So, You Think You Can’t Run?

Just because you don’t run doesn’t mean you can’t.

If you can walk for half an hour, chances are that you can pick up the pace and give running or jogging a try. There are numerous benefits to running as with any moderate to vigorous exercise but running can top the scale in many ways.

Here we aim to dispel some common barriers to running and share some of the many gifts that running can bring!

1. I don’t want to get bad knees/I have bad knees.

Chances are you will have heard from others that “running is bad for your knees” or know someone who will have gained knee issues from running. Whilst it’s been known for some time that running increases bone mass, and even helps prevent age-related bone loss, it’s now scientifically proven that running is not in itself detrimental to knee health; in fact, it can improve knee condition. Studies at Boston University have shown that those with knee arthritis do not have a history of running. Additionally, observing runners over time does not find any increase risk of developing osteoarthritis.

So why do runners experience knee pain or injuries? It is often due to either doing too much too soon, not listening to small niggles before they develop, not cross training to strengthen supporting tissues or not being fitted with the correct running shoe. There are of course exceptions as we are all different, so it is always advised to follow your medical professional before undertaking a new exercise programme.

2. I’m too old

This will always be my red rag! There is absolutely no reason to not exercise at any age; yes, the type and intensity must be adapted to the individual as it should be for everyone, but please don’t ever assume that any goal is out of reach based on a number.

Indeed, a recent University College London study found people who began to exercise in their 60s and 70s still gained significant health benefits. Here are some examples to inspire; Charles Eugster, who only began at 95 and now holds multiple world records in his age group and Peggy Crome, who started training in her 40’s and now is a World Champion Triathlete in her age group – she’s 75!

And while there are certain conditions – such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis or a serious heart or lung condition – that might affect your ability to run, they don’t necessarily rule it out. Movement is medicine, provided it’s delivered in the right dose.

3. I’m too embarrassed

Feeling self-conscious about exercising outdoors is understandable, particularly if you’re not entirely comfortable with your body, but ask yourself this question: what do you think when you see others running? Are you thinking about what they look like or respect them for getting out? In any case, you’ll find people are generally far too busy with their own concerns to notice. Remember, everyone had to start running at some point.

Some ideas to overcome this: run early in the morning or after dark (keeping safe if you do) until you feel confident enough to go out at other times. Alternatively, finding a friend or group to join you, such as Breedon Priory’s Walk, Jog, Go! is a great way to find others in a similar place, helps everyone stick with it and adds more fun.

4. I’m too overweight

So many people say ‘I’ll start running when I’ve lost weight.’ Which is a shame, as running is a powerful weapon in the battle against the bulge. As with any beginner, start with power walking and add gradual periods of increased pace to allow the body to adapt, anyone wanting to lose weight can reap the benefits of one of the highest calorie burners!

Keep the progression gradual; don’t increase the distance, time or intensity of your runs by more than 10% each week to get the most benefit of weight loss, cardiovascular fitness and reduce the risk of injury.

5. I’m too unfit

No such thing! Unless you are aiming to run your first mile in your first session, in which case you may be disappointed! In fact, don’t even think about running non-stop on your first few outings – this is something to work up to. Change won’t come overnight, but if you stay committed, you’ll see great changes over the next few weeks.

If you would like to take all the guess work out of starting running, completing your first mile, or even your first 5k, then get in touch with Nicola Clark, Personal Trainer at Breedon Priory Health Club about the new Walk, Jog, Go! Beginners running group launching in February.