There’s no doubt about it… no matter what your body was capable of pre-baby, it’s a long old road back again!
It took me a long time to work out that, I could only get excited by an activity if it was framed as a ‘sport’ rather than just ‘exercise’ (yawn). My erstwhile running buddy would laugh at my determination to ‘beat’ other runners – even if they were minding their own business and just happen to be vaguely going in the same direction!
Somewhere in the back of my mind is the memory of a body that would swim competitively for two hours several times a week, or surf, row, rock climb, snowboard, play any number of team sports and – yes – run! But that doesn’t matter one jot when you find yourself back at the start again.
So if you’re also finding yourself in the same position of forcing yourself out of the house several times a week or trying to reawaken your passion to pound, then these ideas might just help…
- Decide when you’re going to do it!
If you’re going this alone and you’re not answerable to anyone else, you’ve got to rely on steely self determination to get out of the door. Don’t just depend on a moment cropping up – it simply wont happen, something will always get in the way. Instead, it’s crucial to look at your diary and block off two or three one hour chunks a week when you’re going for a run (don’t worry, you’re not going to have to run for an hour – this allows for leisurely cooldowns ,showers and getting dressed and ready again afterwards!) Don’t make these days consecutive or you’ll risk overdoing it. Everyone’s diary’s are different and of course will greatly be determined when you have reliable childcare – it doesn’t matter when you do it, it just matters that you ringfence two or three occasions each week and stick to them.
- Make It Easy
Even the smallest thing can stop you getting out of the door. One really common one is very basic – finding your running clothes. The day before your run, lay everything out down to the socks and hair band/clips. (When it’s been through the wash, lay it straight back out again. )
On the issue of running clothes, it’s really is worth a trip to a specialist running store (eg. Runners Need, Run And Become etc) and get properly fitted for a pair of running shoes – running itself will be hugely easier trainers that suit your feet and running style and you’ll be far les likely to injure yourself. The same goes for a sports bra. Beyond that, wear whatever you feel comfortable in – you absolutely do not have to wear the hi-tech materials and outfits – although further down the line as your confidence starts to build, you may find investing in some of these make a good treat (see below!)
- Rewards and penalties
Sometimes you need a bit of a carrot to help you along a bit… You might be the kind of person who responds well to a treat; eg. ‘if I complete three runs this week, I’ll treat myself to a manicure this weekend’ (just make sure the treat isn’t food or drink related – that’s rather undermining your good work!).
A friend of mine buys the most luxurious shower gel and body cream she can afford but only allows herself to use it after a run.
Weirdly, when I first started running regularly (about 2000) I was trying to give up smoking (seems like a lifetime ago!) and told myself, ‘I can have a cigarette but only in the ten minute window after I’ve been for a run’. At that early stage, I struggled to run for a minute or more and at the end of my less-than-one-mile ‘run’ would struggle to step up onto the higher than average final pavement before home. The very last thing I wanted two minutes later was a cigarette! A strange method perhaps – but entirely effective!
These days, I actually respond better to penalties (read into that what you will!) and with my running days tending to fall on a Tuesday, Thursday and either Saturday or Sunday, by and large whilst I have a daily shower of course, I wont let myself wash my hair until I’ve been for a run! Bearing in mind, I wash my hair every other day at least, this forces me out of the door – if only so that I can attack the shampoo bottle afterwards. Again, strange but effective!
- Be Realistic
If you’re new to running or recently returning to it, be realistic. Yes, you can achieve results incredibly quickly but make sure you allow your body to adapt.
That said, the biggest challenge you’re likely to have initially is confidence and enthusiasm – you shouldn’t expect this to be easy straight away.
Don’t think that if you can’t run for five miles then it’s not worth going at all. The most important thing here is to build (or rebuild) the habit of getting out of the door. Allow yourself initially to just run five minutes out and five minutes back if that works for you – or as a friend of mine used to do – run for three songs and then she could turn around for home. The most important thing here is to form the habit of going; to make it automatic to get out the door.
Once you’re used to heading out, you’ll probably automatically start to push yourself a little more each time. But remember, it’s not necessarily time or distance; hill sprints do wonders for speed and fitness in a very short workout as does adding 20 seconds or so of fast running a few times during your regular run; it’s the gear changes that most challenge your body and gain the fastest results(more on these in my next blog)
So Mama (or Dada!) here’s the challenge: to commit to getting out of the house two/three times every week. You don’t need to run far or fast, you just need to get out of breath and break a sweat. That’s it. Dig out some running clothes, create a cheesy playlist… and keep thinking how you’ll feel in just a few weeks time.
You. Can Do It. x