When my Mum was younger she would do anything to get out of playing sports. When I came along and turned out to be an outdoor loving runner my Mum used to describe my love of the outdoors as ‘the greatest failing in my upbringing’. Really the woman hated the idea of sport.
Then last year my mum, who has severe rheumatoid arthritis, got a diagnosis of scoliosis (a twisted spine) and got told that the only way to manage her condition was to do physio exercises and get herself fitter. On the road to recovery, my mum discovered that she quite liked exercise - after over 60 years of avoiding it - and last week she completed her 50th parkrun.
It’s never too late to become a runner and it really is possible for virtually everyone! Here are my top tips on how to get in to running.
Couch to 5k
The NHS’s incredibly successful app helps you build up from nothing to 5k. Download the free app on your phone and follow the guidance as they take you through walking, walk/running, run/walking and to running.
This nationwide free 5k series welcomes runners and walkers alike. Every parkrun in the UK has a tail walker so you can’t even complain you’ll be last. Introduce yourself to the friendly volunteers when you arrive and tell them you are new - I guarantee they’ll be delighted to welcome you. If 5k seems a bit daunting find a multi-lap course and build up to week after week starting with maybe 2.5k and working your way up to the full distance.
One of the best ways you can get that motivation is by having a group of friends you go out with. I lead a running club at my workplace and we do a simple session that makes running together very accessible. We start with a very gentle 1k warm up to our local park. There is then a 20 minute session where you run as many 1k loops of the park as you can manage: if that means walking just one loop that is absolutely fine and then we run together a very gentle 1k cool down. Simple sessions like these can encourage you out and I often find when I’m chatting with friends it helps me go for a lot longer than I could have done on my own.
My biggest piece of advice: ignore anyone who tells you walking isn’t park of running: the greatest ultra marathon runners and mountain runners in the world walk sections of races so it simply isn’t true! So good luck: get out there and see what you can achieve.
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