If you’re inspired to try running but nervous because you haven’t done any exercise for a while, don’t panic or be embarrassed. Many people don’t run, especially outside, for fear of looking silly. So you run slowly – who cares? Never let your fear of what other people think stop you from getting fitter and slimmer. As a form of aerobic training, running is one of the best ways to reduce fat, and can help preserve muscle mass and improve bone density, too.
However you feel about exercise initially, eventually it will get easier and you may even start to enjoy it! Just make sure you listen to your body and build up your routine gradually. Check with your GP before starting out and take things at your own pace. A good way to get started is to pick a route and walk it a few times. Then start to run part of the way and walk the rest, increasing the distance you run more and more each time until you are able to run the whole route. Softer surfaces, such as country trails or canal towpaths, rather than roads and pavements, will minimise the impact on your joints.
Start out by choosing a distance you’re comfortable with and increase it very gradually. Keep a note of your times and distances, so you can measure your progress. Stay hydrated, always warm up well and stretch your body (cool down) afterwards. If you feel any pain, revise your plan and go back to walking until it feels comfortable again.
Take regular rest days and eat as soon as you can after running to help your body recover. If you’re new to it all, only train every other day at the most. Wearing the correct footwear is important, too. A specialist running shop will be able to recommend the right pair for you. Don’t feel intimidated about going in – they see beginners every day and don’t expect every customer to be a marathon runner!
Get inspired with these members’ experiences…
‘I ran off four dress sizes!’
Gill: I was 13st 13lb and, at only 5ft 2in, I was heading for a size 18. My husband ran and had been nagging me to have a go. I insisted I couldn’t, but after I’d lost about 7lb, I started off running for two-minute bursts. It very nearly killed me! But each time I ran, I carried on for an extra 30-60 seconds until I could run nearly 3k!
‘I started running when I was 20st’
Deborah: My start weight was 20st and even walking uphill was a struggle. I hated feeling like that, so when my aunt asked me to enter a 10k race, I jumped at the chance. On my first day of training I jogged for 30 seconds – I was so out of breath! But within a matter of months I was able to run for 30 minutes without stopping. It gave me such a buzz! I lost more than 4st by combining healthy eating with running.