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I used to always keep fit by swimming, fitness classes and the gym. For years I had a good fitness regime but this went out of the window when I became pregnant and I struggled to get back into any form of exercise other than walking.
I went back swimming for a while but I found it boring I was swimming a mile 4 times a week and I wasn't toning like I wanted and I have always found with swimming that even when I push myself and swim front crawl non stop I can't seem to get my heart rate up enough.
I decided in November of last year to start running. This was a scary prospect for me as I have never run. In school I always made excuses to get out of PE and in general I was rubbish at sport.
The first thing I invested in was a decent pair of trainers this is essential for running as you need adequate support. I already owned gym clothes and a running jacket that I used to wear to the gym. I also downloaded a run tracker app from the Google Play store to track my progress.
The first time I went running I decided to build it up by jogging slowly then sprinting for 15 seconds on the flat in my local park. At first I found this so difficult I struggled my leg muscles were burning and I was out of breath. I started by doing this every other day so I could rest in between. Initially using my tracking app I was managing about 10 minutes of exercise and about 1/2 mile. I felt so unfit and I ached constantly when I returned home. However come rain or shine I continued relentlessly. I honestly thought I would give it up. Within about 2 weeks I was able to run for about 5 minutes constantly at a reasonable pace. I continued to push myself and run as long as I could without stopping. Within a ,month I had managed a mile. I was also able to do this is about 10 minutes which I think for me is a reasonable time.
As I started to feel more confident I ventured further into the park, I also felt more confident to go on the main paths as initially when I started I was nervous of running by peoples as I felt like I was being watched silly I know! But I felt so self conscious. By January I was able to manage a 5k run without stopping which is just over 3 miles. I found that the more I went the less I ached and I also notices that the burning I felt in the beginning had gone. Even better without changing my diet I lost a stone in weight and my legs looked a lot more toned.
I have continued going at least 3 times a week and each time I run 5k and try to beat my best time, I can now manage it in 26 minutes which again for me is really good. I take different paths each time and I am now fit enough to run up hills without stopping. My pace has increased fro, a jog to an actual run which I never though would happen.
I feel so much fitter since taking up running. I enjoy the fresh air and the scenery and when I put my headphones on I forget about my troubles.
I never thought I would be able to run but I am so pleased with my progress. Running is free so great if you are counting the pennies too.
I have tried various methods of exercise over the years and one which I dabbled in quite a lot was running. I initially started jogging for 30 minutes everyday, going a few different routes near my house to break up some of the monotony. I used to jog on the treadmills at the gym too, but I must admit that I find the atmospheres at the gym a bit off putting - to be honest I'd much rather run outside and have more stimulus to look at than the back of someone else's sweaty body as they run in front of you on their treadmill.
After a while, I found that jogging gave me much more energy, but wasn't doing quite enough for me anymore, it wasn't feeling as hard as it used to as I got fitter, and so I upped my speed and started running instead of just jogging. This worked in tiring me out a lot quicker, and in not much time I found that my 30 minute jog had morphed into a 15 minute run when I kept to the same old route.
I then upped the distance again, doing the same 4km lap but twice, making it 8km, and after a month of doing this everyday, what started off with me taking me just over an hour to run 8km, ended up with me running 8km in under 40 minutes. Which I don't think is bad at all, considering I'm not doing this for any other reason other than for exercise. I now run around 10km every few days, and occasionally up it to 15km if I'm having a more leisurely run on the weekend.
When taking up running, you do have to make sure you have a good set of running shoes - I got mine from JJB Sports for around £60 in a sale, and they put me on a treadmill to watch me run, analysed my running style and suggested trainers that suited it. I have a very standard run apparantly, I don't lean to one side or favour one foot, and I have normal, good arches according to them!
I have had a fair few blisters from over doing it, as well as being achey for days after each jump up in progress, but overall, I feel very good for running. I would advise, though, that if you have bad knees in anyway, to take it easy and don't push yourself too hard; running is a high impact sport and it's not brilliant for the knees over long periods of time, so you need to look after yourself if you're going to run a lot. Ladies, also, should invest in a good sports bra to keep everything safe and secure when you're running!
Running. Where to begin?
If you'd told me a year ago that I would be running a half marathon tomorrow and training for the Brighton Marathon 2011, I'd have laughed at you. But somehow, that is exactly what I am doing.
I wasn't planning on taking up running. I'd done a Race for Life and that was it. However, over a drink one day, I stupidly agreed to do the Bupa London 10k on May 31st 2010 and promptly forgot about it, until I was reminded in April. As I'm sure you can imagine, this didn't leave enough time for a fairly unfit lazy girl to get herself in shape and I completed the course in a rather slow one hour seventeen minutes, after run/walking my way round it. I hasten to point out that I did lose five minutes waiting for the toilet!
