January is the month of good intentions. Maybe you’ve tried before or are resolute on a fresh start, turning those intentions into actions can be tough. Whether it’s weight loss, fitness gains or marathon achievement you seek, follow these steps to become a runner.
1. Don't put running up on a pedestal
You are the same species as Yiannis Kouros (who?) and Mo Farah. Do not doubt yourself. Ok, world records and Olympic medals are beyond you now (sorry) but you can and will run a decent click. There is little separating you from those non-panting runners galloping down your road. Go catch them!
2. Be inspired
Whether it's this guy, a particular race or simply some person you know, inspiration is fuel. Follow footsteps and create some of your own too.
3. Go shopping
Let's be realistic, those old football shorts from your school days aren't exactly inspiring you to go out running. You'll find running gear is quite trendy now (says grandpa). Buy items that you would be happy to be seen in, you can worry about the technicalities later. Only trainers need be sourced scientifically. Establish whether you underpronate, overpronate or are neutral and purchase accordingly.
4. Know that it will feel uncomfortable to start
The heavy breathing, the stitch, the beads of sweat are all normal. Two minutes ago you were standing still and now you are running, of course your body is registering it. Slow it down, take in some long deep breaths and you'll be ok. Embrace the struggle, it shall soon pass.
5. Make it part of your schedule
Allocate time for running. Fail to and chances are you'll find yourself on a Sunday looking back at yet another week of missed mileage. Don't over commit, rather diarise a weekday for an evening run and a Saturday morning 'once around the park' before breakfast. Not only will this provide structure but guilt-free rest and recreation elsewhere in the week.
6. Join a club or group together
At the very least, 'buddy-up'. There are two huge benefits to running with company. Firstly, it will push you to perform. Regardless of whether you are the slowest or fastest in the pack, you will ask more of yourself in order to keep up or keep ahead. Secondly, when you've made plans to meet fellow runners at 'silly o'clock', hitting snooze just ain't going to fly. Up you get. There are people relying on you.
Additionally I guess, it's also nice to have a chinwag. Running along in a cloud of conversation, you'll find yourself clocking up mile 2 without noticing. Run with a gossip, and you may find out that Sandy and Clive are pregnant...and it's not Clive's!
7. Set yourself a target
Where would we be without targets? (Who said a lot happier!) Well with running, they are kind of par for the course. As a beginner certainly, speed and distance gains are an inevitability early on if you keep with it, but your target need not be simply that. Maybe you wish to run a certain distance without stopping to walk or to achieve the stamina it takes to run home from work.
Make it explicit, achieve it, then set another.
8. Sign up to a race
One of the many beauty's of running, is its relative lack of subjectivity. Ultimately, you get out what you put in. You are in competition only with yourself. Train harder and you'll race faster. Signing up to a race is a firm commitment and the best way to mark your progress. Racing is bloody brilliant - just the right mix of trepidation and thrill. Taking part in an event will restore your faith in humanity, trust me. The running community is incredible, you'll want to be a part of it from thereon.
Once you've entered, tell everyone about it - what you're doing and when you're doing it. Not only will you delight in the encouragement but you'll have created an expectation to perform. Should you back out then you'll have folk to answer to.
9. Don't www.read too much
Those pants you're wearing right now, you just breezed in to M&S and bought them without searching 'what are the best pants to wear for day-to-day use' and they fit fine, don't they? Apply this to running. The internet (brilliant as it is) is a vast place of needless advice and over-complicated analysis.
*Anything you read on a blog though is golden.
10. Be the inspiration
I've never met a runner who regretted the day they took up running. Running is such a positive force, it's a wonder we aren't all doing it. Share your stories and achievements with others and offer advice and assurance to receptive ears. Pass the baton so to speak.
I myself was inspired by my girlfriend, having seen her run her first marathon (god knows what inspired her!). Later I would gain further inspiration from the ultra-marathoners of the world on hearing of their gargantuan efforts. Whilst I've no doubt bored to tears hundreds of colleagues, friends and supermarket checkout assistants, one would hope to have inspired a couple too.
Now off you go...