This post is written in collaboration with Working In.
I’m not a runner. I tried it a few years ago before Lexi-Rose was born and I did eventually get to a point where I kind of, sort of enjoyed it. I still had to use every inch of my will power to get out and do it though. I’ve never got that ‘high’ that runners talk about. The one that makes you all grumpy if you haven’t been out for a run in more than a couple of days. That fabulous feeling that runners always talk about.
Instead of having a love affair with running, all I ever associated it with was …….. being out of breath, getting a stitch, thinking that ever minute and ever meter was never going to end, that my legs were going to stop working and my lungs might collapse. Anyone with me?? Surely I can’t be the only one?
Well, about a month ago everything changed. “Really?”, I hear you ask, “How on earth did that happen?”
While chatting to a friend, I accidentally discovered this truly fabulous health and fitness program called Working In.. I loved their ethos and website before I even started the program, and for the first time since Lexi-Rose was born (three years ago) I’ve felt excited about getting my body into shape again and taking control of my diet.
One of the three key components of the Working In program is learning with run with Debbie from Beauty of Exercise. As I said before, I am not a fan. However twice every week for the past month, I have been out running. I wouldn’t say I am loving it YET, but I am definitely heading in that direction. Amazingly it hasn’t been anywhere near as bad or as hard as I convinced myself it would be.
Joining an actual proper running program and being taught to run (as funny as that sounds) has been totally invaluable. As a complete running novice (who ran 4km last week without dying) this is what I’ve learnt so far about ‘running’.
- Start slowly. This is essential. The last time I tired to run, I just threw on some joggers on and off I went. It was painful and I hated every second. This time I’ve started slowly, running no more than three minute intervals at a time with walking breaks in-between. I don’t think I even broke a sweat on my first run. I’ve been building my running time up slowly week by week and it’s amazing how achievable it is this way.
- Warm up and stretch. Something I never took seriously before, but I love it now. My body feels amazing after a good stretch and I’m much less likely to get injured this way. I’ve also bought myself a foam roller (google it) to stretch at home and I LOVE it. I’m so addicted I spend most evenings rolling around on the carpet while watching Masterchef.
- Running with a buddy. This is not always possible but if you can, run with a friend or group of people who run at a similar pace to you. It makes the world of difference to have that little bit of support by your side. I’m far less likely to give up when I’m accountable to someone else. Of course, if you’re like me and talk a lot too, it’s also a great way to pass the ‘running’ time and have a good old gossip.
- Have a goal. Just like everything else in life, if you don’t have a goal to work towards, you are 100% more likely to give up. My goal is to be able to comfortably run 5km. So far I have got to 4 and it’s taken me just over a month to get there. It’s slower than I anticipated it would be, but much easier to achieve. I don’t want to be one of those marathon runners, it’s just not me, but I really want to be able to go out a few times a week and actually enjoy a 5km run without it being a HUGE mission. That’s my goal.
- Do your homework. If you are running as part of a weekly running group, you will need to repeat your run at least one other time during the week otherwise you will find it so much harder to reach your goal.
- Watch your posture. Coach Debbie from Working In has given me so many tips about looking after my posture while running. It’s so important to prevent injuries, especially back injuries and shin splints (both of which I’ve had in the past). Debbie has taught me to stretch my arms up to the sky every so often while running, to re-set my posture and to be more aware of how I’m holding my body. Another little trick she taught me is to pick up two small sticks, or leaves and rub them between my thumb and fore- finger while I’m running. For some strange reason this helps to relax my shoulders.
- Take in the scenery around you and practice mindfulness. Coach Debbie calls this ‘running in the present’. I’m very lucky to live on Sydney’s northern beaches where there is no end to the stunning scenery. However, where ever you are, there is always something to look at when you’re out running.
- Breathing and counting. I find that if I count my steps in beats of 4 or 8 when I’m struggling it really helps to take my mind off the pain. It seems to some how focus my breath and my pace into a steady rhythm, and I can keep going for longer. I’ve also found that running with a metronome helps too. It’s like this little gadget that goes ‘tick tick tick’ to the rhythm of my steps.
- Support and encouragement. The Working In program has fabulous and supportive Facebook group that shares all sorts of tips and encouragement from running, and yoga to nutrition and weekly meal plans. Having encouragement from like minded people no matter what your ability is, makes the world the difference.
A kilometer a day keeps the kilograms at bay. Well that’s my new motto anyway. I’m very proud of where I’ve got to so far and am at last starting to feel better. Onwards and upwards I say.
Are you a runner?
Do you have any beginner tips to add?