I think I’ve always had a bit of a love hate relationship with running. Sometimes I love it and can’t wait to get up and get going, reaping the rewards of a good couple of Km under the belt and sometimes the idea of doing anything that long and monotonous quite frankly fills me with dread. But when all’s said and done, I can’t deny that running’s good for me. I feel amazing after I’ve completed a run – no matter how far the distance – and when it comes to trying to lose a little body fat, running is the way to go for me. Yes, I love HIIT training and weights, but I’ve found, they only ever tend to be a steady burn for me or a maintenance routine to keep me in check… when it comes to losing tummy fat, running is just where’s it’s at. So… as we’ve come into a new year and as I’m trying to make myself love running again (and admittedly I am trying to lose some body fat…) I thought I’d do a roundup or a ‘running for beginners’ type post with some of my top tips. Top tips that I’ve picked up over the last few years that I’ve really found make a whole lot of difference when it comes to running.
Take it slow.
If you’re like me, you probably want to just get it over and done with, but believe me, there is no point in rushing to the finishing line. First of all, if you start off at a sprint or an un-susatainable pace, likelihood is, you won’t even make it to the finishing line in the first place. It’s best to take it slow and steady, after all… the hare never did beat that tortoise did he? Set off at a pace that suits you – whether it’s one that’s a little slower than you’d like or one that you think you could maintain the whole way, it will be beneficial to you in the end.
Interval training helps.
Take it from someone who hates sprinting – interval training really does help. You’ll find it in almost any ‘running for beginners’ type app or guide that you find, but interval training really is the best at increasing your fitness and helping you to improve your stamina. Take Couch to 5K for example; the whole idea of the course is that you are completing interval training. One minute slow jog, one minute walk and repeat. It’s the same if you’re an established runner or just wanting to increase your speed / distance – taking it back to basics and not being afraid to walk during your run really will help you in the long run (and the long runs). Couch to 5K is a great app when it comes to running for beginners but there are also other apps out there that have great interval timers you can use. I find it super handy having these ‘beep’ or ‘buzzer’ in my ear as I run to know when I can give it my all and when I can slow it down to a fast walk.
Mind over Matter.
Running is something that can be tedious and also bloody hard work. I struggle for example with the distance and shutting my brain off to anything but running. I know I can do it. I know I am physically strong, but getting my brain to agree? Well, that can be a battle in itself. I have realised over the last year that the best thing for me to do whilst running is listen to a podcast. Music is great but when, like me, you struggle with keeping to a steady pace with the beat of each new track, a podcast really does become something entirely new to focus on. I personally like Sh*gged, Married, Annoyed by Chris & Rosie Ramsey as it’s hilarious and something completely different to listen to. It keeps my mind on the words that they’re saying and (sometimes rather revolting) stories that they are telling and my feet are left to run at their hearts content. Running without anything to distract my brain can become a real struggle and my mind constantly tells me that I can’t do it. Or that my ankle hurts. Or that my lungs are going to explode. When in reality if I tune it out and focus on something else, I get round; I finish and I’m fine.
If you can’t listen to anything whilst your running then I find the best thing to do is to set yourself goals. Just get to that tree, just make it to the end of the road, just pass that pink house on the left. Setting mini targets that may in fact only just be 100yards away makes it so much easier to manage than thinking ‘sh*t I’ve probably still got 2km left to go’. It becomes so much less daunting and each target you smash is a mini celebration and a reminder that you can do it. And hey, if you need to stop and take a break or walk a portion of your route then that’s fine too! I often watch @Em_Clarkson’s Instagram stories and she is a massive advocate for just getting out and doing it and like she says, if you walked during a run or didn’t run the whole way – you still went for a run! You still did it. And that’s amazing.
I am a massive hypocrite when it comes to this last point because I’m not always the best at recovery and making myself stretch either before or after my runs, but recovery is a super important step into making your running journey easier. Running for beginners, intermediates or established pros is never going to be easy at any level if you don’t look after your body. In the past few weeks I’ve realised (at last lol) that a recovery walk at the end of my run is SO helpful with getting my breath back, minimising the chance of cramping up and actually just not being dead from it all. I usually stop my watch at my front door and then walk at a moderate pace up to the end of my road and back, ensuring i take deep breaths to regulate my heart rate and my breathing before I come to a stop. I then make sure I do a few stretches straight away – I’m not talking anything major here, but enough to have done something, yano? Having been the girl who just stops running and sits on the floor unable to catch her breath or be any less red in the face for ages after finishing a run in the past, let me tell you now – a recovery walk is THE BEST thing you can do for yourself.
Water is also a massive help in recovery too. I try and drink a full bottle of water when I’ve finished a run to replenish my body with what it needs. Whether it’s been a hot run or not (and please do try and take water with you if it is a hot one), reviving yourself with water post run is such an essential. You’re bound to have sweated (and if you’re anything like me than that will have been a LOT) and replacing that vital liquid should be your first priority once you’ve finished. It will help your muscles and body heal and keep you ticking along nicely.
Running isn’t for everybody and I get that – I really never thought it was for me. But running is definitely something that anybody can do. You just have to look after yourself and put your mind to it and it’s yours. And hey, who cares if you only get a kilometre done or if you’re not hitting those ‘big milestones’ like others? Getting out and doing any running is still running and I guarantee you’ll feel much better for it.
Read my last running blog post: ‘A beginners guide to running (and what to wear)’
Follow my fitness journey on Instagram.