However, upon completion, something happened. I had what is known as The Running Bug. I felt elated and cheerful and I wanted to do it again. Over another drink I agreed to do a marathon and something changed in me - this was no longer about getting round a shorter distance in one piece, this is a marathon and serious. Gulp.
So, I recruited a friend as a running partner to shout at me and joined a gym for cross training purposes. And I signed up for a half marathon to keep myself aiming at targets. I invested in a second sports bra and had a gait anaylsis done to make sure my shoes were suitable. This was serious.
By no means am I a skinny girl. I am very curvy and when I started running I weighed over twleve stone, which at the height of 5'5, is too much. I will hasten to point out however, that I was still in size 14s - curvy with hips and a bum I may have been, but somehow I seemed to carry the weight well. Probably because my boobs weigh a ton. Another reason ladies, why it is so important to have a good sports bra. Anyway, my waffling aside, I did not look like your typical runner. But I laced up my shoes and started pounding the streets, ignoring the heckling, the wolf-whistling and on one occasion, spitting of the general public. I now weigh just under eleven and a half, have lots of size 12 clothing and have really toned calves and I have much more energy. My skin is also much clearer - if these aren't reasons to take up running, I don't know what is!
I feel I should point out that I definately haven't found running easy and there have been points where I have wanted to give up. I remember the first time I managed to run thirty minutes without stopping and I felt absolutely elated. Until a few weeks ago, I always used to get twenty minutes of pain before I managed to settle into a rhythm. This is normal and you just have to get through it. I have suffered from very painful shin splints, which is normally a sign of doing too much, too quickly and not warming up properly. How I learnt the hard way.
But somehow down the line, I've got faster. I'm now about a 10 minute miler, which may not be super-fast, but isn't bad at all for long distance running. Especially for a non-runner. And somehow, my 30 minute runs have now turned into easy-to-handle 60 minute runs. Last week, for the first time, I managed to run 12 miles in 2 hours without stopping and felt ok afterwards. I can run up hills. I want to pound the streets.
Yet a few months back, I couldn't even run for fifteen minutes without stopping. How things change!
I definately recommending running to anyone. It has so many health benefits, it's cheap, you can go as fast or slow as you want and you can go as far as you want. It's great for clearing your head and stresses away and you feel great afterwards! The first month is hell, but after that, you'll have the bug.
Just remember to get good shoes from a specialist shop and a good sports bra (if you're a woman).
I began running about 3 years ago and I absolutely love it! For me it is the best form of exercise and is the only thing that keeps me really hooked. I don't know about you, but I find going to the gym and running on a treadmill really boring, not to mention expensive. I love the fact that I can get some fresh air, have some time to myself and make every run different.
To get started all you need is a good pair of running trainers. I would recommend going to a running shop which tests the way you run in order to find the perfect shoe for you. This will be based on what type of running you do, the shape of your feet (normal, low arch, high arch) and your gait (overpronator, supinator, neutral). The three main types of shoe are stability, cushioned and motion control. When I first began running, I wasn't aware of how important this was and just went to a sports shop to buy a pair of trainers. Big mistake, my simple running trainers had a sole which curved upwards at the heel. I managed to get a really bad ankle injury three weeks before my first 5k race and learned from my local running shop that my trainers were the culprit! So take it from me, invest in a good pair of shoes and try to find a running shop which offers this service (try sweatshop, he runs she runs, runners needs). I have Asics trainers at the moment and they are absolutely great.
When you have your trainers (and a good sport bra for the ladies, try shock absorbers), you are ready to go! When you first start off, take things steady and try not to get impatient, you'll be amazed at how quick your stamina will build up. You can set yourself new targets and try different routes to keep your motivation going. That's another thing I love about running outside, as you can run to different places and keep it interesting for yourself, I simply hate running on the spot which is all a treadmill can offer.
Before you go running, I would recommend not eating or drinking just before you go out as you will be uncomfortable and you will probably get the dreaded stitch. I like to have a protein bar or a banana about 1 hour before my run to keep my energy levels up. Also remember to re-hydrate yourself after your run.
To warm up before my run, I normally walk for five minutes. I read in Runner's World magazine that you shouldn't stretch before a run, but that is still debatable. Studies have shown that stretching 'cold' muscles (before any exercise) can cause more injuries than they prevent. After your run, it is best to wait about 30 minutes before stretching to cool down, as the sudden difference in muscle movements can cause a shock and may lead to injury. Again, after my run I like to walk for the remaining five minutes to cool down gradually, rather than running and finishing with a sudden stop.
