Last week I blogged about what a rubbish runner I am and how its to my advantage when I’m trying to lose or maintain my weight. There are tonnes of tips out there from good runners, but hows about some tips from a rubbish runner? After all, I know how tough it can be, whereas a good runner has probably taken it all for granted!
If I’m a rubbish runner, you might wonder why I do it? Well apart from it being great for my weight, it is also 30 minutes with no kids, dogs, or husband, which is a huge luxury. I can listen to music, I can meditate, I can walk, run slowly or sprint; it’s my time.
First an important warning: Don’t run if you are obese or over weight, power walk instead. You might lose weight faster if you run (although I doubt it). However you could damage your body beyond it’s ability to fix itself. It’s not worth a damaged knee, ankle or back. You can run in 6 months time when you have lost some weight (use my free tips). In fact then it can be a great boost to your program so that you recharge yourself with a new goal.
1) Always Warm Up: However good or rubbish you are, everyone needs to warm up. It can be simple, just walk for a minute. But don’t miss it, because it makes a massive difference to the quality of your run.
2) Always Cool Down: However great you are, or however little you think you ran, always cool down and stretch. Walk for a minute or two until your breathing is back to normal. Then do some stretches. If you don’t know what stretches are good for your body type, then it’s worth having a personal training session with an experienced trainer, as we all have different body’s with different weaknesses. Stretching will enable you to get back out there running more quickly without damaging your body.
3) You don’t have to run the whole way. When starting or breaking through a new distance barrier, remember that you have to RUN the whole way when you go out for a ‘run’. Run for a while, then walk for a while; for instance I run for a song (I listen to music), then walk for a count of 100, and build up the distance gradually. Soon you won’t need to walk at all. Then you’ll want to start running further, so might need to add another walk in, before you can run the whole lot.
4) There is always a barrier to break through. When you start out, don’t worry when it gets harder, that is just a barrier, and ironically when you keep running or running-walking it gets easier (often about 15 minutes in at first). After a while you will be used to it, but you will have another barrier when you try to increase the speed or distance. It’s all part of the running experience.
5) Posture makes you faster or slower. Posture is king/queen when it comes to running. Stand up straight, and imagine a piece of string holding your head up, keep your shoulders down, and your arms relaxed. This gives you the ability to breathe better and will make you able to run further and faster. If your posture is bad, try Pilates or lessons in the Alexander Technique, which made an incredible 10 minute difference to my running when I ran a few years ago and was working towards run a long distance.
6) Have a goal or something/someone to compete with. I compete best with myself, so I just have to do better than the week before and I’m happy. Other people might need a running partner, or maybe a goal like running the Race for Life (this is a fabulous event, if you haven’t done it I really recommend you do), or running a 10k or half marathon. Why anyone would want to run a whole marathon I have no idea, but go for it if it appeals to you!
7) Wear a hat to hide your face and avoid the embarrassment of your neighbours or friends seeing you. Plus if it is a cap, it will keep the sun or rain out of your eyes.
8) Run in light rain. When it’s raining lightly it’s actually lovely to go for a run, because the rain (falling water) creates negative ions and you’ll find yourself really energised.
9) Get some brilliant music. This is a HUGE key to success. As the music changes, you’ll find yourself get a second wind, especially if you organise the music so that it revs up and then calms down for a bit.
10) Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathing well makes all the difference. You might not be a 100m sprinter, but you still need to breathe.
11) Get fitted properly for running shoes. There are shops where they watch you run and video you. Then you get to try on different shoes and see which ones work best for you. I can’t stress how good an idea this is, as running with an incorrect gait can cause you all sorts of damage.
12) Change your running shoes regularly. Your running shoes aren’t meant to last for years, so change them regularly. You might want to get professional advice about how often to do this, but writing this note has reminded me that I definitely need to buy a new pair of shoes!
13) Use Reiki or massage if you have any problems/discomfort after running and to give your body a break and a chance to recuperate. Massage is obviously lovely for the general muscle aches. But you might want to consider Reiki as a more unusual option, especially if you get shin splints, as it is brilliant for those. Some Reiki practitioners can be a little far out, so pick one that suits you and beware the ones who are maybe too ‘unusual’ for you (I’m a Reiki Master, so I’m kind of allowed to say that!).
14) Use affirmations to get you in the right frame of mind, keep you going and give you something to do. Mine are quite funny, but they work for me ‘I’m light as a feather, I run like the wind’ and ‘My body surprises me every day in how amazing it is’. Basically don’t mention what you don’t want, focus on what you do want.
15) Use running as a Zen meditation. I’m not the type of person to sit in a corner quietly and ‘Ohm’ to the universe. But Zen meditations really work for me. These are where you really focus on an activity that you are doing, like the noise/feel/sound/taste of making a cup of tea. So with running you would focus on the sounds around you, the feel of the air, the sound and feel of your feet. Concentrate on your feet, not how far you have to go. Focus on your feet rolling from heel to toe, and focus just in front of you, rather than miles ahead. It’s like becoming acutely aware of your running and only your running. You may have thoughts straying in. That’s fine. When you notice them, just pop them to one side and get back to focussing on just the running.