1. The first step out the door is always the hardest; once you’re out, you’re en route to a better mood.
2. To get going, surround yourself with like-minded people. Log on to athleticsireland.ie to find a local running club that has a Fit4Life programme. Sign up and get running – you’ll be less likely to drop out if exercising as part of a group.
3. Couch to 5k programmes are brilliant, but don’t try to outsmart them. People tend to jump forward because at the beginning, they’re easy. They’re supposed to be. Initially, you are aerobically more than able for the programme, but you have to get your body, and particularly your muscles, up to par – your engine might be fine, but your chassis needs to be too.
4. Register with parkrun.ie. These are weekly 5k-timed group runs where, afterwards, you get emailed feedback on your time, your progress and your performance related to age and gender. It’s free and a great way to track progress.
5. Don’t have weight loss as your primary goal for running; it’s very hard to sustain the momentum. Instead, set yourself another goal to achieve. Sign up for a distance race (5k, 5 mile, 10k) and work towards that.
6. If you do want to trim down, run for time, not distance. The fitter you get, the faster you get, so those extra minutes will not only continue to increase your fitness, but will burn calories too.
7. Remember, every step out of your comfort zone is worth four or five in it.
8. When you get running, don’t introduce more than one change at a time. So, if you’re just up and moving, don’t then change your diet, or running shoes, etc. Otherwise, you’ll never know what works, or more importantly, what doesn’t.
9. Little setbacks? We all have them. But you have to look on them like getting a puncture in your car. You stop, fix it, and then get going again, as opposed to puncturing the other three wheels and giving up. You can always start again, but don’t take up from where you left off, go a step or two back and build it up again. And never, ever run on an injury, you’ll only make things worse. Stop. Don’t run through the pain barrier.
10. Finally, remember, you are only as good as your last run. A brilliant week’s training, or an amazing race doesn’t entitle you to a week or two on the sofa afterwards. It’s not about getting fit; it’s about what you do with it. Use it or lose it.
John O’Regan is an ultra runner. Read his full article in this month’s copy of IMAGE. @johnoregan777