Everything I Wish I Knew Before I Started Running
You’ve probably seen me mention that I’m currently using the Couch to 5k app to help me get back in the swing of things with running. Back in 2015 I fell in love with running, never before had I felt so mentally free in my entire life but a few months in I really hurt my knee and that left me unable to run comfortably for years. Last year I briefly picked running back in the summer but when the weather turned I didn’t fancy doing it in the freezing cold so it wasn’t until I rejoined the gym did I start opening the app again a few times a week. And this is everything I wish I knew about running before I started.
PICK YOUR FOOTWEAR WISELY
When I first started running I didn’t give any serious thought to what was on my feet. And it wasn’t until I got agonising shin splints did I realise that any old pair of trainers won’t do and you need something designed for running. Out of everything you wear apart from possibly a sports bra if you have a large chest your trainers are undoubtedly the most important thing to spend money on. Getting your running gait analysed so you can be matched to a pair of trainers is something that I’ve seen a lot of people do often with great results but some find that things didn’t quite work out by doing it. Personally, it’s not something that I’ve ever really felt like I needed to do because I’ve never had any issues with the running trainers I invested in. Which were the Nike Free Runs, they were a seriously big investment for me at the time at over £100 but at this point they’ve had so much wear that the cost per wear is pennies. They're designed to mimic barefoot running and for such comfortable trainers I’ve always felt like everything is well supported and not once have I suffered an injury in them. 4 years on these are still incredible to run in but they do need replacing or at the very least the soles do so they feel bouncy once again. I do find this style is better suited for treadmills rather than really rocky terrain but other than that they’re brilliant trainers.
find out what makes you want to run
A good playlist has always been absolutely key for me when it comes to running. On the cross trainer or bike then I can happily listen to a podcast or watch something I’ve downloaded on Netflix but to get me in the mood to run I need music. I know that so many don’t recommend running to music as you tend to go in time with the beat and it’s incredibly hard not to get carried away as I’ve been guilty of doing that before but with practice, you can hone in on your run technique and not your feet moving to the beat. I tend to like to run to pop music, basically anything on my guilty pleasure Spotify playlist which is far from what I choose to listen to when I’m at home. The headphones I’m using right now are the Sudio Regent Wireless Headphones (gifted years ago). They drown out the noise of the gym and my heavy breathing perfectly. The only downside is that I do find using over the ear headphones seems to make me sweat a crazy amount around my head which isn’t the nicest but they’re totally worth it otherwise and unlike Apple headphones,For me, the only reason that I run is that it makes my mental health feel a thousand times better so I have no interest in personal bests or how long it takes me to run a mile. Going slow never sounds inspirational but for me and so many others slow is the way to go. When you first begin using the Couch to 5k app the short runs, in the beginning, make it easy to pick up the pace a little but as the runs get longer and you find your running feet (quite literally) then you soon down which is way easier to see when running on a treadmill. Something that is easy to do at the gym, however, is when running next to someone else to try and match their pace but focusing on yourself is so important. they never slip out of my ears.
IT’S NOT A RACE
For me, the only reason that I run is that it makes my mental health feel a thousand times better so I have no interest in personal bests or how long it takes me to run a mile. Going slow never sounds inspirational but for me and so many others slow is the way to go. When you first begin using the Couch to 5k app the short runs, in the beginning, make it easy to pick up the pace a little but as the runs get longer and you find your running feet (quite literally) then you soon down which is way easier to see when running on a treadmill. Something that is easy to do at the gym, however, is when running next to someone else to try and match their pace but focusing on yourself is so important.
find what cool down works for you
If you use the Couch to 5K app then you do a 5 minute warm up and cool down which is really important and something I never skip. But something that I always make sure to do is stretch and foam roll afterwards (I never stretch before) because that is what I find works best for my legs and now I very rarely feel sore. Foam rolling is the biggest one for me though, even when I wasn’t running and just walking the dogs I liked to roll my legs muscles out. It takes a little bit of time to get into the swing of foam rolling but there is a tonne of useful YouTube videos on how to do it effectively.
don’t feel bad for repeating the weeks
The app works through 9 weeks and you’re supposed to move on each week and I’m sure there are thousands of people who can do that. But, I am the furthest thing from a natural runner (and not the fittest person right now) even weeks 1 and 2 once felt ridiculously difficult when I began so I went through each week a couple of times until it felt somewhat doable and then I’d push myself onto the next set of runs. For me, exercise has always been something that I’ve found joy in so pushing myself so hard that it’s difficult to walk the next day definitely isn’t what I want to ever do. By doing the week's more than once it allowed me to really hone in on my running style and also my breathing, which is undoubtedly the most important thing to help you run for long distances.