7 step guide to running

Today’s blog post is all about running! My relationship with running is a little bit rocky to say the least… I would say we have a very love hate relationship. But recently I have regained my love for running which is probably due to the emergence of summer weather, especially the lighter nights. I never used to like running or even walking in fact but I first started to gain an avid interest in it when I began to lose weight properly. Now I didn’t just wake up one day and suddenly I was a pro, instead I started off small and ran short distances every other day, about 1-2 miles which isn’t much but it was a starting point to progress from. Then soon enough I started to extend my distances and became a lot quicker in doing so. I would say my running style is more of a long distance runners style as I tend to stick to a comfortable speed and run at a steady pace for a longer period of time instead of short quick bursts like a sprinter. Everyone’s running style is different and unique to them, but I’m going to share with you 7 steps that help me with running. 

1. Track your progress. Tracking your progress is essential if you want to improve your running or fitness as it enables you to monitor how far you are from your goals and serves as a benchmark for your exercise regime. In order to improve and see results you need to push yourself and go beyond your limits which requires knowledge of how you’re currently performing. I find the best way to achieve this is by tracking how far you’ve run, the total duration of running and your average pace. There are two running apps that I use to help me track these variables, one is Runtastic and the other is Nike+Run Club. They’re both excellent apps but I would say Runtastic is better if you want to sync the data with other apps such as Myfitnesspal and you can even plan your routes by drawing on a map.


2. Wear comfortable trainers. Wearing the right trainers is vital when running as you need the appropriate support and comfort levels. I actually went to a place where they get you to run on a treadmill and observe how you run in order to provide you with the best trainers to suit your running style. Something that I didn’t realise is that it is advised to go up a shoe size in trainers because when you run your feet get hot (obviously) and expand meaning that there is slightly more room needed. So I ended up getting a size UK 7 instead of my usual UK 6 in a pair of Sauconys which I would highly recommend to anyone as they are so comfortable and really cushion your feet. 


3. Music. I can’t stand running or exercising for that matter without any music on because when that workout gets tougher I thrive on motivation from my upbeat music. One of my favourite upbeat artists to listen to is Sigala especially his song Give me your love as there’s such a good beat in the background to run to. Also I tend to listen to music whilst I’m getting ready to go for a run as this gets me pumped up and in the mood to go and kick it!


4. Plan you route beforehand. Just like you would plan your exercises at the gym I would strongly advise planning your running route as well. For me, the worst thing is not knowing where I’m going or when the run is going to end as this serves as a definite demotivator and doesn’t end well. Just like in the film Run fat boy run when the guy is running the marathon and hits the ‘runners wall’, this is me half way through my run wanting to give up if I haven’t planned a route because I can’t see an end to this. You don’t have to physically write down the route, just have it roughly mapped out in your head to avoid the risk of runners block.


5. Stretch. If I’m being truthful I never saw the importance of stretching before or after exercising but oh have times changed and now I see what people mean. I used to just get up and go out for runs without stretching but that really isn’t good for your bones or your body in general. So to avoid clicky knees and ankles I spend roughly 5-10 mins stretching before and after my runs. It’s nothing too strenuous or difficult, just waking up my muscles ready for the high impact that comes with running. 


6. Mind over matter. Just like I mentioned with runners block, a lot of the time the key to succes with running or any exercise is maintaining a positive and motivated mental state. I went for a run the other day and throughout the whole run I was putting myself down, constantly worried about what people were thinking of me and how I looked, which then of course made me want to just give up. But this was wrong of me. If you allow yourself to think these negative thoughts then unfortunately you won’t progress or improve. You mustn’t give in when times get tough and you mustn’t feel paranoid when running. I know it’s hypocritical for me to say this as my run the other day was a classic example of all things negative but I’ve learnt from my mistakes and now embrace it as experience.  


7. Mix things up. It’s important not to get too comfortable in your running routine as you just get used the same route and end up not pushing yourself further. To tackle this I have about 5 different routes that I run and will just pick whichever one I feel like on the day, whether that be a scenic park route or running in the city, it usually depend on my mood. Plus for each of these routes I plan out ways to extend or shorten it, to add to the variety and offer alternatives for when I perhaps haven’t got much time or when I feel like running for longer. 

I hope these steps are useful. I just want to point out that I’m not a running pro but I’ve just found what works for me. This isn’t a rigid guide to running, it’s just a few steps that I’ve learnt along my journey with exercise and it’s always open to interpretation. 

Be True Be You. 

