I like to run. If running were crack, an intervention would be justified. But running is good. Running is healthy. It also means you can eat more of everything before having to buy new pants. There is nothing legal that can come close to runners’ high. And running is free. And if you can walk, and you’re willing, you can learn to be a runner.
I was not a born runner. I was a fast sprinter back in high school but asking me to run more than a kilometre would have elicited the same sneering teenage expression as asking me to clean my room or pull my head out of my own behind.
So if I can learn to love running, you can too.
The first time running became attractive to me was after the birth of my first child nine years ago. Going out for a run in the morning was the only time all day and all night that I didn’t have to parent. So three kilometres quickly became five, which quickly became ten. I would have kept going but I have a terrible sense of direction so any further and I wouldn’t have been able to find my way home.
During my running time, nobody’s nappy needed changing. Nobody was crying. Nobody wanted to watch the freaking Wiggles for the seven thousandth hot potatoing time.
Running is like an extension of why we all take longer in the bathroom than we used to. Solitude!
Convinced? Okay, here are my tips for beginners to learn to love the run:
- Start slow. The last thing you want to do is go hard, burn yourself out and hate it. I highly recommend trying the Couch to 5Km program. I have gone back to this after the birth of my second and third child because you increase your fitness incrementally at a gentle pace. Even better, there are apps you can download that tell you exactly when to run and when to walk. My favourite is Personal Running Trainer. It has a 5km, 10km, half marathon, and marathon program.
- Buy good running shoes. Protect your feet and start out with good shoes specifically for running. And while you’re at it, buy some cute running clothes. Because if you feel good, you’re more likely to want to go out and run. Wearing that oversized used-to-be-black men’s t-shirt you wore to give birth in probably won’t make you feel like a fitness queen.
- Vary your routes. I am lucky enough to live near a forest with countless paths, which provide great variety. But sometimes I also run around the streets of my neighbourhood. And sometimes I run on the treadmill at the gym. Mix it up. Keep it fresh.
- Walk if you need to. Some days it’s harder to run than others. I figure I want to be running for the rest of my life – or at least until my hips give out after my 85th birthday bungee jump. So I’d rather stop for a recovery walk in the middle of this run, and keep on enjoying myself, than push through and kill my enjoyment.
- Music. Play whatever gets your blood pumping and your feet moving. There are countless playlists all over the internet but I like to use songs that I can sing along to in my brain. I find if I’m singing along I am not focusing on wanting to stop. I am a recent convert to Spotify. Infinite songs for a small monthly fee. Love it!
- Run first thing in the morning. This will depend on your schedule, of course, but I find if I do it first thing, I don’t have time to talk myself out of it. And I can spend the rest of the day with that delicious smug feeling of an exerciser. Prepare everything the night before so it’s all there for you when you are still bleary-eyed. If you wake up and your running clothes are laid out, your shoes are by the door with the socks already in them, your iPod and headphones are out with playlist already sorted, you don’t have to think. Just go! Before you know what the hell you’re doing, you are already halfway done.
You know what the enemy of running is? Thinking. Don’t think about it. Just get out there and do it already, before you think of a thousand other things you should be doing, or another thousand why you probably shouldn’t run at your age.
You will feel alive. Invigorated. Like a million bucks. Go on, I dare you.
For more tips on getting started, check out Better Health Channel’s comprehensive resources.
Are you a runner? Do you have any more tips for getting started? Or have you struggled to get into a running groove in the past? What was your biggest obstacle?