London, as you probably already know, can be quite costly all across the board but especially when it comes to new fitness classes and swanky we-want-all-your-money-and-your-firstborn-child type gym memberships. This is where a form of exercise like running steps in to save the day! Totally free and it even doubles as a form of transport so you could actually be saving money by hotfooting it everywhere.
It has gotten quite a bad rap over the last five years or so (although it’s definitely on the come back now with the influx of too-many-to-name uber cool new training groups) with seemingly everyone being told, or knowing someone that has been told, that running is awful for you and that you are in fact running yourself straight into the ground, or worse… knee surgery. I personally think this is a load of old tosh! It is the most natural form of exercise we can do, from our very first tottering steps we were forming the basis of a love for running, a love that has perhaps been forgotten for some. I would hazard a guess that those who hate it, more than likely do so due to one, or a combination of the following;
Lack of running I.e. General fitness, which actually makes any exercise bloody awful for the first few weeks or so, until you find your feet.
Or, on the flip side…
Too much, too soon which then resulted in injury, only compounding the false view that running is bad for you. I’ve been there and stress fractures aren’t pretty, they also definitely put you off running for a while, which is not the goal!
Running really is for everyone, in varying different stages of enjoyment, intensity and distance. The most fantastic thing about it, is that all you need are a pair of trainers and a general sense of direction. Although, with smart phones being so commonplace, even the latter really isn’t all that necessary.
If you are just starting out then to begin with I would strongly recommend alternating running and walking. It honestly doesn’t matter what speed you are going at, as long as it is faster than your average walking pace and is raising your heart rate somewhat. Also don’t feel that by taking walking ‘breaks’ you are failing, you’re not. This method is used by runners of all ability, at differing speeds, it is called interval training and it has been proven to garner the best results in boosting fitness in a relatively short amount of time. I also completed my first half marathon, in my first 70.3, in what I think is a fairly respectable time of 1:51 and all whilst sticking to my race plan of walking through every aid station. Finally, if you need further reassurance just remember two things;
- You may be running slowly but you are still lapping everyone who is at home sat on the couch!
- Running slow isn’t a character flaw, quitting is.
Keep going, you will get there.
There are plenty of free online plans with the beginner runner in mind, the ‘Couch to 5km’ for example, is a brilliant plan that will build you up slowly and have you running 5km with ease. Which then moves me nicely onto the next gem that is ‘Park Run’. Every Saturday in Parks all across London, 5km running ‘races’ are held with each individual getting an official finishing time plus having the added boost of running with others. Park Run is for runners of all abilities, competitive racers along with those completing their very first 5km! People will be there to give you that shout of encouragement if / when you are flagging or they can even provide some healthy competition, pushing you to smash your previous best times, and all completely free of charge! All they ask is that you give a little back by, every now and then, volunteering to help at one of the runs. Not only will you be helping to keep a pretty cool event up and running but what better way to meet new, likeminded people!
If you need a bit of extra motivation to lace up and get outside then check out this post… Oh, go on then, this one too.