Many of you have been writing to be, texting me, emailing me, Facebooking me, Tweeting me and sharing in passing how my running exploits over these past two years have inspired you but left you a little daunted. As I hammered through a 4 miler this morning I wondered if there was any advise I could give you if you were wanting to get going or had just got going and needed encouragement. I hope that these pointers might be of a little help.
MAKE SURE IT IS RUNNING YOU WANT TO DO
I was a runner and loved running in my younger days. When I wanted to get fit again that was my thing. I never was a swimmer. The gym bored me silly. Cycling seemed like cheating and I could never hold up traffic. For me it was running. It might not be for you. Find your exercise!
GET STARTED AND THROW OFF DIGNITY
My first road run was when I was around 22. My dad said he was going to do the marathon so I decided to go for a run and see how I did. I ran 9 miles and only stopped because I had got back home and we lived in a cul-de-sac! In those running years I never ran less than 6 milers and most days it was 10 miles plus!
So… when I had couch potatoed for twenty years and wanted to get going again I had a major problem. To struggle a half mile run was an indignity! I was a runner. My morale was shot! I think that is what held me back all those years. So, I had to throw off all my ego and look like I was an unfit fat man who needed to be running rather than was good at running. My own competitive spirit had to deal with half a mile rather than 10!
I actually started by walking a couple of miles a couple of times a week with my wife and the dog. I then started to just run up the hills. Then I did my first half mile! I am now up to 13 and regularly running 8 to 10.
GET THE RIGHT SHOES
If you are going to run get the right footwear. The body will take a pounding!
RUN ON SOFT SURFACES WHERE YOU CAN
I have a track I found at The Giants Ring in Belfast where I can run on grass. It means lapping and that can be mentally tedious over 4 or 5 miles but the soft ground helps the knees and ankles. I then only really do roads when I am doing longer distances.
ALLOW YOUR BODY TO CATCH UP WITH YOUR ENTHUSIASM
After six months I was getting some knee pain and a fellow runner told me to let my knees catch up with my enthusiasm. It was great advice! I have since heard that different parts of your body responds at different speeds to the increase in exercise. I believe that your cardiovascular responds first, then your muscles and finally your joints. So keep that in mind and don’t go mad!
ENJOY YOUR CONTINUAL PBs
The wonderful thing about starting from scratch is that you can see immediate improvement. Every time you go out just do an extra quarter mile or try to take a few seconds off your previous best minute per mile average. You will find that over the first 6 to 10 months you can see quantifiable improvements which is a real encouragement.
GET A GOOD RUNNING APP
I found that getting the Run Keeper app for my iPhone was a boast. It helped me to see my improvement and log the calories burned, miles clocked and best times.
ENJOY THE SPACE AND BENEFIT FROM THE ENERGY
Someone told me that finding time in my schedule to run would not be the burden it would seem to be and that it would actually be a benefit to my life and schedule. I have come to believe that very much. Finding the time is not always easy BUT when I do my day is always calmer and more energised as a result.
To get out gets you away from it all. I find that some days my run is a sorbet when I forget what I have done and clear my mind for what is next. Other days I can use it is as a time to think clearly about whatever I need to be doing next. Both are very helpful. A friend said that you know you are running when you you are not thinking about running. Can I suggest that takes a little time but when you get there it is an exercise that is about more than just exercise!
ENJOY THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE
Before I started this regime I was constantly tired and needing a wee sleep during the day. No longer. I am fitter and in better shape than I have been in twenty years. See that as a wonderful target ahead!