Prepare yourselves. There is a hint of “wellness” in what I am about to tell you. Don’t worry though. I’m not here to chat about flat tummy tea, the miracle of spiralizers or the wonders of chia pudding – I’m here to talk about running and how it has helped me say goodbye to poundage, toenails and good hair days.
If I haven’t been blogging in the last 5 months then I’ve probably been running. During that time I have chalked up over 480km. I can hardly believe it. I picked this up as a way of losing some kilos that have crept on over the last couple of years and now it’s become a full-on hobby/obsession. Something has just clicked.
Although I consistently bunked off PE in school, I’ve always been “in” to running. I was that person hogging the treadmill in the gym for much of my early twenties and then, when I moved to Dubai, I picked it up again, using the amazing Get running app to navigate my way round my neighbourhood. I enjoyed it but work got busy and I got lazy and when its 30+ degrees outside it’s easy to make excuses. So I sacked it off and drank wine instead.
I tried other exercise:
- Barre classes – so chic, so effective and so expensive.
- Bikram yoga – sorry, I can’t get on board if I think that the founder is highly likely to be a w*nker who has misappropriated yoga practices and exploited them for commercial gain. Also factor in my drowned rat physical appearance after each class.
- The gym – the thought of even stepping foot inside it numbs my brain.
- At home videos – consistently started with great intentions that quickly disappear like a fart in the wind.
Fair enough I thought, they aren’t “my thing” or this isn’t “my time”. But as anyone who is in their thirties or above will tell you, it’s hard to keep your sh*t together as you age – you cannot rely on a strict diet alone and expect to look good naked.
So one night in July, when it was impossibly hot and humid, I decided to go for a quick “jog”. The use of that word was important – psychologically jogging sounded a lot less intimidating and intensive than running. That night I did a fairly slow 3k and repeated the same the following evening, and then the next and the next. At this point it wasn’t about speed or performance – it was just about doing “something”. That kind of low expectation was key because there was no pressure or goal other than to get out there. Since then my approach has changed but in order to establish the routine it was important to be kind to myself. I didn’t have to run fast or for a long distance – I just had to make some semblance of effort.
5 months later and I have still stuck to it. Yes I have lost weight, which has been a major motivation, but there have been other residual benefits as well:
- Zoning out – running is a bloody monotonous activity and for some people it is too boring to comprehend. For me that monotony is key because it allows me to focus something other than work. I find it a massive stress reliever, especially when undertaken at the end of the day.
- Sleeping soundly – I have no problems going to sleep but I am much better about waking up. I used to feel so groggy in the morning and although I still have the personality of a plain bagel first thing, getting out of bed is at least easier.
Now of course the challenge is maintaining the energy and commitment. It’s all very well starting with enthusiasm but keeping it going is where I traditionally crash and burn.
For that there is one thing that I would recommend. Hold on tight now because this is going to sound very, very sponsored when it isn’t at all:
Download the Nike Running App. Download it right away.
You will find that it’s a good way of tracking your runs but where it really excels is in the Coaching tab.
I randomly found this feature and it’s really helped me stay motivated so far. I am almost psychotic in my devotion to it and I refuse to miss a day of training – even if it means running at 12am slightly drunk.
Here you will find programmes that will help you achieve 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon runs. I completed the 10k a few weeks ago – it’s an 8-week commitment – and it really works. When I started 10k seemed like a big deal but now it’s not actually very far at all. That’s just how much of a difference it makes.
I’m now onto the half marathon scheme, which is majorly intense but I’m working towards an actual half marathon in February and I know/hope this will get me there.
So what else is there….well here are some other things that I think are important to know:
- I’m a night owl – everything I read seems to extoll the virtues of exercise in the morning. I fully understand the notion of starting the day “right” by getting a run completed before breakfast but at the same time I despise morning’s and the only activity I can accept at that time is drinking coffee in silence with a glum look on my face. For me exercise needs to be undertaken at night. I like the fact that fewer people are around, the air is cooler and nobody can see my face turn purple. That’s my time and I’m sticking to it.
- I enjoy rest days – I’m paranoid about injury so I do not run every day. The Nike app refers to cross-training days where you’re meant to do some kind of other activity. LOL. Hello? I’m running 50k a week! So I pretend to the app that I have done that and spend the day doing naff all. I will at some point integrate strength training but not yet.
- I can’t run without music – I like to block out the sound of my heavy breathing as much as possible so Soundcloud is my best friend. I listen to trending music or my own playlist that I have created with the sole aim of getting my arse in gear.
- I have to run outside – I am of the opinion that treadmill running sort of doesn’t count. Having said that if I lived in the UK that would be my only option as I wouldn’t feel safe enough to run outside at night.
- I do watch what I eat – I’m having less of a party with food. Takeaways have been stopped and indulgences have been limited to a couple of times a week. I still eat dairy, gluten, carbs and I’m not especially concerned about being “clean” but it’s on the healthy side of life. Protein shakes (frozen mixed berries/banana/coconut milk/protein powder = divine), tuna salad, eggs on toast, Quorn anything, salmon with greens and Lindt chocolate are where it’s at.
To finish this post I want to say that I am not The First Runner in the World Like Ever. I know that many of you are more experienced and proficient than me so if you do have any tips or advice do leave them below.
Thanks for reading! I’ll shut up about it now.