I would like to start by saying I am not claiming to be some sort of Paula Radcliffe character, and in no way am I the fastest, or the best runner there is. The prospect of a marathon still scares the life out of me. However what I am, is a 25 year old who started running only this year, and can impart real practical advise on how to get started. From someone who was slightly over-weight and never ran, to someone who has now completed a half marathon and a Tough Mudder challenge in the same month!
Where to start
A decent pair of running trainers is the most vital thing you need in order to start running. They don’t need to be expensive. Plenty of low cost sports stores do great running trainers specifically designed for the purpose. In order to avoid injury and discomfort having decent trainers is essential. Trying to get into running in a pair of converse is just not going to cut it.
One thing I will say is…running hurts! Doing the long distance stuff, or the fast stuff, that HURTS. But thats not where you should be starting out. How I started running, was running for me. Competing with my own goals, beating my own times, giving myself a real focus. With so many different apps and accessories out there to track your running, from ‘map my run’ the free app, to a ‘fitbit’ worn on your wrist, it is so easy to check your progress.
Some people avoid going out road running because they are scared of people looking at them and poking fun at them. On a very serious note, when was the last time you saw someone out running and actually thought ‘Ugh look at that fat idiot!’ – answer: NEVER.
Road running is in my opinion far more physically demanding, and rewarding than pounding a treadmill. Not only do you have to pay to be on that treadmill, be it by buying one for home, or using one in the gym; but you don’t get to enjoy the cool air in your face, and the world around you. Going out for a run in your local area is a great way of meeting new people, exploring new parks and roads, and enjoying the area you live in. The twists and turns and bumps in the road, turn what would be a monotonous hour on a treadmill into a mini adventure, during which your thoughts are all your own.
In this busy world it is very rare to get an hour to yourself without finding something else you should be doing. In the gym, your head is often swirling around thoughts of how you look in the gym, to who is walking through the door, and what work out you should be doing next. On the road in your trainers, there is nothing to think about. Just the run.
Ready, Steady, GO!
So you have your trainers, and you have your road, your map my run is set up on your mobile phone. The next thing to do is to get outside, and stay outside. To start with maybe 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour. A good friend of mine imparted this wisdom on me, and once I realised that it wasn’t about doing a 2 mile run, a 3 mile run, a 7 mile run. It was about staying out for an hour, and seeing how far you got in that time. It doesn’t matter if in that hour you only run a mile, and in that mile you stop 10 times. Just get out there and stay out there, everyone has to start somewhere. Then the next time you run you can say to yourself, lets try that run but I am not going to stop so many times. Push yourself within your boundaries, don’t look at all these serious marathon runners and think that’s where you should be. I was very surprised at how unfit I was when I began running. Fitness is not all about your size. But I was also surprised at how quickly my fitness improved, and that constant beating of my own goals is what becomes addictive.
When you take away those fears of what you look like, or not being fit enough, and you break through the boundaries of that inital pain that comes with your muscles adjusting; I am sure you will, like me get the bug.
Don’t run to compete with others, just run for yourself. Don’t be afraid of what people will say when they see you out running, no one will be negative.
But Grainne I get sore knees and ankles
My answer to this is so did I. When you are new to running it takes a while for your body to understand what you are putting it through. Decent trainers will prevent the majority of knee and ankle pain. Of course if you do yourself an injury make sure you rest and look after yourself, and anything you think may be more serious, get yourself to your GP. But most of those minor aches and pains in your legs start to fade the more you run, just keep going, slow and steady, build up your tolerance, your muscles, and your fitness levels.
Keeping your water levels up is massively important for so many reasons, and with running you want to be hydrating throughout the day, instead of drinking lots of water during your run. Bring a normal sized bottle of water, and in the winter months I also would suggest tissues…they don’t tell you how much your nose can run when you run, and get out there and discover the thrill of running!
I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!