How to Run [For people who hate running…]

This afternoon’s post is by the legendary Penny from Bad Penny Says. Usually our new music guru, she also happens to be a fully qualified personal trainer and after all the talk lately about keeping healthy and happy her choice of topic is very apt. In the summer months I enjoy running, there’s nothing like it to clear the head, but I have so many friends who say ‘I just can’t run…‘ Well, let Penny show you how…

I have lost count of the number of clients who come to me and speak in wistful tones about how they’d love to be able to run, but they’ll never be able to. They gaze enviously at joggers in the park and gym-bunnies on treadmills, as if these people are a different breed to them, magically gifted with winged feet/ lungs that don’t burn just 20 seconds into a run around the block. As if, as foetuses, these people simply laced up their shoes one day and ran out of the womb.

Stop the madness! I am here to bust these myths wide open. If your body is capable of walking to the shops, you should be able to run. And once you get into it, the sky’s the limit. Running is a weapon with which you can fight obesity, depression, anxiety, it strengthens your cardiovascular system and it frees your mind. You too could be one of those people who other people gaze wistfully at. I promise. Tried it before and hated it? Don’t worry – there are tricks you can use to cheat the system. This is how you get into running, when you think you can‘t run:

1. SLOW IT DOWN. This is the biggest mistake I see people making. Running should not be fast – not at first. It should be very, very slow. The best way to start out is to walk for 5-10 minutes, gradually increasing your pace until you’re walking at such a speed that it starts to feel a little uncomfortable. Then – without increasing your speed – lift your feet between steps. Congratulations. You are running. Doesn’t it feel easier than walking really, really fast? Good.

2. BREAK IT DOWN. Rome was not built in a day. Running is a learning process for your body, which needs to get fitter in order to be able to do what your brain is asking of it. Remember that burning chest feeling you get when you run for the bus? If you get that, you’re doing too much too soon. Once you’ve mastered the slow run (see above), try interspersing 1 minute runs with 2 minute walks. Repeat 5 times, with a 5 minute walk to warm up and cool down either side, and you have a 25 minutes of excellent running activity, all done by you, the supposed non-runner. Well done!

3. KEEP IT UP. Consistency is the key to progress. Aim to get your running practice in 2-3 times a week. If you only manage to grab 15 minutes here and there, that’s just fine and dandy too, and we‘ve established above that it doesn‘t have to be especially strenuous. The main thing is that you do it – no excuses, no putting it off until tomorrow. Write it in your diary if you have to, stick it on the fridge, leave your trainers by the front door in the morning – whatever it takes. As you get more confident, increase the length of your running intervals, and reduce the walking. See how much further you can go. Feels good, doesn’t it? You couldn’t do any of this a few weeks ago, and now you can. Feel proud.

The biggest running myth of all is that you should feel completely knackered by the end of your runs. If you’re doing it properly, you should feel energised and invigorated. If you find you’re becoming exhausted to the point where you lose motivation and start skipping sessions, then you’re running too fast or for too long. Really. Take it down a notch. There’s no point running yourself into injury – you’re doing this because you want to care for your body, not punish it.

Finally, the common sense stuff. Learn some stretches to cool down with, and make sure you’ve got trainers with a reasonable support in them. Keep hydrated. If you’ve got any existing medical issues that you’re worried may be aggravated by high impact exercise, then get your doctor’s approval before starting out.

Over to you! Do you love running? Then tell us how you got your mojo…

PS Find Penny on her blog Bad Penny Says, or @TokaiPenny.

*All images taken from Rebecca’s Pinterest account and originally uploaded by users so without source credit.

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