So you’ve made that big decision that you want to run and that is awesome news. I’m always pleased and excited to hear about friends and colleagues who have decided that they want to start running and my first question to them is always ‘why?’ and this is where it all starts.
The reason why I say that this is where it all starts is because in my mind this is the most important factor in starting to run. It will speak volumes in terms of how long your running ‘career’ will last for. Running is not easy despite what people may think or hear. It’s easy to get started unlike other sports that may require lots of equipment or a specific area to do it in but in terms of the physicality of it, it is hard believe me. I think it’s important that as a beginner you understand this as I think mentally it will prepare you from the start what the task ahead may entail. This leads me then on where to start. I am a true believer in that if you want to be successful, be it in running or any other part of your life you need to have a goal. That goal needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time based (SMART) for it to be obtained and if you can do this it will make everything else so much easier and you will always have that reference in the back of your mind of why your doing whatever it is you may be doing! So, in terms of running, if you are reading this contemplating setting out on a running adventure I want you to write down why it is you want to run. Is it because you want to be able to run a certain distance such as a mile, 3 miles, 26.2 miles as examples, do you want to lose weight, do you want to do an event, is it for general wellbeing and fitness, do you want to meet people or do you want to raise money for a charity? These are all but a few examples as to why someone might want to run. I often hear that people want to be able to do what I’ve done which is great and I’m always flattered people say this but it comes back to the question of why and it’s important you get to the nitty gritty of this.
So the goal is set, what next? Think about your current level of fitness and be honest with yourself as if your not honest with yourself you’re setting yourself up to fail before you’ve even begun. Think about your current lifestyle, when do you work, do you have other commitments, do you have kids etc.. as these are all important factors to consider when making your plan. This plan needs to be flexible too as no one has a rigid lifestyle so if, for example, you want to be able to run a mile in 2 months. You set the date that you want to achieve this then work backwards week by week to the current date to establish what you might need to do each week to ultimately achieve that goal. You now know what needs to be covered each week to guide you and that is exactly what it is, a guide. To make this goal measurable you can organise your plan in anyway you want be it written down on paper, on a diary planner or for those IT gurus on an excel spreadsheet and then every time you have achieved your weekly planner you can tick it off. Seeing those ticks build up isn’t half rewarding!! I do this when training for an event and to give you an example I knew that I needed to do one of my training runs on Thursday night. However on Thursday night I had lots of things to organise and I needed to pack and drive to Manchester so the feasibility of fitting in a run was just too much so I rescheduled it and did it Friday instead. I didn’t get frustrated with myself or put lots of pressure on myself and nor was I disappointed in myself that I did this, this is life and if you want to run and sustain a life with running in it it has to be flexible. I will admit this has taken me some time to learn and I’ve learnt this the hard way but as long you don’t use ‘excuses’, being flexible is extremely important in my opinion. Everyone has there excuses but remember why you are doing this, if you are making excuses then you need to question your goal.
On that note, go get some paper, jot down your goal and get planning…..planning in my opinion is the key to success. Once the plan is in place you can get those shoes on and get out that front door!!
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
“A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there.” H. Stanley Judd
I know a lot of people who have used the couch to 5k app to get going with great success and I’m sure there are loads more out there.