First steps to fitness: Running

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Andrew Julien | Photo : Hannahelizabeth.co.uk

If you’ve never run before, thats ok. We all start at the same place… The beginning. As with anything, the chances of bounding off like Usain Bolt on your first run are slim. It will take time, patience and dedication, so don’t be put off if you find the first few runs difficult. This is natural and if you keep practising you will see results. 

Common reasons for not running:

Fear of judgement
Fear of physical pain
Fear of being out of our comfort zone

Fear and an all consuming feeling of failure, often gets in the way of  us reaching our full potential. Fear is in our minds and through knowledge and embracing self-confidence, we can stop it in its tracks. Fear is a complex emotion but it is just that, an emotion. If you’ve been the victim of judgemental comments in the past and they’re replaying in your mind, remember that negative comments are not a reflection of you but a reflection of the insecurities of the perpetrator. Smile past the negativity. The moment you pity the fool, is the moment you regain confidence and control. Don’t let the defeatist attitudes of others define you.

Here are some simple, tried and tested ideas to help get you started on your running journey, including advice from London based personal trainer, Andrew Julien.

Attend group exercise classes or invest in a qualified personal trainer to help get you started, if it’s within your budget. Use their expertise; a good trainer will have worked with many people who were once in your shoes. They can asses your technique, provide both eating and training plans, motivate and inspire you to do your best.

Andrew Julien has been a personal trainer for over 10 years. Having previously coached under 21 basketball, Andrews training style is about specialist athletic skills, which he breaks down and transfers to us mere mortals, tailoring activities to suit individual needs.

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Andrew Julien, personal trainer | Photo : Hannahelizabeth.co.uk

As well as emphasising the importance of warming up beforehand and stretching properly after your run, he recommends starting slow with walks at first, building up to jogs and then runs when you’re ready.

“If you’ve been inactive for a long time, take advantage of what is around and begin by going for a walk in your local area, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day. Then speed up the pace and being to jog when you can. Your jogs don’t have to be long, short burst will help with progression. The most important part of this process is the beginning. Once you’re into a routine of movement, the rest is commitment. Focus on distance rather then time whilst you’re building up pace; 1km, then 2km and so on. It may be hard at first but the results will be worth it.”

Find a running buddy or join a local running group such a ParkRun, Runners Need or Nike+ Run Club, to help motivate you. Ask friends who are able to dedicate themselves to the same level of training as yourself. If you don’t yet know anyone who’s up of the challenge, social media can be helpful. By joining groups for first time runners, you could meet up with someone new. In some ways, meeting up with new people can have added benefits compared to just running with friends, as it dispels the temptation to skip the run if your friend can’t make it. If you’re going with a new partner, its human nature to want to make a good impression. You’re very likely to make new friends in the process too.

Download apps to help track your progress. Initiatives such as Couch to 5K and apps like 5k or 10k Trainer are wonderful tools that allow you to build up stamina, pace and distance in manageable amounts. On average, to go from not running at all to doing a10k, takes around 3-4 months. Set yourself realistic goals. Allow running to become a habit. Go at the same time each week, keep a note of each run you’ve done on your calendar so you can see a genuine reflection of how much exercise you’ve been doing. Reward yourself in a healthy way when you reach your goals.

Listen to podcasts and audiobooks. A motivating, upbeat playlist can definitely help set the pace of your run but if you fancy a change, download audiobooks or podcasts as well. We know roughly how long the average song lasts, which can help or hinder whilst running. When you don’t have an idea how long you’ve been listening to something i.e. an audiobook, the time spent running disappears quicker than you may think.

Invest in new running gear, preferably from a specialist running shop if possible and talk to the employees about your goals so they can offer the type of gear that will suit you best. If you’re new to physical exercise you most likely will ache during and after your run, especially whilst you improve your technique. Having well fitting trainers that are designed for the terrain you’ll be running on is important as it can reduce risk of injury and minimise blisters or foot cramp.

If possible, avoid wearing cotton when exercising, as it doesn’t dry quickly, can retain sweat smells and sweat-drenched cotton will stick to you. Ensuring you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing will help mentally as well as physically, by giving you confidence to pace off through the park and not feel cold. Opt for sweat-wicking materials. You don’t have to wear skin tight spandex if you don’t want to, this is also where running shop specialists can help, by recommending kit that’ll make you feel comfortable.

Try not to let social media make you feel inferior. Whilst it can be inspiring to follow successful athletes or those of Instagram fame, it has potential to be detrimental to our wellbeing and can make us feel like our goals are unattainable. Include a following of people who are on the same journey as you are or those that have reached goals similar to your own. Surround yourself with those who share your health and fitness ideals and promote healthy, non-obsessive lifestyles. Banish the voice in your head that sneaks in to say you are unworthy. By tracking your own progress and not so much that of others, you can become the best version of yourself… No comparison.

Andrew Julien is a personal trainer at Gymbox Holborn and a coach for both Body and Barz and Team Madness.

Contact: info@aj-fitness.com
Instagram : @ajsmadness
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Words & Photography: Hannah Elizabeth
www.hannahelizabeth.co.uk
Instagram: @thegreenmachineWD
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