It’s no secret that I have had a love–hate relationship with running over the years. I was a pretty good sprinter in my teens, and then settled into being a sometimes 5km runner in my thirties. (Notice how we skipped my twenties there? Because travel, beer, chips and boys. Good times…)
I made a new years resolution back in 2011 to run a half marathon, then promptly developed post-natal depression and sat on the couch feeling like a big fat failure instead. I sought help for that and eventually came out of the PND haze, but it took until last year – the year I turned 40 – for me to knock off that half marathon. And I did it with flying colours – running it in under 2 hours, and then backing up four weeks later and doing another one.
Since then, I’ve been up and down with running. I let my fitness totally lapse there for a while, which was a big mistake because starting again from scratch has been hard (and my pants are all uncomfortably tight). But lately I’ve been running with Operation Move’s Learn to Run program to build up my fitness all over again.
In all the time I’ve been running and not running, I have learned a few things about the whole business, particularly how to fall in love with running, and stay there. That’s something I know I can do now.
Here’s what I know about how to fall in love with running:
- Take it slow. Pushing yourself beyond what is fun will make you stop. Stopping is the last thing we want, so take it super slow so you feel good about yourself and have a good time.
- Get yourself the best shoes you can afford. Bad shoes will fuck up your feet and make you a cranky bitch with bruised toenails that eventually fall off while you’re in the bath, and make getting a pedi a ridiculous joke. Good shoes will make you feel like you are bouncing on a field of bunny tails in zero gravity. Get fitted if you can. Those shoe store people are trying to sell you something, but they also really know stuff about shoes. If you’re an opportunistic consumer like me, you will get fitted in a nice shop and then order your shoes from the US online because that’s way cheaper.
- Go outside. Running on treadmills is more boring than political cartoons now that Tony Abbott is gone. Get outside where there are trees and bridges and other people to gawp at.
- Play some tunes or listen to a podcast. If your mind screams like it’s on fire the entire time you’re running, distract that mofo with some of your favourite tunes or podcasts. Or you can tune into our ultimate 8-hour running playlist.
- It takes 7 minutes to be happy you went for a run. I read that somewhere and since then I’ve found it to be true. Even if I really don’t feel like going, by the time I reach 7 minutes, I’m always glad I did. And if you aren’t, you can turn around and go home, knowing that 7 minutes is better than nothing.
- Plan to succeed – have a running schedule and stick to it. The moment you stop to think, “Do I feel like going for a run?” the answer will inevitably be, “Nah, I feel like slamming a packet of Tim Tams and watching Arrested Development on Netflix.” (How good is Arrested Development? I can’t believe I’m only just discovering it now.)
- Go running with a friend or join a group. The Operation Move Learn to Run program is absolutely sensational and I saw some women achieve the most remarkable things in that group. It has a private Facebook page where you can cheer each other on and ask questions, and that really helps a lot. Coach Zoey has been there and done that when it comes to running and she is a font of knowledge that cannot be overestimated. I also love Running Mums Australia on Facebook. It’s a huge national network of runners who share wins and losses, and often have physical meet ups too.
Running is a marathon, not a sprint (see what I did there?). You want to be enjoying running for many years to come, so who cares if you miss a run this week, or if you stop and walk a bit? The main thing is you are getting out there consistently.
Set a goal. It doesn’t have to be huge. It might be to go in a local fun run. Even if you walk-run, it’s still progress. And the vibe at a fun run is like nothing else. I don’t know of any other sport where elite athletes participate right alongside (well, okay, way out in front of) regular folks. The atmosphere is so friendly and positive – it’s like nothing else.
On that note: I do have a new goal I’ve been mulling over for a while now. Next year, I turn 42. You know what else is 42?
Well, 42.2km to be precise. The indomitable Brenda Gaddi put that sum in my head and that inspirational awesome woman just completed her first marathon like the lady boss she is.
So yeah, I think I’ll finally knock one of those off next year so I can wear a medal everywhere I go and put MARATHONER on my business cards. I’m terrified to be saying it out loud because it’s a very long way and I’m a bit scared of the mental preparation it will require, but I know with the right support, I’ll get through it. Hell, I might even enjoy it. Right? RIGHT?
So clearly I have convinced myself I love running, because I am signing up to do a fucking bucketload of it in the next 9 months or so.
Do you love running? What challenges stand in your way of becoming a run lover?