Meg shares her six top tips for newbie runners to get into training.
If you are anything like me, you’ll know how daunting the prospect of running 13 miles can seem. When I run for the bus I get out of breath. So when I signed up to run the Bath Half Marathon last year, I had a niggling doubt that I wouldn’t actually be able to run the distance.
However, within just a few months and some patience, I was slowly beginning to run distances that I had never run before – and it felt amazing! Not only did I feel like I had achieved something after every run, I also began to see health benefits too.
The key for me was learning what made me tick. Everyone is motivated differently and it can take time to figure out the best routine for you. I began to learn what would get me out of bed in the morning or would inspire me to run in the rain and the wind. Here are a few things I picked up on the way.
Those miles can seem scary and even impossible at the beginning but have faith, with slow practice, people of all abilities can run the distance. It’s just about having the time to build up your miles and your stamina slowly and with manageable distances.
Resting enough and eating well is key and a large part is getting used to being active and spending time on your feet, even when you’re not running, you can find some top tips on my 10 easy steps to improve your fitness here.
For the Bath Half Marathon, Bristol Half Marathon or Bristol 10K you have plenty of time to train. Most half marathon training programmes are 12 weeks, running between three to four times a week, whereas a 10k training programme is usually 10 weeks running between….
Download a running app
When I began running, I had no idea how slowly or quickly I was going, so I found it hard to track any improvement. Having one of these apps on my phone when I went for a run meant that I could set myself personal goals each time. For example, running half a mile further each time or trying to run each mile 20 seconds faster. Having the app tell me when I had reached each mile, made me keep going until the next one.
There are so many fitness apps available now, which you can download onto your phone to use, including MapMyRun, Strava and Komoot. Most of these apps also have the advantage of showing you nearby routes that other runners have taken and have the function of allowing you to share your route on social media. Simply sharing a screenshot of your run can be a really easy way of updating your supporters on your progress.
There are also many apps to get you from ‘Couch to 5K’ which begin with a mixture of walking and running
Join a class
Class-based exercise has become extremely popular as a way to get fit over recent years and I can see why. At first, I was worried about not keeping up, or exercising in front of other people. But there was one thing I had forgotten, no-one else at a class is there to see you exercise, they are simply looking to improve themselves and therefore they are concentrating on that and that alone, they don’t pay attention to anyone else.
The advantage of these, in my opinion, is that you do not have to think or plan for these sessions – you are simply following a leader and their steps. With loud music and the buzz of a class, you are too busy following instructions to consider the fact that you are exercising and before you know it’s over!
Music to your ears
The key when I’m actually running is to keep my mind off the fact that I’m exercising and to run to a rhythm which will keep me focused and upbeat.
Music is extremely helpful for this and you’ll be surprised at how much listening to your favourite track with a good beat or positive memories attached will help you to push through the tough times. There are lots of great pre-made running playlists on Spotify which compile upbeat remixes with running classics so that you don’t have to.
Santa is coming… with new gym gear?
Sometimes splashing out on some new gear a will be enough to encourage you to train. A good set of headphones is always a great idea (I would recommend a Bluetooth pair to stop the irritation of untangling your wires for the 400th time – genuinely enough to put me off going!) or some running shoes which don’t rub and support your feet and ankles – most sports shops will help you to find the right ones if you ask.
And lastly running gear – believe it or not, a new sporty top, shorts or funky leggings might be enough to get you out of the door to test them out. Charity shops are always good for this as well! Don’t forget Christmas is coming – you can add them to your list!
Remind yourself of the why
Training plans, gym equipment and music are all key ingredients for your exercise routine but ultimately, your desire to run will often be based on something closer to the heart; the force pushing you on through the tough miles. I cannot stress how important that thing is for motivation. Your training will only get you so far, your mentality will carry you the rest of the way.
In the midst of training it’s easy to lose sight of the reason you signed up, so give yourself time to remember; think of your fundraising and what you are raising money for. You may have your own personal connection driving you or perhaps you just want to give back.
Even looking at our website or our Facebook page you’ll soon see some of the inspiring stories of children and their families, and how the hospital supports them in their darkest hours. These are the moments that will keep you focused and help you to grit your teeth through the last mile!
Thank your supporters
One thing I find really motivating is going through my fundraising page and thanking each of my supporters individually. It’s easy to watch your total slowly rise and lose the personal touch of who has actually taken the time to donate.
By going through every donor, I was surprised by the generosity of the people around me and how many people believed in me enough to donate – it was really humbling! If you’re having a tough day, sit down and take time to thank them – you’ll be glad that you did.