How To Start Running

Posted: Wednesday October 21 2020

By: Natalie Jackson and Emily Freeman

How To Start Running

My last article for MMB Magazine was about being “a runner”, what that means and why women find it so difficult to admit to being “a runner”, even if they have run, run regularly or, in my case, trained for a marathon. It’s a label a lot of women are keen to avoid. So how to start running?

Maybe because we think it gives people too high expectations of what we can do. Maybe it makes us feel like the running we do is something we don’t want to take too seriously. Whatever the reason, it’s probably not helping us, and may even be hurting others in their efforts to get fit.

Although I’ve managed to get over my fear of the R word (which it was difficult to sustain after three Marathons and with my own business coaching others in running and self development), I still hear regularly from beginners “oh I’m not a runner”.

I hear echoes of it too from women who may have no issue with the word “runner”, but will tell others of their 5k time with a sheepish look at the ground… “oh, its only [insert any time here… 40 minutes… 35 minutes… 30 minutes… 25 minutes…]”. Sound familiar? Whether this is something you do with your running times or in any other area of your life, it’s totally unhelpful. And we may want to rethink our self-talk to see what a difference it can make to our own mindsets.

Running gives us so much– not only is it great exercise, it is also great for the mind. But whilst it might seem simple to do, it isn’t always easy. And I’m beginning to think we are making it even more difficult for ourselves by adding unhelpful labels and barriers to our own progress and the progress of others.

This is something women apparently do a lot, so if you can hear yourself doing it, you’re not alone. Tara Mohr, women’s leadership expert and author of “Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message” is all about helping us avoid undermining ourselves with words. This includes regular use of phrases like “I just think…” or “I actually wonder…”. It also includes putting ourselves, or our achievements, down. And this, I think, might be the root of our problem.

What we do by claiming we’re not “a runner” is to avoid appearing cocky or showing off. It avoids us being taken too seriously, or having other people’s expectations of us be too high. This is helpful, and can be a kind of primal instinct that we employ as women to keep us out of danger, like seeking out food when we’re hungry or protecting our babies to keep them safe from harm.

The problem is that we’re not actually under any threat in a chat about our running habits, and this self preservation is potentially damaging not only to our own self esteem but to others who’d love to be where we are, and would love to have a 20, 30 or 40 minute 5k time to tell others about.

One of Tara’s “10 rules for brilliant women” is to “Let other women know they are brilliant”. So that’s what this article is all about.

Whether you’ve run round the block once or run ultra marathons on the weekend, you’re a step ahead of someone who’d love to be where you are. And at Totally Runable we’re here to tell you, you are brilliant. 

If you’d love to run, get out there and be proud to call yourself a runner. You can totally do it. If you go running, for the first time or on a daily basis, be proud of your efforts – whether you can run 5k in 20 minutes or 60 minutes. It doesn’t matter. The sooner we can be proud of where we are the sooner we can help one another be proud of our achievements and set new goals to be even prouder.

So here is your challenge – the next time you find yourself in a discussion with anyone about running (or any other area of your life for that matter), stick to the facts. If you run, you’re a runner. Whether you have a 40 minute 5k or an 18 minute 5k, be proud and tell them. If you’ve worked hard to take your 10k time down from 90 minutes to 75, don’t be afraid to talk about it.

Acknowledging the effort we have put in and where we have reached won’t change where we are, but it might just inspire someone else to follow in our footsteps.

In the words of Tara Mohr, let’s

“let other women know they are brilliant. Tell them what kind of brilliance you see, and why it’s so special.”

Let’s see what thinking positively about our running can do for us. You never know, it might give us a whole new achievement to talk about…

#How To Start Running