There was one day in December when it wasn’t raining. It was clear and crisp with a bright blue sky – in other words, absolutely freezing. I was stood in a forest with about a hundred other people in various states of undress; there were people standing next to me in no more than shorts and a vest. This was the Moors Valley 10k, and this is running.
I am a runner, and I say that with pride. I have never won a race, I don’t run very fast, I have embarrassingly short legs, but I am a runner.
Like most Mums I don’t get much time to myself. Running provides me at least half an hour of precious me time, alone with my thoughts and my iPod. Step after step I can take out my stress and worries on the road and return home my blood pumping, endorphins flowing and in a much better mood. Running straightens out the knots in my brain; there isn’t much that can’t be solved with a good run.
Why would you jump up and down in a sweaty, smelly room when you can be out in the sunshine? There is no greater way of burning calories (bar cross country skiing and we just don’t have the climate); it tones every part of you, strengthens your heart and opens out your lungs. It makes me feel strong, confident and independent, the person I want to be.
If you’ve ever thought about it, seen those strange people in Lycra out in the rain and wondered why, give it a go. Why not? What have you got to lose except the wobbly bits?
Here are my top tips to starting out:
• Set a goal, and tell people about it. Signing up to your first race is ideal and the Race for Life series are always good value. Lots of support, great cause, convenient locations and a shiny medal at the end. Setting a goal gives you something to aim for and something to scare you into action when you really don’t want to go on that training run in the rain. Get people to sponsor you, then you’re really committed.
• Buy two bits of essential kit: running shoes and, unless you want your boobs round your ankles, a sports bra. Go to a good running shop and get fitted for a pair of trainers. They will support your feet, provide cushioning for the pounding and ensure that everything faces the right way as you run. If you have some spare cash then do invest in some running kit too. Sites like Wiggle and Amazon are great and kit doesn’t have to be expensive. If you feel good and look good, you’ll want to be out there, running.
• Be at one with nature. The shrub is your friend. Unfortunately, as your training runs get longer (and, let’s face it, our pelvic floors are not what they used to be) it is inevitable that one day you might feel the call of nature nowhere near a conveniently placed public loo. Take the dive and embrace a leafy bush. It’s not dignified, but then neither are leaky boobs, singing the wheels on the bus at full volume or cleaning up baby puke and we’ve all been there without worrying about it.
• Find a training plan and stick to it. Runners World have some brilliant beginners training plans and great advice and articles too. Take it easy on your first runs – don’t charge out of the block and get out of breath within a hundred metres. Take it slow, even if it means you are no faster than your Gran walking to the post office. It doesn’t matter, you are out there, which is far more than those people beeping their horns are achieving.
• Watch those calories. While running does give a good excuse to eat that second Creme egg, be careful. Roughly speaking you burn about a hundred calories per mile so it can be too easy to be putting in the mileage at the same time as putting on the pounds. Similarly, you don’t need expensive sports drinks until you are doing long runs of about ten miles or more – good old fashioned water will suffice.
• Always say hello to runners you pass on your route. It’s just friendly!
The rest is up to you! Nothing is as hard as the first run out but as you put the miles under your feet you will feel yourself getting faster and fitter.
Oh, and don’t call it jogging. Whatever speed – if you run, you are a runner.
PS. I would love to hear how you getting on: tweet me @paperclipgirl