If you would have told me last year that I would be able to run 45 minutes straight, without passing out from a shortage of oxygen, you would most probably be looking at a gaze of disbelief. If you would tell me I would be able to run 45 minutes straight, without passing out and actually enjoying myself, it would be that same face followed by me laughing it away and telling you I was never going to be the running type.
However, after I decided to give running a try last April, I have been hooked and now able to run 45 minutes straight and no, I’m not passing out next to the road. I have actually felt a lot more energetic, have no shortage of breath, I have shed a couple of pounds (yeah!) and coming to terms with the fact that going for a run a few times a week (I do 2-3x) is a good method for de-stressing and clearing your mind, especially after a long and hectic day.
And so now you are thinking, how the hell did that happen? Well, I tried running a couple times on my own before and I never got the hang of it. I always started with that romantic idea, that running outside only required your running gear and a nice place to run and I could basically do it everywhere and anytime (even the beach on holidays, how cool would that be?). As soon as I would start, I would have this instant aversion, always having in mind how long or far I still had to go, focusing too much on my watch instead of taking in the environment and concentrating on your pace and most of all being able to relax. This resulted in quitting after a couple of runs, it was never a success and I caved to the idea that running just wasn’t my thing.
Last March I decided things had to change health wise. I was constantly low on energy, wanted to lose weight and therefore it was time to incorporate consistent exercise to my life. I came across a 12-week running course, which basically means you learn how to run with a small group of people and trainer. You start with an intake, where they do a health check (pretty confrontational; “My fat% is what?!”) to determine realistic goals you would like to achieve at the end of the course, and based on that he sets out a running plan.
I can tell you, the first weeks consisted out of muscle pain, constantly being hungry and feeling exhausted (in a good way), however I noticed quick improvements in endurance and enjoyed the fresh air our outside activities brings you. My sleep quality improved, lost a bit of weight, but most surprising I started to like running! What?! Even my friends and family found my enthusiasm surprising. As I have now finished the course, I feel I’m still learning and improving and feel that a way to keep this routine going, needs another 12 weeks. Looking back on how I went from ‘running-is-not-my-thing’ to now missing it when I can’t find time, in my opinion are a couple of things, and I hope this will help anyone, who wants to start, but just needs that extra push:
- Don’t overdo it and start slowly. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to push yourself, but don’t make it something you dislike and keeps you from stepping into those sneakers. This means getting a schedule that fits your level, where you build up endurance gradually instead of over exhausting yourself. Or ask a pro to help you achieve your goals and teach you how to run.
- Get the right gear! The right type of shoes are so important for enabling you to run your best miles. Find a sports gear store where they can measure you up and give you advise on the best kicks. I know that some brands can have your preference, being aesthetically cooler, but the most important thing is the right fit.
- Find people with the same mindset. Although I love to go running alone, with just me, myself and my Spotify Running Playlist, when I meet up with the other peeps of the training on Monday’s and Wednesday’s, it’s just fun chatting away about the improvement (or setbacks) of the work out or talking about things of everyday life. It’s de-stressing! Other than that, it helps when family, friends and colleagues are supportive of your ‘new’ lifestyle and health goals. Don’t listen to the skeptic people (what’s with the salads?), listen to people who ask you how you’re training went and bring you smoothies!
- Last but not least, do what works for you. Don’t make exercising something that is a burden. This post is about running, but find something that you enjoy. And don’t work yourself up when for some reason (rain, busy schedule, or just plain ‘I-don’t-feel-like-it’) you skip a workout. There will always be a moment, be it tomorrow or next week, where you can catch up, try again, and push yourself towards your goals.