Don’t run before you can walk
If you’ve spent the past few months glued to MKR instead of pounding the pavements, you’re probably not ready to run a marathon just yet. The key to success (and enjoying yourself) is to set yourself achievable goals. So if you’re struggling to remember the last time you ran – for the bus doesn’t count! – it might be a good idea to check in with your GP before you dust off your sneakers.
Once you’ve got the sign-off from Doc, start out with a few brisk walks and progress to jogging when you feel ready. When you reach running stage, it’s vital that you warm up first – a five-minute powerwalk will do – so that you’re not stiff and sore the next day. Remember that you can always drop back down to walking pace if you’re struggling at any point throughout your run too.
Pick a pretty route
The time will pass much quicker if you’re running with a view. Chances are you know your local park or beachside spots well so try running a short route there first. If you’re stuck for inspiration, check out parkrun (parkrun.com.au). They organise and host 5km park runs across the nation (and world even).
The runs are free to participate in and they encourage all abilities to get involved – you can even walk if you don’t feel fit enough just yet – making them a great tool for beginners who need a little motivation boost. Take your partner or friend along too. It’s good to lock in someone else – that way you’ll feel bad if you pull out. Plus, it’s always great to have a familiar face by your side.
Choose your time wisely
The beauty of running is that you can do it anytime, pretty much anywhere. But as with anything that requires a little commitment, it’s easy to make an excuse. That’s why, especially when you’re first establishing a routine, it’s important to make it work for you.
Pick the best time of day for you – at lunch, first thing while your partner’s organising the kids, on the way home from the office, whatever works – and stick to it. Don’t try to squeeze it in when you’re tired or when it clashes with your favourite TV show! That’s when you’ll always end up cancelling – and feeling guilty. Not fun.
Make sure you’ve got the energy
Running requires more energy than sitting down to a nice glass of Shiraz or a bar of chocolate. So on days you’re planning to get your heart rate pumping, arm yourself with the fuel your body needs to power through those kms.
Eat foods such as complex carbs (beans, wholegrains), unsaturated fats (nuts, avocado) and lean protein (skinless chicken or turkey, tofu). It’s really important to stay hydrated, too. Avoid sugar-filled energy drinks that only give a short-term burst of energy and stick with water instead. You’ll soon be giving Sally Pearson a run for her money!
Kit yourself out
As a hobby and way to stay active, running is pretty cheap – often free. It doesn’t require a membership or snazzy uniform – an old tee is A-OK here! Two things you might want to invest in though (for your own comfort and fun) are a pair of good sneakers and an armband to hold your phone (home of your running tunes).
Yes, a good playlist is vital to a good run. Go for songs that are uplifting and high energy. Leave Adele in the car and chuck on anything that makes you smile and move. And remember, every runner had to start somewhere. No matter how small the distance or slow you go, it’s more than you would do just sitting on the sofa. So give yourself a pat on the back and carry on!
Brought to you by the #FindYourMotivation campaign by VicHealth