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Its pretty fair to say that I’ve never been a runner. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve attempted it plenty of times over the years but it never really stuck. I’m above average height and i’m pretty sure i’m 95% leg, so I’ve got a pretty big stride and I think I’ve been running with too long a stride in the past. Which often ended in me exhausted after 10 minutes, sore and couldn’t ever quite get the motivation to stick at it, surely it shouldn’t be this hard?
When lockdown happened in the UK we literally had just arrived back in the country after an indulgent 2 week holiday in Melbourne, Australia. We’d been eating amazing food and drinking delicious coffee and enjoying life down under. We had been walking 22k steps a day and keeping very active too, so when we arrived back to the UK knowing we couldn’t leave the house it was a very strange contrast to how we’d been living quite literally up to the day before. I knew that I’d need to find some kind of excerise routine to keep me going for the forseeable future, so I downloaded the couch to 5k app in hopes it kept me at least consistently exercising.
I actually did 1 run from the app and kinda realise this isn’t the app for me. So what I decided to do instead was plan some 2-3k distance routes around where I live and give them a go and see how I get on. However the ground breaking difference this time was that I shortened my stride drastically. To the point it felt very strange running at less than half my stride, but what I found was that I could go for much longer without stopping, I wasn’t exhausted after and generally recovered much quicker. So I started running 3 times a week during my lunch hour on monday, wednesday and friday’s. Giving me downtime to recover inbetween runs and weekends off. I did this exact route for probably 2 weeks before I felt comfortable to increase the distance to 4k. So I’d do maybe 2-3k twice a week and a slightly longer one of 4k. I think they call this ‘conditioning’, by doing the same distances over and over you get used to it and can slowly increase your distance or increase your speed.
By this point I think I’d been running consistently 3 times a week for a month, which is more than I’d ever done before. So I invested in some new running leggings (I already owned a new pair of running trainers bought late last year), downloaded Strava and generally took more of an interest in tracking my runs. I’d bought myself a Fitbit Versa 2 earlier in the year when researching women’s sports watches which is great for tracking calories and heart rate (if that’s something you’re interested in).
I carried on doing this distance consistently for another couple of weeks. However at this point around early May, the weather in the UK had increased significantly and it made it really hard to run during lunch times due to the heat. So my routine got a little wobbly as I would run in a morning when it was much cooler or once at a weekend when it had cooled down but I still stuck to roughly 3 runs a week with varying lengths.
After about 6-8 weeks of running I decided to start trying to run 5k more often. I would generally run 5k at the start of the week after the rest at the weekend, run something smaller like 3k on wednesday’s and do another 5k on friday’s before the recovery of the weekend. It’s by no means easy but I found it hugely rewarding and I felt more mentally capable than I did before.
Again around this time, I decided to invest in some new leggings with pockets due to the fact all of my current leggings lacked pockets to put my phone or keys and were all full length so we’re getting quite hot to run in. I also bought myself some bluetooth headphones as running previously with my wired ones were becoming increasingly annoying.
Lastly, over the last 3 weeks I decided to increase my 3 runs a week to 4. Mainly due to the fact I’d been finding it hard to sleep and more regular exercise seems to be working a treat but I did also want to increase my stamina and distance. So every morning besides wednesday’s, I wake up at 7:30 and head out for a run before work. My current goal is to run 12k a week, so this generally means less distance but more often (so 3k distance four times a week) or an occasional much longer run and smaller runs after that to aid recovery. Running 4 times a week has been exhausting though and I’ve learnt to drink water before a run and eating something before a longer run helps get that energy kick on the latter half (I find a banana is enough).
This past week was the first time I’d managed to run a 7k and although tiring it didn’t feel completely out of my comfort zone. This just shows the kind of progress I’ve made over the last 3 months! Not being able to run to the end of the street to being able to jog for almost an hour straight is proof that little and often really can help you build up to bigger things. I’d ideally like to do a longer run like this once a week going forward until I feel brave enough to tackle a 10k sometime over the summer.
My Running Beginner Tips.
Although I’m not an expert, these are some things I’ve found that really helps me whilst running.
*Noise cancelling headphones – These block out my own breathing so I don’t get distracted by my panting. I’m asthmatic and so if I focus too much on my breathing it can make me panic and thus trigger an attack. I find just blocking out noise and putting on music helps me forget about it and just go.
*Chewing gum – Most of the runs I do are not long enough to warrant taking a water bottle with me so I chew gum to help keep my mouth from going dry.
*Running Trainers – I already had a decent pair I’d bought fairly recently but you should invest in a good pair of running trainers if you want to avoid injury. I’m looking at getting some more advanced ones soon to avoid shin splints and support my feet for the way I run.
*Wear Sunscreen – Even running at 7:30am in the summer has resulted in a pretty impressive tan on my arms and face, so it goes to show that no matter the time of day, you’re exposing yourself to the sun.
Thinking of starting running?
I think my biggest tip is don’t push yourself too hard! Everyone is different and it’s so easy to compare yourself to other peoples progress. Figure out what it is you want? Do you want to go faster? Run longer distances? Have 30 minutes to yourself? When you figure out what your goal is, it’s much easier to understand what you need to do to get there.
I’m hopefully going to be able to write an update post for this later in the year and have finally run a 10k! But for me it’s keeping fit and making sure I’m doing exercise whilst we’re currently all working from home.
If you have any questions or want to share your running stories please leave a comment below because I’d love to hear about your experience! I also share all my times and runs over on my Instagram.
If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy 5 Ways I’m Practicing Body Positivity.