I absolutely adore running. I was never into fitness in my teen years and the very thought of P.E on a weekly basis used to fill me with dread. The only time I found it fun was when we were in Year 11 and allowed to use the gym attached to the school. This was great as I could work alone, at my own pace and decide what I wanted to work on each session.
I’ve gone through life being able to eat exactly what I want, when I want, staying a size 6 with no sight of putting any weight on. No matter how much I tried. Then 2016 rolls around and decides that I hadn’t had enough bad luck over the years. It throws the worst at me. A surprise illness in my immediate family sends my head and life into a whirlwind and a dramatic life changing experience unfolds before me.
This is where my new favourite hobby running comes in. It’s exactly that right now, a hobby. I’d love to get good enough to take it professional but right now, I want to enjoy it a little more. I’ve consciously taken a step back and stopped trying too hard to beat unrealistic goals, let’s just kick back, relax and run at my own pace.
I started running in June 2016. I say started, I attempted it a few times and then thought I was clever and entered a 10K race for Cancer Research in the November. I had also now signed myself up to a 25K walk for the British Heart Foundation after the support from them when my husband suffered his second heart attack in 3 months. Some serious training and concentration was needed on my part, and I did it!
I fell in love with running during this time. The peace, the solitude, the fresh air and the exercise. All things that I haven’t felt completely in a long, long time had all come together simply by throwing on some trainers and hitting the road. I can’t describe the feeling. I just feel free.
I’ve taken on several races, challenges and activities since I took on my first 10K race last year and can honestly say that I have loved every minute. No matter how hard I have found them I’ve always felt such a great sense of achievement, whether it’s conquering a trail run to taking part in my local 5K charity fun run. It’s not been easy and I’ve been plagued with injuries, particularly my shins.
There are a few things I would go back and tell myself before I began running my heart out. I thought it may be a good idea to write these tips down now for anyone else who is thinking of tackling the tarmac.
Do your research
Honestly, it may seem simple enough. Put on trainers and run. It’s not. I seriously underestimated the strength we need to run a good distance. It’s nothing like it was when you were a kid running laps on sports day I can tell you. Investing in a great beginner program like the C25K is definitely a good way to go.
Stretch it out
I was the worst for skipping out at the beginning. I thought a short walk would be all I needed and soon enough my shins were in agony and I’d pulled a muscle. A quick search on Google or Pinterest will throw up some quick, easy yet effective leg and body stretches perfect for before a run. Do it. You won’t regret it.
I didn’t realise how thirsty I was going to get whilst running. It probably didn’t help that I began running in mid-Summer but even looking back to my first 10K, I had a large bottle of water with me and I ran out of water well before the end. You can also get great little energy gels for longer races so that you can alternate those with fluid and keep hydrated.
Fuel your body correctly
I used to see a lot of people on social media going on about things before long runs. Don’t listen to everything people suggest as sometimes these things can do more bad then good. Listen to your body, learn what works and make sure you plan your meals in advance to get yourself ready. I tend to stick with porridge with honey or yoghurt, granola and protein shakes as well as mid-morning snacks to make sure I’ve got enough fuel to last the run.
Prepare for anything
Seriously, take everything into account. Weather, road conditions, your route, fully charge your phone, take headphones if allowed. There is nothing worse than getting halfway through a good run and disaster striking. Whether it’s falling, straining, getting lost, bad weather. Always think a little health and safety before you leave the house for your run, race, event.
I really hope you find my post useful and I’d LOVE to hear your running stories. What motivates you? Why did you start running?
About Emma: Emma is mother of two from Cheshire blogging about health and fitness after a life changing event and trying to enjoy getting fit, eating cake and raising money for charities. You can find her on FB, Twitter and IG all with @emmalizallen