HOW TO RUN: An Unfit Girl's Guide


Back in the summer last year, I decided that I’d love to get into running. Exercise has never really been my forté, so the thought of being able to run 5km has always been a daunting prospect. Fast-forward 6 months and I am finally at the point where I can run 5km without stopping, which for somebody who originally couldn’t run half a mile without getting a stitch and having to stop for breath is a miracle. 

Today I wanted to write a post to inspire you lovely lot to challenge yourself to try out something that you’ve never been able to do, which for many of you may, too, be running. I’m clearly no sports or health professional but I thought that I’d share a couple of pointers that I’ve learnt along the way from barely being able to run for 5 minutes to being able to run for 30. If any of you lovely lot have any other tips to share then please do leave them down below :)

Go for distance rather than time - be patient and don't worry about your pace.
My running goals have each been to run a select distance rather than to run at a specific pace. I believe that the pace and time definitely improves with stamina and distance. With this in mind, it's a really great idea to initially start with a combination of running and walking stints to build distance. Many running experts ( and schemes such as the Couch to 5km) believe that you should start with predominantly walking with short bursts of running in between; such as 1 minute walking followed by 30 seconds jogging. I have found the easiest way, and most enjoyable, is to balance walking with short runs over a longer distance by running in sync with the music I was playing. For example, I would brisk walk for the verses of the song, then every time the chorus came on, I would switch to a jog. Eventually you should reach a point where you can run for the verses and only need to walk for the odd chorus. 

Keep a running log (MapMyFitness)
I’ve found it really useful to keep track of the runs I’ve been on using an app called MapMyFitness. Although its definitely not the best app of its kind, and I am forever wishing that I’d bought a FitBit, it is a great way to time and measure the distance, time and pace of each run and create an ongoing list of the distances that you manage to complete. I also follow my family and friends on here so it works great, too, as a competitive feed to try and out-run your friends.

Be patient
When you first start to run, it can be very easy to get frustrated and want to give up at the first hurdle. Distance and pace will improve over time so its worth giving yourself a chance. Improving your running fitness is (pardon the pun) a marathon and not a sprint and is something that will, and does, improve eventually, once you make running a habit. I tend to aim for 3 runs a week but any more is a bonus. Something as simple as trying to run a mile every other day can help you get running into your weekly routine.

Set a goal
If you want to stay committed to running, then I’d certainly suggest having something to work for. For me, in the early stages I just wanted to be able to comfortably run a mile loop round the block at home but ultimately my aim has been to complete 5km,  this I’d now love to be able to do in under half an hour. By the end of this year I’d love to be able to say that I’ve managed to run 5 miles but in essence, as long as you have a goal to work towards then it will spur you on to make running a habit.

Find your style
With running, it is important to find a style of running that works for you, and that you enjoy. Many of my friends who like to run will run solely on a treadmill whereas I am far too clumsy for my own good to not injure myself in doing so. For me, I love listening to music while I run and have a spotify playlist lined up to compliment my running tempo, but equally I’d love to be able to run where there is beautiful scenery but the Birmingham City Centre isn’t the best for that! Others enjoy listening to podcasts or ebooks or even running in silence. Ultimately, find something that makes what might seem like an unpleasant task, more enjoyable.

Deep Heat/Ibruprofen Gel
Once I’d reached a point where I could comfortably run a couple of miles without getting painfully out of breath or with a killer stitch, I started to notice pains in my calves. To counter this, I’ve found that stretching before and after each run ( particularly afterwards) works wonders and a great preventative measure is deep heat gel or ibrupofen gel where the pain is much more severe. So it's definitely worth having a stash of this handy should you need it. 

Fundamentally, it all boils down to getting into the mind set and habit to incorporate running into your fitness routine. I’ve been at the starting point where running to the end of my drive without getting out of breath was a struggle to running comfortably for 30 minutes so I have full faith in you all! I challenge you all to try running and to let me know how you get on down in the comments!

Beth xx

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