28th March 2016
Dear Beginner Runner,
Easter is over and depending where you are in the world, the weather is either just warm enough, or finally cool enough to make the prospect of the great outdoors appear enjoyable. And here you are, at the beginning of your journey to running, eagerly anticipating that first breath of air in your lungs as you joyously spring into action.
Or more probably, you’re bricking yourself. You’ve loaded a Coach to 5k programme on your phone, or maybe, better still, you’ve signed up to a programme like Learn to Run and now you’re thinking:
S H I T!!!
What have I done?
F A R K K K K K K!!!!
And a million doubts are spinning through your head. Who are you kidding? What possessed you? Where will you find the time? Is your body type really suited to running? Amongst a million other disturbing thoughts.
And here are some answers from someone who has been running a while, but remembers the first steps all too well. After all, who EVER forgets scaring the living crap out of themselves?
So the first thing: who are you kidding?
You’re not kidding anyone. Because the thing is, everyone is soooooooo wrapped up in their own world, their own issues, their own insecurities, they’re not even paying attention. Running isn’t about anyone else. It’s about YOU.
So, are you kidding you?
I don’t think so. You’ve taken this first big scary step to sign on to a plan. And that’s often the hardest.
It won’t be the only hard step you’ll take along your running journey. Running is a bit of a cunning beast, especially over the initial stages. It will whisper that it’s too hard. But it isn’t TOO hard. Hard, yes. But not so hard that you can’t do it.
Scheduling can be tricky, especially with work and family commitments. But look at your plan. Look at your calendar. Don’t you think YOU deserve 30 minutes of your own time just three of four times a week?
I think you do.
It will make bits of your body hurt at times. Bits you didn’t even know belonged to you! And then it will whisper that you are injured. But it’s very unlikely that you’ll get injured** if you’re following a carefully designed plan.
It will whisper stop now. You might be aiming for your first continuous minute of running. And it can feel like the world stopped spinning somewhere in the midst of those 60 seconds and space and time disconnected. They didn’t. And you will be able to keep going for that minute. Maybe not always exactly as its scheduled on your training plan, and that’s OK.
But you can do it.
So there will be days where you ache. There will be times when you want to stop. (Many, many, many times when you will want to stop). But there are also the times when you didn’t stop. You pushed through. And you will feel SO PROUD. You quieted the voice in your head. You did something you felt was impossible. You pushed past an elusive milestone and suddenly you are running for 2 or 5 or 30 minutes and you suddenly realise how AMAZING you are.
Running is for everyone. There is no one body type. It wasn’t predetermined by the angels or fate who could and couldn’t be a runner. And there are a lot of people out there who are running who have stood on the brink of their first run, full of worries and concerns that they’ll look silly or out of place, or fail in some other calamitous way. They understand and they are ALWAYS willing to offer support. Running is one of the most supportive communities I’ve ever come across and had the privilege to be part of. So NEVER be afraid to ask for help. (Even though, I think that’s sometimes harder than the running itself).
And my final words of advice: Remember a running programme is not the 11th commandment, so you can flex it to suit you. Because this journey is about you.
So good luck.
I salute you on taking your first step. Your first of many. Because now, with your first step, you are a RUNNER.
Lots of love,
The Jolly Runner
** There will be a range of levels of discomfort with any form of exercise. Some of that is associated with moving past your current status quo. It’s a place called OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE. But a good way to check is on a scale of 1 to childbirth, or if you had an easy labour, then maybe 1 – cutting yourself on a mandolin or other knifey type object. Levels 1 – 3 are all “good” discomfort. If you’re experiencing pain beyond this level (4 – 10), then you may be on the point of injury (or actually injured) and should seek professional medical advice.