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15.01.2016- Fitness: A Running Commentary

Friday, 15 January 2016



In 2012, I made something of a personal pact with myself to start the year by taking on a new challenge. It was an Olympic year- and, more than that, it was the year that London- a sprawling city right on my doorstep- would host the games. A once in a lifetime opportunity to experience something pretty special and get involved in some small way. So, it made sense to shape the aforementioned new year challenge as something sporty- and with a distinct lack of bike/swimming pool/personal gym/equine companion, I happened upon running. Yep, four years ago (almost to the day), I dug out a pair of trainers last seen forming a staple part of my school P.E kit, threw on some baggy Topshop leggings and a t-shirt which had definitely seen better days, and hit the ground running. Well, running for a little while, then walking, then feeling like I was going to be violently sick, then a bit more running...you get the idea!

Now here we are in 2016- another Olympic occasion on the horizon- and I can't quite believe that four years and goodness knows how many miles later, I'm still running. Growing up (and even towards the start of my 20s), I'd never been particularly sporty- in fact quite the opposite- I spent the majority of school sports days chowing down on crisps and Jaffa Cakes, thanks very much. I couldn't run for the bus without feeling like I'd finished a marathon, so I was as surprised as anyone when I took to running so much- and stuck at it. So, if you've set some pavement pounding goals for the year ahead, I thought I'd pull together a little list of things I've learnt along the way- a running commentary of sorts, I suppose!

There are no shortcuts

When I started running, I had a little level of fitness from a lot of the physical aspects of my degree (that's what being a drama undergrad does for you!), so I wasn't starting from scratch. Having said that, running (and any sort of prolonged cardio exercise), is a different kettle of fish altogether, and something which you can't really prepare for until you lace up your trainers and head out of the front door for the first time. By the same token, there are lots of training apps which are great for factoring in to a regular programme, but at the end of the day it's your own body which is doing all of the legwork.

Things will hurt

There's no getting away from this one, I'm afraid! After about six months of regular (3-4 times a week) running, I bid a fond farewell to one of my toenails and was starting to suffer from shin splints. For this reason, it's essential to make sure you're properly kitted out from the get go, and I can't emphasise the importance of rest if you're feeling beaten up. Complimentary exercise like Yoga is brilliant for building muscle strength and flexibility, ultimately helping you to perform better in the long run, and for me, stretches to reduce tension in the hamstrings, IT band and piriformis have been complete lifesavers- and serious pain relievers too!

Run to your own beat
There's no denying that music is a wonderful motivator (you can have a peek at my playlist over at A for Aesthetic here), but sometimes you just won't want to listen to the Rocky theme tune any more. Over the last couple of months, I've been leaving my headphones at home to make the most of the comparative peace and quiet which my running route affords, and have found my stress levels definitely decreased- it's all about finding what works best for you. On the same note, you'll make progress at your own pace, whether that be measured by running a charity 5k, a marathon (a la Lily!), or just making it for that aforementioned bus.

Put one foot in front of the other
This sounds logical enough, but can often be the hardest part about committing to a regular exercise routine. Finding time is tricky (especially if you're heading out during the dark winter months), and there's no easy way to work up the motivation to go for a run when it's cold and rainy outside. Having said that, I've found that I always feel so much better for lacing up my trainers and going for it- even if I'm only out for half an hour, it's so much better than doing nothing. And, when I find myself struggling (even during the middle of a run!), I find reducing things down to the basics really helps- if I can keep putting one foot in front of the other then I'll be home and dry in no time!

Have you made any fitness resolutions for 2016?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

2 comments:

  1. Love this and thank you for the shout out! No exaggeration to say that running changed my life - not sure if anything will top the marathon last year! x

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  2. You make me want to try running again, but I just can't seem to get into it. Give me a bike though and I'm happy to ride it for hours!

    - Elodie x
    www.elle-yeah.com

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