So are we talking ‘running’ or ‘jogging’? It doesn’t matter! One of the cheapest, easiest to try, and all round good-for-you activities is the act of moving yourself along using your legs at faster than walking pace. And in my book, whatever the speed, that’s running. I’ve been a keen runner for 18 years (and I’m 52 – you do the maths) and I love it.
For the past few years I’ve had the honour of organising and leading a Jog Derbyshire running group in Crich, and I get a real buzz from seeing people come and give it a go and then stick with it. Even better is the knowledge that the group members arrange to meet and run between the weekly group runs because they ‘want to’. We’ve also had folks who’ve moved on from our friendly group to do great things with local running clubs – some have even completed the London Marathon too.
So what’s the secret – how do you a) start to run, and b) stick with it?
Well, first you need to bypass all the excuses you’ve made to yourself for not doing it. You know the ones: ‘It’s my knees’, ‘I’m so busy’, ‘I’ll start when the weather improves’, ‘I haven’t got the gear’, ‘I don’t do hills’. Sound familiar?
Then there are the roadblocks others will throw in your way: ‘You run? Seriously?’, ‘You’re going to become one of those joggers, then?’, ‘You won’t look good in all that Lycra’. This is where it seems some of those around us would rather we stayed unfit because that would make them feel better.
The best way to begin is simply to get a comfy pair of trainers and some loosefitting clothes, and step outside. Running magazines would have you spend hundreds of pounds on the latest GPS, hi-tech shoes, gofaster gear, phone apps – but seriously, to start with, just use the basics and get out there. If you can find a friend to join you, that’s great.
The key thing at this point is not to set your objectives too high. If you’ve never run before other than for the bus, then set out with an easy ‘run for a bit, walk for a bit’ routine, enjoy the fresh air, look around you, and then repeat. If you’re in Crich, there’s a great place to start that is about as flat and level as it gets round here: The Common, from Market Place to Fritchley. Choose a pair of lampposts to run between, then reward your effort by walking between the next two, and so on.
By far the most important aspect of running is how you feel about it. Most running challenges are in your mind; your body is generally far more capable than you imagine. Take time to be honest with yourself about why you want to start – and this can take a while (it took me nearly two years to find my reasons for running). You don’t need to share this with anyone, but make sure it’s something that is important to you. Maybe it’s about being able to keep up with your kids, maybe it’s to fit into an outfit for a special event, maybe it’s a health/ lifestyle change. Whatever it is, it will be the thing that gets you out running in the rain and cold, because it means something to you.
Secondly, believe in yourself. Believe you can run for five minutes – then prove it to yourself. Now you might believe you can do 10 minutes … and so the cycle of belief and evidence continues, until eventually you’ll be running for 30 minutes or more, and then there’ll be no stopping you. You notice I make no mention of speed here; whether you run 5K in 20 minutes or 50 minutes, it’s still the same distance, and you’ll still be running.
Once you’ve started and have discovered that you might just like it, it’s a good time to invest in a pair of good running shoes. Visit a decent purveyor and ask for advice on the best type for you – it’s important to get footwear that suits your running style and terrain; your knees will thank you for it in years to come! But apart from that and a head torch to guide you through the dark mornings and by Ian Travers evenings, other kit is entirely at your discretion.
The free Jog Crich beginners’ running group meets every Monday evening outside Crich Butchers – for more info, visit the Jog Crich Facebook page.
I love running. I know that every step I take is helping me both physically and mentally (there’s a positive connection between outdoor activity and wellbeing). I’ve never come home from a run not feeling better than when I went out. Maybe a little more muddy, damp or tired – but feeling great inside!