Help I’m Afraid of Running

Today I’m taking it back. Right back to running basics. And when I say basics, I mean ‘getting your trainers on and walking out of the door’ basics.

Running is fab. Or at least it looks that way when you see those energetic types smugly jiggling their lycra clad booties down the road.

But what of those would-be-runners left behind? What if you just can’t do it, or you’re consumed by fear?

I’m going to let you in on a secret. I was a non-runner. I could dance, play tennis (well that’s debatable) and run about on a hockey pitch but no matter how much I tried to jog, I’d start, I’d get about five minutes in and I’d feel like my heart and lungs might explode. It was frustrating. Even as a teenager I knew I’d enjoy the simple freedom of running off my angst (boy – did I have angst) but I couldn’t do it.

Then, in my early 20s, a keen runner (a client on the project I was working on back in my PwC Consulting days) signed the team up for the Corporate Chase 5k challenge and took us all out running, every week, in Regent’s Park. Mike Hall (no relation) taught me about pace and breathing.

In time I figured out how to cope with stitches and how to enjoy running. In those days I was around a stone heavier than I am now and drank way too much, but I completed my first 5k in around 35 minutes.

I’ve improved a bit since then but the first time back running after a break is always a challenge.

Here are five basic running fears and how to get round them from both personal experience and an exercise physiology point of view.

1. My boobs are too big for running

Yes they probably are. Very few competitive runners are blessed with generous jugs. They get in the way. You are just going to have to find a way to strap those babies down.

Go for the double bra. A trap and a squash (encapsulation bra plus a compression bra on top). And do get measured. The measuring team at Sweatshop are expertly trained and won’t have to look. Or call Selaine at Less Bounce. My friend famously had a custom made bra from the US since nothing UK side would tame her blessings.

2. I’m too fat for running

The lighter you are, the easier it is to run. There’s less of you to bounce around. This isn’t to say you can’t run if you’re overweight but you will find it harder to get started. And finding it really hard at the beginning is normal.

3. I look silly

Do you know what I think when I see someone running? ‘Good for you.’ It’s great. That person is up, out and doing it.

If you are really worried about what people think you could try vampire running – run in the dark so no-one can see you. A friend of mine in Australia did this to lose weight.

People will always look. We are voyeuristic beasts. So either wear your full fluoro unitard and jiggle with pride or go dark with a cap and sunglasses for a cunning disguise.

4. I think i might die

The first five minutes of your run will always feel hard. It takes around five minutes for your body to start getting energy from fat (your aerobic energy system), during the first five minutes, you are using your anaerobic (Lactic) energy system. It feels nasty. This is what contributes to the feeling that your heart and lungs might explode. I’ve written all about energy systems and tips for beginners like pacing and breathing in my blog Running for Absolute Beginners.

5. I’m just so unfit

Honesty hat on – you might be. But few things get you fitter quicker than taking up running. Yes, once you can do it you’ll plateau but beginner’s reap the biggest rewards when it comes to fitness gains, physical adaptation and weight loss.  So what’s stopping you?

Check out: 6 top running tips for absolute beginners

Fit School has a team running in this year’s Race For Life on 15th July. So if you’d like to run, jog or walk why not do it with us? Check out all the joining instructions on our website: Race For Life 2015


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