For years I was under the impression that runners were slim and fast, who would zip past me as I was lumbering around a track. It’s only now, 10 months on since I started learning to run that I know this is a huge assumption to make. Runners come in all shapes and sizes, all speeds, and all different personalities, like (go figure) the rest of the population.
We all run for ourselves, not for anybody else. We run to achieve goals, to improve on where we’ve come from, or just to flipping complete a distance.
Looking back it’s remarkable how far I’ve come since I started to run in December 2017. This time last year I was short of breath even going up the stairs, I was struggling to get restful sleep, and my blood pressure was far too high. Running is not complicated but it can be intimidating so here is some of my advice if you’re worried about starting from zero fitness.
Put one foot in front of the other: don’t focus on distance, focus on time spent running. If you can run for 30 seconds on day 1, then try running for 40 seconds on day 2.
Record your progress: use your smart phone, watch, or heart rate monitor to see how you are progressing. Don’t forget to celebrate when you accomplish a milestone too.
Finish lines, not finish times: learning to run is not about winning gold medals. Don’t get bogged down by what others are up to. By concentrating on your finish times it’s easier to see how far you’ve come compared to previous times.
Sign up for your local (free) Park Run, which is a free timed 5km run located in public parks and beaches all around Ireland. It’s a great way to get in touch with your local running community and find running buddies.
There are oodles and oodles of local facebook groups for runners. Mine is particularly supportive so I’ve scored the jackpot. Search in groups for your location and the term ‘running’ to see if there is anybody near you.
When you’re not running
Rest is just as important as a good run. You don’t need to run everyday for success. Your rest days are as integral a part of a training programme as running days.
Drink plenty everyday, not just before a run (trust me portaloos on racedays are grim). If you consistently hydrate you won’t need to take on board extra water on the shorter runs (5-10K).
In truth you only need a pair of runners to get started. Lace them up and go. If you decide to invest more time in running however you will need to be fitted after a gait analysis. This involves you running up and down a shop in your bare feet with your trousers rolled above your knee (forewarning).
I use a shock absorber bra for running. There’s a very simple reason for this. If you’ve not strapped everything down the jiggle will chafe you and you will hurt more the following day. Get fitted for a proper shock absorbing bra no matter what your cup size. Personally I can’t recommend Arnotts highly enough for this service.
On the subject of underwear, nobody cares what you’re wearing underneath so just wear the big cotton knickers. Big knickers are comfortable, don’t ride up in the wrong places, and you’re not constantly pulling at yourself to readjust.
Keep on trying
A friend reminded me recently that I actually ran my first 5k road race over 3 years ago. However, it still took me to until last December to take the plunge and start running every few days. The intentions just took a little while to form fully after I set out to run that first time!
Disclosure: I’ve mentioned quite a few brands and shops above. I recommend them because that’s where I get my kit and I’m happy to spend my money there.