My mini workout at home

You know the days when you really don’t want to brave going to the gym or even worse going outside for a RUN but you still want to do some sort of exercise… well my answer to this is to do a mini workout at home. Even though you might not think it will do much, its not all about wearing yourself ragged with a massive long run or sweating it out at the gym for hours on end, its more importantly about sticking to some sort of exercise regime whatever that may be because progress and results only occur with consistency. My mini workout doesn’t really involve any fancy equipment, the only fancyish thing I use is a 5kg kettle ball for some exercises but you can improvise with things you have at home, whether that be a big bag of sugar (although that could be a recipe for disaster if a spillage occurs now I think about it) or simply anything heavy enough to make your arms work a little harder after a couple of reps. Or, you don’t have to use the kettle bell at all and just rely on your own bodyweight. I must point out that I am no fitness expert but these are just a few exercises that work for me and ones where I can really feel the burn the next day. So lets get started!

First up is the fire hydrant which really gets those glutes fired up (get it because its called a FIRE hydrant… not funny Molly). All you do is get on your hands and knees and lift one leg up at a time till you reach a right angle position or as far up as you can go. I do 3 sets of 10 reps and then on the last set of reps I will hold my leg up in a right angle position and do 15 mini pulses/reps which really sets my glutes on fire!

Still on your hands and knees, next are donkey kicks which again make your glutes really work for it. Instead of lifting your leg up to the side, you lift your leg up to the ceiling still in a right angle position remembering to squeeze those glutes all the way to the top and back down again. I do 3 sets of 10 reps for these as well and sometimes (if I’m feeling energetic) I will repeat the mini pulses/reps with this exercise as well, whilst holding my foot up in a right angle position towards the ceiling.

Sticking with the glutes theme, next is one of my favourite exercises to achieve that plump booty… SQUATS! I squat with a 5kg kettle bell, just to add a little bit of weight and make things slightly harder for myself. Remember when you squat to keep your chest out, shoulders back and look straight ahead to avoid injuries from bad posture. Also the wider the stance the more your glutes and hamstrings have to work, compared to a narrower stance which focuses more on the quadriceps. I usually opt for a wider stance as I aim to get that peachiness! I do 3 sets of 10 reps of these and sometimes will do a couple of pulses at the bottom of my squat before coming back up to really feel the burn.

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To get my heart rate up a bit I will then do 30 jumping squats which really takes it out of me and my complexion then resembles that of a bright red tomato!

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Another amazing exercise to work your quads, glutes and hamstrings are lunges. I do 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg whilst holding a kettle bell in one hand and believe me when I say my legs are burning after this exercise.

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Like many other people I want to be able to do a decent amount of consecutive press ups the ‘man’ style way, but for now I’m sticking to 3 sets of 10 reps with the ‘girls’ style press ups and a 30 second break in between and that suits me just fine. I can still feel the burn but I’m not collapsing every time my nose touches the floor. I need to walk before I can run.

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Now onto abs… the hardest part of this workout and also the weakest part of my body which doesn’t help matters. To get those abs engaged I do 50 crunches one after another and then lie on the floor for a bit until my abs stop burning.

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Then when my abs have recovered a little bit, I do 30 russian twists which really get those muscles working. I hold a kettle bell whilst twisting my abs from side to side but you can also do this without one. The further you go back the harder your abs have to work, so when you’re feeling like you can conquer the world you lie on back until you nearly touch the floor!

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And finally what better way to finish your abs off than the PLANK… my best friend and also my worst enemy. I tend to hold it for 2 minutes in total, but turning to the side every 30 seconds. So straight on for 30 seconds, then the left side for 30 seconds, then the right side and back to the front again for the last 30 seconds. This is one of those exercises that you really dread doing beforehand but just feel so good afterwards. I admit I have to force myself every time to commit to this.

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Lastly to round the whole routine off I do my favourite exercise of all time… WALL SITS! I usually pretend that I’m just about to sit on an imaginary chair, get really low and hold it for about 2-3 minutes depending on how badly my legs are shaking by that point. Trust me sometimes they shake so uncontrollably that I’m amazed myself.

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I hope you enjoyed my mini workout routine and maybe even found it useful. I just want to say that I’m well aware you can see my roles in some of these photos, my skin is a weird complexion and there are some pretty unflattering angles of my body but thats me and I don’t intend to hide that. This is simply me in my room just showing you the exercises that I usually do if I don’t go to the gym or go for a run. None of these images have been retouched or photoshopped in any way as thats not how you would see me in real life so why should I portray to you someone that I’m not? Like always I stick by my motto Be True Be You.