It’s fantastic to see so many people getting out and getting active for the New Year.
Not only will it benefit you physically, but physical exercise is scientifically proven to better your mental health. I can vouch for that – it gives you a real sense of achievement, and sometimes you can’t help but feel fantastic.
Here are some tips for new runners or those coming back to running after a long break:
1. Set yourself a goal.
This doesn’t have to be a big goal, it could be something as simple as attending 4 classes at your local gym/hall. Maybe it is to loose 2 pounds. Maybe it is to run for 10 minutes without stopping. Maybe it is to run a parkrun. Maybe it’s to run 5 different parkruns. Whatever your goal, big or small it will help you stay focused. Once you’ve achieved that goal, push yourself a little further by setting a new one. Having lots of small goals, as well as big ones, allows you to feel achievement regularly - sometimes we forget to do that.
*Parkruns are free runs set up in various parks all over the country @9am every Saturday. Google it and give it a go. It’s really cool to run with others around you.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others.
If you’re looking at your pace vs. someone who has been running for years, of course they will have more experience. It doesn’t matter what age, sex, or weight you are. If you run, you are a runner. You are your only competition.
3. You are your best coach.
So be kind to yourself, give yourself words of encouragement as you would to others. Congratulate yourself every time you cover a KM, or a mile.
4. Getting out is the hardest bit.
Understandably in this weather, with it getting dark early it can be really hard to motivate yourself to get outside and run. There is always a treadmill, but outside will always be more beneficial for you. Once you’re out and you’ve taken that first step you’ve done the hardest bit. Motivating yourself to get there can be really hard so if you plan out when you are going to run (what days, what times) and stick to it, you’ll find it’ll help a lot. Maybe pin something up on the fridge or download a calendar to your phone.
5. Stop worrying about what others think.
So you don’t have fancy running trainers or a special sports watch? Who cares. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have snazzy gear to start out. The important thing is that you’re running! I’ve been running for about 18 months now. Every time I see runner, I don’t take note of what they’re wearing, or how fast they’re going, or how worn out they look, I think ‘hey it’s pretty cool we’re in this little running world together’. I love seeing others out running, it really motivates me and helps me fall in love with the sport more.
6. Keep at it.
It takes 21 days to form a habit. If you’re starting out in the winter it can be especially hard to keep pushing yourself out for a run. Work hard on that for a month and it will start to feel like second nature. Now running is something I long to do.
7. Don’t run too fast.
People often say to me ‘I run for 30 seconds and feel like I’m going to die’. Firstly, if you’re unfit, it will take time to build up stamina. BUT, find a pace that is comfortable. It should be a pace you can have a conversation at – it might be slower for you than you like to start with, but trust me.
8. Lunchtime runs are great if you’re tight on time.
I’ve worked long hours whilst training so I know what it’s like trying to squeeze it all in. If you can get yourself out at lunch time 2-3 times a week then you will get the benefits of fresh air away from your desk, you’re run will be done so when you get home you can relax, and you might be inspire someone else to do the same.
9. Run with a friend.
If you know someone who is also keen to start running, or even someone with some more experience, arrange a weekly run with him or her. It’s harder to back out when you have someone else there.
10. Music is your best friend.
Lots of people talk about couch to 5K and various other apps. Music is sometimes all you need to get you in the zone. A good playlist can push me further than I would have done otherwise.
11. Try an audio-guided run.
Both Eastnine and Nike running offer audio guided runs which allow you to play music at the same time. It’s like having a coach with you the whole way. I use them all the time. Eastnine offers guides on technique, and different styles of runs, as well as playlists of basic get started runs. Nike offers longer runs and some distance-based runs as well as interviews with athletes. Both apps have some fantastic coaches and I’d really recommend giving it go.
12. Always be proud.
Always be proud of every achievement you make, and every run you go on. You have every right to be proud of yourself. Making the decision to want to run is something you should be proud of. Now go get out there, and shout it from the rooftops when you do – I’d love to hear all about it.