I remember cross country when I was a child at primary school and just running with my friends not really caring to see where I would end up just staying within the pack. One day I decided to see what would happen if I actually tried – and I won the whole thing. Subsequent years thereafter I always mostly came out at the top (of the girls anyway, occasionally a boy or two would slip past me!).
My point is you don’t really know whether you can be good at something until you try.
When I was around thirteen I quit running, not sure why I quit a lot of things around that time. In my early twenties, I picked it back up. I probably thought about running for a whole year before I finally went out for that first run. Even though I thought I was pretty healthy and walked regularly that first run almost killed me! I didn’t make it very far and I felt really nauseous and sick.
Running requires a whole new level of fitness! The first run that you will ever do will be the hardest and each run after that will get easier as you get fitter. Becoming a regular runner is one of the best things that I have done for my emotional health, fitness and overall wellbeing.
It’s been Winter in my part of the world, the weather has been nasty and there have been bugs about aplenty and as I get back into my own regular running habit I thought I would share some tricks and tips that may help to motivate you to start your own running journey or to simply get back into it! – B xx
First of all, what’s so great about running and why would starting a regular habit of running each week be beneficial to your longevity and ageing positively?
Reasons To Start Running For Your Health + Longevity:
IT BUILDS STRONG BONES:
Consistent running causes stress to your bones and cartilage making them stronger in the process. This study shows that regular runners are half as likely to suffer from knee osteoarthritis than walkers. Running also helps to build muscle which helps to support your bones as you age. Running can also help with balance!
IT DECREASES YOUR HEART DISEASE RISK BY 50%:
Heart Disease is the largest killer of men and women far beyond their time and is entirely preventable through diet and exercise. Regular runners compared with people who don’t run at all have about half the chance of dying from cardiovascular disease!
IT REDUCES YOUR CANCER RISK:
Exercise and running can help to significantly reduce your cancer risk of certain types of cancer. In fact, regular running can reduce breast cancer risk in women by up to 30% or more. Plus if you are undergoing cancer treatment regular exercise can help you to recover faster and reduce your risk of other cancers.
IT IS BRILLIANT FOR YOUR BRAIN:
Running has shown to help rewire the brain making you happier, calmer, attentive and better able to deal with stress. When you run your brain also pumps out two important mood-boosting chemicals, endorphins and endocannabinoid.
Researchers have found that the high you get while running is very similar to the high you might get smoking pot (but of course running is a lot better to get addicted to!). Running is also a very effective natural antidepressant for anyone that struggles with mild mood disorders.
8 Tips To Get Started With Your New Running Habit!
Anyone can become a runner, all you simply need to do is to just start 🙂
1. ORGANISE YOUR GEAR:
You don’t need a bunch of fancy new running clothes to start your new running habit. All you really need is a good pair of running shoes and a great sports bra. However, it does help for motivational purposes to get one new running outfit! But maybe schedule it in as a reward say, “after one month of my regular running habit I will buy one running outfit to reward myself for taking care of my body in this way and sticking with it”.
Lay out all of your running gear and the things needed for your run the night before so there are no excuses for not making your run. The last thing you want to do is schedule precious time for your run and then not be able to find all of your gear on the day!
2. START SMALL:
Start really, really small. Perhaps you just run around the block to start or even just start with a quick ten-minute run. You could walk for a while to warm up and then over time simply decrease your time spent walking and increase your running time. Each month that goes by you could add on an extra five minutes to each run so that you are slowly running for longer and pushing yourself to go further.
The healthy habit that you are creating is far more important than the actual time spent running. You want to start really small, make your new running habit super easy to stick with and then slowly build up the number of runs you do each week and the time you are running for over time.
3. SCHEDULE ALL OF YOUR RUNS:
Your exercise needs to be a very special appointment with yourself otherwise it can be all too easy for work or other commitments to creep in and take over. Schedule your run directly on to your calendar. Make sure you allow enough time for getting ready i.e. getting dressed, hydrating, grabbing a snack if you need one and then cooling down, stretching, showering etc. at the end.
If you need babysitters sort out an agreement beforehand as to who will watch your children or perhaps you can negotiate workout time with your partner so that you each get a break to take care of your physical fitness at different times.
