Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Couch to 10K




I have always admired people who run, not just because of their sheer motivation after what is often a hard day’s work but also their apparent ability to jog to the end of the street without their lungs closing up, something which I have always found issue with.


I have, during several phases in my life tried to take up the activity, both on the street and in the gym.  However never got past the three minute mark, despite encouragement from friends and personal trainers I found it near impossible mainly due to breathing difficulties.

Why am I writing this?

I am currently ‘training’ (I use this term loosely) for my first 10k race, in actual fact it is my first ever Race.  I understand the frustration of people who struggle with this hobby and who have convinced themselves that they will never get further then the garden gate without gasping for air, I too was in this category and still worry that I may not make it to the finish line.  Now I am no runner, and by no means make myself out to be one , which makes this challenge I set myself all the more surprising, especially as I have been trying, unsuccessfully for almost 10 years to get somewhere, all be it very slowly.  At times I think I would get to my destination much quicker had I walked however for the first time ever I feel like I am making progress.  Over the past 5 months I have developed my own formula for success as opposed to following more experienced runners.   Have put together my own list of points to follow to help people to find their own level and work towards a goal personal to them, whether it is to get the ¼ mile around the local park to competing in a half marathon or more!

1)      Set goals

To begin with, make your goals smart, something realistic and achievable in a time span that doesn’t feel too far-fetched.  It is all well and good planning to run a marathon in 3 months but when you can’t get further then 2 laps of the playing field by the end of the week it is very easy to give up.  If you are a complete beginner, aim for 1k a month to minimise pressure.

2)      Dress to impress

You don’t need to go out and spend £100’s on the latest funning gear but you need to be comfortable.  I have seen people running in jeans and work style shoes and I feel sweaty just looking at them.  I wear Lycra leggings and a breathable top with a zip up jacket in cooler weather, although tracksuit bottoms or shorts are fine.  Make sure the waist band does not slide down, the last thing you want to do is have to keep stopping to pull them up.  If you’re looking to treat yourself I like the choices in H&M although the supermarkets have some good options. 

In terms of trainers you don’t need to fork out £200 on design your own running shoes but make sure they are comfortable and suit your foot shape, which you can have assessed in most sport shops.  Optional extras I find help me is my Velcro IPhone strap, good clip on headphones (there’s nothing worse than them falling out my ears!) and an elasticated hairband to keep my fringe out the way.


3)      Slowly and surely.

The best piece of advice I ever received regarding running was to go slow! Sounds easy enough but until this I had no idea just how much I was pushing myself unnecessarily to go fast.  It’s very easy, especially when running outdoors to worry that people will judge your speed but forget them, focus on yourself and remember everyone started somewhere.  Start so slow you feel you may stop then when you feel yourself lagging, slow down again, try not to stop unless you really need to and if you do walk at a quick pace.  This is much better at reaching your goal then running full tilt for a minute before collapsing and feeling like a failure.

4)      Remember this – everyone looks stupid running!

Look through your local sport events pictures and you will see that even the most experienced athletes pull the most ridiculous facial expressions when running.  Stop worrying about others and focus on yourself, your health and achieving your goals.  If you are still concerned, find a quiet place to start even if it requires a short drive to get to.   I started by going round my block in the evening and now I run down the duel carriageway without a care.  I find listening to my favourite music loudly helps me focus.

5)      Set aside a time

It’s so easy to get distracted with the hustle and bustle of daily life so that is why it is important to set aside a time to complete your run.  Start with two times a week.  Don’t get caught up in going all out five days in a row then giving up when the reality kicks in.

A quote I saw the other day that I liked was ‘someone busier then you is running right now’


6)      Food for fuel.

I’m not saying go on a special diet but one thing you should take into account in the lead to up a run, be it a race in a week or a jog later in the day is what you eat.  I speak from experience when I say running on a belly full of biscuits is not a good idea, nor is it good to go for a run when you haven’t eaten all day.  Make sure you eat good quality carbohydrates that you can digest with ease.  I eat my main meal for lunch which usually consists of white meat with either a potato (sweet or white) or cauliflower rice,  I  sometimes have a Medjool date brownie for an afternoon snack which I find gives me enough fuel to go for an evening run.  Ideally run prior to your last meal as time needs to be given to digest beforehand and you are more likely to find an excuse not to go if you are lethargic after a meal.

Finally just go with it, run at a pace that’s good for you and think it of some you time to let go of the stress of the day.  

       I would love to hear about your experiences and any tips and to anyone looking to start running,  best of luck :)



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