Hi, my name’s Meg and this year, I’ll be taking on my second Bath Half for The Grand Appeal.
Last year was the first time I took on a half-marathon so I know what it feels like to be a beginner like you with a big challenge ahead. I know that running any distance can feel daunting and luckily, there are now so many training plans and apps to help.
But even before you get started, simply improving your fitness, in general, will not only help you when you do start running but also help build your confidence. It’s all about finding ways in your daily life to be more active.
Sometimes it’s difficult to set time aside specifically to train, but if you can make a habit of incorporating exercise into your day-to-day activities you’d be surprised the difference it makes and will be able to ease yourself into a healthier January.
Meg’s 10 steps to improve fitness
Try a new gym class
It’s not always easy to find the time to go to class every day and even harder to find one that you love enough to buy a membership for. Set yourself a challenge to try a new class every week – there are so many out there and most cost only about £6/7 per session.
Persuade a friend to go with you – you might even find one you love!
Take the stairs
I know how tempting it is to push that button on the lift but see if you can ditch the lift and take the stairs. It’s all about forming a new habit, and after a while, you won’t even notice you’re doing it!
Walk or cycle to work
Now, I know this isn’t something that is an option for everyone. But if you can squeeze in some extra steps on the way and say no to getting a lift to the station then do it!
As the days get lighter this will become more appealing but even in the winter months, wrap up warm and you’ll be glad for some fresh air.
Meet your friend for a coffee and a walk
It will benefit you both! Find a friend with a dog or a coffee obsession (or both) and make that the focus of your walk. If you can associate exercise with a treat you are far more likely to go.
You could even use an app like Borrow My Doggy to find a partner pup.
Buy a backpack and carry your groceries home
Often driving to your nearest store for your weekly big shop can be the easiest way to tackle groceries.
But how about walking to your local high-street or town (if you can) and carry your food shopping home? You could always rope-in your family or friends to come with you.
Schedule it in – like you would an appointment
In our busy lives, it can be so difficult to find time to exercise. Try booking time in your diary and mark it as busy; as you would a doctor’s appointment or haircut.
Not only will it act as a reminder, but it can also help you to tell others that you’re busy at that time, and therefore stop you from finding a reason not to go!
Share your journey and your commitment with your friends and family.
Sharing your commitment to your friends and family even if it is just sharing a photograph of your walk on the weekend, it holds you accountable and might spike their interest. Those who know you best will be able to see the effort you’re putting in and their encouraging comments will go a long way. I know it really motivated me to keep training, even when life got in the way.
If you don’t want to share photographs with people, consider creating a social media page on Instagram or X and document your fitness or walk with photographs you take along the way. Don’t forget to tag @TheGrandAppeal!
Set goals…and rewards!
Set reasonable goals, and build up slowly. Try walking home every 3 out of 5 days or setting time for a long walk by the seaside every weekend. If you reach your goal you can reward yourself with something you like – like a long hot bath or a hot chocolate!
Stand up every hour
Sometimes it’s easy to pass a whole day only getting up a handful times – especially if your work includes sitting at a desk.
Try and make a conscious effort to get up every hour, even if it’s just to make a round of tea, have a conversation or go to the toilet. If you can tie it in with having a glass of water every hour – even better!
You can even download an app designed to remind you, such as ‘move’ and ‘standapp’.
Keep track with a journal
It can sometimes be difficult to track your progress or to feel like you’re going anywhere. Try writing down when you do exercise. It doesn’t have to be an essay; simply write a few words on what you did, how long you did it for or how far you went, and how you found it.
I found it really encouraging to look back on – for example, realising that you now walk easily for an hour, when a month ago you found 30 minutes challenging.
These are, of course, things that worked for me, a fellow runner who never would have thought that I’d be taking on a second half marathon, let alone one! The whole idea of these tips is to make exercise both more enjoyable and more attainable. If you can make it a habit, or pair it with something nice, you’ll dread it less and less, and before you know it, it will become routine!
Wishing you all the best in your active 2020!