Running. It’s not for everyone. Some love it. Some hate it. Me? I fall into the latter category.
I am not a runner. I never have been. Probably never will be. I am a gym junkie. I love my HIIT workouts, combat classes, group fitness and strength training. I love lifting weights, plyometrics and challenging my personal bests. But running? Nope not for me. It’s just not my exercise of choice. Yet for some crazy reason, I have signed myself up to for the 2015 HBF Run For a Reason* Not just the 4km run either, but the 12km!
Why? Well firstly, to challenge myself. I had intended to register for the HBF run in previous years but it just never happened. Mainly because I hate running and also because, I hate running. However, this year I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and give it a crack. More importantly though, I am running for a reason. To inspire the people of Perth to get active, to do something for their health and fitness as well as support a worthy charity if they wish. I have chosen to support the MS Society WA, for which I have started a fundraising page.
Having registered 8-weeks out from the event, I thought that would be plenty of time to get run ready. That was until I ended up with an ankle injury that left me out of action for almost 5 weeks. Not ideal. Once I finally start training, I very quickly learnt a lot about running. The good, the bad and the ugly. As a result I have come up with the following
9 Running Tips for Non-runners
1. Start Small
Set small goals. Just like no one expects you to bust out 20 reps of 20kg biceps curls the first time you set foot in a gym, no one is expecting you to complete a half-marathon distance the first time you head out for a run either. Set yourself small achievable goals – goals you can build on. You might start by running to a street sign, then move on to running 1km on, 1km off. The next time you go out aim for 2km without having a break and keep building on that. Aim for progress not perfection.
2. Invest In Decent Running Gear
Comfort is key. Wear exercise clothes that fit you well. The last thing you want is to be pulling your pants up or tugging on your shirt every two minutes. Even if it’s your oldest, daggiest clothing – comfort comes first! Most importantly, get yourself a decent pair of running shoes. Without good quality and supportive running shoes, you are setting yourself up for pain and injury. Get your shoes fitted by a specialist and ask for advice on the best shoes for your feet and running style.
3. Distract Yourself
Distractions are a blessing in disguise, making the time go faster and keeping your mind off the task at hand. Run with music, run scenic routes, zone out, let your mind wander – all these things will keep your focus off the sounds of your breathing, puffing and the distance ahead of you.
4. Mix It Up
Some people like to run on the treadmill. Others like to run outdoors. Some have to know the exact route and distance, while others prefer to wing it. Personally, I find mixing things up keeps things interesting and stops me from getting bored on a run. Changing up your running route also conditions the body to all different types of terrains including, hills, slopes and stairs, which will build up your stamina and endurance.
5. Buddy Up
Running with a friend or partner is not for everyone but for others, having a running buddy can provide that extra little boost of motivation they need to get them out the door. Whether it is just having someone there by your side as moral support or you need someone to push you (maybe even literally), training with a friend can make all the difference. As running etiquette goes, always run at the pace of the slowest runner and if one person stops the other stops. Just be sure not to let each other down. Still encourage and challenge one another.
6. It’s All In Your Head
Running, like with all exercise, is very much a mental thing. Your mind will give up long before your body does, so the key is to train your brain. A strong mindset will result in a strong result. Delete the words ‘I can’t’ from your vocabulary and focus on telling yourself ‘I can’. What your mind believes, your body achieves. When I start to feel my body giving up I speak words of strength to myself. For example ‘I am strong’, ‘I am fit’, ‘I am full of energy’, ‘this is easy’ and ‘I can do it’. It really works!
7. Stretch, Warm-up and Cool Down
As one of the top techniques for injury prevention, stretching pre and post run is so important. Never sprint straight out the front door. In order to signal to your body and muscles that they are about to start working, warm up with a brisk walk, then increase the pace into a jog. This will also minimise the stress on your heart. Rather than coming to an abrupt stop, follow your run with a 5 minute cool down. If you feel your muscles cramping during a run, don’t be afraid to stop along the way to stretch. If you have a foam roller, I suggest rolling out post run too.
8. Listen to Your Body
Some days you just can’t do it. Your body is aching, your joints are sore, you’re feeling foggy and your energy is low. You may have set your alarm, put on your shoes and stepped out the front door but your running mojo is just not there. That’s ok. It’s important to listen to your body on these days. Don’t push yourself to the point of breaking. Have a day off. Go for a walk, do some yoga or hit the gym instead. Listen to your body and respond accordingly. Rest days are important for recovery!
9. Get The App
This year HBF developed an amazing Fitness App to help participants get the most out of their training in the lead up to the event. I found this app, which guides users through a exercise program and keeps track of progress, an extra little bit of motivation. It was so helpful, for a beginner runner like me, who had absolutely no idea where to start. It even notifies you the night before, what your training schedule is for the next day. Genius!
If training for the HBF run has taught me anything, it’s that running just isn’t for everyone. Our bodies are all made differently and conditioned to different types of exercise. I’m a gym girl through and through. My joints, in particular just don’t cope well with the impact of running. That being said, I’m no longer a hater. I actually don’t mind the whole running thing now and will probably continue to run once or twice a week. Even if it is just a half walk half run (or as me and my friend like to call it, a ‘ralk’).
So now with less than 2 weeks to go until the event, I am admittedly starting to feel a little nervous. But I have also accepted that I will not be running the entire 12km. Whether I run, jog, walk, crawl or a mixture of them all, my goal is just to finish the race. When I do I will be proud of that achievement.
See you all at the starting line!! Good luck Perth!
Love Eloise xx
*For those who are not familiar, the Perth HBF Run for A Reason is an annual charity run, encouraging West Aussies to participate for charity, health and fitness, to support a loved one or just for fun. With the option to register for the 4km, 12km and (new this year) 21km half marathon, the event is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. For more information or to register for the run visit the HBF Run website.