I feel like I need to preface this post with some sort of caveat to stress that I am not trying to dish out any sort of advice or recommendations on running but merely wanted to share my own experiences and some things that have helped me!
Part of me can’t even believe I am writing about running to be honest! I have always hated it, from persuading my Mum to write me sick notes for cross-country running lessons at school to the excuses made as an adult why I couldn’t possibly go for a run in my spare time.
However, I have gradually started this and now run 5km most evenings and weirdly, absolutely love it! I never thought I would say that and so I thought you may want to read about my running journey so far!
As you probably know, Ian and I are heading on an American adventure this summer, including tying the knot in Las Vegas (I’ve just checked the calendar and our wedding is exactly 5 weeks today – eeeeeek!) Like any girl, I wanted to look and feel good on my wedding day and for me that involved shifting a few pounds that crept on over the winter months…I blame the mince pies!
Despite what Michael Gove wants you to believe, my day as a teacher does not finish at 3pm and I think I blamed my lack of exercise on being so busy. However, as soon as the clocks changed and the lighter evenings started, I felt like I wanted to be outside a bit more and so I started walking. There is a circuit around our village that is about 3 miles long, up and down hills with the most stunning views.
The first few times I walked this route, I had to stop because I was so out of breath. My stamina was appalling but even though I was physically uncomfortable, I enjoyed getting out of the house for an hour with my ipod and listening to music or a podcast and found it was a great way to unwind after a stressful day.
After a month or so, this daily walk was part of my routine and I found I wasn’t getting out of breath and was actually starting to power walk! I mentioned there are a couple of hills on my walk and one night I decided to try jogging the downhill parts. This soon turned into jogging the downhill parts and some of the flat parts until I gradually built up to ‘going on a run’ which to me means running most of the way with the occasional walk uphill to catch my breath!
Being weirdly competitive with myself, I have started to time myself and I’m getting quicker and quicker each evening as well as being less and less red-faced when I get in! To get from not doing any exercise to 5km jogs has taken me about 4 months, which may seem long to some people but it was the pace that worked for me and I never once felt like I was pushing myself too hard – actually, I am still amazed when I pull on my running shoes each night that I can do it without keeling over! So I think it is important to recognise that you won’t become a runner overnight and that you do have to work hard at building up to where you want to be. I think that was one of the reasons I had tried and hated running in the past – I was annoyed that I couldn’t just run 5 miles without stopping straight away and as soon as my body started to ache I gave up!
However, there are a couple of things that can make all the difference to how much you enjoy running that I thought I would share:
- Get some decent running shoes! Ian bought me a new pair of Nike running shoes as an early birthday present recently and I cannot believe the difference they made. Before, I was just wearing a normal pair of trainers and they were fine but my calves and arches of my feet were aching after a run and I now know it was because of the shoes and their lack of support. My new ones are so light, cushioned and comfortable it actually made my run much easier the first time I wore them and, it may just be in my head, but now my feet are comfier I find I run with a much better and consistent rhythm. I went to a running specialist and was videoed running on a treadmill (so embarrassing in a busy shop on a Saturday!) to see where on my foot I placed my weight whilst running and I really do feel like this helped me get the right pair of shoes.
- Get a good sports bra! This is clearly one for the ladies but so important, not only for comfort but for medical reasons too. I am ashamed to say that I had been wearing a rather old sports bra until I got a properly fitted crop top/ sports bra-type thing and, like the trainers, it was an absolute revelation! I wear an F cup and if you too are blessed with a larger bust then make sure your bra has as much shock absorbing technology packed into it as possible. Again, I found that the first time I went for a run wearing my new bra-top, it was so much easier and I felt much more ‘streamlined’!
- Get some nice sports clothes! I don’t mean you need to go out and get the new Stella McCartney sportswear range but I feel that you won’t feel like going out and about running if you are dressed in your old, oversized t-shirt that doubles up as a painting top and a nightie! I got some nice cropped leggings from Forever 21 and I usually wear a band t-shirt or a colourful top and I also have some nice ‘breathable’ Nike t-shirts that I picked up at TKMaxx for less than £10.
They say the best things come in threes so I will stop there. I cannot pretend to be any sort of oracle on running or breathing techniques – Google them and there is a plethora of advice out there for the ‘proper’ stuff on running!
Finally, evidence I look as hideous as everyone else post-run…