Let's go back to basics and simply review the very best ways to begin your running journey with suggestions for how to actually start...none of them are particularly easy, but nothing worth having in life is right?
1. Just start running today - As in put your trainers on this very minute and start running...well go on what are you waiting for? I dare you...no in fact I double dare you... GO NOW... grab your keys, leave the house and go for a run. The likelihood of this being enough to get you out there, or for you to enjoy your first run are pretty slim. But if you are serious about taking up running then this is the simplest way to start... but it is quite daunting.
2. Run in an Organised Race - This is how I started, (and why I'm called Fatty) and I can tell you it's not particularly recommended... granted it did get me running regularly in the longer term but talk about a shock to the system. I did no training and my body did not know what had hit it. It was however the wake up call I needed, but if you do take this approach make sure you sign up to the race and give yourself at least 6 weeks to get ready and start with something achievable like a 1 mile fun run and at most a 5K. Having something fixed in your diary is a great motivator... but only do this if you have the determination to see it through. Check out #OneBigFatRun our virtual 5K if you are not quite ready for group running
3. Take part in parkrun- parkrun is a weekly 5K timed run taking place in parks all over the UK and now in many other countries too. Basically you sign up on the parkrun website where you can download and print out your own personalized barcode which gets scanned at the end of each run, you then get your timed results sent to you a few hours after your run and you can see your improvements week on week. The great thing about parkrun is its FREE and also the mix of experienced runners and newcomers, people of all shapes and sizes too means they are incredibly friendly.
Ok so maybe this all sounds a little too drastic..."5K...I can barely run for 5 seconds!!!" How about joining my 5 weeks to 5k online programme then and doing it with some virtual support and step by step coaching?
Stick with me, here are a few other ideas...
4. Join a Running Club - Now this is a toughie, and it took me almost 6 years of training before I bit the bullet so I would understand if you think this is a no go, all those fears about running with others, not looking like a traditional runner, and being slow. Well how about joining a virtual one instead. The Clubhouse is our online running club which offers the accountability, support and advice of a traditional club with weekly training sessions, mindset tasks and basically the nicest group of women you could ever hope to meet. We are closing the doors on new members on 5th February as we undergo some changes, the new revised clubhouse will be launched on the 1st April...so get in quick if you want to secure our best price point.
But all of this involves running in public at some point right? Like ACTUALLY in front of people. Is there not a way I can build in confidence first?
5. Buy a Treadmill - Or join a gym to use the treadmill. Hmmm??? The jury is still out on this for me. I have used a treadmill in the past... hey I even had one shoved behind my front room door for 3 years and used it a grand old total of 11 times. I understand the thought process behind having a treadmill at home, but unless you have a garage or a room which is a dedicated work out room it is unlikely that you will ever use it. If you have one already then check this out. But even if you have a gym membership and access to a treadmill, there is still no comparison to the feeling you get from running outside, and you will have to make that transition at some point if you are serious about being a proper runner.
6. Do the Bleep Test - Remember this from school?? If you are scared of big distances and can only manage short bursts, this might be the type of session best suited to you. Developed in 1983 the test involves running continuously between two points 20m apart synchronized with a pre-recorded beep played via audio CD or MP3 download, you can also get apps for your smartphone these days. As the test proceeds, the interval between each successive beep reduces, forcing you to increase your speed over the course of the test, until it is impossible to keep in sync with the recording. This is a good way of assessing your fitness, but its bloody hard work. I have an underground car park where I live which is perfect for this kind of undercover running!!
7. Run a Loop - To make things as simple as possible why not create a 3 mile loop from your very own front door and back. No time wasted getting to your running route, no chance of getting lost, all you have to do is leave your house. The aim is to try and improve your time each time you run that very same loop. I have a looped route like this called my Pretty Shitty City route, it literally takes me 15-18 minutes to do. I don't do it that often cos I do get bored of the same routes, but I know it's there if I need it.
8. Use a pedometer or activity tracker - So technically speaking this is more a walking task, but the recommendation for good health is to walk 10,000 steps per day. By using a pedometer you can measure just how inactive you are, you can then set yourself the task of completing the steps each day. Once you have done that for a while you will have got into the habit of pushing yourself beyond your normal levels of activity...then the next step is moving your power-walking up to a run. You could buy one of my "Walking is part of the race plan" vests.
9. Play games with your kids - I was thinking about the occasions when non running fat people actually run...and I came to the conclusion that it normally involved 3 factors... being late, being scared or having kids to run around after. Your kids are the people most likely to appreciate you being able to run and least likely to laugh at you, and whilst you are running around with your kids I dare any other soul to laugh or poke fun at you. An hour of post school running games in the park will work a treat. If you don't have kids borrow someone elses, but remember to ask first!! Check out my ebook How to Run for a Baby for more ideas
And finally, if you still feel like you can't quite summon up the confidence to actually start running
10. Work on improving your overall health (and body confidence) - Running is tough, not just physically but psychologically too so its no wonder overweight people tend to dismiss it as a way of getting fit. Why not try and get into the habit of doing other types of exercise like swimming, cycling or aerobics.
This would serve 3 purposes. Firstly you would get into the habit of doing some formal exercise, secondly you might lose some weight which might make the running easier, but most importantly you will gain confidence in your ability to stick to something.
If you want to be a runner then ultimately you have to run at some point, the question is how keen are you to do that today?