How I Learnt To Run (And Enjoy It)

by - 13:09:00

Running is perhaps the easiest and cheapest way to get fit; you simply put on your trainers and go. That's all that is required. I never had a problem with this aspect of it but I very rarely came back from a run and thought 'I enjoyed that'. What happens when we do things we don't enjoy? We tend to stop doing them. So two or so years ago I pretty much gave up on running. It wasn't the sport for me and in my mind my body wasn't really capable of doing it well. 

Fast forward to now and so much has changed. I look back with a tinge of regret, because I would've been further along my journey had I just stuck with it. So for anyone who's starting out running or wants to pick it up, here are a few things that have helped my progress (and enjoyment) tremendously. 

The best thing I did to help me along was to download the Nike Run Club App and actually stick to the plans it builds for you (the My Coach feature). I've dropped out of more of these plans than I care to admit to, but actually sticking to them and not making excuses has without a doubt improved my performance. You can adjust the plans to whatever your end goal is; they will adjust themselves accordingly as the weeks pass by and I will almost guarantee that you'll be a better runner by the end of it. There's no greater satisfaction than seeing the workouts and weeks tick themselves off, trust me. If a regime isn't quite up your street, give the guided runs a go. Whatever your aim is for your run, there's someone you can take along with you in your ear. Be it a famous face or a celebrated Olympian; Nike has brought them all together to help you be the best you can be. So you're all headed to the App Store right about now... Obviously.

Signing up for a race may seem like a terrifying ordeal right now but they're nowhere near as scary as you think they are. It took until last year for me to commit to running a race, but now I can't get enough. Having a concrete end goal will motivate you no end. Come rain or shine, you'll be pounding the pavements because you want to do your best. It also helps to not think of it as a race at all. Most people are there for themselves; like it or not, they probably don't care too much about you or your running. Do what you're comfortable with and allow yourself time to soak it all in. By that I mean to enjoy the cheering crowds; high-five as many amazing people as you can and generally just enjoy the day. I ran the Great Manchester Run 10k last year and it was a day like nothing I've experienced before. I wasn't sure I'd be able to run the full 10k; I was pretty much a nervous wreck waiting for the starting gun. Suffice to say it's still a memory that brings a smile to my face almost one year later. It was uplifting, emotional and such a joyous day and I don't think I've ever enjoyed a run more. It should come as no surprise then that I'm running it all over again this year, and I've also signed up for the Manchester Half Marathon. Am I mad?

I mentioned just a second ago that I had doubts that I would be able to run the full 10k. This had absolutely nothing to do with me physically but everything to do with my mindset. When I used to run, as soon as it got hard I would give up. My mind would be telling me that I needed to stop and I always trusted my head. How foolish. With the structure of the Nike plans, I've learnt not to give in so easily. When the going gets tough, instead of giving in, I now dig even deeper and find the strength to get it done. While I'm completing these runs I hate them, but afterwards the feeling of accomplishment is otherworldly. So stop saying you can't; push through and reap the rewards at the end. Also you will get to the end; the finish line is never really that far away. 

This next tip is relatively shallow I will admit, but the age old saying if you look good, you'll feel good definitely applies here. Whether it's a fresh pair of running shoes, or a great pair of shorts: treat yourself. New gear will not only make you feel the part, but you're probably more likely to act the part too. Plus if you're wearing items you enjoy, the overall result should be much better too. Now that I'm running frequently, I've got quite the stash and I love mixing and matching things and feeling confident when I head out of the door. So rack up the miles and get filling the racks of your closet too! 

My parting gift to you is probably two things you're probably already doing if I'm completely honest. Exercise isn't something necessarily to be enjoyed, so sometimes you need a bit of outside help. Two things that up the fun factor for me personally are a change of environment or a really great playlist or podcast. So head further afield; explore the podcast charts on iTunes and find what works for you. For me, I like to head to the countryside. There's nothing better than swapping concrete for a woodland trail. 

Mashing all this lot together has made me a better runner and one that now actually looks forward to, and enjoys doing it. It's no longer a chore or burden and physical benefits aside, I've also found it's had a wonderful effect on my mental wellbeing. So make a note, grab your trainers and see what you're truly capable of. It's probably more than you think. 

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