Some people may prefer running in pairs or groups to keep momentum going, however, I much prefer to run by myself, try both and see what works for you. Running by myself means that I can set my own pace, route and get a bit of 'me' time in the process. Whenever I come back from a run I always feel so chilled out and happy, I find it so very therapeutic. I always have to run with my ipod, I don't I could run without it actually. I think it's the best thing to keep you motivated. Whenever my favourite song plays, I get this sudden burst of energy that keeps me going for longer, trust me you should try it!
I love to run first thing in the morning, there is nothing like it to wake you up! It is also really quiet and chilled out without a lot of traffic around (handy if you have a lot of main roads about). Other than that, I love to run in the rain!! I know it may sound horrible and that it would be the worst sort of weather to go out for a run in, but it is sooo refreshing and lovely.
I also like to keep track of how far I've run and in what time, seeing your improvements is a real boost! You can get watches for that, but I find them so expensive. A cheaper form is to time your run and then track your route when you return on www.imapmyrun.co.uk. If you have an iphone, you can also download the RunKeeper app for free, which will track your run as you go.
As you can probably tell from my review, I love to run! It makes you feel fantastic and is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, not to mention completely free! It will tone your legs, bum, abdominals and arms. I don't know about you, but I love that burn the next day!! I always try to have a rest day the day after to allow my muscles to fully recover as I just find that this works for me. Most importantly though, enjoy it! Enjoy getting fit, enjoy the outdoors and enjoy a bit of 'you' time!
Lets be honest, most of us take up running to loose a couple of pounds. This was certainly the case for me and once I had slimmed down I have found that I have continued hitting the road on an evening as I now really enjoy it!
This is what I did:
To loose weight you need to make a commitment to running regularly, round the park once a week just isnt going to cut it!
If you are a complete novice start with an achievable distance of perhaps a mile. I am not suggesting that you run it all run what you can and walk the rest! I found intervaling running and fast walking a great way to build up my stamina. I used lots of tricks to cover the distance such as running the stretch of road between two lamp posts and walking the next.
This way you keep motivated throughout the whole run! As your fitness improves you will notice that you can extend the running distances and this feels a great achievement.
Of course the more you run the quicker you notice these improvements and your distances can be extended.
I would advise to choose a couple of different routes which you alternate following no particular order. This way you can get used to running different gradients of hills etc. but more importantly no undesirable characters will be able to follow your routine and predict where you may be at a particular time.
Once your fitness levels are up, instead of alternating walking and joging try sprinting and jogging. Speed work burns a greater amount of calories and can increase the speed of your resting metabolism.
Make sure you get the safety bit right.
Vary your routes.
Get a good pair of trainers.
Warm up and cool down.
If you run with music on make sure that you can hear traffic noise.
If running in the dark make sure you are visible to cars and that you dont run anywhere too lonely.
Try to enjoy it. If after a month of going out regularly you still hate it and have to force yourself out for a run maybe their are other ways of loosing weight which you would enjoy more. We are all more likely to become more dedicated to things which we enjoy.
If you had told me even last as late as last year that I would be getting up at 6am every weekday to go for a run, I think I would have called the men in white coats to take you away. I have never been a fan of running - in fact really, I've never been a fan of exercise in general but for me running was always the worst. I've tried different forms of exercise - swimming, gym and aerobics being the main trilogy but having got into severe financial difficulties last year, I was looking for a form of exercise that didn't cost anything. Sadly running was the only category as I already owned the trainers and the sports bra, so there were no excuses.
To start off with, me and my sister ran in the park after work a couple of times a week. I found it very difficult for a number of reasons - firstly as my fitness levels were practically non-existent, it was hard to go from being inert on the sofa to speeding past the trees without wheezing. Secondly, my ankles have a tendency to "go over", meaning running on the uneven, and sometimes muddy, surface of the park meant I was constantly looking for holes and danger. Thirdly, when I get home from work, I want to curl up in front of the TV and I found I was walking to the bus stop slower, and even hoping for rain so I could find an excuse for not going out.
By the end of last summer, any attempt at pretending to want to go for a run had stopped and whilst I found other forms of exercise (DVDs and the Wii), I found they required a lot of time and effort, and again, the dreaded exercise when I returned home from work. At the start of this year, I got the kick up the bum I needed for my weight loss - in August I will be a bridesmaid. And so it began, the motivation to do exercise was suddenly increased, especially after a disastrous bridesmaid dress shopping trip when I ended up in tears in the dressing room.
