So, it must’ve been two weeks yesterday that I started running. I never thought it would actually happen, but, to my immense amazement, I’ve stuck with it so far and run ten of the past fourteen days. But how did I actually get into it?
I think I’ve tried to improve my fitness by running many a time before. There was last summer, the summer before that, multitudes of times in between . . . but it just never stuck. These past two weeks have been the longest period of my life I have ever largely dedicated to running, and, my days, am I glad that I did.
It’s heating up a fair amount here in the UK. That makes the weather lovely and appealing for going for a stroll. Going for a run, though? Not so much, and I think this is where I’ve found my issues with running before. Fitness too poor, body temperature incapable of regulating itself suitably and a poor diet have probably been the main reasons that running in the summer has never been something I could do on repeat. Not only that, but running the same place time and time again . . . not so fun, am I right?
So why now? Why, in the middle of June, have I found myself capable of this amazing feat of motivation, when I am (and I’m sure many of you are) reluctant to crawl out of bed in the morning to make a bowl of cereal? How might we all be able to escape our exercise phobia?
Run with a friend
Okay, so they’re as lacking in motivation as you. That’s how me and my bestie were, until we started discussing it. “Wouldn’t it be nice to be fit enough to run around the country park?” Yes, yes it would. “You know, I would love to be able to justify eating what I want.” That sounds great! And then, on that day that changed my life two weeks ago, we decided to go for a run together. Well, maybe ‘run’ is too generous a term. It was more of a ‘jog slowly down this hill then walk the rest of the way with a little break to sit down in the middle’, but at least it was something. We motivated each other, and I think running with her made me enjoy it just that little bit more, making me want to do it again. We haven’t ‘run’ together since, but I think our mutual sharing of ugly pre-, during and post-run selfies with each other have helped us feel better about ourselves. If you’re lacking the confidence to go running on your own, start with a pal – it just might be the first step in the right direction for you.
Use an app
There are countless apps available to help you with running, just for a little bit of motivation or, in my case, a nine-week plan to be able to go from the unfit couch potato munching on dairy-free chocolate chips in front of YouTube to hopefully being able to run for half an hour (almost a 5K run). I’d used an app before when I’d tried running, but the Change4Life app has now been taken down and replaced by the Public Health England One You Couch to 5K updated version, which is a million times more aesthetically pleasing and actually gives you reminders on days when you’re supposed to be running. It really helpfully builds you up, running three times every week, to improve your fitness gradually with rest days after each run. Admittedly, I’ve been ignoring the rest days and just running consecutive days, but honestly, I think that’s also been helping me get through it. I’m on week four after running for just two, which probably isn’t ideal for my bones, but I’ll deal with the health issues when I get them. You can listen to music with the app running as well, which brings me to my next point.
Music will motivate you to the ends of the earth
If I didn’t have my ‘K-Pop Fire’ playlist on shuffle when I go out running, I don’t actually think I’d be able to endure it. It takes away from the monotonous scenery of the same goddamn tree again, instead giving me something to focus my mind on. If I can (attempt to) sing along to BTS when I’m gasping for breath, I will, because they motivate the hell out of me. Pick some music with a great beat, not too fast pace that you feel you have to run along to it, and blast it through your headphones as you trundle along. It’ll make you feel better, and is also a great way to measure time (half a song left to run!), trust me.
Get your eating in order
If there is one thing I could go back to tell my past self when I’ve tried running before, it is “change your diet!” While it might seem fine to run to work off that last slice of cake, that same piece of cake will most likely be what is preventing you from performing your best. I switched to a dairy-free, meatless diet back in January, and I honestly would never look back. Eating lots of carbs gives me a lot of energy, and I get all of my protein from plant-based sources, like tofu, beans and lentils, that just aren’t full of all the crap that screws with our digestion and stops us from performing so well. I’m not saying you have to be as drastic as I have, but a few weeks before you try running I would suggest incorporating a lot of veggies into your meals, having smoothies rather than snacking, and cutting back on meat, particularly red meat. Not only will it make it easier for you when you go out running, with a leaner body not laden with too much extra weight, it’ll be better much for your health in the long run. Keeping it balanced, too, will keep weight loss slow and steady, if that’s why you’re running, helping to avoid sagging skin and stretch marks.
Most importantly? Keep going
It’s all very well doing all of the above, but really, it’s no good if you don’t stick at it. All of the other things on this list will help you to get motivated and to find the actual run itself so much easier, but it’s all down to you. Make running a part of your daily routine – for me, running at about eight o’clock in the evening after school is perfect for me, and I’ll probably start running earlier when I finish school at the end of this week. Getting into a habit of doing everyday is the best way forward, despite the recommended ‘rest days’. Running, after while, becomes like brushing your teeth – if you don’t do it, you feel bad for the rest of the day. I would probably say the first three runs are the hardest, and then as you feel your fitness getting better, you’ll want to go out running. Honestly, it is more addictive than caffeine always has been for me, and the euphoria when I’ve just finished my run, drenched in sweat but glowing with joy is just the most incredible feeling at the end of a stressful, tiring day, even when it was the last thing you wanted to leave the comfort of the house.
I hope this post has given you some motivation to join me in my endeavour to become fitter through running! If you have anything that helps to motivate you to run, comment down below, I’d love to hear it! Happy running, everyone!