Ahh ‘running’. It’s a word that might strike fear into the hearts of some of you because it reminds you of cross country, muddy knees and so much sweating. We’ve all been there.
But maybe for others it gives you a short, sharp blast of excitement at the thought of getting outside and getting moving? Maybe?
During school hours, exercise was always the first one for me. A pain in the neck. A way to send my face a shocking shade of tomato red. A necessary evil I had to endure to make it to art class after.
But outside of school, I found my secret exercising superpower: running. It helped me to feel more positive, get my body moving, stay fit and give me some time to think. Just me, the beach or the road, my music, my battered old trainers. And nothing else.
Sure you might never get into running — some of my best friends much prefer swimming and even skating — but today we’ve collected together five key things to think about to get you started. Who knows, you might find running makes you feel like a superhero too!
So, my little runner bean, here’s how to go from feeling “URGhhhh” to “AHHHH!” about running in no time.
1. Get some decent kit to keep your feet and your boobs happy
Anyone can start running right now. You can run in bare feet (this is a thing), you can run in battered old trainers (sometimes I still do) and some people can even run quite successfully in heels (although we wouldn’t recommend it).
But you’ll feel better if you have some proper kit. We’re not telling you to spend a bomb in the Nike shop or get your parents to shell out a fortune to have you looking like an Olympian. There are just a few key things you actually need. Then you can add to your kit over time.
The first one is running shoes. You can go to a special running store and have shoes fitted professionally. Oo-er, fancy pants! But if you’re just getting started, find some trainers in a sports shop that are created with running in mind. Look out for words like, obviously, ‘running’ and ‘support’ and ‘cushioned’.
If you start to get really good and run all the time, you can upgrade your shoes. But as a starter pair something that ticks at least one of those boxes above will be good. (Just ask the shop assistant if you need help.)
And it’s not just shoes that are important, but a good sports bra too. As your body is developing you want to take good care of the skin around your boobs. And yes, this is just as important if you’re an A cup or an E cup. If not, it’ll feel painful and could cause muscle ache over time.
2. Work to simple goals and challenges
Sometimes it’s easier to do something if you set yourself a goal. But the key when you’re getting started with running is to keep it small.
Some of our favourites are: Run 3 times a week. Run to the end of the street and back. Run for a whole song. Then, as you get better, you can increase these goals. If running to the end of the street and back gets easy, run around your whole neighbourhood once. If you can happily run for a whole song, try running for two. Then three, then even four!
The key to setting good goals and challenges is to keep it simple. You don’t have to be aiming for marathons. You’re not Paula Radcliffe (well, not yet).
There’s a saying, and we have no idea who said it first, that goes like this: “No matter how slow you go, you’re lapping everyone on the couch.” What this means is, even by getting out and trying, you’re doing better than the lazy version of you who didn’t even try and is still watching Netflix. So don’t obsess about being the best, the fastest or the strongest. As Nike always tells us: just do it.
3. Treat yo’self: Warm up, stretch and cool down
Even if you can only run for one minute right now, you need to make sure you treat your body nicely before and after you move it. This means warming it up before you run, so you don’t injure your legs. A warm up can be as simple as 30 star jumps and a few stretches.
Afterwards, you’ll want to do the same thing, but in reverse. Do a few more jumping jacks then have a good ol’ stretch.
Once you get more and more into running, stretching will become your new BFF. It’ll stop your limbs from feeling like jelly or like rocks the next day. It’ll make you feel more nimble and you’ll be able to go faster and further next week if you’ve been good about your stretches all of this week.
If you don’t know where to get started with stretching, there are some great apps that’ll help you out. We love Sworkit’s stretching option. Just tell the app how long you’ve got and the kind of stretch you’re after and it’ll show you exactly what to do, step-by-step.
4. Stay safe – you’re in superhero training but you’re not Supergirl just yet
When you get into running, it can be tempting to go on big, running adventures. We’re not stopping you – exploring new places is one of the best bits about running. But always stay wary about where you are.
Avoid going to really isolated places, like maybe a secluded beach or a forest, on your own. And always tell your friends and family when and where you’re going for a run, just in case.
The same goes for roads. When you’re running along, feeling like Beyonce, it can be easy to slip into a state of excitement or get lost in a world of motivational images. You taking over the world! You running the 800m at the next Olympics! But you need to be careful when it comes to cars, bikes and other pedestrians. Always stay alert and don’t play music too loud, or you’ll never hear anything coming.
5. Have fun
If running stops feeling fun, get some better kit, try a different route, listen to more motivating music, stretch more. Try mixing things up before giving things up.
But if you still don’t like it, don’t sweat it! Literally! Try something else. Skating, trampolining and swimming are some of our firm faves for when running feels like too much hard work.
Bottom line: if it’s not fun, don’t do it. In fact, we could apply that to everything.