I would always think about going for a run, as I know that it is one of the best forms of exercise and since it is free, it's something I could go anytime. But the spectre of the park loomed. I did think about jogging round the block but I live on a main road and at 6pm, I don't need an audience of practically standstill traffic to cheer me on whilst I wheeze past them. Of course, I thought, there's always the mornings. And so, in a fit of insanity brought on by desperation, I suggested an early morning jog to my sister. We agreed to try it for a week and see what happened. The first week passed not in a blur of tiredness as I had expected but a week of energy, liveliness and more energy. I carried on doing the evening exercise as well but a 15 minute jog in the morning was just the thing to wake me up. Don't get me wrong, the alarm clock is cruel and unforgiving at that hour but once I'm awake and out of bed, I'm resigned to the jog and once I start, I know I enjoy it. I find that because I'm not coming home, eating dinner and watching TV and instead I'm up and moving and on my way to work, I get very little muscle soreness. I have to make sure I stretch and cool down properly (again something I could never be bothered with before) but I find that I am a much nicer and brighter person in the mornings now. Also I have found the weight is now coming off very easily, which is more incentive for the cold or damp mornings. I even find that I miss it. When I stop at a friends, I always miss the morning routine and if I have a day off from work, I have been known to still get up and go for a run. I'm not entering myself for a marathon anytime soon, nor will I break any speed records and some mornings there are occasions when it's all I can do to put one foot in front of the other but I can honestly say it's something I see myself doing for the rest of my life, not just until August and the dreaded dress!
Personally running is one of the best forms of exercise and adaptions I have started in my life time. I stared running about 1 year ago and have since made a running lifestyle and brought it into my daily life. I run about 4 times a week ranging from 6 - 14 mile runs each time I run, I also run in races from !0km up to marathon level and running fits perfectly with my way of life.
I have discovered many health benefits, my moods have dramatically improved and I just feel so much healthier and energised, there is nothig like putting your running shoes on and heading outdoors in all types of weather, rain or shine - its a great feeling.
The benefits of running are dramatic and another main factor it gives you a target to try and better yourself and strugle through your running routine, it gives you a great sense of achievement after finishing a running route/race/course.
Why not get out there and try,you will be pleasantly suprised with it
I have been running for 2 and a half years now and cant believe im still at it? I was first and mostly a swimmer as a love for water got me into a job as a swimming instructer. At school I was a sprinter but anything over 200meters just use to kill me! As an adult I would try to go out and do runs but within 10mins I was pooped and would walk home. I so wanted to get into running as when I saw people out they always looked so free. When I met my partner he was a keen runner and with all sorts of races and 4 ironmans under his belt I was off. He came up with a ten week plan for me to work with, a walk, run programme. I built up my running slowly and with no injurys. In ten weeks I was running 30 mins none stop. I wasnt fast but for the first time I was getting some of that freedom Id seen in those runners when I couldnt run. I love to work towards goals now so I do a few races a year. Halfs are the ones I like but last year I did my first marathon. The thing I love about races is that you come across so many differant walks of like. I have had my butt kicked by older and much larger ladies then me. People say they cant but if they just watched a race they would see they could.
Running is something that is often taken for granted. It's something I've just always done, from when I was a little terror running around, bugging my folks, then progressing, playing sport and going running to keep fit, and then using running as a vent.
It's a great thing to do that doesn't really cost anything to do. I mean, there's nothing to necessarily have to do other than get warmed up and leave the front door. You can run almost anywhere.
However, believe it or not, there are pitfalls, and these relate to physical repetition and the damage it can do to you. I have had knee trouble in the past, as well as dodgy ankles. As such, I have ankle bracelets and a knee support that I make sure I wear whenever I go running. It's not often considered, but running is extremely hard wearing on your knees in particular. The constant pounding of your feet on a hard surface jars your joints with every step, and without the right footwear and stretching, you can be doing yourself more harm than good.
The footwear side of things is something that people often overlook. I'm sure loads of us have spent many a wet Wednesday afternoon sent running round the sports field by our teachers in the middle of a Sports lesson, or have done some form of running just wearing the basic shoes you've had with you, without really giving a moment's notice to how the shoe can affect your running and the effects it has on the body. If you're looking at running on a regular basis, especially on hard surfaces like the roads around where you live, then it really is worth investing in a decent pair of running shoes to save your joints at a later stage. The right impact protection in your footwear can make a hell of a lot of difference, and it can make the running easier as well.
I personally prefer running either first thing in the morning or late at night. I used to live a stone's throw from a beach in a little village, and would often do a round trip across the beach, up through a dark track and then along the last little bit of pavement before coming back ot the house. It gave me a different set of surfaces to run on, and a little different terrain and surroundings as well. I find running without any changes happening to be rather dull and I get bored quickly and stop. Having the difference of running on sand (bloody hard work!), then a dirt tarck and then the hard pavement gives me the drive to carry on for longer and to really push myself.
