Thursday, 2 May 2013

Running free

Recently, I signed up to take part in the Race for Life 5K in my hometown, raising money for Cancer Research UK. I think it would be difficult to find someone who hasn't been affected by the disease, through their loved ones or themselves. I've lost many loved ones to cancer and I've seen how losing someone young can create an intense ripple effect on every individual who was a part of that person's life. Taking part in the Race for Life is such a positive thing for me- I  have raised just over £100 so far and hope to keep the donations coming, and have also discovered through training to run the 5K, a love for getting out there, and 'running free'.

I thought it would be a nice idea to share with you my experiences and tips to get the most out of running and jogging, from the perspective of someone who two weeks ago had never run for more than 5 minutes without stopping! At the moment I'm building up my fitness via the Race for Life training plan which is printable and available on the RFL website. I started off going out for 20 minutes, running 3 minutes and walking 2, and now have built up to 45 minute runs, with a 30 run/ 15 walk ratio. I am loving it! I began the plan with the intent of simply building up to the race, but it's become so much more than that. I love getting out in the morning and seeing nature doing its' work, getting the sun on my skin, and above all getting fit. I am by no means overweight, but I'd really like to make the most of being young and being in as best shape as I can (and I wouldn't mind losing a few pounds, while I'm at it ;)) Sorry to throw in a bit of nerdy English-student quoting, but while looking over some Tennyson yesterday, I came across two really motivational quotes from his 'Ulysses':
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life. 
This one I love- it fits my ethos of running completely. Youth is so precious, just ask your grandparents! At the age of 18, I just about hitting my physical peak, so why waste that sitting around and not getting out there? Tennyson has said what I couldn't put into words myself- how boring is it to sit around, and not polish what you have so that you can shine? Merely breathing isn't really living- making the most of your time is! Which brings me to the second quote of good old Tenny-
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Gives me goosebumps, I tell you. So, onto my tips of making the most out of running. While I'm at it I ought to say- running isn't just for 18 year olds! My Mum, (whose age I will keep quiet for fear of rages) has been running with me and keeps exactly the same pace- she's probably fitter than me being a bit of gym bunny. First off, I thought it might be a good idea to explain the applications I use during my run to keep me on task.

First off is 'Zombies! Run'- bare with me, it may sound a little corny but this one is amazing at motivating you  to get up and get out, especially when you are out on your own. The premise of the app (again, bare with) is that you are the mysterious runner 5 who pretty much appeared out of nowhere after a mysterious rocket attack from the middle of the desert. You were found by Abel Township, a base of surviving humans, and after getting some supplies for them, they've let you in. Your task as a runner for the base is to go out on missions of various types (so far I've rescued a child, distracted zombies, and checked a hospital for 'zombs') while collecting materials and supplies to improve the base. All of this plays through your headphones, and once you have pressed 'run', you don't need to do anything more. This app has given me structure to my runs, and fixes the very common running complaint of boredom during a run. The app plays a song (through your music) and then delivers more of the story. Eventually I hope to find out who I am and where I have actually come from! Excellent stuff. £1.79 on Apple App Store.

The other run based application I use is 'Runkeeper', which is a much more functional app. While Zombies! Run provides the fun and distraction, Runkeeper keeps me updated with my minutes per mile/kilometre, how long I have been going (which is awesome for my RFL training program) and how far I have gone. It even tells me how many calories I have burnt afterwards, and gives me a nifty little graph to say where I peaked. Runkeeper is FREE, which I am very happy about, offers facebook integration (allowing you to casually brag about your beast of a workout) and tells you when you have beat your records, all of which requires no intervention. Get it. Get it now!

The final app I use which is again free is 'Myfitnesspal'. This one is especially useful if you're trying to manage your weight (allowing gain/sustaining/loss) which I'm trying to a little. The best thing I've found about this app is it allows you to keep on track of your calorie intake including any exercise you have completed- meaning when I've gone for a jog, I'm allowed a cheeky skinny cappuccino ;). This also has a social aspect, allowing you to be nosey and have a look at your friends' progress, and again brag a little!

A few more bits and bobs I'd recommend for a successful run are:

  • Don't over pace yourself, there isn't any point in sprinting for 2 minutes then being too knackered to maintain a gentle jog for the rest of the time!
  • If you're a woman, (or have boobs regardless of your sex, I ain't judging) PLEASE INVEST IN A DECENT SPORTS BRA. Last week my boyfriend had to tie the straps of mine together as it snapped, and I was uh, 'flapping about' as it were. Sports direct is a massive no no. It's cheap, but it won't last. Go with a decent brand and you'll feel free as a bird!
  • Also purchase a decent arm strap to hold onto your iPod/iPhone while you're going. For me I could not run on my own without some music/ some gentle zombie sounds to distract me from the fact that I have jogged around the same field 3 times. I got mine for £3 from amazon and it's doing the job nicely!
So that's my little Pippa Middleton-esque lot of tips/ experiences. Please feel free to ask me any questions (by all means I am not an expert!) or feedback your jogging journey! (corny)

Ciao! xx

In memory of Georgia

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