Two weeks ago I attempted to start running. I say “attempted” because I did two runs and then realised that I was totally and utterly unequipped to take on the challenge. As a total non-runner, I had thought that just sticking on some trainers and downloading an iPhone app would be the answer to all of my exercise problems, but what I hadn’t bargained for was a) the sore feet, b) the fact that wearing very tight and shiny leggings is a TOTALLY different experience when you’re outside of the gym with people driving past in vans and c) the way that you need to be in a very specific state of mind to be able to motivate yourself and keep your feet moving.
And so to iron out my running woes (more on them later this week) I have turned to the Queen of Keeping Your Feet Moving, Muireann Carey-Campbell, AKA “Bangs and a Bun”. Bangs writes the award-winning blog Bangs and a Bun and also Spikes and Heels and is also the author of a highly motivational book about running, Be Pretty On Rest Days. She’s a one-woman inspiration stop and I’ve been following her blogs and tweets for over four years; when she agreed to help me out with a bit of running advice I did a little happiness scream.
And so here, for your eyes only, are the Bangs and a Bun tips for people who want to start running. Don’t step a foot outside until you’ve read them! And if you’re one of those humans sitting there thinking “I could never run, I’m just not one of those people”, then you’re not alone. Bangs thought that too, and now she’s run 11 half marathons and travels all over the world taking part in events. She says, “if you’re looking for a cost-effective, time-friendly, easy-access way to get into exercise, you really can’t go wrong with a bit of running action.” When you put it like that, what’s there to lose? Hit me with the handy hints, Bangs…
“When starting out, be prepared to run-walk
You’ve got your kit on, you’re energized you imagine you’ll just be smashing it for miles. That’s probably not going to happen. You have to be patient with yourself. If you’re just getting into fitness, running is quite literally a shock to your system – allow your body time to adjust. For your first run, set yourself a target of running for two minutes and walking for one – keep that up for twenty minutes and you’ve laid some decent ground work. Next time you go out, run for three minutes, walk for one and so on. Gradually, you’ll reduce the time you walk and be running 5K like a BAWSE.
For the love of God, get a good sports bra
No, your regular bra (one half of a flowery set that was on sale at La Senza) won’t do. And don’t try this whole wearing-two-bras nonsense either. Do yourself a favour and invest in a good sports bra. The one that’s right for you, very much depends on the size of your tatas, so do your research. This isn’t just a vanity thing either. If your breasts are bouncing around a lot, it stretches the ligaments in the breast tissue and they won’t snap back, so yup, it’s a recipe for saggy boobs and a generally painful chesticle area. Not to mention, a proper sports bra that straps those puppies down will make your run a hell of a lot more comfortable.
Get fitted for running trainers
Those wedge trainers you got at Zara are probably not appropriate. Head to a running shop and they’ll do something called a ‘gait analysis’. This is where they observe you running on a treadmill for a couple of minutes, see how your foot strikes the surface, whether or not your foot rolls inwards or outwards etc and they can then recommend the best kind of shoe for your running style. If you’re in uncomfortable trainers, you’ll never get the most from your runs. Getting this bit right is so crucial.
Music to your ears?
The temptation is to put your headphones on and blast some beats. While music does serve as a great distraction, it’s just that – a distraction. When you’re blasting your music super loud, you can’t hear the way your foot strikes the ground, you can’t hear your breathing and you’re not paying attention to what’s around you. At least for the first couple of months, ditch the music and get in tune with your body – it will make a massive difference.
Take a deep breath
Breathing is probably the hardest thing to master when you first start running. Nobody likes to feel out of breath. Consequently, you’ll probably start taking quite shallow breaths and it’s all up in your chest, which then causes you to be tense up around your neck and shoulders. Learning to breathe deeply will really help. I try to breath and count to ensure I’m getting into a good breathing pattern, so I’ll breath in for three steps and out for three steps, ensuring those breaths come from my belly. Once you get into a good rhythm with your breathing, your body gets into a good flow and your legs will just go onto autopilot.
It’s all in the mind
Running is probably 80% mental. The stories we tell ourselves about what we’re capable of can make or break a run. I’ve done races where everything in my body said ‘stop! I don’t want to do this! I can’t do this! This sucks!’ But if you can program your brain to weed out those thoughts, to overpower them and to keep on truckin’, then you’re really onto something. And discovering that mental strength and the impact it subsequently has on every aspect of your life, is I dare say, what makes running so damn beautiful. So if you’re just starting out on your running journey or you’re getting back into it after some time off, I hope you and the road become fast friends. If it doesn’t all click instantly, don’t worry, that’s natural, just keep going til you find what it is you’re hoping running will give you.
You can download Be Pretty On Rest Days here and follow Muireann on Twitter here. For some seriously good blog-reading, click over to Bangs and a Bun here. Many many thanks to Muireann for taking the time to write this post, I seriously don’t know how she fits everything in!