Schedule extra time than necessary for your new running habit. For example, if your goal is to run twice a week then schedule in time for three runs. If you make all three runs then that’s great! But quite likely things will pop up throughout the week that require your immediate attention so you may likely skip a run. So it’s a good idea to have fall back time scheduled!
4. BECOME A WEEKEND WARRIOR:
When starting a new habit it can be hard to fit it into say, a particularly busy weekday so try to aim to start your new running habit in your downtime or weekend time. Every weekend I do at least one run and have been doing this for years so at least I know if my week is particularly hectic then I will still have that weekend run to fall back on.
Running is addictive! Once you are confident with every weekend fitting that run in then you will know how good you feel afterwards and you will want to try and fit a run or two in during the week also!
I recommend starting new exercise routines in the evening/downtime. When you exercise in the morning it requires you to get up earlier than you usually do to start that new habit. Changing your sleep/wake circadian rhythms is quite difficult and not easily done in a hurry!
So I think it is better to create the exercise/running habit in the evening first and then work on the getting up early habit for a long time before you even think about exercising in the morning. Because what happens if you sleep in or miss your alarm? You skip your whole run for the day!
5. GET A BUDDY (BUT DON’T RELY ON THEM!):
If can be great to find a friend to run with which makes it more social and fun but don’t rely on just doing your run when your friend does it. Otherwise, it can be too easy to stop when your friend goes away or gets busy. So really it’s best to try and rely on yourself and motivate yourself to just get it done.
It’s great to have a runner friend help to keep you accountable or join an online Facebook group, blog forum, google plus community that is specifically for beginner runners so that you can share your progress and get help and support! Also, look out for local running clubs in your area that regularly hold meetups and plan events.
6. TRACK YOUR PROGRESS:
I have never much bothered tracking my runs as I just do it for fun but I could see how tracking could be really motivational when you see yourself over time get faster and fitter. There are now many online communities also geared around different running trackers so that you can easily share your progress and see how you stack up against other runners (healthy competition!).
However, you don’t have to have a special watch or tracking device you can just use simple apps on your phone to help track your running activity or go old school! Mark on your calendar when you ran and how long for. Set goals for the month. If you smash all of your running goals then reward yourself in some way (perhaps with that running outfit!).
7. IF YOU FALL OFF THE WAGON GET RIGHT BACK ON:
From time to time things might happen that are completely out of your control that may interfere with your running habit. Life is going to naturally be full of ups and downs. If you fall off the wagon and can’t run for a while due to injury, sickness or travel, don’t beat yourself up about it. Simply get back into your routine whenever you are able to.
Consistent exercise is always going to be a little bit like falling off the wagon and then jumping back on the wagon. Don’t focus on perfection just focus on always getting back into it as soon as you are able to.
8. FEEL THE HIGH:
When you first start running and get used to a new way of being it can be hard to go back to your post running self. Everything is just so much richer, more colourful and vibrant with running in your life. Life without regular running can seem a bit grey and dull. When you stop running for a while after you have been running for quite some time you will notice the difference – big time!
Because regular running has become your new normal and life without running in it will seem a little abnormal. So make running your high over alcohol, coffee or other stimulants believe me you won’t be disappointed!
Running Prep + Post Run Tips!
Always do a quick stretch or walk for 5 mins before you start your run to help warm up your muscles. A quick pre-workout snack is also great! Banana’s are wonderful because they are full of carbs for energy. Don’t forget to hydrate and drink a good amount of water before you head out! I used to have a really bad habit on my weekend run in my half asleep state of running without drinking anything beforehand – don’t do that!! This pre-workout beetroot juice is great to drink before your run.
Mix up where you run. Doing all of your runs on concrete can be really hard on your knees and joints. Trying running laps on the grass at a local park, do the occasional beach run or try trail running. Search out some running spots that are beautiful and inspiring.
After your run do some quick stretching also. If you have time doing a 20min yoga practice after your run is great. Regular running can make your hamstrings really tight and yoga can help to loosen your muscles up after a run – plus it feels great! After your run make sure you get some protein in to help rebuild your muscles! This protein smoothie is a good choice or make some tofu scramble or a protein pancake.
Happy Running 🙂
Gorgeous running inspo from the active water carrier brand Orange Mud
How running in the morning can make you more successful in life from Your World Within
(Photo: Seth Macey via. Unsplash)