Anyone else bored of hearing about marathon training yet?
Now that January has arrived it seems like everyone I know is intent on avoiding the pub and pounding the pavements for the foreseeable future.
Good for them! And their runner highs and newly-honed thighs.
I actually have zero intention of ever running over 26 miles, or becoming a proper 'runner' with streamlined outfits and tips on chaffing BUT in the last few years I have started jogging as a way to combat jet lag and explore new places on my travels as well as clearing my head at home... and I'm a total convert (when the weather is on my side).
Running is a brilliantly easy way to keep fit if you travel a lot. But it's also a great way to tone your legs and find a bit of peace at home. And, best of all, it's totally FREE.
I now try and get out to do five kilometres a couple of times a week, and I always pack my trainers on my travels. It keeps me calm, allows me to eat pizza, and the combination of vitamin D + endorphins = the best non-toxic pick-me-up I know.
If the new year has piqued your interest in running, here's the Detox|Retox tool kit and tips for first-timers...
THE DETOX|RETOX RUNNING TOOLKIT...
A brilliant BRILLIANT book for complete beginners that manages to be equally entertaining and motivating. You will have run out of excuses four pages in, and you'll be sprinting out of the door after the first chapter. The biggest lesson I learned from this book is to start s-l-o-w and that the first few minutes are the hardest.
2. MAP MY RUN
A free tracking app that, er, maps your run. It also stores your routes and helps set the pace as required, as well as announcing distances so you know how far you have travelled.
3.NO HASSLE HEADPHONES + SPOTIFY PLAYLISTS
Music is a crucial part of my running routine, having the power to push me out of the door when I really, really don't fancy it, and Spotify is one of my best running pals.
When starting out I'd suggest listening to music you love to dance to (or used to) with your friends. I have spent many nights dancing for HOURS like an idiot and so know I have the energy there somewhere. It's just about finding the right tunes to trigger it. Disclosure Caracal is a current favourite.
And swap annoying iPhone/in-ear headphones for lightweight over-the-head or 'earhook' headphones that won't slip out when you're pounding the streets. Ideally you should forget that they are even there. I use a pair of small Sennheisers but my marathon-running brother swears by his bargain KitSound ones from Tesco.
4. CHEAP SHADES
I feel terribly self-conscious when running, which is a crap reason for not doing something I know, but one I used to use to shy away from doing it. Wearing sunnies means no eye contact is necessary and helps you feel a bit more invisible when you’re panting like a pig. Cheap chic is the way to go here (I wear fake Ray-bans) and make sure you road test their staying power by bouncing around the house before you head out.
5. THE RIGHT OUTFIT
The right gear doesn't have to be expensive or totally technical (see our feature on buying bargain sportswear HERE) but being comfortable, dry and supported while you're sweating up a storm will make it an altogether more enjoyable experience. Bra, trainers and leggings are all important. And light layers are always a good idea.
DETOX|RETOX RUNNING TIPS...
- Go early. Get it out of the way before life takes over. This will mean you feel focused and positive as you go into the day and won't be stressing about fitting it in later.
- You don’t need to eat breakfast. Not yet. On short early runs you can find energy from last night’s dinner (Nb doing 10 minute runs is not an excuse to suddenly start carb-loading and eating pasta every night for dinner).
- Run where other people run. Whether that's the park/river/road. Being overtaken by someone twice your age isn't something to shout about, but it sure is motivating. It's safer, and seeing other people moving - and often seeming to enjoy it - is also motivating. Plus it will confirm that your weird running style is actually not that weird compared to all these other weirdos.
- Channel your inner yogi #1. Soften your face and try to smile instead of grimace. This will instantly make you feel calmer and happier about the run, add a spring to your step and will make other people smile at you too which is always nice.
- Channel your inner yogi #2. Congratulate and thank yourself at the end. I treat myself to a posh coffee on my way back from the river. You made it. You got off your arse and out of that bed and did something good for yourself. Well done. The future you will thank you.
- Think positive. Ignore your to do list and use this time to be positive and thankful that you're fit enough to be out, that you found time for yourself, that you are not the guy drinking Special Brew outside The Ship pub at 8.30am. Think enough positive thoughts in the beginning and you will start associating your runs with being happy and ultimately start to look forward to them, which is when you have nailed it.