There are two camps when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. To the first – like Megan Stelling over at the ever-fabulous Rookie – they are “literally the worst thing ever” and designed to make us all feel like inadequate failures before January’s over. In the other – with me and a number of other quite possibly annoying, smiling goons – they are optimistic aspirations that help us reset and refocus on our goals after aeons of daytime darkness and about a fortnight of solid Toblerone consumption.
Rookie claims that 92% of Resolutions “fail” – which is a depressing number – but I can’t help but think that rather depends on your view of “failure”. Sure, if my resolution is “run every day” I am probably going to fall short of the mark (not least when New Year’s Eve ended at 6am on January 1st). But that doesn’t mean I won’t run more often than I would have if I hadn’t made that promise to myself. And surely if I run more… well, to me that’s not failure. The fact that it is not perfection doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome.
This is a super long winded way of saying this: I bloody love running and I am resolved to do more of it in 2014 (I’m racing my husband to 1000k – thighs don’t fail me now). And judging by my Twitter feed, a lot of other people want to join me and my fellow Lycra’d friends at it too. So based on my experiences nearly three years ago here are my top tips for how to start – and keep on – running this year. Good luck!
1: Get The Right Bra
They say you should consult your physician before beginning any new fitness regime. Well, before that, consult a sports’ bra expert. Whatever size, your breasts are made of delicate tissues and fibre that will bounce (in a figure of eight motion, apparently) as you run. Ouch. Invest in a decent sports bra before attempting anything energetic. Freya’s Active range suits me best – you can read my review here – and while Panache’s sports bra is too tall for my short body it’s a favourite with bloggers and awards’ shows alike. Enell and Shock Absorber are also highly recommended – although I prefer a little more support than the SA can offer for a G+ cup during high impact exercise. I tend to wear my sports bras a little tighter in the band than I would a normal bra – I find it gives me better anchorage and as long as it’s not restricting your breathing it’s totally comfortable for the duration of the workout. Remember though – as with any bra if you’re sizing down in the back remember to size up in the cup to ensure consistent cup volume.
2: Get The Right Shoes
This isn’t a post about how you need to spend loads of cash on gear before you can get out on the road, but I do strongly believe that investing in the foundations is essential to ensure you’re not immediately thwarted by sore boobs or niggling knees. So along with your bra, do invest in a good pair of running shoes. Where possible, head down to your local sports shop and (even if you buy your shoes cheaper online afterwards) get your gait analysed. This will tell you how you naturally run, and what shoe support (if any) you need to look for in your. The wrong shoes can lead to injury, so it’s worth doing things properly at the beginning if you’re serious about this resolution.
3: Feel Comfortable
Assuming you have the right shoes and bra, you soon realise that it really doesn’t matter what you wear when you run. The point is – you’re running. Even if people are judging you for your sloppy joggers or your old Justin Bieber tour teeshirt or your sweaty red face (and believe me, they’re not) – you’re gone before they can get a second look. Personally I like running in Lycra (or short shorts in the summer) because it’s comfortable and makes me feel fast – but I started in some fairly scruffy yoga trousers and old band t-shirts (disclaimer: not Justin Bieber). Wear what feels right for you and your budget, whether that’s hi-tech Lycra or pyjama bottoms. Although always double check you can tie-secure any elasticated waist-bands before running. Runners are a supportive and non-judgemental community, but flashing is still frowned upon.
4: Make It Social
It can be extremely hard to get going in the dark and wet months (or as we like to call them in Northern Europe, 75% of the year), but making social dates can help you stay motivated and – importantly – encouraged. Either run with friends, or use social running apps like Nike+ or Endomondo to stay challenged, be supported and feel part of a community.
5: Set Achievable Goals
It’s your first run. It’s not going to be a marathon. Stretch, then set your timer* for something you feel is manageable based on your fitness and experience (even if it’s just 20 minutes at first) and run slowly and without stopping in loops around your neighbourhood. Try not to stop – if you’re finding it tough slow down or power-walk until you can get going again. Stop, stretch, and be proud of yourself. From this starting point you can build up both time and distance as your fitness increases – and set yourself mini-challenges you can smash as you go. Both the apps recommended above keep track of your progress, making this both fun and easy.
*Note that I recommend time rather than distance – personally I find this a much more encouraging motivator: it makes it easier to get out (anyone can do anything for 30 minutes) -and before you know it not only are you half-way through but you’re also on your way home.
6) Be Kind To Yourself
Whether it’s injury, sickness, work or family commitments – sometimes you’re going to “fail”. It doesn’t matter. The best thing about running is that it’s totally forgiving. Even if you forget about it for months, it’s always there for you. And if running really isn’t for you, then good job for trying. Plenty more activities out there to try… just make sure you do all of your adventuring in a perfectly supportive bra.
Hello 2014, and a very happy New Year to you all. And let me know if you’re taking up running for the first time – would love to hear about your experiences!
The shoe advice is based on “conventional wisdom” and is not accurate. The US Army did a study (I got to participate even though I was a bit outside their age range) and when I went back to see what the results were, I found: http://www.army.mil/article/42842/
In fact, one write-up (which I can’t find off hand) showed that matching shoes to foot shape/gait INCREASED injuries. I was in the military for many years and my feet are so messed up it’s hard for me to run any more. Most military instructions are based on ‘the way we’ve always done it” and I found that to be true for every running shoe store I ever visited. Getting the “right” shoe for my foot messed up my gait too–lots of conflicting info out there on proper gait.
About time rather than distance. I think that’s very individual. For me doing something for a set period of time is always harder than archiving some specific goal, in case of running that naturally would be distance (like run from home to the forest and back or run n kilometers on a treadmill). And this is especially true for running. I need to confess that I hate the process )), so concentrating on a goal rather than checking every 30 seconds if I can stop torturing myself helps a lot.
You’re definitely right about it being a personal preference – but the reason I flipped to time was that it was too easy for me to self-limit with distance goals. I’d say ‘I’ll run there and back’ – always overestimating the distance and often never even really challenging myself. By switching to time, I surprised myself by how much I could do and would be more likely to add a block or run another loop if I didn’t feel tired. The key to this however is an app that automises it. Both Nike+ and Endomondo (and I’m sure countless others) will run in the background and only interrupt your music to tell you you’re half way (or have completed a kilometer). It would be agony if you were counting down the minutes by yourself! x
If I don’t look at a wristwatch I start counting breaths ))) But I understand what you are talking about when you said that setting distance could be self-limitation. There are some mind tricks to overcome that, but you already have method that works for you ))).
Running can give us a lot of benefits so we should not miss the opportunities where we can run and join other people. I personally join run for a cause programs so I can help and be fit at the same time.