What marathon running taught me about life…and drinking

Our friend Julie Creffield is an inspiration. She set up Too Fat To Run because her doctor told her exactly that. Today she shares with us what marathon running has taught her about life … and drinking. In the webinar, Julie tells the story of how she set up her running blog, and shares what running has meant for her drinking habits. She also lists her top tips for getting started.

Marathon running – how to get started?

Many people take up running as a way of losing weight; buy some new trainers and head out of the door full of enthusiasm. What follows is normally a catastrophe and the whole experience is filled away as a memory of pain, embarrassment and even trauma. We believe that for you to truly enjoy the sport of running you have to have a plan and take things slowly, but below are 10 of the top ways that you could start out and how useful they are.

1 Just start running – Go on put your trainers on this very minute and start running…well go on what are you waiting for? I dare you…no in fact I double dare you… GO NOW… grab your keys, leave the house and go for a run. The likelihood of you actually enjoying your first run like this are pretty slim. Ultimately you will at some point have to get out the door and start but there are easier ways to get into it.

2. Couch to 5K – This is the most popular programme for beginners. You can download C25K programmes on your smart phones and find printable programmes online too. The basic premise is that over a series of weeks the programme will take you through a series of short walk/run sessions gently shifting the balance until you run more than you walk, and to the point where you should be able to cover 5K in distance.

3. Take part in parkrun – parkrun is a weekly 5K timed run taking place in parks all over the UK and now in many other countries too. Basically you sign up on the parkrun website where you can download and print out your own personalized barcode which gets scanned at the end of each run, you then get your timed results sent to you a few hours after your run and you can see your improvements week on week. The great thing about parkrun is the mix of experienced runners and newcomers, people of all shapes, sizes and ages too meaning they are incredibly friendly. Think you are too slow? There is no such thing as on many courses there are people who walk round (although not all) so check online to see the range of finish times. You can also volunteer which is a great way of getting involved.

4. Run in an Organised Race – Signing up to a race can be a great motivator to get out and train. If you choose the right race then you are likely to be around others at the same fitness level as you. Give yourself at least 6 – 8 weeks to get ready and start with something achievable like a 1 mile fun run and at most a 5K. Having something fixed in your diary is a great motivator… but only do this if you have the determination to see it through.

5. Run on a Treadmill – Some people prefer the safety of a gym, or the privacy of their own home to do their running, and a treadmill is a useful tool particularly for interval training and measuring distance and speed but it can not match the joy or running outside once you have developed in confidence.

6. Go to track– If you are scared of big distances and can only manage short bursts, this might be the type of session best suited to you. A running track is 400 meters in distance and has few distractions or obstacles, so is the perfect place to build in confidence. The surface of a running track minimizes impact on the body and due to its absolute flatness lowers your chance of tripping. Most tracks have quiet times when the elite athletes are not training, and many have beginners sessions too so do not write this off as an option.

7. Run a Loop – To make things as simple as possible why not create a 3-mile loop from your very own front door and back. No time wasted getting to your running route, no chance of getting lost, all you have to do is leave your house. The aim is to try and improve your time each time you run that very same loop. When you know where you are running and can set milestones it becomes easier to asses your improvements and gain in confidence, running in your community is a great way of facing your fears whilst inspiring others too.

8. Buy a pedometer – So technically speaking this is more a walking task, but the recommendation for good health is to walk 10,000 steps per day. By using a pedometer you can measure just how inactive you are, you can then set yourself the task of completing the steps each day. Once you have done that for a while you will have got into the habit of pushing yourself beyond your normal levels of activity…then the next step is moving your power-walking up to a run.

9. Play games with your kids – Your kids are the people most likely to appreciate you being able to run and least likely to laugh at you, and whilst you are running around with your kids I dare any other soul to laugh or poke fun at you. So playing a game with your children is actually a safe environment to build confidence. So lets think about some suitable games… relay races, run outs, british bulldog, rounders, off ground touch, traffic lights…find your inner child again. If you don’t have kids borrow someone else’s, but remember to ask first!!

10. Lose some weight first – Running is tough, not just physically but psychologically too so its no wonder overweight people tend to dismiss it as a way of getting fit. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose and feel that your size and fitness levels are holding you back why not try and lose some weight and improve fitness first through a programme of more gentle exercise like swimming, cycling or cross-training. Combined with more conscious eating with healthier foods even a month of this could really make the running a little easier, but do not think that you have to lose weight to be able to run…it does make it a little easier though.

You can read more about marathon running at Julie’s website, The Fat Girls’ Guide to Running. And you can find her books, including her new one, A Fat Girls Guide to Running a Marathon, on Amazon.

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