Sunday, 6 June 2010

run and become

I've always secretly envied running bores. You know: those evangelicals who go on about runner's high, and how the stress just rolls away, and how they get their best ideas when they're running, and the marathon was the best day of their life even though their toenails fell off, bla bla bla.
I envy it because I've always hated running, and the few times I've tried to make myself persevere (because it's good for you, cheap, quick, and you can do it anywhere) it's always ended in failure. And the comfort of hot buttered crumpets.
So imagine my surprise when I forced myself out for a run tonight and actually enjoyed it. Well, didn't actively hate it, anyway.
It helps that running along a riverbank is more invigorating than picking my way through abandoned takeaways in a London park. Sheer vanity is definitely there too: who was it said that until your 30s you have the body you're given and after that you have the body you earned? After three post-baby years merrily doing no exercise, I so don't want the one I've earned.
But it also feels luxurious to have a bit of time purely for myself: more so, actually, to have my body to myself for a bit. Life with small children often feels like one long physical demand, from the hazy days of round-the-clock breastfeeding to the constant desire of toddlers to clamber on you.
The problem now is how not to give up. After all, I've got to this stage before and then fizzled out through sheer boredom/laziness/refusal to go out in the rain. So, evangelical runners, I need to know: how do you keep making it interesting?


  1. Keep changing your route - and listen to lively music on your iPod. Also, if you're struggling, try counting to 10 (in your head, not out loud) over and over - and according to a friend who ran the marathon, there's nothing wrong with walking for a bit.

  2. And there was me just reading in Grazia that it was now obvious that you didn't go running because you couldn't be bothered, not because you didn't have time!

    Seriously though, good for you! I always groan when I think about doing something, but once I get going I'm fine.

  3. kate that's precisely the problem - i can't be bothered, which is why i keep making halfhearted stabs and then giving up after about a week. but every now and then i think i should be bothered. normally about a week before giving up again....

  4. Don't ask me. I'm more likely to join the circus than to become a regular runner. Good luck though.

  5. People new to running tend to take it far too seriously. It's a big thing to start running but you must do it to enjoy it and in a lot of cases that means changing how you feel about it.

    You need to sit down for 10 mins, alone, and really think about why you want to run.

    Running is precious 'me' time and if you stick with it you will become fanatically protective of that precious time.

    For the actual running part the most important thing is to see running as a learning curve like everything else. It's a skill that comes to fruition when your leg joints learn to adapt to the impact of running; when your heart & lungs adapt to being used under pressure for sustained periods of time and, most importantly, when your mind adapts to running and you recognise and confront it's subconscious attempts to hinder you.

    And, therein lies a fundamental truth about running, no matter if you attend fun runs, 5k's, 10k's, half or full marathons, you're not running with or against the many other runners there but rather the hopes, fears, strengths and weaknesses of your own self, your mind.

    For the first 2 months you should run slowly and at a pace you find effortless. Only up this after 2 months and only gradually. This will prevent injuries to a body inexperienced to running, keep you motivated and youll find it more enjoyable.

    As mentioned by the previous comment above, take music and good luck. There's nothing in the world quite like running :-)

    @epictrader (twitter)

  6. Oooh goody! An opportunity to drone on about running.

    Happily, Epictrader hits the nail on the head. It's no good unless you know exactly why you want to do it. It's especially good to do this before you find youself running through the countryside/city when it starts really chucking it down and you need an answer as to why you are doing this.

    There are loads of ways of staying in shape so you need to ask yourself what it is about running that suits you.

    Then you can set goals. Then you'll feel like you've acheived something.

    I wish you the very best of luck. Have fun.

  7. I now run regularly after years of failures on the running front. the key for me was not to push myself too hard at the beginning. I started out with what can only be descibed as a bouncy walk- and for only about 10- 15 mins. I very gradually built it up and am now running regularly and fairly fast too. My challenge to myself is to not stop ever- which means running reeeeallly slowly sometimes. But I'm ok with that. rather than sprint for 10 mins until im too pooped to stand up, i jog for 30 mins at a pace I can stick too which oftwen is fairly slow.

    Good luck! And yes- a kick ass playlist really helps for motivation. Van halens 'Jump' is a particular favourite.

  8. 2 random thoughts!

    1. My friend is a running 'bore'. She does all those things you said (and more...). She has a blog, which I think is really inspiring.

    2. I have been doing hypnotherapy recently (on loads of stuff.) I'm finding it really helpful on changing some of those annoying beliefs that won't go away (like, probably won't stick with this, haven't before!) One of the Cds I've bought recently is 'craving exercise'. I am quite an exercise junkie anyway but it has helped me make sure I prioritise it.'ve probably already been out for a second run by now and signed up for a marathon!

