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Life Insurance > Love Life > Lifestyle > Fall in love with running

Posted 09 March 2017

11 strategies to help you fall in love with running

Keen to become a fun runner rather than a run-shunner? Fitness expert and qualified personal trainer Laura Williams (@laurafitness) shows you how you can find a passion for pounding the pavement with some simple expert strategies.

  • Prep makes perfect – whether it’s your kit or your route.
  • Use modern tech to your advantage.
  • Company can help you through the harder miles.

1. Have a plan

Don’t underestimate the importance of planning – it can help breathe life into a new running habit.

‘Research a realistic plan – one that starts with your current level of fitness and progressively improves it until your goal,’ says running expert Karen Hancock, who coaches runners at the Serpentine Running Club (@serpentinerc).

‘A plan can give you structure as you train towards a race,’ agrees coach George Anderson (@ByGeorgeA), official training partner for the Vitality Reading Half Marathon. ‘Each run is a part of the overall plan, so you never feel as though you're just going out for just another one.’

2. Get kitted out correctly

With something on offer for every budget these days, looking and feeling the part has never been easier.

‘Much more research goes into active wear now and exercise kit can come with a host of additional benefits beyond the aesthetic,’ says personal trainer Lisa-Jane Holmes of Wildcat Fitness (@wildcatfit).

‘For example, compression leggings help to support your muscles when you’re training and improve blood flow to your legs, meaning faster recovery and less muscle soreness if you wear them post-workout,’ she adds.

3. Buddy up

There’s nothing quite like having double the resolve to get you out the door – you’re accountable to another person and you have someone to chat you to as you struggle with that final, tedious mile.

And don’t worry if you run at different speeds: the ‘sheepdog fartlek’ could be the answer.

‘The faster person runs at their pace to a chosen point and then doubles back to meet the slower person,’ Karen explains.

4. Know the power of the playlist

With researchers finding up to a 15% boost in exercise performance while listening to music, the case for plugging in a pair of headphones is strong[1].

‘I actually have a specific running playlist on my iPod because I know that in the last couple of kilometres, as my energy starts to flag, only my favourite tunes can motivate me,’ says Lisa-Jane.

Born Barrikor (@BornBarikor), CEO and founder of the Our Parks initiative, agrees: ‘I especially love high BPMs (beats per minute) on shorter, faster runs as the beat pushes me to run faster while staying relaxed.’

5. Amp up with an app

There are plenty of great running apps to choose from, from the invaluable – perfect if you like discovering new routes and logging your favourites – to the hugely popular Strava, the social network for athletes.

‘I spend many happy hours looking at my training data,’ says Karen. ‘Without a doubt, the very detailed feedback helps to spur you on.’

Born agrees, insisting he won’t run without a fitness app: ‘It’s down to the continuous feedback they offer. I set mine to update me every kilometre, so I know the time it’s taken, my average speed and my current speed. This is incredibly powerful, and can transform a time when I feel exhausted into a personal best.’

6. Try different terrains

Varying your terrain is important for many reasons, from boosting fitness to helping strengthen muscles and joints.

‘A cross-country trail can build ankle and core stability, and help you reconnect with your running, especially if you tend to run on roads,’ explains George.

7. Join a running club or group (or start your own!)

Vary your training and discover your competitive streak by joining a running club.

‘Clubs can be incredibly supportive and give advice as well as much needed confidence,’ says George.

Outdoor activities website has a directory to help you find a running club that’s close to you.

8. Find your alfresco fitness

Exercising outside can have plenty of physical and mental benefits. University of Essex researchers found that both mood and self-esteem are improved by exercising in the fresh air[2].

Born won’t take bad weather as an excuse, either: ‘There are so many breathable, waterproof and warm fabrics at affordable prices; all-weather training can be very comfortable.’

There are plenty of options to vary your run, from Tough Mudder courses to park runs. Our outdoor fitness trends article could give you more inspiration.

9. Dig deep to find your competitive streak

Entering a race can be a great way to keep yourself motivated and to gauge your progress.

‘We all need a frame of reference for our efforts, and a race is a good way of seeing how we’re doing,’ says Karen.

George believes the phenomenon of parkrun, free weekly 5K races taking place all over the globe, has made running competitions ‘more accessible than ever’.

‘Without a doubt, it's been instrumental in building the confidence of new runners to enter longer races,’ he adds.

10. Keep boredom at bay

Mixing up everything from running routes to music is important, particularly when starting out. And ensure you have enough strategies in place to keep pushing your progress forward.

‘Mix with other runners. Go on a training holiday. Keep a training diary. Set goals, note improvements and promise yourself some nice new kit if you meet a target,’ recommends Karen.

Cross training is a good idea too.

‘If extreme weather does put your running on hold, spend a few weeks getting strong inside with a bodyweight/strength routine. This can help with your running by improving your strength and reducing your chance of injury’, says George.

11. Partner with your pet

Pets make the best running pals – if you don’t have a dog, offer to take someone else’s, or join a dog-walking group like Borrow My Doggy. The Kennel Club advises you to undertake a little research beforehand, however.

‘Certain breeds of dog are better suited than others for running so check with a vet before starting to run with a dog in tow,’ advises The Kennel Club.

When it comes to running, a good plan of action can help beginners get into the habit of going out regularly. But you know what they say – variety is the spice of life, so make sure you mix things up enough to keep your running regime fresh.

Laura Williams is a fitness expert, qualified personal trainer and a reluctant runner. She started running in her late twenties when looking for a convenient and cheap way to get fit. Laura has run and competed at club level but often laces her trainers reluctantly, putting her in the perfect position, she believes, to encourage people of all ages and fitness backgrounds to give the tarmac a try.



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