Run to relax

Find some decent trainers, a quiet path and time every few days to go for a short run. In just a few weeks, you will be running further and longer; you will be running to relax.

Where it all began for me: The Avenue at Monkton Farleigh, near Bath

I took up running this year as a way to keep fit in the long dark evenings of the English winter. I normally keep fit by riding my bike; yet starting and finishing work in the dark has meant that I would be riding in the dark after work. Although I could obviously use bike lights to show the way through the dark; I sadly feel unsafe cycling on the busy roads near my house. So deciding to taking up running was the only logical option for me.

Dusting off a pair of older trainers; my running life began in early autumn. Thinking of a few quiet places I could run on the drive home from work. I remember that first evening, like the slow kid on a school sports day; I tied my shoes laces and locked the car. Climbing over a stile, I was met with the view of the long avenue in the photograph above.

Conscious that I was out of shape; aware that someone might be watching; expectations of the coming pain; I started walking faster and faster. A fast walk became a jog, a jog became a run and I was there! I laughed as I was doing the seemingly impossible; I laughed at the freedom and the speeds I could reach. Drinking in the air for all its oxygen as I constantly changed my untrained pace. After what seemed forever; I slowed to a walk to recover and catch my breath. I looked around to see the distant I had covered; it could not have been more than a 100 metres!

Yet I had took the first steps and I knew that the only way was forward.

Routes and running shoes

When you first start running; your choice of training routes is the key to success, enjoyment and relaxation. Local running clubs choose to run around the estate where I live; probably because it is flat pavement and well lit with streetlights. However, I prefer to run on grass or muddy trails because I believe this helps cushion the impact on my knees.

I prefer routes far away from roads as well. This to not only avoid the danger of vehicles and their pollution but the stress of worrying about crossing roads or giving way to other pedestrians and obstacles. In addition, to make running for interesting; I always try to run a different route every time. This helps the distance feel shorter as I concentrate on the differing landscape.

If you feel conscious about your appearance; then wait until dusk, when there are a fewer people outside. Or use a map to find remote footpaths or find a friend who is willing to go running with you.

Eucles and the runners of the Sahara are able to run in bare foot; soldiers are trained to run in boots; yet we are lucky to be able to choose well designed comfy running shoes. If you are new to running and not sure if it is for you; then you can find cheaper running shoes for about £20 in shops like Sports Direct. Yet, use Google to research the vast choice of shoes available and choose a pair to fit your budget, style and foot size of course.

I started running with a pair of Adidas that I had already bought as a pair of casual shoes. Although the trainers have a well cushioned sole with tread by Continental rubber; they have a small toe box for my wide feet. They are well made, with quality materials; yet within just a few months of running in them, I can see signs of wear.

My muddy and wet feet in a pair of Adidas Terrex 330;

Discipline, goals and just doing it

So in just a few months I have gone from not being able to run for a bus; to running ten kilometres. I started off with the target of five kilometres. I have found Strava to be very helpful because you can keep a record of your times over chosen distances. In the beginning I would walk more than I could run to recover; my pace was too fast and my arms flapped like a drunk ostrich.

Yet with the discipline of running at least twice a week; my stamina has grown. I can now run five kilometres without needing to stop once to rest. My pace is slowly increasing every time. I have learnt that a gentle swing of the arms helps the legs and body weight on to the next step. I have seen new places in my local area; in my need for new routes.

A favourite spot for me.

I weigh just over 100 kilograms; so I am happy with my new fitness. Yet I am aware of my limitations and know I need to protect my joints as I am past the age of forty. If I run fast one week yet slower the next time; I am not worried, for I know I am exercising the same. My goals are to reduce weight through dieting as my running strength increases. I have a dream that I can one day do a Olympic length triathlon; not for competition or praise but just to know I am at a standard of fitness that will help me enjoy this life.

So go on; get out there too and just do it. Enjoy it, relax and run.

Running into the night

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