Just over a year ago I started running, as in properly pounding the pavement every other day (nearly). When I started, I wouldn’t say that I was in bad shape; I went to the gym once or twice a week and was reasonably active, but always assumed that “I wasn’t built for running”, which it turns out isn’t a thing.
It takes effort to build up distances and improve your time – I am still not running as fast as I want to – but here are some tips on how to keep motivated while seeing guaranteed positive changes, both physically and mentally, to your body.
Set a goal
Whether it is to run 5k, 10k, a marathon, or maybe just to lose weight and tone up, have a goal. Write it down, stick it on the wall, and keep a note of how you improve each week. If you plan out what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there it becomes a hell of a lot easier to get where you want to be.
Switch it up
The most important thing is to keep it interesting. If you run the same route all the time then chances are that you will get bored and quit. Have a few routes of different distances and use some to improve your speed and others to explore. I am lucky to live in the countryside with lots of tracks and fields to explore, but cities can be equally fun! At university in the city, runs by the canal, river or even through the centre of town for some window shopping are some of my favourite routes.
The best runs are beautiful!
Always take your phone with you, even if you don’t listen to music on it, you never know when you might need it (torrential rain, snow storms and sprained ankles come to mind…)! You can also download some great free apps to track your times, distances and even get smart watches to track your heartrate. Pick one that suits you – some cheer you on, some make you panic at the speed of your heart… This is a great way to see how you improve over the weeks and months, there is nothing better than getting a personal best!
If you’ve got into your running but seem to have reached a plateau, then take up some HIIT training and alternate it with runs. For months, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting faster, but doing 20 minutes of 1 min sprint to 1 min walks twice a week has increased my time considerably! See what works for you, but remember that any way that you get your heart racing is a great way to improve your cardio fitness.
Run and Release
Exercise is a great stress buster and the perfect way to escape the real world for a while. Stick in your headphones and focus on nothing but your favourite song, deep breathing and the pounding of your feet. I guarantee you will come back feeling fresh faced and maybe even a little more positive about some of those hellish modules, thanks to a healthy release of endorphins, and that post-run, euphoric feeling.
The great thing about running is that all you really need is a pair of trainers. You can do it wherever, whenever. It is a great way to feel good inside, and truly makes me proud of the power of my own body.
Edited by: Amy Hawthorne