If you haven't run before, then there are a few things you can do to ease yourself into it. First of all, it's worth considering the concentration factor. Shoes and clothing aside, the biggest factor I find is concentrating on the run. If I think too hard, I start realising how hard my breathing is getting, how heavy my legs have become, and my mental persistence starts wavering. Getting yourself an iPod or some form of MP3 player and loading it with music to get you going can take your concentration away and give you a beat to run against, pacing yourself well and releasing your mind.
Similarly, some form of monitoring equipment (a classy pedometer or something). This can help you monitor your progress as you continue to run. If you're planning on doing it regularly, then choosing a route and timing yourself may be just as much of a spur to getting better as an intention to get fit, or shed some pounds.
Ultimately, any of this could be useful, but you have to choose out of them what works for you. Everyone will have a different running style, some way of doing it that works for them, and you have to go with what gets you in the mood and keeps you running, whether it's the route, the music, the variety, or the determination factor. I run to vent if I have frustration or anger to get rid of, as I know many people do. Some people use the fact they have a dog to go and get some exercise at the same time as taking it for its daily walk/run. You go with whatever it is you want to do, but make you sure you warm up properly, and try and get the best footwear you can feasibly buy. Running is great for so many things, but you have to make it wear for you.
I started running a fews years backon a treadmill at the gym. At first it was really hard and I couldn't go for longer than five minutes before needing to stop for a few deep breaths.
Recently I started to take fitness a bit more seriously in a bid to lose some weight and improve my fitness, and am proud to say that I now run for five miles, three times a week.
Here are my thoughts about running.
Running outdoors is absolutely free, and is lovely to do in the summer as you can catch a bit of a tan and see some nice scenery (depending on where you run).
I live near a beach and love running along the seafront in the morning or when the sun is setting.
Granted, it's not so nice in the winter but there's always the treadmill which is also enjoyable if you put your favorite tunes on whilst running.
The benefits of running are great. It will burn loads of calories - around 400 in 30 minutes - so will help you to lose weight, as well as helping to improve your cardiovascular system ie the heart and lungs. That can make you feel fitter and live longer which is a nice thought.
If you are just starting to run, don't expect to be an expert straight away, start by alternating between running and walking, then slowly build up the running time. Eventually - if you keep plodding away - you will find yourself running more than you need to walk.
If you find it a little boring to plod along at the same speed, try doing little circuits, for example walk for one minute, jog for two then run fast for two, then repeat as many times as you can manage. This can help relieve boredom and make the time seem to pass quicker.
It is important to wear decent running shoes. If you run wearing old trainers with worn soles you might find your feet and ankles will hurt quite fast. Swop them for some proper running trainers and you will definatley feel the difference in your feet, therefore will be able to run for longer.
Another piece of equipment that is totally necessary, is a decent sports bra for the ladies. It really is worth paying a bit more to get a bra that will keep your bits in place as without one, it can really hurt - I know that from first hand experience.
Running might not be for everyone, and I know from my own experince that it is difficult at first, but if you persevere you will soon feel the benefits.
I will definately continue to run three times a week as I like the feeling afterwards, when I feel so much better than if I had just sat on the sofa for 40 minutes.
As Nike said - just do it!
I was a self-confessed couch potato not so long ago until I decided to do something about it. I wanted to get fit and though running would be a good way to start achieving this. It's a relatively cheap exercise, with no constraints (apart from your own fitness).
I invested in a good pair of trainers. It's worth getting your 'step' checked out before purchasing because it makes a difference. Many good quality sport shops would do this, especially smaller, independent stores. I bought mine for about £50 (I was lucky, they were on sale). Next, get some sportswear. I run in simple black ¾ length leggings (a fiver from Matalan), but I did invest in a Nike Dry Fit t-shirt, which really helps keep me cool. Then I was off.
My first hurdle was trying to develop a programme that I would stick to. If I just went for a 15 minute run, I would've killed myself and wouldn't have stuck to it. So, on my iPod I bought an app called 'couch to 5k', which is a 3-a-week programme, starting really slowly and builds up from there. It goes on for 9 weeks and at the end, you should be able to run a 5k without too many problems. Day 1 is a 60 second jog, followed by a 90 second walk-perfect for me. I start each run with a 5 minute walk and a 5 minute cool down. One more tip-never, ever forget to stretch afterwards-this is a must if you don't want pain in the morning.
I love the freedom running gives you, I go everywhere and anywhere on my runs and love that it's at my own pace-I'm in competition with no-one, except maybe myself. I feel a lot fitter already (it's only been 3 weeks). Go on, give it a try! The only downside is when I can't go for a run because of the wonderful, rainy weather we've been having! Though that shouldn't stop you going, I'm just a bit of a wimp.
