As I may have told you before on the pages of this very same magazine, one of the reasons we moved our family to the mountains was so I could run in the hills. I’m an ultra-runner, I’ve represented my country and I’ve competed across the globe. But there’s no feeling like heading out into the mountains from your own back garden.
I may run 150 kilometres each week, but I’m also passionate about helping beginners hit their stride. Here are the five things I always try and get people to understand before they start their running journey.
1. Don’t give up before it gets good
They say a habit takes about two months to form. Starting to run is hard and many new runners stop running before it gets easier; consequently think they ‘cant’ run. Just keep popping on your trainers and heading out the door, it wont be long before the words ‘fartlek’, ‘intervals‘ and ‘hill reps’ become part of your vocabulary. You’ll find yourself researching local trail races and scanning nearby Starva segment boards. You’ll be screen shotting them as you move up the rankings!
2. Don’t do too much too soon
Running is hard. If it wasn’t, everyone would do it. But if you can stick through the bit when it hurts like hell, your lungs burn and you can’t believe anyone would do this ‘act of Satan’ and call it ‘fun’, then its going to get so good! Prepare to walk a lot more than you’ll run at the start and never be ashamed of this. Your heart doesn’t know if it’s walking or running, but your leg muscles do! Give them time to develop and be patient. You can’t rush fitness, but you can rush an injury!
3. Don’t go too fast
Start each run really slowly, better still, start with a walk. Make sure you could comfortably hold a conversation and if that’s not possible, drop down to a walk until you feel and hear your breathing recover. This might mean you’re running for a relatively short time, but if you stick to this principle your body will very quickly adapt and you will find yourself running longer and longer sections. The best way to do this is to find a mate that’s roughly the same ability as you. This will give you motivation and a chance to catch up on gossip in one hit.
4. Invest in good trainers (and some nice kit)
There are a number of specialist running shops that will now make sure you are wearing the right pair of trainers by performing gait analysis. It’s so worth having this done. As well as a good pair of trainers, spend a bit of money on some running kit. For women, a good sports bra is essential. I rate Sportsjock and Runderwear. You will be so much more comfortable and motivated if you are happy with what you are wearing.
5. Set mini goals
Set mini goals every time you go for a run. They’ll be an accomplishment and you’ll be proud of that! Maybe it will be putting your trainers on three times a week, improving your time on a local route or running all the way up a tough hill. Progress comes in all sorts of fashions. Sometimes you feel great, sometimes you feel rubbish, sometimes you find the flow and sometimes every step is a struggle. But every time you put your trainers on and head out the door you are becoming a better runner. You are becoming a fitter and faster you. And what will you get out of running? That’s a question people always ask me. If you can stick to a mini plan and commit to putting on your trainers a few times a week, I promise you that the post-run feeling, that post-run cup of tea, your post-run satisfaction is priceless. You’ve done something you never thought possible. Running will give you so much more than a great set of glutes – it will quickly spill into other areas of your life. You’ll see your confidence grow, your self belief develop and find a much greater ability to cope with the stresses of life. Running, in whatever shape or form it takes for you, is a fabulous and free club to be part of. You just need to work out how to motivate yourself to get that membership and then the trails, the mountains, the roads, the paths are all there waiting for your footfall and a start of some incredible adventures.