Keep on Running..

January 05, 2015

This post has been requested by a few of you and what better time to discuss fitness on the first day of most people's New Year's resolutions. If you follow me on Instagram then you'll have probably seen some of my early morning sunrise photos across the fields taken on one of my runs. I love it so much, it can definitely be a struggle to peel myself out from under a warm duvet when it's dark outside and pouring with rain in the winter but I never ever regret going for a run and always feel one hundred times better afterwards. Running, quite frankly, keeps me sane.

I started running when I was thirteen under unfortunate circumstances. I had an eating disorder and used running to lose weight. Running itself wasn't the problem, it was a huge unhealthy emphasis on controlling my calories too. But we won't go into that. I used to run to simply burn calories and not really enjoy it, it was a chore, I didn't have much energy. I've kept running ever since, three times a week for the past eight or so years. 

But now the emphasis is different, I run now as part of fitness and to stay healthy. Sure it's great for controlling my weight and means I've fit into the same clothes for the past however many years, I eat big bowls of ice cream and don't have to worry too much about what I eat from day to day as I always keep very active. My focus is 100% on staying fit, healthy and well. I love my body now in a way I once thought I never could and running has enabled me to do that. I'll spare you photos of me in a bikini but I was tempted to post them on here, a huge huge improvement in my body image from say five years ago. 

When I first started, I spent a couple of years running about three miles, a couple of times a week and ran on the school sports team. I was a district cross-country runner and the 1500m. I used to hate competing with other schools. But then, as I started recovering from my eating disorders I discovered that I actually enjoyed running and keeping fit. I started to run further, discovering different routes with my Mum and Dad. I started spinning, did a beginners Pilates course and discovered fitness DVDs for staying toned {p90x, tracy anderson, jillian michaels etc} and to mix up my routines. Running was no longer a chore but something I looked forward to, especially on beautiful Spring and Summer mornings watching the sky change colour as the sun rises. I built up to running a few 10km routes each week and have maintained that for the past few years. Sometimes I'll do an extra long run, an 8 mile or even 10 miles. But that's mainly if I'm training for an event. Running starts to get a bit boring for me after about 8 miles. I can't imagine ever running a full marathon, I feel that's too much strain on the body and I don't think I'd enjoy it at all.

I started taking the dog with me, he loves it and it makes running more fun having his smiling little face with me too. Currently, I run three times a week, 2 of those around 6 miles/10km and one will be around 4 miles. I spin twice a week at my local sports centre and mix in some Pilates and strength training about three times a week. I'm about to embark on Kayla's bikini body guide workouts in with my cardio to mix things up a bit this year though, your body gets used to exercise if you do the same thing over and over. 

Last Autumn, I ran my first half marathon, the Royal Parks in London. My Dad and I entered through the ballot, he got a ballot place but I didn't get in so entered through a charity instead and raised money for the Stroke Association. I loved building up my training in the summer, the best time of year for it and then having the half marathon at the start of October. I only ever went up to 10 miles, not wanting to get injured and figuring that on the day with the atmosphere we could pull an extra 3 miles out of the bag which we did. I really really loved the whole experience. Getting up early and driving into London for the start in Hyde Park. The route was amazing going past lots of famous landmarks and the royal parks, it was gorgeously sunny and nearly all flat. Knowing I was sponsored and running for such a good cause felt amazing too, my Grandad had died from a stroke earlier in the year. The atmosphere and crowds made it fun, Ben, my Mum and Brother came up to watch and cheered us half way round. I would have done it again this past October but we were at a Wedding. Maybe this year again. There are other half marathons around but lots of them don't allow any MP3 players and I think I'd struggle without music for that distance. 

So, I think that's all about my running 'story' if you can call it that. I really can't recommend running highly enough, it's free, you can do it anywhere and anytime {I've taken my trainers and iPod to Hawaii, Sydney, LA, Florida, Jamaica and Turkey to keep on running whilst travelling} and burns more calories than any other mainstream exercise. It can reduce your risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. But most of all it boosts your mood, giving the same effect as antidepressants with a natural release of endorphins and seratonin. But, I do understand it's not for everybody and if you've never run before make sure you start off slowly to avoid unnecessary injury. And if you really don't enjoy running, not everybody does, find something else you love for exercise instead. You'll only find it a chore and hate it if not. 

Some basics if you want to start running {apologies if any of this sounds patronising, I don't know how basic you want me to go...} 

- Get good trainers. I always wear Aasics, the best for runners in my experience. But each to their own, you should visit a specialist running shop to get your gait measured and the best shoe advised for you {the way your foot hits the ground when you run, different shoes are built for different people. I also have orthotics which fit into my trainers and regular shoes/boots to help counteract the fact my feet roll inwards when I walk/run. I discovered this after getting severe shin splints and pain when I started running. See an Osteopath if you think you need your biomechanics checking out and measured up for potential orthotics}. I replace my running trainers around every four months based on the amount of miles I cover. You should aim for new trainers at least every six months as a guide to keep your body as well supported as possible.

