For those of you who know me, you will already know that I like to go out running, I might even go as far to say that it’s a hobby!
I started running long distances at Uni, the peak of which was finishing the Reading Half Marathon in my final year (in 1 hour and 53 minutes, not that I’m bragging).
I’ve done a few other races: a mixture of 5ks, a 10k, and the Surrey Half Marathon. Some people think I’m absolutely mad to go out and spend hours running, but there are a number of ways to keep the experience fun:
It’s always good to have something to aim for while you’re training: a target time, distance, or an event that you want to do well at.
I like to have an event in mind. This way, the pressure is on because you know you only have a limited amount of time to prepare for the race. The panic of not feeling fit with the clock ticking really forces you to get your act together and put your trainers on!
Making a training plan by tracking the days you have left to train, and the distance you need to cover each week helps. Time yourself so you can monitor your progress – knowing that you’re fitter and faster than you were a month ago is a brilliant confidence booster.
Doing an organised event is rewarding, because you feel like you have been part of something, and even have a medal to prove it!
Stay with it!
Sometimes just setting foot out the front door is the hardest thing. Especially during the winter when the mornings are cold and the evenings are dark. Just don’t give up!
If you have race day in your mind, that feeling of euphoria that you are bound to experience as you cross the finish line will keep your legs moving. Hobbling along clutching a stitch on race day when there are crowds watching and cheering you is not very attractive! Bear in mind that the more you train, the more you will enjoy the day, and you might even welcome the attention from spectators.
My first ever race was the Reading Half Marathon, and I actually broke down sobbing as I crossed the finish – all my hard work and dedication had finally paid off! The hours I had spent running around Reading getting hooted by white vans were suddenly worth it.
(Or, if all else fails, think of all the biscuits you can eat when you finish your run.)
Timing is key!
I get my energy in the evenings. I wouldn’t exactly describe myself as a morning person, so I don’t push myself to run in the mornings either.
My evening training sessions are much more effective and enjoyable. It’s not always possible to go out after work, and I know that this approach doesn’t work for everyone. The mornings do have benefits – but for me, staying in bed is the most beneficial!
Know your body!
Sometimes, even when you are determined to get outside and run around for a bit, your body just won’t let you. If you skipped stretching after your last run (so painful) or you had a bit of a heavy session the night before (too many lemonades) then listen to your body and take it easy.
Running is quite a bad sport for getting injured. I have had friends complain of hip problems, shin ache, and twisted backs to name a few. For me, running kills my knees, which isn’t an uncommon problem for runners. If your body aches, stop running! Continuing will just make it worse… I learnt this from experience, and trips to the physio are expensive!
In this instance, it’s ok to give up – you’ll thank youself for it later when you can wear those high heels without your legs aching!
Be a fun runner!
Running a long race sounds intimidating at first, especially when you line up on the start line next to all the lycra-clad professional-looking runners who will probably have finished the race before you have even reached the first water station and encountered your first stitch.
That’s where fun runs come in. They cover shorter distances (usually 5k or 10k) and the participants are there for a good day out and to raise some sponsorship money for charity.
I went to the Colour Run in London last year. It was one of the first Colour Run events to be brought over from America to England, but Colour Runs are much more popular now.
The Colour Run is tagged as ‘the Happiest 5k on the Planet’. It starts outside Wembley Stadium, and at each kilometre a different colour of powder paint is thrown over the runners. You are advised to wear white so that the paint shows up on you, and at the finish there is a ‘Colour Festival’ with a DJ and powder paint clouds floating in the air. It’s a really good day out, and you forget that you’re even running!
Keep it fun!
At the end of the day, when the ground is hard with frost and you’re sacrificing your Saturday morning lie-in to get up and put your Lycra’s on, you have to remember why you are running: because it’s fun! To quote Sam Smith, you do it for the love.
Having an event to aim for is a great motivator, as is thinking about your toned legs in that dress you want to wear later. But enjoying the fresh air, using the experience to clear your head after a long day at work, and exploring your local area are all reasons to run.
As hard as it is sometimes to get outside and actually run, I never regret it afterwards. That’s usually because I’m tucking into a XXL cheesy pizza, the logic being that the calories don’t count when you’re in training mode! There’s got to be some reward for all the exercise… right?