Running 101: How to start kicking ass
“Running allows me to set my mind free. Nothing seems impossible. Nothing unattainable.” – Kara Goucher, Olympic runner (long-distance).
I’ve never been someone who really enjoyed doing the same activity for a sustained period of time. Much unlike my sister, who’s being practising one sport or another, and intensely so. Admittedly, I have also been practising a few different kinds of sport over the last decade, yet never at the level where I felt being comfortable with serious competitiveness. Whether it was tennis, hockey or fitness, I am more like the kind of person that has just been doing sports for the fun of it.
However, over the last few years I have become more ambitious, which has lead me to take up running. I’ve come to find it’s a good pass-time, and it just makes me feel very good, after the initial complete physical breakdown caused by spending every bit of energy in your body. I have started running somewhat more seriously about four months ago, back home in the Netherlands (where encountering an incline or decline is next to impossible). I’ve continued to run after my move to Scotland, where I could not just add on extra kilometres to my runs, but also the great kick in the ass that a good hill is able to give you when you conquer it. Ultimately it is my goal to run a proper 10 kilometres in one go, but I’m not quite there yet.
Whether you are an experienced runner, or more like a novice like me, there are several aspects to running which make it such a great sport to perform. First off, you can do running socially, or not. It is said that social running might be helpful for most, especially starting out with running. However, there are others (like me) who prefer to just plug in their earbuds and go for a run through the Scottish cold by themselves. My point being, however you want to do it, you can. And the possibilities don’t end there, you can choose to run through forests, fields, roadside, on an athletics track, or in the gym, treadmilling those miles away without suffering the outdoor weather.
All the control that you have about what it is you are going to do when going for a run, is what I think makes it so great. In the past, I was always stuck to certain times and places for practising sports, yet this isn’t the case when you have near absolute freedom of choice. All you need, after all, is your feet, motivation, and some light to see where it is you’re going. However, it is true that having a lot of choice doesn’t always help us to make the best choices. Because of that I’d recommend, especially when starting out, to decide before going out. What might even be better, is to have a professional coach you on the basics so that you can start more relaxed and can get any support that you might need, and make sure that you keep on moving that ass even if you don’t want to (we all need a good motivation boost every once and again, don’t we?).
But I’ll not just leave you with my layman’s opinion, as I’ve asked an actual professional what advice she could give anyone who is thinking of starting running. Here’s her advice:
“Start slowly – run/walk at intervals and don’t put too much pressure on either pace or distance. Rather, only look at how long you are active for and build it up from there.
Find out what motivates you – if it’s a social factor then join a group, but if you want some quiet time run and train alone – we are all different.
Set a goal, even a local parkrun but if you have a focus you are more likely to continue running.”
– Mandy Williams, shop manager at Run4it, which provides running classes at the University of Stirling.