(For now at least) I’ve tried running lots of times, and I haven’t really got on with it.
People, I’m proud to say I have been running regularly since January! Apart from being active (walking or cycling most places) it’s the longest time I’ve stuck to cardiovascular exercise since leaving school. Hurrah! So, here are the secrets of my (so far so good) success!
1. I have a coach.
Of sorts. I’m using the NHS Couch to 5k program. It gradually builds stamina week by week. It’s simple – the podcast tells me when to run and when to walk. Crucially for me, the gentle start over the first 3 or 4 weeks has enabled me to form a habit of getting out and doing it, and has boosted my running confidence. Without the hideous, off-putting muscle soreness that I previously experienced with pushing myself to fast too soon.
2. I’ve changed my mindset.
I had one day in January, where I longed for hills and fresh country air and camping under starlight and adventures. I couldn’t make that happen in time to stop me going stir-crazy. One particularly blue day, I found myself sobbing for no reason on my way into town (“why is everything so dark? And cold? And where IS everybody? *sniffle sniffle*) So I made a split decision to go running. That night. In the freezing cold. It wasn’t about changing my body, there was no big build up or fanfare or drastic health kick. It was, and it is about getting out of the house by myself, breathing hard and deep, looking up at the stars and feeling alive.
3. I’m multitasking.
I began meditating last year, but since Christmas, I’ve found it difficult to fit in along all the other bits and bobs of life. But I know I feel better when I do it. So now, I meditate while I run. Either by watching the breath – listening to it’s rhythm alongside the pounding of my feet on the ground, or just feeling the air moving in and out of my airways. When my body starts to ‘hurt’ I start a body scan. Not only does the time pass really quickly, but I realise my body doesn’t really hurt, but my muscles are working hard and I feel alive.
4. Speed and affordability are King.
It probably takes me 45 – 50 minutes from the start of getting changed into my running gear to getting out of the shower. Decent trainers and sports bra are my only essentials. My running outfit is a ridiculous combination of holey old leggings, dayglo running top, and Girl Guide fleece gilet with “GuidesMaids” written across the back in gold glitter. From a hen do. If I start to struggle, I think of how silly I look and imagine my university mates having a good laugh about it and that makes me giggle as I’m running along. You might say thats my extra 1%. Thanks Crazies 😉
5. I let myself off the hook.
In the past, if I’ve have a week of illness or just scheduling clashes that meant I didn’t get out for a run, I tended to have unhelpful thoughts like “I might as well give up if I’m going to have to start from scratch again”. This time, I just pick up where I left off. Yes, it feels a bit tougher, but I get over it, and then wonder why on earth did I make such a fuss about it before? Duh.
Overall, I’m feeling good about it. I’m not as evangelical about it as I can be about some things – I feel quite calm about it. It’s just something that I’m getting on with and I don’t really think about it until I’m doing it, but I always feel great afterwards. Mentally and physically.
Now, where did I put that foam roller…?
Have you set to any big exercise goals this year? How is it going? What has helped you to stay on track? Leave comments below, I’d love to hear your experiences too.