Exercise and sport have never been a part of my life. Even in school I would do the P.E. class, but I never enjoyed any of the sports that we did. So therefore I never took one up as a hobby. And then through my early 20’s I would do the odd Zumba class, or 30 minutes on an exercise bike, but again never really enjoyed it. So I would say that I have never had good fitness throughout my whole 26 years on this planet!
But recently I feel like something has clicked inside of me that has made me want to change that. Maybe it was going travelling and realising I shouldn’t have been struggling as much as I did to climb up a hill, or just wanting to be able to do more. Or it could be that I am nearly 27, and it is much harder to get fit the older you get?!
I don’t know what it is, but a couple of months back in April Jack convinced me to go for a run. It was just a short 2km run, but that morning I put on my running shoes and was feeling pretty nervous. I had managed to run 1.5km in New Zealand without stopping, but what if I couldn’t go any further? I knew how horrible it could feel running when you really, really want to stop. But with Jack by my side, coaching me along, I did it! I ran 2km without stopping! Yes it was hard, and I was extremely slow and out of breath, but I was proud of myself all the same.
And from that point, nearly 2 months ago, I have ran at least 3 times every week. The first time I ran 3km Jack was there to coach me again, but other than that I go out on my own. At first I found it hard mentally to keep going, and of course physically. But I really do think it is largely a mental thing, if I keep thinking to myself that I can’t carry on then I am much more likely to stop.
Even though I can now run 5km, I am by no means fit at all. My maximum heart rate on a run is 206 bpm, which is VERY high! And my watch tells my I have the fitness age of a 48 year old! So that is great, but I try not to let that put me off. I have never exercised, so I have a lot of catching up to do. Plus, it will feel great when that fitness age starts to go down! So in this post I am going to give you some tips that I find help me with my running, and also my running plan for the past few months that has got me from 0km to 5km…
START YOUR RUN AS EARLY AS YOU CAN. This is easy for me as I don’t currently have a job, but I find getting out early in the morning is the best time for me to run. The weather is likely to be cooler at this time, as you don’t want to be running in the heat if you can avoid it. I also find that when I run in the morning, the rest of my day is so much more productive. But even if I do have a lazy day after my run, I feel like I have at least achieved something with my day.
INVEST IN A FITNESS WATCH. I am so glad that I upgraded from a Fitbit to a Garmin watch. It is much more accurate in the data that it tracks, but it also tells me so much more about my activities. I often run on a straight road, where I run half the distance and then turn back. So I can set my watch to vibrate when I have reached that half-way mark. I love getting back after my run and looking through all the data. The watch that I have is the Garmin Vivoactive 3!
COMPILE A RUNNING PLAYLIST. So I don’t focus on my breathing too much, and hear how out of breath I am, I make sure to whack up the volume on my music. I like to run to upbeat songs, but make a playlist with whatever works for you.
DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP. If you are struggling on a run, when the other day you found it easy. Don’t beat yourself up. Or if you are having to run much slower to keep going, that is fine too! You are going to get waves of good runs and bad runs, but just remember that each run is helping to work towards improving your fitness!
TAKE REST DAYS. It is so important to take rest days! If you push yourself too hard too often you might hurt yourself. I find the best routine for me is to run every other day, so I have one rest day in between. But if you feel particularly tired or sore, take a few more days! If you really want to go for a run, but your legs ache a little, I always find that after about one minute of running those aches go away. But always listen to your body, and don’t push yourself too much.
PLAN OUT YOUR ROUTE. Make sure to plan out your route before you start, you don’t want to have to be making those decisions during your run.
TAKE A RUNNING BUDDY. If you know someone that goes running, make plans to run together! I love having Jack there with me on a run, especially for the longer distances. He could easily run laps around me, but when we run together he is there to coach me through it. He tells me when to slow down and cheers me on, I feel very lucky to have his support!
ONCE YOU GET OUT THERE, YOU NEVER REGRET IT. Even if you wake up feeling a bit bleh, and really don’t want to run. I assure you that once you get out there, you won’t regret it. The endorphin hit you get at the end will most probably change your mood for the better.
STRETCH, BEFORE AND AFTER. Stretching is just as important as the rest days. Before exercising, stretching will loosen up the muscles, and after a run it will release the tension that has built up. Here is a great guide to stretches for runners!
Monday – Ran 2km in 14:36
Wednesday – Ran 2km in 15:02
Saturday – Ran 2km in 14:48
Monday – Ran 2km in 13:39
Wednesday – Ran 3km in 21:36
Friday – Ran 2km in 13:42
Tuesday – Ran 2km in 13:39
Thursday – Ran 2.5km in 16:29
Saturday – Ran 3km in 21:39
Sunday – Ran 2km in 13:49
Monday – Ran 2.5km in 18:06
Wednesday – Ran 3km in 22:12
Friday – Ran 3km in 21:38
Sunday – Ran 2.5km in 19:13
Monday – Ran 3km in 22:23
Tuesday – Ran and walked 2km
Saturday – Ran 2km in 14:00
Monday – Ran 2km in 13:52
Wednesday – Ran 2km in 14:11
Saturday – Ran 3km in 21:52
Tuesday – Ran 3km in 21:09
Thursday – Ran 3km in 21:41
Saturday – Ran 3km in 20:41
Tuesday – Ran 3.5km in 26:00
Thursday – Ran 3km in 22:13
Saturday – Ran 5km in 40:47
This was how I started from 2km and eventually managed to run 5km, and the time it took to run each one. As you can see from the times, even though it gets easier with each run, that doesn’t mean that you will be hitting a personal best each time. I often find that my legs feel weak, or my calves feel tight. Or I just have less energy at different times of the month. So don’t expect to find it easy every time once you get to that 5km mark. I will have a week where I find it easier, and the next week I can really struggle. But I feel like that makes it all the more satisfying, when you finish a run even though you wanted to stop for most of it!
So now that I have reached that 5km goal, I will continue to run every other day and hope to continue to improve my fitness and my times! Not only do I enjoy running for the fitness aspect, but a massive part of it is that endorphin hit after finishing. It never fails to improve my mood for the rest of the day, and I always miss that feeling of accomplishment on my rest days.
I would love to hear your journeys with running and fitness, let me know if you have recently started your fitness journey and how you are finding it. Or if you are a seasoned runner, I applaud you! I am always amazed at how fast so many people can run 5k, compared to my slow 40 minutes.
For ideas on how to fill your time in lockdown, check out my 8 Ways to Keep Occupied in Isolation!
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