I’m going to start this post by saying I’m not an expert. I’ve been running for just over 10 years, since I left sixth form, which makes me feel quite old. I’ve certainly read many an article, and received a number of tips from fellow runners/friends/etc., but this still doesn’t make me a professional. I have, however, become happier again with my running during lockdown, which has made me realise a number of things. All of which I’d like to share with you. Some extra running tips for motivation or confidence on getting out for a jog/run/scamper around the streets for your daily exercise.
My top seven running tips
Do it for you
I think the importance of this one really hit recently. I don’t think I realised why I went through phases with running before – loving it and not really fancying it.
During the lockdown, I have really learnt the value of running for myself – i.e. because I want to and for the goals I want to achieve. I don’t do it for anyone else. Yes, I have run two half marathons but I did these for me. My only goal here to complete the race. Nothing else. No time to beat.
Running should be about doing it for you. You should get out because you fancy the jog, or the feeling after (often the motivation for me!). Because you want to complete a certain distance or time. Or just because you want to head out to clear your head. You won’t enjoy it if you’re doing it because others think it’s a good form of exercise right now. And you certainly won’t enjoy it if you’re looking at other people’s goals.
You don’t even need to decide right now why you want to do it. Maybe try a run (or a jog mixed with a walk), and see how it makes you feel. Then use that as the basis for going out again (and again maybe?).
Don’t compare yourself to others
I used to be quite bad at this. I’d look at everyone posting their personal bests (PBs) on social media, and feel disheartened when I knew I wasn’t close. But there are a couple of things wrong with this.
- Everyone is unique – how do you know how long their legs/stride is? Or how long they’ve been running for?
- I hate to say it but, people don’t always tell the truth.
It was reported recently that people have been ‘fixing’ their PD times through Strava, using moving time over elapsed time. Explained simply, they’d do lots of short sprints with breaks in between, and eventually, the sprints would make up a 5km run. They then used the moving time (i.e. sprints) as the 5km run, even though they’d had numerous breaks and double the amount of time had actually elapsed. It’s crazy, or ingenious, depending on how you look at it. But even so, people were then taking these times at face value and believing others had actually achieved these extremely fast times!
It’s so important to just look at yourself and what you think you could achieve, setting yourself goals which you want to aim for. This might be just getting out two times a week. Or it might be completing a certain distance. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. It’s your goal. Goals are good, because they get you motivated, but they don’t have to be too challenging!
Not comparing, goes when out too…
It’s so easy to judge yourself against other runners when out in the streets, especially when they overtake you. This is a sure-fire way to leading your mind to be disheartened. The thing is, like before, how do you know if they’re on a similar run to you? They might be doing an interval run with faster bursts (and slower intervals too). Or even not going as far as you and therefore pushing themselves hard for the short distance. You just can’t know from looking at someone.
You also don’t know their goals, what they’ve achieved or how long they’ve been training. They could be truly seasoned professionals and comparison against someone like that is not going to do any good – unless that motivates you of course. But I know for a number of us, it doesn’t.
It’s hard at first, but try not to think about them. Think only about you and how you’re doing amazing at just being out.
Don’t worry about others judging you either
I know we all think that when we’re out pounding the pavements others will be looking at us, thinking about the way we run. But really, they’re not. Think about when you go out for walks, are you questioning every runner who passes you? Are you looking at their stride, or way they hold themselves? I bet you rarely notice runners. And if you do notice them, I bet it’s with awe – at them being out, doing something you wish you were doing. I know that’s the only reason I notice runners when out on a walk. Ok, I obviously notice them a bit more now too, due to social distancing and ensuring we’re far enough apart on pathways! But honestly, they’re more interested in doing their own thing.
But honestly, it’s not something you need to worry about. Just do you. Do your thing. If someone does look at you, they’re probably doing so with awe that you got yourself kitted up and out the house!
I find it really hard to run without tunes playing in my ear. It gives me a good beat to stride to but also takes my mind off the actual running. I find I often need to escape during a run. Switch off a little. Be at one with my thoughts. Music helps with this. It means I can tune into my run, and focus on my stride and how I feel, but then tune out and sing along in my head, or think about what is for dinner, or what else I’m going to do that day. It really helps me to have these two sides to running.
Not everyone is the same. Chris, for instance, doesn’t need music. He’ll happily go for a 5k without tunes. Just his mind and the run. He likes to focus on the run and make sure he’s pushing himself and going as hard as he can. That’s just the way he likes to do it. Like I said, everyone is different.
Give music a try – perhaps make a pumped playlist with good beats to stride to or just songs which make you happy and give it a go. But try a run without too and see what you prefer – you might like just looking around and taking in the surroundings. It really is all about finding what works for you.
Acknowledge ALL achievements
No matter how small, or what they are, make sure you acknowledge them! It could be just completing a run that day. Or even just getting out when you don’t feel like it. It could be for hitting a PB time. Or perhaps completing a longer distance. You should always be grateful for your body and the wonderful things it can do – how it can take you and keep going! Show it some appreciation by recognising these little things and showing it some love. Or even rewarding yourself for achievements with something else you love too! It’ll give you extra motivation to go out again and keep going.
Stretch & Recovery
Alongside the mental side of things post-run, stretch & recovery is also uber important. Make sure you cool down with dynamic stretches, followed by deeper holds. Stretching will help to release the lactic acid which has built up in the muscles and make the muscles relax. If you don’t stretch, you’ll be increasing recovery time and also the chances of injury next time. Look after your body.
On long run days, I make sure I stretch for quite a long time and use a foam roller too. I’ve also started having a bath if I’m really stiff or achey. This definitely helps – it eased my bad back last week and Chris also swears by it (he used to be a semi-pro footballer). Listen to your body.
Like after any exercise, make sure you drink plenty of water to replace that which is lost during sweating. Keep hydrated.
That rounds off my top running tips 🙂 I hope these will help bring extra passion, motivation and confidence about going running and being out jogging the streets. Doing it all just for you.
Any questions on my experience or tips, pop them below.
What other exercise have you been doing throughout lockdown?