Running is brilliant. It costs no more than the price of a good pair of trainers, can be done almost anywhere, fits in with your schedule and is a great form of exercise to tone you up and calm you down. Without running, I get tetchy and stressed out – but even knowing all this, when the dark and cold nights draw in, I just find it so hard to get motivated and get out of the front door.
If like me, the idea of curling up on the sofa with some comfort food is just too appealing sometimes, here are my tips for getting yourself out there…
1) Use the ‘just 15 minutes’ plan – Often, it’s the thought of hours spent slogging around exercising that puts you off the idea entirely. When I really can’t be bothered, I tell myself that I have to run for 15 minutes – then I can either give up and come home or decide to carry on. More often than not, you’ll find that once you’re actually out the door, you want to carry on – and even if you do stop after a quarter of an hour, it’s certainly better than doing nothing!
2) Get the right gear – I’ve heard it said that there is no such thing as the wrong weather for running, just the wrong clothing. I agree with this, with the one caveat of icy pavements which are a runner’s enemy and should definitely be avoided! However, if you are a fan of shopping (which you obviously are), see winter as an opportunity to pick up some new stash – long sleeve tops, waterproof jackets, gloves and hats, all in nice bright colours so you’re clearly visible. Having new clothes will motivate you to go running (“Hey everyone, check out my luminous yellow snood”) and make the whole experience far more comfortable – plus with shops such as Sports Direct and Decathlon, it really doesn’t need to cost much.
3) Join a running club – I have to admit, I’ve always been a bit fearful of running clubs because I was convinced they’d be full of hardcore sports nuts all capable of running 5k in 15 minutes. Luckily, I was wrong – having recently signed up to a running club that meets twice a week, I’ve been pleased to discover they’re all very normal people and there’s a variety of paces over the route. As well as providing a nice inclusive feeling, running clubs are great in the winter when dark evenings make solo running a bit scary, particularly if you’re running around the mean streets of South London! Local running shops will often have their own running clubs – try Sweatshop which has a number of stores across the UK.
4) Vary your routine – In the summer, light evenings mean you can happily go out for a run at 8.30pm and not be roaming around the local park in the dark, fearing for your life/iPod. In the winter, a bit more planning is needed. For example, from October to November, it tends to be the mornings that are lighter, so changing your routine to run before work could be a safer option. Alternatively, it may be possible to go in your lunch hour or choose a new route round the streets rather than the park. Even better, find a running buddy, preferably one who is freakishly strong and highly trained in self-defence (excuse my paranoia, this happens when you’ve had to fight off a mugger before!)
5) Download some new tunes – Music is a runner’s best friend – there’s nothing more exhilarating than speeding along to your favourite song. However, listening to the same old tracks again and again can make your run monotonous, so downloading one or two new tracks every couple of weeks will really help. Here are some of my favourite running tunes (WARNING: Highly uncool content)