Deciding on the right gear to wear when you’re running can be as complicated / expensive as you want it to be. It really is an activity which doesn’t require alot of money to get going. The only major expense you should allow for is getting the right shoes…even then it doesn’t necessarily mean that the more you spend the better they are. What is REALLY important is that you start out on the ‘right foot’ (excuse the pun!), by getting your gait analysed. This is not a difficult exercise and can be easily done at a number of different places up and down the country. I would recommend the Sweatshop running store as they have a great team and a number stores:
however there are a number of others who also offer the same service and can do the job just as well (like for example ASICS who have a great store in London)….
So once you have your shoes and kitted yourself out with the clothing which best suits you (please check out my ‘gear’ page shortly as I plan to give some more detailed advice, particularly for those planning to run with a stoma), then here are my top 5 pieces of advice to make it an enjoyable and rewarding experience for you:
NUMBER 1: ENTER A RACE
Whilst I know that may sound a strange thing to do straight away, I think having this in your mind really helps to motivate you, particularly when you are in the early stages of ‘getting going’.
It doesn’t need to be a half or full marathon, but a 5k or 10k is the perfect distance. Give yourself plenty of time and enter one which gives you the best possible chance to prepare properly,….around 4 or 5 months away is ideal.
If you know of a local race then go for it (you could maybe even rope in a friend as well to do with you). If you don’t, then look on runners world where they have hundreds of runs which you can enter on-line:
Remember, taking part in a race isn’t about racing the other competitors but more to challenge yourself. You set YOUR own targets, whether it be to finish a 10k in under an hour, or just to get round without walking. Having your OWN personal ‘wins’ is what in my experience makes running so rewarding and enjoyable.
NUMBER 2. RUN WITH A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER
For some, running with a friend is what gives them the motivation to drag themselves out of the bed in the morning. Try if you can to run with someone who is at a similar level as you so that you can both spur each other on. Another really helpful place to start is on the park run uk website. It is a wonderful organisation which is essentially run by volunteers. There are regular 5k and 10k runs for adults and also a 2k junior event (which my son has just started going to and loves!). It is all done in a very informal and relaxed way with no pressure put on times or positions. It is also a fantastic way of meeting other like minded people.
NUMBER 3. ENJOY THE PROCESS
A bit of an odd statement to make but this is one of the most important aspects of running. If you can crack this, then it won’t just be what you do to train for a race, but it will become a ‘way of life’ for you and integral to what makes you tick.
I am not saying that you will spring out of bed EVERY morning desperate to get the trainers on!….you will have some days when the lure of a warm bed will make it very tough….
However try if you can to keep some of these thoughts in your mind when you have those a days when you don’t feel like going for a run:
– “I won’t regret it and I know I will feel great at the end”
– “I can have a guilt free day at work knowing that if the biscuits are being passed around I can have one or two”!
– “My body is loving me for this”
– “I am loosing weight and provided I eat healthily then I can eat what I like”
– “What I am doing is a great message to show my kids what being fit and active can do for you”
– “It will mean I sleep better tonight”
– “I will feel more alert today” (it is widely recognised that exercise does wonders in this respect)
NUMBER 4. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Someone told me once and it is certainly true that it can take up to 18-24 months for your skeleton to adapt to the pressures that running can exert on your body. The cardio element is different in that it adapts much quicker. The lesson from this is that whilst you may feel initially that you can increase your mileage and frequency quickly, your bones wont thank-you for it later, and you could end up with a frustrating injury (believe me I have had many along the way)!. However this is no reason at all why you shouldn’t increase gradually over time. There are plenty of good running guides which can help you plan this in the most effective way for you.
NUMBER 5: JUST ENJOY IT!!!
I would say this of course because it has been such an important part of my life over the past few years, but the moment you can start to enjoy your running and not treat it like a chore, then you will quickly realize that it can help in so many aspects of your life. It is not just about keeping fit and healthy but also it hugely helps in many other areas like relieving stress. Another thing I have realised is that it has such a positive effect on your children and is a great message to send them. Having 2 young boys myself I am already seeing the effect it is having…my eldest now comes with me on my races and even enters the kids races when they are on at the same time.