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January is a time of year that lots of people take up or return to the sport of running, the festivities are out of the way, summer is around the corner and everyone is still full of enthusiasm and determination to keep up those new habits…the problem is how easy it is to keep that motivation up when it starts getting tough.

But what if I told you there were 7 simple things to remember when you are starting off that can help with the challenge that lays ahead of you and take off some of the pressure?

Based on my own experiences of starting over a number of times and the feedback from our ladies over in the clubhouse, here are the 7 Things I wish I had known when I first started running.

1.How tough it really is

Running should be the easiest thing in the world right? We all learned to do it as kids after all. But when first starting out or returning to the sport after a bit of a break you forget that it is actually quite tough, so tough that it doesn’t take long to start thinking of alternatives.

Amanda Gill says,

Getting to your first 5k is the tough bit – after this you will find your legs and really start to enjoy it (sometimes!)

I think she is right, but when you start out 5K seems like a marathon. Running consistently for even 3 minutes can be a struggle. Try to make peace with the fact it’s not supposed to be easy and stop beating yourself up about your fitness so you can just work on making improvements, no matter how slow

Call to action – Join our 5 weeks to 5K programme which starts on Monday. This course which was first seen on ITV’s This Morning covers mindset, technique and staying accountable, and more than 2000 women are now graduates. Sign up here.

2.It takes a while to start enjoying it

It took me like 6 years…seriously. Part of this was because I was doing it by myself and couldn’t see any progress. You may never enjoy the ACTUAL running bit, I reckon I fall into this camp, it is the other stuff I love about the sport which keeps me doing it. Find the reasons why you should continue to do it to keep you motivated until you find your mojo.

Lucy agrees,

It will take a while before you get that buzz!

But don’t let that put you off.

Call to action – Why not join The Clubhouse which is our online running club. We have had more than 30 new members this week, lots of women just starting out on their journey or getting back to it after a break. Memberships start at £5 per month

3.It is OK to walk…it is always OK to walk

I thought walking was cheating when I started out, therefore I felt like I was cheating. Like I was useless for not being able to run for more than a few minutes at a time. No wonder I ran alone and away from the public. I am now a massive fan of the run-walk strategy, I promote something called the 60-second rule, that says walk whenever you need to but always start back up again after a minute.

Helen says,

Don’t be afraid to walk when you need to, oh and don’t quit…it goes wrong for everyone sometimes new and experienced

Call to Action – Check out my Walking is Part of My Race Plan Vest in our shop

4.Wearing proper shoes is critical

I made do with rubbish trainers and then wondered why I got injuries. Good trainers will give you confidence too, and the commitment of paying for them (they are not cheap) will hopefully motivate you to keep at it.

Whoever said running was free was lying, you need to buy yourself kit…its part of the fun.

Jo says,

I now know how important the correct shoes and bra are- blisters and chaffing can put you off big time.

Call to Action – Read this blog from the archives detailed how I got my feet tested for a new pair of trainers

5.It is possible to go too fast…no really!!!

You probably have this idea that you can run faster than what you actually can, and maybe for short bursts, you can but if you want to build up the time on your feet the real trick is to slow down. You should be able to maintain a few words at a time conversation if running with someone else.

Liza says,

Start slow. Start small. One step at a time is totally fine. Don’t compare your experience with anyone else – you’re in your own body

Call to action – When you are ready for speed, check out my book Scream if you want to run faster

6.Reading up on technique can really help

While we are on the topic of books, I foolishly didn’t read up on technique for the first few years, and then got most of my information from running magazines. The more you read about other runners experiences and tip and tricks they use to keep up their habit of running and see improvements.

Vicky says,

I didn’t realise there is a technique to it, so it’s worth reading around, not just running and hoping for the best

Call to action – I have 7 books available on Amazon…but also check out the Top 100 running books

7.How much fun taking part in races is

This is where I really started to get hooked. There is something really empowering about being part of a mass event. Even local ones or things like parkrun can have a similar effect. I often say if it wasn’t for races I would never run, I wouldn’t have anything to train for…and I need goals.

Harriet agrees,

I wish I had known what good fun races are (I got bored really quickly, running on my own – loved the 5K Race for Life races when I found them eventually)

So don’t delay.

Call to action – If the idea of doing races alone is a bit scary, how about joining The Clubhouse? We do race meet ups all around the UK and further afield, and even if we can’t be there in person, we will sure as hell cheer you on virtually. Sign up here

You may feel that you will never improve, that it will never get easier…I often feel that myself after hundreds of long distance races. The trick is perseverance and making a part of your life.

Good luck…you can do this.

Stick with it.

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