I was sent this bloody brilliant gym bag from Prezzybox, and rather than doing a generic review and telling you: “This bag is really great, it holds all my gym stuff, and it looks really ace and yeh, go buy it” and pointing out the obvious, I thought I’d actually give you something useful and share some of my top running tips. Now obviously this bag IS pretty ace (as a total pizza fiend, could there be a more appropriate caption?!), it’s got a wipe-clean interior which is a gorgeous shade of neon pink, and it’s got plenty of room for a whole gym kit including a pair of trainers, but you can probably see that yourself by looking at the pics. You can even get a matching water bottle and exercise mat, so what are you waiting for? Go and check out the Prezzybox website!
As someone who little over a year ago could barely manage to run a mile, and can now run almost 10 miles, along the way I’ve learnt what works for me and it keeps me motivated. The things I do may not work for everyone, but if lazy me with a carb and sugar addiction can get my fitness to the point of almost running a half marathon, then I’m sure anyone else can do it too!
Mind Over Matter
Yes, this really is a thing. If I’m out running for myself, I constantly think over and over again: “I can’t do this. This is too hard. I can’t do this.” However, all I need to do is tell myself: “You CAN do this. You WILL do this”. I remind myself how great I will feel once I’ve got this run out of the way, and how I can then go and eat naughty things with a little less of the guilty feelings!
Find a Buddy
Although I enjoy the solitary nature of running and the time for reflection and contemplation that it brings, at the same time it can be a lonely activity. I find that hooking up with a running buddy can be just the thing to scoop me out of my exercise slumps and get me moving. When you’ve arranged a time to meet with someone it’s much harder to let them down than it is yourself. Also, it allows you time to chat and catch up, you may learn new routes, and it’s a great deal safer. Running in the dark of an evening is much more preferable to running alone!
Join a Running Club
Similarly to the above, I recently joined s running club and it’s one of the best ins I’ve done in terms of improving both my fitness and opportunities to socialise. It’s also allowed me to look at running in a much more positive way, as I was starting to fall out of love with it. Running club means I have a guaranteed long run at least once per week, I have other people to run with, I’m safer when I’m out running, and I’m mixing up my running routines. As well as generic runs, im now doing hill sprints, shuttle runs, park running, and relay runs. There are regular running events available to me, and ways someone to do them with, without having to go through the rigmarole of organising to run for charity. Not that I’m a killjoy, but sometimes you just want to run without the months of forward-planning and fundraising!
Find Your Jam
Although there are times I like to run in silence, those are very rare. If I’m going on. Slow, leisurely park run, I stick in a nice long podcast that’ll keep me amused and off I go. If I’m feeling like I want to get a good pace or go for a super long run, my choice of ‘jam’ is particularly important; I’ve set myself up with a Spotify subscription and have downloaded lots of high-BPM songs that make me want to party. I want to have that ‘I could totally go out dancing right now!’ feeling when I’m running! Those songs that make you run faster and make you feel like you can conquer the world. If you’ve got a buzzing, motivational playlist to run along to, you can totally smash that run!
Get Into a Routine
I’m a creature of habit, so routines are hard to break. I only have one week day that stays the same every day in terms for of my work shifts, so on that day I go to running club. On the other days, I choose one morning a week to get up at 5am to go for a long run, and on those days I get to work feeling like I am THE MAN and I can strut around like a total girlboss! IMO, there’s no greater way to start the day than a bit if exercise and fresh air. Because these runs have now become part of my routine for so long, I hate to miss them.
‘Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail’
I usually choose to do my long runs first thing in the morning, the minute I wake up. If I allow myself any time to do anything else, whether that’s check my phone, watch the TV, or potter about the house, my motivation drops, the moment is lost, and I then find it easy to talk myself out of going for that run. Before I go to bed, I’ll get my running kit ready and lay it out next to the bed so that first thing in the morning I don’t even need to think. Being greeted by your running shoes first thing makes it difficult to ignore the fact you are due to go out for a run! I also make sure to keep my iPod and FitBit on charge overnight so that they are fully charged and ready to go in the morning and I have no excuses.
I go for runs of varying lengths, and I find it useful to know a couple of different routes. For instance I know a route from my front door and back again which is exactly a mile in length. If I want to go for a 3-mile run, I can do the same circuit three times. If I want to go for a longer run however, I find it useful to use the Map My Run iPhone app to plan out where to go. If I need a 5-mile run, I’ll play around with the app until I have a route which is long enough. I find this really useful because although there are some days when I am happy to just run and see where my feet take me, other times if I know an exact route it is much easier to visualise the end, and know how much further I have to go.
Get Your Kit On
When I first started running, I used to wear a tatty old T-shirt and any old pair of shorts I could find. Fast forward a couple of years later, and I’ve got myself a nice running wardrobe of things that are clean and snazzy rather than old and tatty, that I feel much more confident wearing. When you look the part, you feel the part! I’ve found H&M to be brilliant for cheap and stylish fitness wear, so I’d recommend having a look if you’re after some new attire.
Set Yourself a Goal
Set yourself a goal, and work towards it. Whether that goal is to be able to run for ten minutes non-stop, or to run an entire marathon, setting a goal gives you a reason to be motivated and allows you to see how far you’ve come. My initial goal was to run a whole mile without stopping. A year or so on from that goal, and I cannot believe that I can now run 10 miles non-stop, and I actually enjoy it. I log all of my runs in the FitBit app and I can see how my distances are improving over time, as well as my pace. I now look forward to my runs, and although I’m happy with 10 miles at the moment, I am looking to sign up to a half-marathon to give me a bigger goal to work towards. At the moment I am just relishing the fact that I am able to get myself out of bed at 5am and out for a run, and doing so is fun rather than a chore.
Use a Fitness Tracker
One of my greatest investments to date is my FitBit. I have worn it non-stop since August 2015, and it only comes off for showering and swimming! I am able to track my sleep, all of the steps I take during the day, and my progress and fitness levels when I exercise. I take part in weekly and weekend challenges against friends, and the healthy level of competition really spurs me on. I try very hard to hit my 10k steps a day (I spoke more about this here), and when I have a lazy day this spurs me on to go out for a run to make up to deficit. If you’ve never tried a fitness tracker before and want to get fitter, I would highly recommend giving one a go. I tried the Polar Loop here, which I’d also recommend.
One thing that’s really important to me is to feel rewarded for the hard work I put in to exercising. A while back I ordered a few pairs of new jeans from Topshop which were slightly too tight, but I loved them. I decided that I’d put these away for a few months until I’d managed to get off those few extra pounds and I could get into them. Fast track a few months later and they managed to slide on with room to spare! That to me feel like a reward for my hard work. On a much more short-term scale, after a long run or an intense workout I like to reward myself with a chocolate Lennys& Larrys Complete Protein Cookie – these are absolutely delicious and give me a great reason to exercise! You can read my review of the cookies here.