  9. Well I'd say either crank up the music (spot of Scissor Sisters always helps I find). OR just ditch the running - not in flabby giving up way, but in favour of something else. Like strapping those velcro-able weights to your ankles and just going about daily business (although agree that doesn't help on the me time front). Running may be good for weight, but bad for knees, breasts and face (all goes horrendously saggy). Fear this may not be helping. LOVE your blog btw.

  10. Hmmmm after being described as a running bore by my lovely friend Karen I feel obliged to weigh in - and I have to say I kind of agree with some of the comments above, but not all.

    I started running after 30 years of very little exercise and a history of "failing" at exercise. I got so fat and demoralised, found an article in Slimmerworld (yes I read that at the time, while eating pringles and drinking white wine to cope with the fact I was living in the country without a career and with 2 tiny children and a fat ass) about slow running and I thought - that's it. No more excuses. That was my mantra. No more excuses. Rain is not an excuse. Hangovers are no excuse. I was SO fed up with how I felt and how I looked, I knew I had to do something. Run/walking helped me. Within 6 months I had lost 2 stone, and over the years I have lost another. I'm not stick thin - I was just quite overweight then. I've gone from running round the farm, to running 10ks and to now training for my 8th marathon. That is NOT to say you have to do any of these things - racing, or marathons. But it IS amazing to complete a race when you can face those demons in your head and tell them that you CAN do this.

    I agree with those above who say that the only one you compete with is yourself. Every time I'm out running, and particularly when I'm out racing, I think how I can't believe it that I am out there doing this.

    The point where I disagree with some of your commentators is that I don't necessarily think there is a point to running - sometimes it IS an utterly pointless thing to do, and the only reason I do it is because I could NOT be doing it and would then feel worse. And other times there are lots of different reasons to do it. Sometimes to lose weight, sometimes to deal with stress, sometimes to socialise (running with friends is pretty amazing) and sometimes because it can feel lovely to just feel your body loosen up and let go.

    Go out there and google Couch to 5K running programs. LIsten to running podcasts, or Lady Gaga or whatever it is that keeps you going. I love listening to This American Life podcasts while out running long and slow. Email me if you want any help or advice - I would be more than happy to help you in any way. Good luck and happy trails!

  11. These are all inspiring, thanks a lot to everyone who posted. Have taken on board the 'slow running' thing - I did start this time with a mix of running and walking, rather than kill myself as I normally do by trying to start off too fast - and I like epictrader's idea that you have to adjust mentally to running as well as physically. Now really looking forward to a run tomorrow. Not least because I now have the excuse to create a REALLY cheesy playlist (suggestions welcome...)

  12. OK - some of my corkers for your cheesy playlist (am queen of such things - this is just for starters to see if vaguely on right track - no pun intended):

    Anything by Take That, frankly
    Scissor Sisters 'I don't feel like dancing'
    Communards 'Don't leave me this way'
    Madison Avenue 'Don't call me baby'
    Robbie 'Rock DJ'
    Stardust 'Music sounds better with you'
    Coldplay 'Yellow'
    Natalie Imbruglia 'Torn'
    Stones 'Brown Sugar'
    Meredith Brooks 'Bitch'

    I could go on. But should do some work...

  13. I've been doing a couch to 5k plan for 6 weeks and have gone from being unable to run to being able to do 20 minutes (just - was quite a close thing)

    I find I need decent music and have instructed Mr that its only for half an hour so he can look after the smalls

    Its bliss - I've never been a running type before but suspect I'm turning that way now

  14. I always find that it takes three or four weeks for running to go from a chore to enjoyable, and then a bit longer to turn into something you just do as part of life. Until then it's hard work but stick with it, you only have to go out three times a week. I find mindless rock music works brilliantly for keeping me going.
    And buy a nice lightweight waterproof for rainy days.

  15. As my knees seem to be ageing far faster than the rest of me, running is not for me - but power-walking with the dog is great. The walking is usually interspersed with the odd sprint across a field when dog takes off after a rabbit. I can't ever get out of doing the walking because the dog won't let me, but these days I need my exercise before I work because otherwise I can't concentrate.

    Another benefit of this is that the dog is kept v. trim...

  16. You could try joining your nearest parkrun. See their website. It's free. You meet people. You can compete against your own time or against others if you want to. You can do 2.5km or 5. Once you know the route, you can run it in your spare time and log it as a freedom run - and watch the miles mount up. I've been doing it for a few weeks and, aside from the humiliation of being beaten by my 9 year old son, almost enjoy it!