The One Thing That Helped Me Start Running

September 22, 2017

If I can do it, so can you…

For most of my life, running any farther than from here to the ice cream truck has reduced me to a panting mess. I used to kill it at sprints in school but cross country was torture. I even struggled in the 800 metre race, and it was obvious that I was not built to run distances.

I’ve been seduced into attempting to run as an adult by touchy feely ads from Nike and promises of speedy weight loss and runners’ high, but it’s always ended in disaster, even the famous Couch Potato to 5km app. I stuck to my beloved Body Attack and Kayla workouts and accepted the fact that I was never going to be worthy of a Lorna Jane slogan singlet.

The one thing that got me running
For the past few months, I haven’t felt right unless I run every other day. I look forward to it; I actually crave it. I didn’t make a conscious decision to start. My motivation was something very simple, something we all suffer from. I started running because I was stressed.

During a highly stressful period at work I was headed out for a lunchtime HIIT class when I realised that I didn’t want to interact with anyone. As much as I love my group fitness instructor, I didn’t want him hollering at me while I did burpees. I just wanted to blast my (terrible) music as loud as it would go and pound out my energy on a treadmill till I was too concerned with breathing to worry about work.

Off to an ugly start
There was a lot of sporadic walking, and it wasn’t pretty, but I stayed on that treadmill for 25 minutes and felt 25 million times better afterwards. I did the same thing the next day, and ended up with painful inner calves, a muscle that I have never met before. Despite the ache, I wasn’t willing to give up my newly found release and I knew I needed some tips if I was going to continue. Make it work for you I asked around, and discovered that not many people consider themselves natural runners. My friends all introduced their advice with the same disclaimer: “I never thought I could be a runner, but…” I soaked up all their tips and advice and figured out the strategies that work best for me, which are sure to be different for everyone.

Most of my friends hate running on the treadmill, but it was a great way for me to start. Because I wasn’t self conscious about spectators, I was able to run at a snail’s pace for as long as I needed to, and stop for a walk without worrying about being judged by people in passing cars.

Slow and steady
There’s nothing new here – going slow is the first recommendation for beginner runners. I guess I didn’t realise that I could shuffle along slightly faster than a walk and still count it as progress. My best friend gave me one of my favourite tips – when she started out her goal was to run for 20 minutes continuously, no matter how slow she went.

What music gives you the feels? Blasting that goodness from a pair of headphones with decent bass will snuggle you in your own little world and spur your feet onwards. I can’t reveal my running playlist because it’s too embarrassing, but adding songs to that list makes me look forward to my next run even more.

Time of day
I have low blood pressure and blood sugar, so too much cardio in the morning makes me feel nauseated and itchy. Lunch time and evening runs work best for me, although I’m jealous of all you sunrise runners!

Running buddy
The first time I went running with my partner I wanted to kill him, because he jetted off ahead of me shouting: “You can go faster!” Once we’d established that actually NO I couldn’t go faster, he fell in with my snail’s pace quite willingly. Even if we only go for 20 minutes, it’s a nice way to spend time together that doesn’t involve the TV, and he makes me honour my commitment.

Good luck, happy jogging, and please tell us your tips for beginner runners!

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