Why I've Started Running Again & An Honest Chat About Mental Health and Fitness

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You might have spotted on Twitter a few weeks ago that not only have I started running again but I've done so with my beloved Josie in tow. My exercise routine has certainly not been consistent over the past year and I really fell out of love with it. I tried so often to get back into the swing of things but could never stick to it so my daily dog walks were the only thing keeping me fit. And I adore them but they don't give me the same buzz as getting sweaty does so a couple of weeks ago I got back my Nike Free Runs back out of retirement and got moving again and it felt fantastic. So I thought I'd share some tips about running with your pupper as well as why I love running so much and why I'm so glad I've got back into it.

WHY RUNNING

Out of all the forms of fitness that I've tried, running was always my favourite. It's free and you can do it any time that suits you so there really aren't many excuses not to run. The way I feel when I run is like nothing else, I get such a high from it and it's been one of the biggest aids for me mentally. Whenever I feel down and stressed out then going for a run will most likely clear my head so when I get home I'm ready to get back into it. When I couldn't run anymore due to some serious knee pain I missed it so much, I would see people running and I would get a sense of longing. Which I realise might sound utterly ridiculous but I have a lot of thank running for. It's not something that is for everyone and that's ok, some people live for lifting heavy things but for me, it's running that has my heart.

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RUNNING WITH A PUP

One of my biggest dreams, when it came to running, is that I would one day get to do it with a pup by my side and now Josie is a little older and not so excitable then I've been able to run with her. Obviously, being a whippet means she's meant to run but there is no way I could ever match her pace when she's sprinting but she quite happily trots alongside me matching my speed and it's one of my favourite things I get to do. And because she enjoys it so much then it makes me way more inclined to do it, even after a long day. When I tried running with Josie when she was younger it was a disaster as she was so excitable and would just jump into me. So when I started trying again with her we started off slow and she didn't get jumpy until she got really excited which was my fault. We started off with treats that she would get for going so far and keeping to heel and now we go nearly 5k with her just trotting alongside me. If you've got a pup and you want to get running then I cannot recommend combining the two together if your dog is able to! 

mental health & exercise 

Far too often I see exercise being scoffed at when it comes to mental health, saying that it does nothing and it's a cop-out. And it won't work for everyone, there is no denying that and it is not a cure but it definitely can help. Every time I listen to Bryony Gordon's brilliant mental health podcast every single guest will say that exercise has helped them dramatically, no matter what type of exercise it is. Although my mental health is generally a little better than it has been in the past I still struggle daily.  I don't think it's something that will ever entirely leave my brain but all that matters is that it doesn't dominate my days which is what is the most important thing to me and running really helps. 

HOW TO GET INTO IT WHEN YOU'RE NOT A NATURAL 

As much as I love running I'm not a natural born runner at all and it's something I certainly find difficult. But the more I've worked at it and the more patience I've had with myself the easier it gets. I have no goals with running and it is purely something I do for enjoyment and not something that I'm going to put any pressure on myself for. A couple of great apps that are available to help you to get into it if you don't know where to start are Couch to 5k and Nike+. If it's something that you want to get into then try not put loads of pressure on yourself to be smashing the miles straight away. It takes a lot of time but it does click eventually and when it does it feels incredible. 

running essentials

  • Nike Free Runs: I've had these trainers for years so they're probably something that you've seen me talk about a lot but they're the best money I've ever spent. At the time they were one of the biggest purchases I've ever made but 3 years on I'm still able to use them. They might look like fashion trainers but they are not, they give me the most natural running position and I've never suffered from shin splints when wearing these.
  • Perfect Fit Harness: This was a recent purchase for Josie and it wasn't a cheap one. I'd been after a harness for months for her as I don't love having anything around her neck as it's so long and it can cause long-term damage if they pull. This one fits her perfectly as it's made up of 3 parts so it can be adjusted to her strange but beautiful body shape and as it's made up of fleece it doesn't irritate her thin whippet skin. Highly recommend these harnesses if you have a hound too or switching over to a harness in general if you want to run with your dog as it's much better for them. 
  • Fetch & Follow Lead*: Josie's short F&F lead is something that I absolutely adore and when we got Edie they kindly gifted us a long lead that could go around the waist so now I'm running with her it's something I use so much. Even though it's leather it's so buttery soft so doesn't irritate my skin and the brass clasps keep Josie secure.
  • Running belt: To keep my phone and poo bags safe I've been using my running belt, they're so handy to have even if you aren't running and just a dog walker and need a place for treats etc. The only downside to using one of these is that sweat does gather around them which I find tends to lead to small breakouts.
  • Medium impact support sports bra: As well as a good pair of trainers something else I cannot recommend enough is a good sports bra. There is nothing worse than getting going and feeling that awful pain in your chest from wearing something unsupportive. I find something with medium support is good enough for me to keep things in place and happy but not make me feel like I can't breathe. 
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Are you a runner? What is your favourite form of exercise?