Thursday 18th April 2024

Running tips for absolute beginners


Obviously I am the odd one out among the Mouthy bloggers who all seem to be part of a running club, or training for a marathon, or at least running to work every day. I occasionally run for the train. And sometimes when I’m at the gym, I also do 10 minutes on a treadmill.

I have a complicated relationship with exercise. At school I was the kid who cowered whenever a ball approached.

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As a student I tried yoga and several dance classes, but never fell into a routine to go often enough. Around that time I also got a DVD on Yogalates, which is apparently a trademarked exercise routine combining yoga and Pilates. It’s quite good if you actually have the discipline to plough through the entire disc on your own volition.

Lately, I have managed to drag myself to the gym intermittently. Several times in some months and then not at all for the next couple. And no, I’m not foolish enough to pay for a membership.

I was the kid that ran away from the ball.

The boyfriend’s mum lives in a building with a gym and swimming pool. So we visit her and also the gym. It’s a small one, with two regulars (meaning, always there) – a white-haired man of indeterminable age, who likes speedy walking on the treadmill and leaving the steam room door open (to let out the extra steam), and a guy with a large sweaty belly, who stands around the gym area making conversation, then goes to the sauna and jumps in the pool afterwards without showering.

Sadly I had to share the steam room with the man and his large sweaty belly.

As inspiring as this sounds, going there takes time and it’s a shame to be indoors when it does happen to be sunny. So last bank holiday weekend, when the sun was shining and the Thames was glistening, I proposed running instead. And it went well, mostly. Well, I survived. And even have some observations to share with you.

Running tips for absolute beginners:

  • Get proper attire. Nothing too floppy, trainers that fit (with properly tied laces) and proper socks. During the last half a mile I realised I need to invest in some better socks to replace the random stripy pair I got from H&M 7 years ago that are thinning around the heel. Good news is that the blister went away after two days.
  • Vary the pace. Speeding up and slowing down makes the whole thing more bearable and keeps you going. The boyfriend taught me that. He is fitter than I am and knows stuff about exercise.
  • Have a buddy. The boyfriend became somewhere between drill sergeant and life coach, but even having a friend who is going through the exact same pain is good (as long as they don’t drag you down with them).
  • Pick a nice route. We kept to the river, so the route was sufficiently scenic and mostly devoid of crossings and traffic lights. Parks are another great option, as long as you steer clear of the main cycling, ballgames and dogwalking areas (which unfortunately make up most of most parks).
  • Don’t be embarrassed. Easier said than done, but not making eye contact with people is quite a good way of forgetting they are there. As long as you don’t then run straight into them.


Helen Harjak

Mouthy Blogger

Would you like to know how to dress like a catwalk model for one millionth of the price? Talk to Helen.

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