Run rabbit, run rabbit, run run run. So is running just for furry little bunnies or is it something anyone can try. Well at the moment I have to say running is a big part of my life. And while I would not exactly say running has changed my life, I would say it has improved it. Am fitter than ever, have lost weight and am more motivated. So in general what are the pro's and con's?
Well for a start running is one of the cheapest sport available, all you need is a pair of trainers. Good ones (will some back to this later). It keeps you fit and healthy, does not take long and gets you out in the fresh air.
Would say the downside is risk of injury, if your running on roads it will damage your knees if you do it over a longer period of time. Plus it can be a little boring if your doing longer runs, to combat this I tend to put my I-pod on and listen to some loud music, sure this helps me run faster too.
If your new to running you need to start off slow and build up. Just run for five minutes first time and then as you increase your fitness you can run for longer and go further. Don't make the mistake of running every day! This will damage your muscles and lead to injury. The best routine is to do your major run one day, then the following day do a recovery run which should be about a third the distance and an nice easy pace. Third day have a rest. Then start over on the forth day.
The footwear is very important. I started running in some cheap cross trainers. A month in my knees were hurting and my feet were in agony! So I went to a specialist running shop, they were so helpful. They get you running and check out the gate of your run and the way your foot falls etc.. Then they will suggest the ideal shoes for you. Mine cost me £90 which I thought was expensive, but they have been worth every penny, have had no problems since and no pain. So if your going to make a go of running invest in some decent footwear!
When I'm running I really do forget all the troubles of life. I love running in some nice places, usually I go from home which is OK but there are much nicer places to run in the countryside. I always record my times and will compete against them on the next run.
Overall running is a great way to keep fit and enjoy yourself. Run on your own or with a friend or in groups? Either way just go out and enjoy yourself, the world is your running track!
Running has become a huge part of my life. It is not something that I do singularly for the exercise, or weight regulation or any other kind of health benefit: I do it for the all encompassing way it reconnects you with your body, both physically and mentally. I literally feel like I couldn't live with without it. I am addicted to running! Mad as it sounds, I shall try to explain.
I began running when I must have been about 15 years old. I remember gruelling 9am cross-country sessions at school in freezing temperatures whilst we battled against mostly our reluctance to be seen to be enjoying it. I considered myself "ant-exercise", "anti-sport" and that there were better ways of spending your time that involved a heck of a lot less effort. Oh the naiveties of youth! And so began my running journey.
I went for a little jog round the neighbourhood that I live, just running on the pavement with a few beating tunes on my headphones. When I first started, I listened perhaps to just one or two songs, paced for perhaps 10 minutes or so, and came home. It wasn't much but it lifted my mood. A brisk walk would obviously have done just the same, but for some reason I chose to run it (quicker that way, I suppose!). Gradually it became a habit: I had a long day at school getting the bus at 7am and not returning home until around 5.30pm, but I would (much to my mum's dismay!) try and squeeze in a jog in the evening. I did act rather nonchalant about general risk awareness, and being a teenager made me more compelled to do as I pleased, but discrepancies aside, running became part of my life and began to shape me in ways I never expected.
As I became more familiar with running and I began upping my mileage, I needed quickly to invest in a pair of new trainers. The high impact nature of the sport lends itself to an array of leg related injuries, strains and stresses so you would be wise to take as much precaution as possible to avoid undue damage. Though I bought just a pair of Reebok runners from eBay, with little understanding of the dynamics of shoe design and personal fitting, it did enough to provide some protection from the shock of the concrete. My shins had been feeling the strain particularly: just a niggling, dull ache that was more prolonged as I upped the time I was running for. A simple internet search proved how running novices often overlook the importance of simple advice like kitting yourself out properly. This needn't be an expensive pursuit: I spent £35 on my first pair of running shoes and never bought a single piece of 'specialist' clothing (e.g. shorts, tops etc) for the first few years. Remember, there are no expensive gym memberships and no compulsory fees- running is, in the truest sense, based on your own personal freedom to mould it into your everyday life, whatever your situation.
I began running about 4 times a week for a year or two, whilst still at school but with more of a relaxed timetable. I would sometimes go for a short run at school with a friend if I knew I wouldn't have time that evening, or I would (I don't know how!) get up around 5am and take a 45 minute run before school. By this time I was getting the train to school which involved a commute of about 2 ½ miles to the station by bike- this I found to be incredibly complementary to my ability to up my mileage when running. I also tend to walk everywhere and my commute used to involve a 45 minute walk when I got off the train too. It was a long and tiring day, but the satisfaction of getting to sleep at the end was unlike anything.
