Want to start running but not sure how to do it properly? Let me tell you how I did it.
What made me run?
As a kid, I wasn’t a fan of running. School didn’t help, with those mandatory running tests in the park, and that much hated beep test. I wasn’t very good at those kind of physical activities, so I didn’t partcularly liked them. Years went by and I would have the occasional go at going for runs, but would easily give up. Then I got this wonderful deformity on my foot (yes, there is something called foot stress) and had to have surgery. As you can see, this all is a great start to a story on how/why you should start running.
But to be honest, my main reason to start running was food. I had moved to Birmingham (UK) in 2014 and started my job as Project Manager at a company called Ecorys. Pretty much every day there would be leftover lunch, cookies for someone’s birthday or someone would bring in a cake they made. Don’t get me wrong – this is all WONDERFUL – but I did start gaining some weight and felt very out of shape. I wanted to do some sports, preferably something easy and cheap, but also do it properly as I am not keen on having surgery on my feet every again.
Start to Run
In 2006 a programme was launched in Belgium called Start to Run. You could download the podcasts with music and instructions and these would help you get to running 5km in one go after a number of weeks. I really recommend building up your runs with a programme like this. I know there is Couch to 5K in the UK that seems to do something similar. It gives you set goals and helps you get through the first hurdles, also mentally – and that’s a really big part of it.
From 5 to 10km
By no means would I say that 5km is easy now however. If I’ve had a bad night sleep, if it’s really hot or if I just haven’t been for a run in a while 5km can feel like forever. Anyway, I completed the programme and wanted to get to 10km. I followed the same approach as the Start to Run programme and built up the distance gradually. I tried to do two runs every week and added 1km every other week, so I would do 4 runs of the same distance, before adding a kilometre.
I keep track of my runs with the Runkeeper app. There’s lots of other apps around like Strava and Nike, I’ve just used this one over the last 4 years and because it has all my running data on it I’m likely to stick with it. I’ve also used their training programmes, but I don’t think you can access those anymore on the free version (which I have). If you’re new to it, just try them out and stick with the one you like best.
Take it easy
With a few unavoidable ups and downs I managed to keep this rhythm of 2 runs a week. I added distance every other week and made it to 10km right before going on a 3 week holiday, which definitely felt like a reward at that point. About 6 months later I signed up for the Birmingham 10k, but pushed it too hard during training and injured myself. It took a while to recover, and I didn’t get ready in time for the race. So it’s important to really allow yourself time to build up the stamina and get your muscles ready for the longer runs, no matter whether you’ve ran that distance in the past or not.
But don’t worry, it didn’t leave me discouraged:
- In 2017 I set myself 3 big physical challenges to complete and wrote a blog post about it.
- In 2018 May was THE month for me when it came to running: I took part in 2 different races.
- In 2019 I trained and took part in my second Tough Mudder.
- And in 2020? I started training for my first marathon.
Have you taken up running recently? Did you use a special training programme for it?