Running for One
What can you do to help yourself to train alone?
How can you keep track and plan what you want to achieve?
Who do you tell?!
January comes with so many good
intentions and taking up or returning to running is a common one. It's usually this week of the year where I see an increase in numbers for my Beginner's Running Circles groups - but this year, it's different.
So what can YOU do to help yourself stay on track?
Give yourself a goal. Not just a long-term goal of a particular distance or time; break that goal down into small, manageable stages and write it down.
Commit the time to it. It can be hard to get out of the door, so have a stern word with yourself, get your kit on and don't overthink it.
Have a plan. Have an idea of what you want from a run. Have a route in your head, or a session planned - but don't be afraid to deviate from that plan - it's not set in stone.
Listen to your body. Start steady; walk to warm up and get those muscles and joints mobile before you start. Walking puts your body through the same range of motion, just without the impact because you aren't landing with force.... yet!
Ideally, at this point some dynamic stretches such as leg swings and lunges would benefit you. It's good practice to get into, people often prefer to do these at home rather than in full view of the passers-by! But be brave... don't worry about it.
The running bit. Start slowly and build up to a pace that feels comfortable(!) It's tempting to head off with a spring in your step, but just hold back a little until you settle into your stride.
Walk if you need. There's no shame in stopping to rest, nor walking for a bit. You are out there and you are doing it. Be kind to yourself.
Log that run! Now it's not the be-all-and-end-all, and I'm not encouraging the competition and comparison to others - unless you want to! There are a number of useful ways to log your own progress without sharing it with the world. However, I have found that the encouragement you can get from friends, family and strangers on social media, can undoubtedly boost your confidence and make you feel good about what you are doing.
There are apps that link to your phone/ smart watches such as Strava, Map my Run, Garmin - but there is also the good old-fashioned way of making a note in your diary.
Now this last bit makes me sad, but it's important to mention it.
As many of us are having to run alone, be aware of your surroundings and the routes that you do choose to take. Make sure someone has an idea of where you are going and approximately how long you may be. If you are running in the dark, make sure you are visible - no night-time ninjas. If you run with music, make sure you can still hear what's going on around you. If you are heading onto the trails, have provisions of water, something warm to wear and Google maps! Take your phone.
I really dislike writing about this last bit, and please don't let it stop you from running.
So with all this in mind.... get those laces done up and get out there. If you have no-one else to tell about your run... you can always tell me!