Run For Your Life by Carrie Goucher

Run For Your Life – Blog Post #12

Published on Tuesday 27th February 2023 by Carrie Goucher

“I’m just going to put it out there – I truly believe that for many people, running can be a fun, mood-improving, social, free, health-giving, life-affirming, life-long love. For so many people, running is the space they need to process the world. It’s time outdoors, away from phones, to do lists…and children! It’s that hugely satisfying feeling when they come back. They feel set up for the day. Strong. Like they can face anything. Sounds great, right?!

The problem: it can be a bit difficult to start running from scratch.

Running is a bit like learning to speak conversational Japanese as an adult: it all feels like a nice idea but the first step up on the journey is often just a bit too big. We’ve all done it. Gone out for a few runs. Found it quite difficult. Not progressed as quickly as we’d like. Not really enjoyed the sensation of being very out of breath. Legs feel heavy and tired. After 3 or 4 runs… or even a full Couch-To-5k programme, we drop off a bit and before we know it, we’ve basically stopped running again. And the conversational Japanese isn’t coming on too well either!

Most people start running the hard way (too fast/far and alone) and anything that’s too hard is unsustainable. It’s too difficult to tough it out through something you’re not really enjoying, especially when there doesn’t seem to be much fun today or promise of pay off tomorrow. And usually you have to do it in public on roads near where you live!

In my experience, most people run too far and fast at the beginning. We have this idea that running is effortlessly gliding along, gazelle-like for 30, 40 minutes – and if we can’t do that then we may as well not bother. The reality is that running takes a bit of getting used to and at the start, our brain/lungs/legs rather unhelpfully scream “Stop, stop!! This is madness!” at first. But after a few weeks, the brain/lung/leg combo gets the idea and everything starts to work together.

You’ve got to spoon feed the brain some good experiences – some runs in the bank where the brain says: ‘Yep, that was ok. We didn’t die. We can do that again.” If you run too far and too fast too early, the brain will shout at you very loudly and tell you never to put your trainers on again.

The solution: the Run-For-Joy method.

It’s not exactly a method, just a way of running really.

It goes like this:

🏃🏻‍♀️ Less is more. Life’s hard enough so push yourself until you are ‘enjoyably stretched’ and then stop. Leave your brain wanting more.

🏃🏻 Run with other people. Sometimes running on your own is blissful but usually it’s much easier to run with others when you’re getting into it, or back into it.

🏃🏻‍♀️ Compare yourself to NO ONE and NOTHING. Just run the speed and distance that’s right for YOUR body on THAT particular day. That’s it.

🏃🏻 Eliminate the word ‘should’ and replace it with ‘could’. If you wanted to, you could run regularly. Hey, you could run a 5k! You could run 5k quite fast! Everything running-related is just an option, available for you to choose if you wish to.

🏃🏻‍♀️ Accept good days and bad days. Some days you feel like a cheetah . Some days you feel like a hippo. Take what you get on that particular day, adjust your expectations and crack on. Next time will probably be the other one.

🏃🏻 Run with love and gratitude. Every time you take both feet of the ground at the same time you are a) a super-hero and b) joining humans throughout history and in every culture and continent and c) doing something that many of your friends and family would LOVE to do. Every step is a gift.

🏃🏻‍♀️ Run as much as is fun. As soon as it stops being fun, stop. Even if that’s in the middle of a run. Get going again when you’re ready.

And that’s it. Come and join us sometime soon and try the Run-For-Joy method for yourself.”

Carrie founded Run For Your Life in Cambridge and South Cambs – free, supportive, safe running groups for people who want to get into running or get back into it after a break. Click on this link to find out more.

If you would like to join a running group, running club or just find some lovely places to go for a solo run, there’s lots of inspiration and information on the How Are You Cambridgeshire & Peterborough websites. Take a look.

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