For many, the New Year is synonymous with positive change and heralds an overhaul of one’s health and outlook. Running remains an enduringly popular New Year’s resolution, but many hang up their running shoes before the gloomy winter months are over. Lifestyle writer Ailbhe Longmore lends insight from her own experiences, and offers her top tips to staying on track.
Let’s face it, running is a cheap way to get fit but it is also awful. It is difficult, your legs ache, you’re sweating profusely, people are staring at you and if you’re a woman you often get shouted at. Overall, there are more enjoyable things to be doing with your time.
I have felt all those things about running and more, but for the last three years I’ve put those feelings aside and taken my trainers to the gravel. It has shaped my life for the better, in more ways than I could have imagined. So in the hopes of spreading any wisdom I have garnered on this journey, I want to give tips for people, who, like me when I first started, are unfit and want to pick up running and keep at it for more than just a few weeks.
Don’t start running for the Wrong Reasons.
If you’re going to start running but only so you can ‘transform’ your body, you’re not going to keep at it. I’ve learned that hard way, when you don’t see any desired improvement after two or three weeks of running, you become frustrated, sad and give up. Your body will change, but this process takes time. When you’re doing running for your appearance’s sake, you won’t stick at it. No amount of exercise is going to make you love your body – becoming confident and loving your body takes time and patience.
Start running with a Friend
I started running with one of my friends who lived nearby and was at the same level of fitness as me. This totally helped. We would encourage each other to get out running and keep at a speed that each of us was comfortable with. When needed, we would take walking breaks at the same time. We also kept any juicy gossip we had for our runs, so our chats gave us something to look forward to. While running with a friend doesn’t often last very long, it can often get you into the habit of running, which will make it easier for you when you start running on your own.
Create your own Running Playlist.
Making your own running playlist is the only way to go. The key to success depends on what gets you motivated to run. For me, anything that is happy and upbeat makes running more bearable. This includes songs from the Spice Girls, Florence and the Machine, The 1975, old school Justin Bieber and anything from the eighties. Figure out what music makes you smile and make a few playlists to keep it fresh and different for each run. If music isn’t your thing try listening to podcasts – I recommend Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig and my granny’s personal pick for her walks, Pantisocracy with Panti Bliss.
Don’t Wear Yourself Out.
You are trying to better yourself, not training for a spot at the Olympics. Don’t try and run 5km without stopping in the first week. Run as far as you can without stopping for as long as you can. If you need to stop, that’s okay, stop running and walk for a bit. You’re only human so allow yourself to stop and take a breather. After a while, you will find that you are running longer, faster and taking less walking breaks. Keep track of your times and distances via apps like Runkeeper (my personal favourite) and Nike+ Run Club.
The Benefits of Running
The benefits of running make it all worthwhile, and you will soon notice you’re in a better mood, you’re feeling great and your tiredness should take a back seat. Cardio is not meant to be easy – it’s intended to make you sweat and burn. However, the feeling afterwards is incredibly rewarding and gives you a high for the rest of the day. If you have been having trouble with your mental health, running may help. You will start to understand why feeling good is far more important than looking good. Take up running this year and see the difference in yourself. You will be better person for it, I promise.
Ailbhe Longmore | LifeStyle Writer