Running, love it or hate it, its good exercise. There are countless benefits to running, some being overall mental health, strong immune system, weight loss, physical strength, the list goes on.
I have always been fairly active. When I was about 5 years old I use to do disco dancing (yes that’s what it was called, not sure what type of dancing it is, but I remember one move was bouncing an air basketball next to your knee… hehe). When I was 11/12 years old I did gymnastics and I loved it, and when I was 15, I discovered home workouts from my moms scrapbook days when she was a teenager. I was always skinny, I never struggled with my weight, but I seriously thought I inherited the natural ability to be athletic from my mother (she was a 400m & 800m athlete)…but alas.
I tried out for the netball team every single year in primary school, and never made the team, probably because I have such bad ball skills or even worse hand-eye coordination. I tried out for the athletics thinking I would be a natural, nope, the kids I were running against use to practice 5 days a week with a coach after school. When I was 15 I tried out for the hockey team and made the B team, or was it the C team? Anyways that only lasted 6 months because my mom was scared I will get bruises or even worse that I might lose a tooth… you know that really happened to a girl once. But for those 6 months I loved being part of a team. I loved running, I loved the adrenaline of chasing that ball and scoring a goal.
When I finished school my choice of exercise was mainly the gym or home workouts and I really enjoyed it. After picking up 28 kg after my first-born it was time to get back into shape. I discovered BodyRock.TV and Kayla Itsines Bikini Body workouts. I use to take my toddler with to the gym and do my 28 minute HITT workouts there, I knew he was well taken care of and I got out of the house. I was surprised how exercise for such a short time could have such a big impact. I could feel my body getting stronger and fitter as the weeks went by. After 12 weeks I saw a huge difference in my body, and I was well pleased. But I still didn’t run long distances. I would do a HITT workout on the treadmill, which consisted of 30 second intervals for 15 minutes, running 30 seconds on level 9/10 and then walk on level 7.
In 2016 I came across a post on Pinterest, Couch to 5km, and I thought to myself “I can do this!” “I want to do this” I wanted to experience that feeling that all joggers were talking about. some of my jogger friends would say “when you get to 5km it becomes so easy, you hardly feel like you are running” So I invited my neighbour to go jogging with me every morning 3 days a week for the next 8 weeks. We would meet up at 5 am and do our program. After 6 weeks we were running 5 km once a week.
It was then that we moved to Japan. And when we were there I decided to get the guts to start running by myself. I have always been comfortable with working out by myself, I can push myself, but it is fun having a workout buddy. That being said if I don’t have one that is not going to stop me from getting a workout done.
I promise you, if I could do it, so can you.
It’s a mindset. I decided to start somewhere. And that my friends, can be the hardest part.
Here are some of my tips to help you start running
Set Goals and work towards them
My first goal was to be able to run 5km. My next goal was to improve my time on a 5km. Then I decided to push myself and see if I could run 10 km, every km past 5 km I would think to myself “Just another 4, 3, 2 ,1 km…” until I reached 10km. I paced myself slowly. It was more important for me to go the distance than to do it fast.
(Here is a freebie of a printout I designed that I used while teaching myself to run 5km – 10 km.)
Find what works for you
I found it easier to start with 2 min walking and 1 minute running for 30 minutes, then each week I would change my program until I could run for a longer time before resting. See this pin that I followed to start with: https://za.pinterest.com/pin/396035360956275167/
Make a fun playlist
I love to run on dance music, there is something about the beat that makes me feel alive, and I want to run harder and faster. And it helps that I don’t hear myself breathing…hehe
Here is my current playlist:
Invest in good running shoes
When I started running in Japan I ran in Adidas trainers, they were better suited for the gym and not really for long distance, but my motivation, determination and drive pushed me harder that my shoes were squeezing the life out of my little pinky toes. When we got back to South Africa, my mother-in-love bought me my first pair of Asics. I could not believe that running shoes could feel so soft and comfortable. It felt like I was running on air.
Use a tracking device
My first polar watch was the FT7 and it was great for gym, it would show me the calories I burnt in a workout, my heart rate in that session, and steps in the day, but it didn’t have a gps tracker, so 1 year later I upgraded to the Polar M300 heart rate monitar with strap and watch, and it has helped tremendously with my workouts. I love that I can see how much calories I burn. I don’t get obsessive over it, but it is nice to keep track of how hard I push myself with each session. It tracks my distance with a built in gps and it saves my workouts so that I can compare them over time. It even links up with a app on my phone.
The other options is to download a app on your phone like: Runtastic Running & Fitness, Runkeeper.
This is one of the things I am really reluctant to do, but I have found that when I finish off my workout with a 5 minute stretch session, it really does help that I don’t feel as stiff and sore the next day or 2 afterwards.
Photos: Gabrielle Col Photography (Grenoble, France) https://www.facebook.com/Gabrielle-Col-Photography-191054811536885/