Whatever your reason for running, whether it’s general fitness, weight loss, a new hobby, a race you’ve signed up for, or just something you want to get into, everyone has to start somewhere. And that's the hard bit. How do you start running? And how do you keep at it when it doesn't feel great and you can think of a million other things you'd rather be doing?
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who’s completely fallen in love with running from the moment go. Truthfully, it's a journey. One that DEFINITELY gets more enjoyable with time and with practice, and eventually —it might be after a week, a couple of months, a year maybe— but something will click and just like that, you'll realise you're actually getting a lot of satisfaction out of running.
When I started running 4 years ago, I knew in my mind I wanted to do it but I had no clue what I was doing. Everyone has to start somewhere and for me, that was getting up at 6am to go out for 20 minutes in my Nike Air Max (back then, I thought all trainers were suitable for running), doing 60 seconds jogging, 90 seconds walking. I did it like that for a good 3 months or so, before I went to Sports Direct to invest in ‘running trainers’, but still never really felt like I was getting anywhere. I persevered and eventually, slowly, the walking got less, the distances got a bit longer, and I started to actually enjoy it. Still, I never ever thought I'd be running a 10km, let alone a marathon...
Nowadays, running is my ultimate ‘me time’. It clears my head, keeps me sane, and helps me stay lean and toned, as the ultimate form of exercise for me.
So how do you start (and keep on) running?
Applying the same logic that I do to Dry January, if you tell people you're doing it, it helps make you do it. I'm not saying bend your friends' ears off, but by making something 'official' by saying it aloud rather than just thinking it to yourself, it's more likely to happen. Friends and family are also good encouragement for getting you out the door.
If you like to follow a program, there are some really great apps that guide you every step of the way, giving you goals to aim for, training plans, and dedicated rest days and help you to document your progress. Try Couch to 5km, a great app designed to instil a love for running. I use the Nike+ Run Club app too to record every run.
I'm really against suggesting you need a load of expensive kit and equipment to get out running because you absolutely don't BUT wearing the correct trainers is important to both help you enjoy it and prevent injury. Running trainers don't have to be expensive and you probably already have a perfectly suitable pair. There are hundreds of great options, but if you are looking for a new pair, be sure to ask running friends and people in running stores for advice. I'm a huge fan of adidas UltraBoost X, they ain't cheap but they're super lightweight and springy.
I highly recommend the on-off, running-walking approach as a way to build up your distances. Try 60 seconds running, 90 seconds walking, then move down to 60 seconds walking, 30 seconds walking and so on. Soon enough, you’ll scrap the walking all together.
A problem shared is a problem halved, right? If you’re finding it really hard to motivate yourself to get out the door, get a running buddy — a friend who's up for it just as much as you are, that way you can really motivate each other!
New things are never easy and running is really difficult and uncomfortable when you first start out. Persevere. It does get easier and it does get more comfortable, I promise. If you can stick with it for a few weeks and get yourself up to 2-3km, I swear it's better from there!
Work better with a goal? Sign up or a 5 or 10km — you can raise money for a charity and give yourself an extra reason to push yourself.
Feeling overwhelmed by the very idea of it all? Start by just factoring some time into your schedule to get out for a walk. Maybe that’s first thing in the morning, or when you get home from work, just 20 minutes of getting out the house for a walk. Once you’ve got used to this routine, you try the run-walk-run idea, and take it steadily from there.