This is me in April 2014 having just ran 26.2 miles (42km) in the London Marathon for the charity Children with Cancer. Believe it or not, I am not natural runner and having rather short legs I feel gives me a disadvantage to my taller limbed friends! Saying this though, I have a love hate relationship with it, some days I love it, other days I hate it!
Back in September of 2013 I decided to apply for the London Marathon thinking there was no way I would get in. I had friends who had applied for years and still hadn’t done it. To my surprise, I was accepted which meant one things; I had to learn how to run! At this point I couldn’t run 1km without feeling like my legs were going to drop off (no joke). It took me a very long time to learn how to run properly, 7 months to be exact!
I set myself no targets for the London Marathon apart from to complete it, which I did in 5 hours 6 minutes. Since then I have gone onto run a half marathon and just for enjoyment. I find it a really good way to de-stress and switch off. Now many of you may be lucky enough to be natural runners, but some of you may be like me and it just doesn’t come easy…so I thought I would share a few tips 🙂
- Go slow – if you are new to running, don’t set yourself unrealistic expectations because you will just be disappointed in yourself. I found interval training really effective – I would run for 1 minute, walk for a minute and then build this up over time. I would practice yoga alongside this and learnt to respect my body; if I was in pain, I would stop and I would not beat myself up if I hadn’t ran as far or fast as the day before.
- Be kind to yourself – You have one body and it does so many amazing things for you, take care of it. Running is a brilliant thing to do but think of your joints, running long distances everyday can’t be good for your knees and hips! Make sure you rest, stretch, foam roll and drink plenty of water!
- Breathe – I never used to understand the importance of breathing when running until I started doing it more consciously. Now I really notice the difference when I breathe properly and regularly. By flooding my body and muscles with oxygen I find I can run for longer. I find it almost therapeutic to breathe in time with my pace. It also gives me something else to focus on instead of how long I have been running for!
- Get outside – There is no better place to run than outside with the fresh air in our lungs. When I was in the UK I used to love running in the countryside. I wouldn’t see anyone for miles and time seemed to pass quicker. This is a little harder here in Dubai with the weather being like an oven half of the year and not really having the natural countryside feel I enjoyed so much back home. Saying this, Dubai has some amazing running tracks with some pretty spectacular views. During the winter months the track along Jumeirah beach is a good one.
- Listen to a good running playlist – When I was training for an event, I didn’t use to listen to music as I liked to run with the pace of my breath. However, when running for fitness and fun, nothing makes a run more enjoyable than a good running playlist. There are always those few songs which motivate you to run a little faster or go that extra mile!
- Just get out there and do it – whatever the distance or reason behind your run, the most important bit is getting those trainers on and just getting out there and doing it! The hardest bit is starting and motivating yourself but even if you aren’t a natural runner like me the post running feeling is always so good that it makes it so worth it.