Although it might sound like it, this isn’t a sponsored post. But should I suddenly appear in a sports bra commercial (!), which would be an excellent commercial decision (!!), we have this post to thank.
Back in January 2012 I was talking to another mother, Lisa, at the school gate. Lisa was looking very sporty in head-to-toe running gear. After dropping off the kids, she was heading to Wimbledon Common for a run.
I was impressed. Not just with her easy wearing of full lycra; I was impressed she was going for a run at all. I can walk for my country and I am a talented sitter – ideally while eating Twisties (cheese not chicken). But I couldn’t run and I told her so. Running just wasn’t on my radar, it was in the same category of things like tinkering with engines, drinking green juice or anything to do with tapestry. Just not something I would do.
She asked if I had an injury. I didn’t. She made a great point: with two working legs and no injuries, I was physically capable of running. Why not give it a go? She never used to run either. She told me to start small and to keep doing it. It worked for her.
So I did.
My first run was for 16 minutes and I thought I was going to collapse. It wasn’t much, but far better than zero minutes which I had previously mastered.
Since then, while I’m not winning medals any time soon, I actually do go for regular runs. And this is what I would say to anyone who thinks they can’t, as I did. I’ll preface it by saying that I’m far from an expert. I’m not super fit and I don’t run as often as I should.
But I am a good example of someone who had never, ever been for a jog before who now makes running a (small) part of her life. I now enjoy running – I don’t love it, but I feel fantastic afterwards. Although I really need to go for a run without blabbing it to everyone afterwards. It must be so annoying.
JUST DO IT
Don’t wait until you feel motivated. Motivation is not your friend. It’s when you really, really don’t feel like exercising that you really, really need to (note to self: take own advice).
Start small. Start with anything – a 5 minute run is a start! The idea is to make your next run last for 6 minutes, and keep building it up. Getting started is the hardest part, so once you’ve got a couple of runs under your belt, you’re over the worst.
Personally, the first kilometre of a run is a kind of torture. Keep your feet light, try to find a rhythm and don’t overthink it. Just keep going, run through it and you’ll hit a spot when you suddenly think “Wow I’m actually enjoying this! WTF??”
About to keel over? Walk. Imminent heart attack? Stop. There are times when I can’t get into the run at all, so I’ll find myself a nice hill and walk quickly up that. Or I’ll look at the hill, turn around and go home.
Goals are good. If I decide to run a certain distance, but I’m still feeling fresh(ish) and have time at the end, I’ll keep going. If there’s more fuel in the tank, try to use it! If I can’t manage any runs during the week I’ll aim for a big one on the weekend.
Don’t have time? I get that. Spare time is precious and there are so many great ways you can spend it. Personally, there are people way busier than me who make the time, so I think I should too.
I use Runkeeper. It tracks how far I go, gives me an exact map, I can enter goals and it tracks all my runs. It’s great. I recommend going into Settings and switching off the audio cues. Otherwise you’ll hear a constant stream of information, and I much prefer listening to music than “Time: 20 minutes, average pace: seriously slow…” (I should add they don’t actually critique your running).
If it’s been a while and I need help getting back into it, I’ll use 5k Runner. This prompts you to walk and run at intervals. Another great one is Couch to 5.
MUSIC, SWEET MUSIC
I don’t know how anyone runs without music, I really don’t. I admire those that do.
At any one time I’ll have a few running playlists to choose from, as I find that running to the same songs again and again gets boring. Just today, I added a fast Powderfinger song to one of the lists, one that I hadn’t run to before. The song came on just as I was finishing a run, so I didn’t stop. I actually ran some more. The old me would have thought that was a seriously weird thing to do.
So run with your smart phone, with your running app and music going at the same time. You can buy handy holders that strap around your arm, but these give me a festy rash. So pretty! I just hold my phone, it doesn’t bother me.
Running is free and that’s one of its benefits. You can spend a fortune on running gear if you wanted to. For me, I have good shoes and an industrial strength bra, the rest is a bonus.
About the bra…
I can honestly say that one of the reasons why I never ran was because of my boobs. That and because I’m naturally quite lazy. But get the right sports bra, put those puppies into traction, and you can really move. It’s a miracle! I think the best sports bra ever invented is the running bra by Shock Absorber, and I totally look like the models on their website. I order them online from Wiggle as I can’t find them in the shops here in Australia, nor can I find anything in local shops that look half as strong.
I had never heard of energy gels until last year. Basically, you can buy edible gels that give you more energy. My husband takes them sometimes, but we are in different leagues of athleticism. This morning he ran the equivalent of a half marathon before work, which is something Batman might do.
But it’s worth reading up on them. I’ve taken them twice, and both times I ran 10km and didn’t collapse afterwards. I’d never hit 10km before, so they clearly have their benefits but they’re not really for me.
I honestly would never have thought it, but there is a really special atmosphere at fun runs. They’re great because they give you something to aim for, rather than running aimlessly through an empty chasm of quiet despair.
There are loads of websites that list runs near you. Check out your local ones, like this one in Lindfield if you live in this part of the world. I’m signed up for the Mother’s Day Classic which is a really fun event. And this year I’m actually going to go, rather than hit snooze on my alarm and sleep through it, which is what I did last year.
So there you have it. If you have any other tips, please add them below and I’d LOVE to hear of someone who gives it a go!