As you all know when I first started Slimming World a couple of years ago I lost 3 stone without much exercise, in fact hardly any really. But once I hit that milestone I started to dabble with it occasionally, a few gym trips here and there to try and tone up but I very blase about it. A few months after this I met my boyfriend who is quite in to keeping fit, he cycles a lot and runs too and after a few weeks I went on my first ever run with him. From going from literally nothing for year, to a 2 mile run, killed me. It was horrendous, my fitness was shocking, my breathing was all over the place and I couldn't possibly imagine how anyone could enjoy this. But I stuck with it and after a few weeks I noticed an improvement, I was getting somewhere and it wasn't as bad as I thought. But in true me style I quit, I stopped watching what I ate too and managed to wack on a stone in weight in the past year. All that weight i'd spent ages losing was suddenly creeping back on and I wasn't happy. This is why I started Slimming World again, to shift that extra stone and get reach my goal. But this time I wanted to include exercise and do them both along side each other, It wasn't just about the weight, I want to be fit and healthy. I started Slimming World 11 weeks ago and exercise, 4 weeks ago and you know what? I feel bloody fantastic! I do a Pilates once a week, a body sculpt class and run a few miles a week too. I'm by no means an expert, not even close but I know what works best for me and my body and that's the main thing...
So, here's what I do.
I learnt this the hard way. Stretching is SO important. Whether you're just going round the block, or cross country, stretching before and after a run is paramount. I've gone on runs before and thought 'Oh, i'll be fine!' and half way round my calves are in pieces and my thighs felt like anchors the next day. It only takes a few minutes to stretch out your legs but it saves you being in pain for days. Collapsing in to a heap on the floor when you get in is always very tempting, but once you get your breathe back stretch straight away, it's much more beneficial to do it then than later when you've cooled down.
Track What You Do
I'm a bit obsessive about this, which I don't know if that's good or bad! I like to track how many calories i'm burning and track my time and pace. At the moment I use two separate things for this, my watch which tracks my calories and heart rate is the Polar FT 4. I've had this watch for years and it's brilliant for doing what it does, it's great for my exercises classes and any gym workouts I do but it doesn't have a GPS so it's not great for running. The next thing I use is a free app called Strava and this uses your phones GPS to track your route, so this is what I use for running. It keeps a record of all your times and remembers the same routes you do so you can compare them each time to see if you're improving. But it's starting to become a little bit annoying having two separate trackers and having to take my phone out every time, so i'm on the hunt for a new one which tracks it all and stores it all in one place so if anyone can recommend anything then that would be super! And of course no run is complete without some sort of music to listen to, a lot of people use their own music on their iPods and have running playlists etc but I like to listen to the radio when i run. It might sound really strange but the talking distracts me from what I'm doing and I find i do much better runs when I listen to the radio instead of a playlist.
How Far To Run
When I first got back in to running a few weeks ago I started off with just a mile, I did a mile every day for 5 days. By the end of it I'd knocked a minute off my original time and every time I do that run I take more time off and achieve a new personal best. I do this route usually only a Thursday now as that's when I have my Slimming World club and I don't have time to do anything more but after an sitting in an office for 8 hours and two hour commute it's nice to work my legs a bit. Another route is a 2 mile one which was the first ever route I did, it's a nice loop around where I live with a mixture of flats and hills (and unfortunately traffic lights which is a killer when you're in the zone) I always try and push harder up the hills as that's where your fitness is improved, although I live on quite a steep road and the hill at the end is horrific but I've never quit and walked up it and I tell myself that every time! On Saturday I combined the two and did a 3 mile run, which i'm proud of myself for doing. I took it easy as it was one i hadn't done before so i didn't know how i would find it but i found my stride, had my breathing under control (this is also very important, controlled breathing makes it a lot easier), kept a level pace and it was actually really enjoyable! So i'll keep doing that for a few weeks and then throw a 4 mile in. It's all about keeping it constant but not over doing it, building it up slowly has been the best thing for me. Last week I did 7 miles so this week I'll try for 8.
Ladies, the first thing you need and something worth investing in is a good workout bra. I can't tell you how much it hurts to workout with big boobs when you're not correctly supported. I've tried a few over the years but my favourite for running as been one from Freya and a looser one like this Superdry Sports Bra for lower intensity classes like Pilates as my Freya one can dig in a little bit during some of the moves. I prefer to run in leggings and a vest top, I get incredibly hot when I run. It can be freezing outside and i'll come back looking like I've ran on a hot summers day! I like tight clothing too, as you can see I still have some wobble on me still and loose clothing just makes it uncomfortable, so the tighter the better in my opinion! I really like these Superdry Leggings and Vest Top, they're really comfy and don't restrict me at all. It goes without saying but properly supported running shoes are probably the most important item to have when it comes to working out. I did a lot of research on these and looked at how I run, walk and stand still, it's all about the structure of your feet. I'm really heavy footed too so I needed some which were quite light but still supportive and cushioned. The Air Nike Air Pegasus + 30 were the ones I went for and i couldn't be happier, they're brilliant! I've had these over a year now and not had a single issue with them at all. I'm even looking at buying another pair!
So that's it! My running routine. Like I said i'm not an expert, but i'm someone that's come from from being a couch potato to doing various exercises over the week and actually really enjoying it. Exercise makes me feel fantastic, it's improving my mood, i'm sleeping better and getting fitter which means i'm a lot more healthy too so it's win win really!
If you have any questions please leave a comment or tweet me.
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Photos by Jenny Sneap