We are often asked for running tips and asked about how we actually got into running. Being naturally lazy people we really struggled to get going once we first decided to give running a go and as every runner knows, getting out of the house is the hardest step of all (a cliché for a reason), so we’ve put together a list of things we wish we’d known beforehand.
We have to start with a shout out to our mum who first starting running after she turned 50, won first lady veteran home in her first local 10k and is training to run her second half marathon in a few weeks. If it wasn’t for her we would never have got into it in the first place and would still be a couple of stones heavier each.
1. Invest in some good running gear
If you’re just starting out we’d recommend you don’t spend a fortune but you can easily get kitted out for cheap. Aldi do some great running stuff and Asda, Tesco and Primark often have some affordable gear (Ali says a £5 Primark sports bra is almost as good as her £38 Shock Absorber Ultimate Run bra, the holy grail of kit for anyone above a C cup). We have had many a bargain from Sport Shoes website too.
2. Download an app
So you’ve bought the arm band following tip number 1 and now you need to use it.
We both use Nike+ but have friends who use various other apps (Strava, MapMyRun, Runkeeper) and I couldn’t run without it. Not only does it keep a log of your runs, it tells you how far you’re running as you’re doing it, how many calories you’ve burnt and how fast you’re running. You can also get attaboys (their words, not mine), add friends to see how they’re doing with their runs and create a playlist.
There’s even a link to Facebook to get a cheer every time someone likes your activity if you really need some more encouragement.
Other good apps are Couch To 5k (we’ve never used it but know people who have, good for absolute beginners).
3. Find a running partner
We all know that once you’ve said something out loud it becomes true, so if you arrange to go for a run with someone you’re much more likely to actually do it. Letting someone else down is worse than just yourself. So whether you ask an established runner to take you on a few starter runs, persuade a friend to start with you or join a local running club you will be much more likely to succeed with someone by your side.
If you can’t find anyone, or would rather go it alone, even just telling someone you’re going is enough – if you’ve told them and you know they’re going to ask you how it went the next day, you have to do it, even if it’s just to moan about it at work to them the next day.
4. Don’t look at it as an option
I like to class exercise the same as work – I do it five days a week, I only don’t do it if I’m feeling really ill. I have a love/hate relationship with it and I have to fit all my ‘fun’ things around it.
If you give yourself the option of sitting on the sofa watching TV over running, you’re always going to choose the former.
Try to factor it into your daily life and let your friends and family know about it. My boyfriend knows that I won’t be in until about 7pm most nights, my friends know I don’t socialise before 10am on a Saturday because before then I’m going to be exercising. Once you take the option out it becomes a routine.
5. Set yourself a goal
When we first started running we never dreamt we’d be entering marathons, let alone ultra-marathons but we always had a goal or a target in mind. I can still picture the route our mum took us on for our first three-mile run; our goal then was to complete it without stopping (which she assured us we could, despite very heated protestations to the contrary throughout).
As the years have gone on our goals have eventually got bigger, yet they’ve always been challenging but attainable. There’s no way we could’ve done a marathon then, but getting through that three-miler in one go was doable despite how tough it was.
Running is good in that there are so many fun races around for you to aim for. Grab a bunch of girls for the Race for Life, get a team together for the Colour Run (I did this last year with 4 non-runners and it was amazing, I didn’t even care what time I did it in, that goal was just to have fun and get as messy as possible) or check out your local 10k races. Once you have a race in your diary there’s no looking back.
6. Only compete with yourself
I once ran with my super tall, super sporty friend and felt rubbish afterwards because I could not keep up with her. It’s not fair to set yourself against someone completely different to yourself and expect the same results. My little legs can’t keep up with her Amazonian strides. Don’t expect to be a marathon runner straight away (or ever) and give yourself a pat on the back every time you get out there. No matter how slowly you run or how little distance you cover you’re still lapping everyone on the sofa.
7. Just do it
Not to sound too Nike about it but you can put if off as much as you like but one of these days you’re going to have to get round to it so it’s better sooner rather than later.
If I’m struggling to motivate myself (which happens most days – it’s a myth that runners all spring out of the door whatever the weather, it’s always a mental battle) I like to visualise where I’ll be in an hour/two hours’ time. If you know you’ll be in the shower, back home nice and warm or out for a well deserved lunch then it will give you a kick up the backside to get it done ASAP then you can get on with enjoying your day.
In the words of Barney Stinson, step 1: start running. There is no step two!
All images from Pinterest or taken by us