Last week Lena Dunham posted an Instagram pic of her jogging and sang the praises of her trainer who she credits for transforming her relationship with exercise. Describing how she has hated running all her life, Lena talked about how quickly she has become proud of what her body can achieve. So is it possible to fall in love with a sport so many squirm just thinking about?
Personally, I have always longed to be able endure a long distance run but have been stunted by the horror thoughts of what the training would involve. But, somehow, last summer I decided to kickstart my running regime. I downloaded the app ‘Couch to 5k’ (Race for Life also has a great training plan for their 5k) and told myself I wanted to be able to run 15 minutes non-stop within a few weeks. The app sets you a training plan which combines short bursts of running and walking and at first this seemed like it would get me nowhere. In fact, I was shocked at how quickly my stamina improved and as I hoped I was soon able to run for 15 minutes. It really was quite straightforward.
Once I had achieved this I knew that I wanted to be able to run 5k in 30 minutes and so the next few months of training involved the simple technique of running an extra minute or two when I was having a particularly sprightly day. If you’ve done it once, it makes it so much easier next time knowing that it is physically possible. It’s worth noting that my training progressed most quickly in my last couple of months of university when I used it as a de-stressing method. It worked so well!
Less than a year after starting I am now at the point where I am running 5k in 30 minutes. This may not seem like a massive achievement but I’m pretty pleased. I’m setting my next goal and who knows where I will end up! Maybe a half marathon (maybe not).
I’ve still got a long way to go to be able to say I’m a good runner but, as someone that started out as a complete beginner, I do know that these annoying tips that everyone tells you are actually true:
Forget what you haven’t been able to achieve before.
Hire a running buddy - they’ll drag you out after work or at least make you feel really guilty for not going.
Going out for just 10 minutes is better than not going at all and like they say ‘the only bad workout is the one that didn't happen’.
Pick scenic routes and mix it up - you’ll be distracted from the fact that you're struggling and you’ll go for longer.
Don’t be put off by slow progress - you are improving each time you go even if it's not obvious.
So, in answer to my question, I think you can learn to love running. Maybe not the hard training part, but definitely the end result. Admittedly running isn’t for everyone but you would be surprised as to how far a little progress goes in terms of self esteem. It might be bit extreme to say, like Lena, that running has made me more connected with my body but I’m definitely pleased by the fact that I’ve achieved something I set out to do. It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop - the end result is so worth it.