- Decide if you prefer running on a treadmill or outside. I prefer outside 100%, I find I get too hot and bored indoors on a running machine, even with the TV on. You'll burn more calories outside, get fresh air and a variety of surfaces which is better for your feet. But if it's icy or absolutely pouring with rain, I'll relent and use the gym instead.

- Wear good workout clothes. 90% of my workout clothing is Nike, some of it I've had for years. They really do know their stuff. The dryfit range wicks sweat away from you to stop you getting cold and is breathable. I've got long sleeved, fleecy tops and long leggings for the winter, and shorts and vest tops for the summer. Three quarter length capri pants and t-shirts/long sleeved tops keep me going in between seasons. Nike stuff washes incredibly well too. Ladies, wear a good sports bra too, comfortable knickers and thick trainer socks. Most running specific clothing should be reflective too.

- You might get blisters to start off with. I've had some horrendous blisters over the years, sometimes they'll be so bad you might have to take a few days off wearing closed shoes and wear open backed sandals before the skin heals and hardens. But in between try Compeed blister plasters and surgical tape to keep them held on and avoid getting them wet. Vaseline can help on any rubbing areas as can good socks although sometimes they're just inevitable with new trainers. 

- Always tell somebody which route you're running and how long you expect it to take. Take a phone with you and if its dark only run on well lit routes. I love running with my Dad, it's nice to have a partner and is much safer to do so.

- Plan a variety of routes so you don't get bored.  I use the Map My Run website to track how far I've run on a route. Think outside of road running with canals, parks, fields, lanes. Don't worry if you have to walk some hills to start with or even run, walk, run, walk any of it. You'll still be building your fitness up, enjoying fresh air and it's so much better than staying in bed!

- Warm up and cool down properly. Static {moving} stretches are good for warming up, trying swinging your legs and hips around and move your arms and shoulders before starting. A warm up walk is good practice too. Stretching afterwards is vital though or you'll feel super achey the next day and it can be harmful to muscles. 

- Hydrate well with water afterwards and try and eat within an hour of getting back from a run, especially longer ones. The longest I've run is a half marathon so I've never got into fuelling during a run, there's also a risk that you end up cancelling out the calories you've burned with a lot of energy drinks and gels. But again, each to their own. 

- I always like to run in the morning, I find I can't function properly later in the day, I feel tired and more thirsty. As a result I don't eat breakfast before running, but decide what's best for your body. You may prefer to run in the evenings or at lunchtime, after eating something etc.

- Build up slowly, as a rule you should increase your mileage by no more than 10% each week so as to minimise a risk of injury. 

- Wear reflective clothing if it's dark so that cars can see you. I bought some flashing LED lights on an armband for dark mornings and my Mum makes my Dad and I wear really reflective bright yellow vests for extra visibility. 

- Build up a good playlist of motivating songs, I love running to music and it takes my mind away from the tough hill in front of me. I have an iPod shuffle which clips onto my shorts/capri pants,  rather than a a cumbersome armband for bigger iPods/phones, which I try and update every few weeks with new songs. But make sure you're aware of traffic and your surroundings, maybe wear only one earphone if you're in a busy area or on your own.

- Mix up your running with other cardio, strength and core training. Running is high impact and can be damaging if you do too much of it. So it's good to mix up your fitness with other types of workouts preferably non-impact ones. So swimming, cycling, swimming, spinning etc. Pilates and core workouts will strengthen your core which is vital for preventing injury {and toning up, hello abs...}

- Anything is better than nothing. So don't beat yourself up if you don't have much time or want to start off slowly. Even just getting out for a walk is so beneficial for your health and wellbeing. But equally, if you want to get into a routine then try and schedule time for exercise and stick to it. 

- Take regular rest days, I have two a week with no hard exercise, maybe just a dogwalk, and make sure you eat and sleep well. 

- There's no point pushing yourself if you're under the weather, it will only take you longer to recover. If you're not well {the general rule for running is if it's above the neck e.g. just a cold then if you feel well enough keep running but if it's a chesty cough you've got, you could make yourself more ill so maybe take a few days rest}.

You probably knew most of that already but seeing as a few different people have requested a beginners guide to running I thought I'd share all that I know. Good luck if you're starting a new training regime and Happy New Year, again. Let me know how you get on if you're just starting out.

Keep on running!

R <3 xx 

Scenes from some of last year's runs, it's amazing how beautiful and still some mornings are, roll on the summer again please...


Do you run regularly? Will you start this year? Any good music recommendations? As always, feel free to ask any questions via the comments or my Instagram xx.

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  1. Great post! Really want to try and be more active this year, this post will definietly help, thanks!

  2. Not a runner here but I do Zumba like a pro! It's definitely important to find an exercise you love and stick with it - enjoying the physical freedom and healthy side effects that come with it!

  3. Exercising regularly and eating healthy food is really essential to boost our energy and strengthen our immunity system. I'm proud that you are running to promote healthy living, and that you are crawling your way in recovering from your eating disorder. Good going, Rebecca! In any way, thanks for sharing that! Kudos and all the best to you!

    Margaretta Cloutier @ Aspire Wellness Center


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