I used to run about 15-20 miles per week then and found this to be the kind of optimum level I could sustain without letting my schoolwork down. I would take a longer run on a Saturday or Sunday: perhaps 6 miles or so, and it would flake me out for the rest of the day! It was the most wonderful feeling of barely being able to feel your legs and yet feeling utterly depleted and exhausted. It is weirdly masochistic! But incredibly satisfying.
Summertime always brought with it the excitement of being able to up my running mileage and essentially "see what I could achieve". By the holidays before I left for university I was up to around 35 miles per week, running at around 8 miles 2 times a week, occasionally a longer run of around 10 miles and then interspersed with shorter jogs of around 3 or 4 miles. It varied from week to week, according to what I had to do and where I had to be. I liked it best when I had a free morning to run at around 10am and be finished and showered by 1pm, but this will just vary as to whether you are a morning or evening person, or whenever you feel most energised. A long run of around 10 miles would take me about 1 hour and 20 minutes, though I never really measure my speed in time. I think when you run a lot you can be pretty in-tune with how fast you are running regardless of the timing and so you can adjust accordingly to get a more intense workout, or a more relaxed jog. I use the term 'run', but some of the time it is probably barely so! Comparative to the elite long distance runners, I am practically a snail, I am sure!
Was I ever aiming for some kind of goal? Am I still aiming for some kind of goal? I currently run as and when I can, though I am unable to get to the 35 mile a week stretches I was achieving before. Now in my second year of university, it can be difficult to combine the time consuming and relatively health-dependent aspects of running into student life. I feel constantly fraught living in a setting whereby 'enjoying myself' is seen to be through alcohol, parties and general procrastination, when I have essentially 'found' myself not be suited to that kind of lifestyle. The pressure to become part of that scene or be alienated from it is intense, and I wish I could learn for my university course in some other way. I have met some great people, some who enjoy running too, but few who consider it so much part of their lifestyle as to find the student life threatening to it. I am very much aware that I am reliant almost on running as a kind of therapy: as a means through which I can take time out of ordinary living to achieve a kind of balance. In the same way the concept of 'walking meditation' encourages you to take awareness of every step, running for me has facilitated a means through which I can make decisions in my personal life as well as forming an escape that allows me to essentially live for myself, in that moment, with only the landscape for company. It sparked in me a kind of spiritual awakening, a path to discovery of the potential of my imagination and creativity, particularly on long runs when I found my mind took me everywhere. I could imagine places I had never been, people I had never spoken to: I literally began to live a novel inside my head every time I 'escaped'. The rawness of existence becomes incredibly tangible when you are exhausted, when you are intimately aware of the mechanics, the failures and the wearings of your body. There is something methodical about it too (and about exercise training in general I suppose), that creates a kind of pseudo-primativeness, in which you can rediscover what it actually would have felt like to walk up to 25 miles a day in search of food. That acute awareness is incredibly important for me, and something I hope I can reignite as I abandon the trivialities of "student life" in search of that reconnection with nature that so helped me motivate myself to study in the first place.
A do have a few ambitions though! Running in a beautiful place always helps to improve the experience. So here's my plan:
The Midnight Sun Marathons: Tromso (Norway), Nunavut (Canada) and Mayor's (Alaska). These runs are above the Artic Circle, and sometimes held at midnight around the time of the summer solstice in June, when the nights are as bright as the day!
Marathon des Sables: meaning "marathon of the sands" or otherwise known as the Sahara ultra marathon. This is my ultimate! My dream! It is a six-day ultra marathon covering 156 miles, equivalent to five and ½ regular marathons on consecutive days. It is considered the toughest footrace on earth, with competitors expected to carry all personal belongings and food for the entire event. I aim to do it before I'm 30, but no doubt it will be sooner than that. I am already excited at the prospect!
And I once had a dream about running a marathon in Jordan in the Middle East. It was so vivid that I now feel I have to recreate the dream in real life! I think there is one around the dead sea, so I hope to do that.
So my tips for a great running experience would be:
1) Gradually increase the distance you run/speed you run until you can manage the amount you do in your daily life. Don't overdo it. Don't let being tired out affect being with the people you love and take days off to rest and recuperate. Muscles work better when rested, not when overworked!
2) Eat well: arguably I think the best diet for a serious runner is the Raw Food diet (see www.runningraw.com for more inspiration regards to that!) but I stick to just a vegan diet just now, since it is pretty anti-social to be raw 100% of the time. But there is no need to be so extreme: just be gentle with your body both with your running and your diet- be as healthy as you can be. Keep hydrated and drink fluids all day long. Post a big run make sure you get a little extra salt in your food, and if you can eat more protein after a run but more carbohydrates before.
