From the title of this post, you may gather I’m about to talk to you about running. This post will talk about how I began running, how I prepared myself (both physically and mentally) and how I found the motivation to continue, as well as some top tips and sportswear that I love. I am no pro and I am also no expert so don’t take everything I say as suiting everyone; this is just what I have learned in the past month or so, and it is not scientific or exact or anything, just me. If this inspires you that would be amazing and I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Starting something new is always a challenge, and everyone goes about it differently. I remember waking up, realising there were a few hours before I had to do anything that day, and just putting on some shoes and running. I downloaded an app, used a playlist from Spotify, and wore sports leggings; I did no research and didn’t even properly plan a route before leaving. I just started running.
I ended up going around 3km, and although that might be a walk in the park for some people, I’d always been very used to doing short sprints. 200m was my maximum length and I had visions of doing longer races in previous PE lessons and swearing never to do them again. However, I felt very motivated and just kept running – and kept it up for just under 20 minutes. This was a lot better than anything I’d ever done in the past, and I walked home feeling certain I was set to be running in marathons within the year. I did the same the next morning, and went slightly further, only to wake up the following day and feel pain in almost every muscle in my legs. I’d pushed it too far and gone from running no further than half of a running track to just less than two miles, and the physical strain on my body was too much. So, that day I pushed through the pain, stretched out multiple times, had a hot bath and made sure to do some proper research. The muscle soreness was DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) caused by doing too much physical activity and pushing yourself too far. I’d had this after a few gymnastics practices so I was familiar with a few techniques for alleviating the pain, and it went within three days.
My research told me that you should slowly build up. By starting with something as short as 500m and extending it by a short amount every time you ran, you would be pushing yourself the right amount and allowing your body to cope with the small changes. So I wrote out a plan that would take 4 weeks to achieve 5k; I planned to run every day and slightly lengthen the distance, whilst also cross-training twice weekly. As I’m both quite an impatient person but also incredibly determined, the goal was achieved – I managed to find the motivation to go running every day for two weeks straight, and I’d worked my way to doing around 3.5km with ease, much faster than the first time I attempted it.
However, there were setbacks. Nothing is ever perfect, and this has taught me to always expect small setbacks and problems. For example, after the second week (which was very hot), I had awful blisters from wearing trainer socks, so we went to buy sports socks that would prevent the blisters from becoming worse. I stupidly ignored them and kept running, not only making them more painful but also prolonging the number of days I couldn’t run for. It was also very hot, incredibly unlike Britain, so running was a bit of a challenge and was often kept until late evening when the temperature was cooler. I was also ill and very run down for a few days, so that also shortened my training time. I tried to stay positive and continue to work towards the end goal of being able to run 5k without stopping, and eventually, it happened, although not by my set deadline.
This is all about finding motivation, being inspired, and frankly keeping going when you feel like you might throw up. Most of my motivation was found in working towards the end goal and a certain race that was planned, so I had a set deadline, which proved to be very useful. I also used songs that got me in the right mood and inspired me, which is a very easy way to continue running. Once I had been running for a few weeks and it was less of a struggle, the little things became much more enjoyable too; the gorgeous weather and beautiful sunsets proved the perfect backdrop, as well as the nature around me. I found myself looking forward to being outside a lot more as it was warm and the area I run in is a pleasant one, so I got some good sunset photos and views of baby birds on the canal. It’s definitely a good idea to try and focus on other things than just running, because that way you’re able to lose yourself more and continue without forcing it.
Try to find a rhythm within your strides so you can run with less effort, thus being able to go faster and being more energy efficient. Remember not to overdo things and set yourself small milestones and achievements, for example, every mile you run or every time you beat your time. By rewarding yourself every time you run further or in a faster time, you stay motivated.
This is a tip I used many times; the idea of delayed gratification is that the longer you wait, the better the end result is. For example, by completing your revision or a piece of work before watching a film, you improve the quality of the work and how much you enjoy the film as you’ve completed it first and not rushed it or forgotten, and you can enjoy the film more as you know you don’t have to do the work. So, in running terms, rather than staying in and procrastinating you can go out and start running, thus becoming fitter. Or you can run an extra lap or an extra half mile rather than heading home early, and get a faster time. Whilst running, I tell myself that by continuing to run I am keeping fit, getting faster and beating the people who have given up; this motivates me as I know that continuing will make me better, and the results will be positive.
Nowadays there are hundreds of bright patterns and colours you can get, whether it’s on your socks, leggings, trainers, tops, sweaters or headbands. There are also dozens of shops you can purchase these at, from the most popular Nike and Adidas stores to much more individual and quirky shops.
Along with an arm strap to hold my phone for music whilst I’m running and about ten pairs of running socks, I bought just enough tops and bottoms for running several times a week. My advice is to try tops on because although the sizes may be similar to those you would find in a clothes shop, they should fit perfectly as you need to be comfy!
- Decathlon works for almost all sports and their fitness section is particularly good; not only are the clothes all light and comfy when exercising, it’s really reasonable and you can get a lot with your money.
- Adidas, Nike, Pink Soda and pretty much all other expensive branded labels will sell sports leggings and active wear but I prefer to buy mine from smaller retailers as I think the quality may be higher in shops that are designed for sports only. Having said that, Nike Pros are fantastic and also look great, so they’re an exception.
- Sports Direct also have a massive range of tops, leggings, shorts and trainers for many sports, and their prices are also very reasonable.
- I love ASOS and they also have a very big sportswear section, sports leggings in particular. They sell clothes from many big brands and also smaller ones and have a massive range, in colour, design, purpose and price.
- Other shops such as River Island, New Look, H&M, Next and Miss Selfridge also do sports ranges, and they are also good; I love River Island’s range of sports bras as they’re the comfiest I’ve found and also can’t be seen under your top.
I hope this is useful to anyone interested to start or continue running!