I’ve never been a sporty girl. When I ran at school people laughed, so I’m not sure what I looked like – suffice to say, I’m not a natural born runner.
And talk about unfit. Yes, I’ve run around after 3 kids, but otherwise have led a fairly sedentary life with desk jobs that require sitting on your bum for a good part of the day, and no exercise routine to speak of.
So when I heard that a friend was looking for someone to start running with, I decided to at least give it a try. I wanted to lose a bit of weight and had just joined Slimming World, so reckoned this might even speed up my weightloss.
We started in January, running a couple of times a week (but I’m aiming to increase this to 3 times now). It takes 35 minutes and we cover about 2.7 miles, doing 7 intervals of running and walking. At the start we ran for 2 minutes and walked for 5 – which seemed really hard to me!
Now we are up to 4 minutes running and walking for 3. Next week we’ll try running for 5 minute intervals and walking for 2.
So these are the benefits I’ve found so far and why I’m glad I’ve taken up running in my forties:
Less Stiffness and Aches
I used to get out of bed in the mornings feeling quite stiff and achey. It would take me a while to ‘get going’. It was like I could feel my body starting to age and it wasn’t nice. I was finding that kneeling down and getting up again felt like a strain. I used to kneel easily and play with kids down on the floor not that many years ago! But since starting running, I find I’m getting out of bed feeling fully mobile, moving freely. I don’t huff and puff when I bend down to put socks on now either! Things that were starting to feel like a big effort are getting easier again.
My General Fitness is Improving
When I began running I was so out of breath. After a 2 minute run, it took the whole 5 minutes of walking for me to get my breath back. Now, although I’m still quite breathless and panting by the end of the running intervals, once I’m walking my breathing returns to normal so much more quickly, it’s really noticeable. I love this tangible proof of my fitness improving!
I’m Gaining Strength to Support My Back
This time last year I was suffering with sciatica – that horrible, debilitating pain that goes all the way down one leg. I’d had an iffy lower back for several weeks, then one day suddenly felt something ‘pop’ – a disc had bulged out between two of my verterbrae and was pressing on the sciatic nerve. It was horrid, I couldn’t get comfy standing, sitting or sleeping and walking was so difficult; I was literally shuffling with tiny, painful steps, even on painkillers. It took 10 weeks to go and ever since then I’ve never taken walking pain-free for granted. I’ve been doing Pilates recently which is good for strengthening the core muscles which in turn support your back – hopefully the running will benefit my overall muscle tone and strength, too.
It’s Helping my weight loss
As mentioned in last weekend’s post, I’m losing weight with Slimming World and feel that getting two or even three runs in between weigh-in sessions is only going to help keep me on track losing the excess pounds. I’m now about 8lb away from my target weight. I probably burn up 300-400 calories per run, so as long as I don’t replace them with a Snickers bar (!) or something equally calorific afterwards, it will be contributing to my weightloss.
Boosting my self belief and mood
Psychologically I feel better. I feel much more like ‘this girl can’ than I did before. We know exercise is mood enhancing, too – although I must be honest and say I’ve not experienced that ‘runners high’ yet that I’ve heard about. Running still feels like a hard slog and I certainly don’t ‘love it’ – but what I do like is the feeling I get after I’ve completed a run, when I’m in the shower thinking how pleased I am that I made the effort. Combined with the fact my body is changing; I can feel my waist returning and see my legs are getting more toned already. Who knew?! It is such a positive boost – better than eating a chocolate bar, believe me (and this is coming from a chocoholic!)
My aim is to get to the point where I can run continuously for the whole 35 minute session. I don’t want to run a marathon, I just want to be fitter, stronger and healthier. Because I’m not getting any younger! So I mustn’t take my health for granted.
A few people have also recommended I try some weights for strengthening, so that might be next on my fitness to do list!
Do you run and is it something you also took up a bit later in life? How has it helped you – I’d love to hear.