Running isn’t a pretty form of exercise. In fact, it’s usually one long descent into a red, sweaty panting mess. But I can tell you first-hand that there is nothing more satisfying than finishing a long run and feeling exhilarated, calm and satisfyingly exhausted.
And with the new campaign from Sports England inspiring more women than ever to get active, we thought it was time to put together some tips to help you start pounding the pavements.
“Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox”: #ThisGirlCan
I’m not going to lie to you: running hurts. However, it will hurt a hell of a lot more if you don’t ease yourself into your new regime. Start by adding short bursts of running to regular walks, such as one minute of running for every four minutes of walking. Gradually increase your running time until you can go continuously.
Tip: You can go from running to walking in nine weeks with the free NHS “Couch to 5k plan“.
Make like the turtle
Another temptation when you start running is to go out too fast. Make like the turtle not the hare- unless you want the risk of shin splints and runner’s knee.
Signing up to a 5k race might seem a terrifying prospect right now, but after a few months of regular running you’ll be more than ready to tackle it. Goals will keep you motivated and off the sofa! Runner’s World has a great event list here.
Get some new shoes
A new pair of running shoes are essential even if you aren’t planning on going long distances; running shoes are specifically designed to allow your feet to bend and flex through each step.
You can pick up a pair of running trainers for as little as £13 in the Sports Direct sale, but serious runners should go to a specialist foot retailer to find a shoe that suits their foot.
We’ve found a great offer at Runners Need for up to 30% off Nike LunarGlide 6 Shoes.
Find a routine
It can be hard to work up the motivation to get yourself out the door, unless you make exercise part of your daily routine. Try and run at the same time every day, whether that’s first thing in the morning or after work; pretty soon you’ll start to feel guilty if you skip a session.
And remember to reward yourself after every run so your brain has positive associations with completing a workout (just try and pick a healthy treat, not cake!).
Get a training partner
Rope in a training partner to keep you motivated; it’s a lot harder to bail on a workout when someone else is counting on you. Try to choose someone of a similar ability (not a 6ft1 Amazonian if you’re only 5ft1).
If in doubt, check out your local running club- they aren’t all filled with terrifying Lycra clad gazelles, and most clubs cater for all abilities.
Listen to Music
Plug in those headphones and turn the music up loud to boost your motivation while you run; scientific studies have shown that music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance and reduces perceived effort.
And not everyone likes running to fast music, so experiment with different tunes to see what suits you.
Quit the excuses
Get your excuses out the way early on: “I don’t have time/ I’m tired/ It’s too cold” etc., and then suck it up and get on with it.
Keep track of your progress
One of the most satisfying things about running is tracking your progress. Keep a little diary every time you complete a run and how long for, or sign up to the free app Strava which you can download on your phone.
Check out the This Girl Can video here, celebrating women doing their own thing no matter how sweaty they get: http://bit.ly/1z4CllP