The Toughest Bit...Getting Started

So recently I've been posting my run times on my Twitter and Instagram and people have been asking me how I got started and how I've improved. I've just made a note of a few bits that have helped me, it's not a definitive list but it's working out for me so it might help you! Let me start with a bit about me and running...

I do not like running: I am not very good at it, it hurts and I tend look like I have some kind of severe disability. I have tried running quite a few times but the more I ran the more problems I would find with my knee. It got so bad that after one particular run, I could barely make it down the stairs.

Running is kind of an important part of a triathlon so about 4 months ago I decided I would try and find a run coach. This was probably the BEST thing I've ever done. There's a proper way to swim and a proper way to ride a bike so why didn't I think that this would also apply to running? It turns out that a lot/all of my injury was due to BAD technique and my lack of stretching and using the right muscles. After just my first hour and a half session, I felt like a new woman. I even said the immortal words to my boyfriend "I can't wait to go for a run". I actually said those words!

I got in contact with Michelle Dillon. She's a former 2 time Olympian (just to name drop a bit!) who runs her own triathlon coaching business, Team Dillon. I thought as such an incredible athlete she might wonder what on earth I was doing there and to be honest, I was pretty nervous. I couldn't have been more wrong. She was so kind and helpful and didn't make me feel like a moron. She broke down my run -I think we can safely now call the old run the Splaying Scuttle as my legs splayed out to the side and it was more scuttle than run- and put it all back together again in the correct way. Having someone like Michelle believe in you does something amazing for your confidence. When I ran with my new technique I felt like a runner, I felt like I could run. It was a great feeling.

During one of my sessions, she suggested that I buy some running shoes with a bit more support. I am very flat footed and my Nike Lunarglides (as beautiful as they are) were doing nothing to help. I went to Runners Need in Kingston and had a gait analysis. This determines what kind of shoes you need to best support you on your run. The guy in the shop looked at my feet, checked out my shoulder alignment and watched me walk up and down. It was weird having a man stare at my feet for so long- thank goodness I'd just had a pedi the weekend before! So I went for the Brooks Ghost 6; comfy, nice cushioning and good support.

Okay so part of the reason I got these was not just because they were all gait-y and "correct"- they were the only ones that looked kinda cool. Seriously why are all shoes that are "good for you" so ugly? It's like they want the world to know that you are wearing supportive shoes! Why are they so garish and loud, why can't they rip off a nice Nike design that will match the rest of my clobber? Argh annoying.

So now I have my amazing new coach, new shoes, I have a solid-ish technique and I know what stretches to do. It's still not really going anywhere. I tend to go out with every intention of running a good 5k but I get bored and not to mention that I run so slowly it's like time is standing still. Step in my lovely boyfriend and amazing friends. My boyfriend is a very good runner, in fact he's one of those annoying people who just excels at all sports. It's beyond irritating having to listen to him talk about his "awful" 18 min 5k. Seriously.

He started running with me at the weekly 5k Parkrun. Usually he sprints off into the distance and I see him at the end looking like he's not run yet as I crawl over the line dripping in sweat (so sexy I know). He started running with me and pushing me to keep going when I was clutching my chest pleading to walk. He would find people just in front of me and start revving me up to run past them or to catch them up. It was everything I needed.

I started running with friends too. Of course they are all faster than me so when we got to where the road divides they just wait for me so I knew which way to go. This is the best way to improve. No one wants to hold up the rest of the gang so even when I felt like I just couldn't go any further I just tried to block it out and keep going. I'm saying that all of a sudden I could keep up and was like Mo Farah sprinting off into the distance. Make no mistakes, I was still WAYYYYY behind, at times I couldn't even see them ahead of me. I have kept going and over the weeks I have seen so much improvement in myself. I can go for longer without feeling exhausted, I can keep a steady-ish pace and I'm starting to quite enjoy it. Yes, I just wrote that, I quite like running.

My Tips
  • Expert Advice; finding a coach made all the difference for me. Just a few sessions to talk technique and running style can change everything. It is so worth investing a bit of money now and is much cheaper than the countless physio sessions you may need later on.
  • Shoes; I don't ever need an excuse but this one is important. The right shoe is so important so if you can, get a gait analysis and join me in the ugly shoe revolution.

  • Sign Up; having a goal makes going out on those runs much easier. It can be a Parkrun 5k or a marathon but having a reason to get out there makes going so much less of a struggle.
  • Socialise; going with friends pushes you further than you thought you could go. They're your friends, they won't laugh or judge you so there isn't anyone better to go with! They might also have some tips and tricks that can help.
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