that you already know all about online communities, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook groups, hashtags, the lot. So turn on your phone, iPad, whatever it is you use and get talking to your fellow runners.
There are lots of Twitter accounts dedicated to running where you can find other newbies, ask more experienced runners questions, or just share your running achievements. I follow @UKRunChat who offer so much support and they also RT your amazing running comments to their 28,000 followers. Instagram is another place to share your running moments, as well as motivate yourself via hashtags such as #runchat #runner or even make up your own so that your friends, family, followers and fellow runners can track your running adventure.
I also use the app nikeplus to track all my runs; it records my distance, my pace, my routes and allows me to take a picture and upload the results to a number of social media platforms.
5) Enjoy it!
It’s going to sound odd, but this is a time for you to be with yourself. Once your running, its just you and your thoughts. I tend to get a really motivating playlist, and disappear to another world when I’m running. In fact I wish I had a notebook app in my mind so that I could just download my thoughts post run; during my jogs is when I feel really creative, inspired and motivated and you wouldn’t believe some of the amazing ideas and stories I’ve come up with when running. It’s also a great way to destress and blow some steam if you’re having a heavy week at the office, or even at home.
Of course if you’re not really into running solo, then look for a local running group and join a team!
Once you’ve broken in your running shoes, feel more confident and gotten into the swing of things, the fun will really begin, trust me, and if you still need convincing, here are some amazing benefits to running, that will hopefully twist your leg…
-There is a possibly you could lose weight
-And gain muscle
-Running strengthens your joints, especially your knees
-Exercise has been proven to bring out happiness
-Not to mention reduce the risk of cancer and add years to your life
-It’s a lot cheaper than the gym (it’s basically free, excluding your running gear)
-You could make new friends! Yay