3) Buy some good shoes. Go to a running shop and get them to fit you a really good pair that suit's the way you run (according to how your foot lands on the ground and flexes). It is worth it. Layer up in the winter with lots of thin non-cotton layers (cotton holds sweat and messes up you keeping warm!)
4) Invest in an ipod or something equivalent! Time out to listen to music is part of the beauty of running.
5) Try some yoga stretches to ensure that your muscles are well stretched post-exercise. I never do stretches before, since I think you need to warm you muscles up a little before you strain them. That's my theory anyway, but I am NOT good advice! Do whatever you feel is best for you though, and whatever is most comfortable.
Running is the only form of exercise I really enjoy and that I've managed to stick in my 30 years on the planet, it's fantastic for weight loss, gets your heart pumping and apparantly is a good way to deal with stress or depression. I simply love the fact that I've managed to improve so much so quickly and will soon be entering my first 5km race.
The most important thing with running as with any exercise is to start gently and take things slowly to avoid injury, theres nothing worse than getting too carried away and ending up with shin splints or being put off from trying again.
It's also vitally important to have the correct running shoes or trainers, that doesnt mean buying the best looking pair from the high street, if you're serious about running you need to have your gait checked at a specialised running shop. Your gait is your running style, a qualified member of staff will ask you to run - either on a treadmill or in my case down the road and back - to watch how you run and whether you overpronate or underpronate, ie whether your feet turn in or out slightly as they hit the ground. The correct pair of shoes will be recommended to you to correct your running style which should prevent any injuries in the future.
One last thing before you even hit the streets is for women only, get yourself a good sports bra, running without one can cause the ligaments around the bust to stretch and once the damage is done surgery is the only answer, ouch!
As I mentioned before the best way to start running is slowly, the plan that worked for me followed the 20 minute rule as follows:
Week 1 -
3-4 times per week walk for 20 minutes briskly, dont consider running yet
Week 2 -
3-4 times per week start to run but only for 1 minute in every 5, so run for 1 minute, walk for 4 until you've completed the 20 minutes
Week 3 -
As above but run for 2 minutes then walk for 3
Week 4 -
As above but run 3 minutes then walk for 2
Week 5 -
Run for 4 minutes and walk for 1
Week 6 -
Run the whole 20 minutes
You can of course repeat any of the above weeks if you dont feel ready to move on. Only move as fast you can and listen to your body.
I did this plan and within 2 months was able to run comfortably for 25 minutes, I should be able to run 5 miles by the Spring!
It's important to keep well hydrated when running, I carry a small bottle with and sip during my sessions. Good food is important too but not too close to your run or could get a stitch. I like to eat around an hour before I head out and find a banana or a cereal does the trick nicely.
Lastly make sure you warm up before going out, 5 minutes of jumping up and down and stretching your muscles is good and prevents injuries from running with cold muscles. Cooling down when you get back is equally important to help your muscles relax and prevent stiffness.
I have just been for a run! My first one for about a year!
I regularly attend aerobics classes at my uni gym, but running is totally different as I realised today.
If you are looking to get fit on a budget then go running. Its free! Apart from some decent trainers, I got mine in TKMaxx. They are nikes and cost me £30. A gym membership in a private gym can cost £50 a month, running is totally free and you get some fresh air as well. No scary changing rooms either as you get ready at home.
Running is great for loosing weight, as it burns a lot of calories. Its also a high impact sport so make sure you have good trainers, and leave it a day between runs to let your body recover. Especially if you are just starting out, its important to build your stamina up, not just go straight into it.
Today for my first run we did 15mins, up one road, up a hill, down and hill and it was in a circle so we had a goal to aim at.
I have a pair of running trainers with a good bouncy bit in the heel. They are also suitable for aerobics and are so much better than my old trainers. They really can make all the difference to your ankles and shins.
When running try and control your breathing. I find it helpful to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Its also a good idea not to eat just before your run, as it can give you a stitch.
A good food to eat before running (at least an hour before) is a banana. They fill you up and give you energy. Try and drink water afterwards or during the run, not before, as you havent sweated yet!
You should be raising your heartrate for at least 30mins a few times a week to keep healthy. So running is a great way to do this.
Try and find someone to go running with. If you arent easily motivated having someone else to go with can make you more committed.
I feel guilty if I dont go to aerobics with my friend, so I always go so that neither of us are on our own. Ive just started running with my boyfriend. Hes a lot fitter than I am but hopefully he will help me build my stamina.
Make sure you stretch a few minutes into the run, so your muscles are warm. Also stretch when you cool down otherwise you will have muscle ache the next day! Dont get into the shower until you have cooled down as it can be a shock for your body.
Good luck running!