I quite often hear women who run say that they don't feel like they're 'proper runners'.
This is something that I used to say myself, along with, 'I don't look like a runner.'
What exactly should a runner look like anyway?
I mean someone who runs is a runner regardless of their physique, the clothes they wear or how they run.
Whether you run twice a week or less and cover a short distance that consists of walking and running, or whether you run three or more times a week and cover a longer distance, either way, you're a runner.
When I first started running at the beginning of last year, I didn't make as much of an effort as I think I should have.
My first run left me feeling deflated. I struggled to run 1k, but I told myself next time would be better. FYI…It wasn't any better, but that's ok!
It's ok because like anything new, it takes practise, and a lot of it.
Running is hard, especially when you first start out. You may wonder if you'll ever truly be able to enjoy running, and the honest is yes, even though you may feel worn out by the end of your run, the sense of achievement you'll feel for actually going out there and doing it is what spurs you to run again.
Finding motivation can be hard, even more so when you're just starting out, but by being consistent, you'll soon start to want to run and even feel restless on your 'rest days' as you'll just want to get out there and run!
This year has seen me become very serious about my running and I've amazed myself at how far I've come.
From struggling to run 1k, I can now confidently run 10k without stopping.
Last weekend I even ran for one hour and 40 minutes non-stop covering a total distance of 15.61k!
I've entered my first ever half marathon in October and I'm currently on week 8 of my training plan with just 9 weeks to go until my first ever half marathon!
I'm feeling a mixture of emotion. One day I'm nervous, the next I'm optimistic and excited!
During my running journey, I've entered a few different races. My first 5k went well.
My first 10k not so well! My friend convinced me to sign up with her and I didn't train for it at all. I told myself I could do it! I mean I could do 5k, so how hard would 10k be? Turns out pretty tough when you don't train for it!
I've learnt my lesson though!
The other benefit of running is that I've lost weight. Of course, it's not down to running, I'm following Slim Fast and eating better in general. Less snacks, takeaways etc and I'm more aware of the types of food that I put in my body. I've lost almost two stone! I'm pretty proud of that!
So, how did I go from struggling to run 1k to running 15.61k?
Here are my top tips for success…
You don't need a personal trainer or fancy kit to get started
Just find a comfortable pair of trusty trainers, throw on a pair of leggings or shorts along with a t-shirt and just get outside!
Don't even think about how far you want to run or how long you want to run for. Just do your best. Run until you can't run anymore and then walk.
Walk for as long as you need to in order to get your breath back, then run for as long as you can again, but don't overdo it! 5 or 10 minutes for your first run is perfect. This will give you a base to measure your next run against.
On your next run, try to run a little longer and walk a little less.
Keep this up until you can run the entire length of your first run. Once you've done that, you can work on increasing your distance.
People run for all different reasons. Whether you're training for an event, trying to lose weight or just want to feel healthier, staying motivated can sometimes be a struggle.
You may fall off the wagon a few times, but that's ok. Pick yourself back up again and try again.
If you're trying to lose weight, clear your kitchen out of junk food, snacks and any other items that may lead you into temptation.
If you're running to feel healthier think about the benefits of running. Increased energy, feeling fitter, less out of breath etc.
A good motivator for me is having a goal. At first that was to complete a 5k race, then a 10k race and I'm now training for my first half marathon. Having a goal to work towards really helps to keep you on track.
Look into local running clubs. Most cities, villages etc have them. It's just a group of like-minded people with different abilities who meet up regularly to run and offer support and help.
If you're feeling a bit nervous about joining a running club, try finding a running buddy. Whether it's your mum, friend or sister, having someone you know run with you, can do wonders for your confidence and can also encourage you to go out when you perhaps don't feel like it.
Getting the right kit
When you're feeling more confident and are running on a regular basis, you probably want to start looking at getting the right kit.
A good pair of trainers can make all the difference in improving your performance.
Visiting a local sports shop and having a gait analysis is a good place to start. They can watch you run on a treadmill to see how you run. Whether you pronate or over-pronate and they can then make suggestions to you about the right footwear.
I find running in a top that's been designed for a runner better than running in a cotton t-shirt. Specifically designed running tops can help keep you cooler during the warmer months and warmer during the colder months.
Monitoring your runs on dedicated running apps can help you see how you perform over time. You can look at things such as your pace, effort, heart rate etc and compare your run to see your progress.
You can also see how people other are doing by adding them as friends. I like this because I like to see how I compare, although I know this isn't for everyone.
My favourite running apps are Strava, Nike+ Run Club and because I use a Tom Tom Runner 3 running watch, I also like the Tom Tom Sports app.
Other ways to get technical is to get a GPS running watch. The Tom Tom Runner 3 that I have is really good. Whilst your running it displays your pace, but you can also race against yourself by running the same route. The display shows you if you're ahead of behind on your last run so you know whether to go faster or stay steady.
There are lots of other watches out there though, so doing some research is important to get the right watch for you.
There's no such thing as 'not enough time'
That's just an excuse!
If you can't spare 20-30 minutes when you're just starting out, then I'd say you're not committed.
I either run early morning before my husband goes to work, when the girls are in school on my days off or in the evenings when my girls are in bed.
So those are my top tips. I'd love to hear how you get on!