I started running to get healthier. Two years ago I could barely run a mile and struggled to get myself around the park near my house. Now I'm training for Paris Marathon 2014 and running my second Cardiff Half Marathon this October.
The immediate health benefits when I started were nothing compared to the sense of satisfaction I get now that I regularly run long distances.
In quitting smoking at the same time as starting to run, I used jogging as a distraction from wanting a cigarette in the evenings. It worked and soon I found myself craving a jog, rather than a fag after work.
As someone who had never had the motivation, energy, desire or stamina to run long distances in my life, this new found hobby worked wonders for my self esteem and my outlook on life.
Spring is the ideal time to start
I started in the spring of 2011 so I had the summer months to get myself motivated and into a routine of running regularly while the sun shined and the rain was limited. Some people prefer running in cooler temperatures but I love the heat. The hotter the better as running in summer means you sweat more and consequently should work your body harder.
Get some proper running shoes
The first thing I did after going for a couple of runs was getting myself a pair of running shoes. If you don't already have a decent, proper pair (nothing too expensive, I spent £30) then do it. I noticed a huge change immediately. Having never run much before, I did not realise what a difference the right pair of shoes could make. It also made me determined to continue as I had now invested £30 in my new hobby!
Get an mp3 player
Music is not essential for everyone but for me, when I was first starting out, it was an absolute must and I still listen to music whenever I run. I make myself new playlists every week. That means my playlists stay fresh and I never know what songs to expect next. Nothing is stale and each new song energises me. Try to pick songs that are energetic, positive, fast paced and inspirational. I found DJ Fresh Louder was a real motivator when I started. Don't have it too loud though as you must be able to hear traffic!
Change routes frequently
I get bored of the scenery near me quickly. I have to mix up my routes every fortnight. I use a site called g-map pedometer to plan my route before I go so I know at the start exactly how far I plan to run and where I intend to go. I change the distances and the route frequently so that I never get bored or too familiar with the run.
Book a holiday
It might sound incredibly vain but if I have a sunny escape holiday booked, I'm desperate to have my body looking as good as possible in those holiday snaps. Getting in shape for the beach is one of the biggest motivators for me.
Book a race
If you haven't already, then book yourself in for 10K or a half marathon race. Having a goal to work towards is an incredible motivator. Leading up to my first half marathon, I was running three times a week and pushing myself further and further every week. When it came to the day of the half marathon, I found it relatively easy and ran it in a time far faster than I was expecting.
Make your family proud
My parents came and watched me run my first half marathon and were incredibly proud. My sister did it with me and we trained together occasionally and bonded over our training. Try to involve those you love with what you are doing. Even if they won't come running with you, having them on side will help keep you motivated.
Be healthier and happier
When I smoked, my immune system was terrible. I was always getting ill and when I got ill, it would linger and drag me down. I would get depressed easily and didn't have many reasons to feel good about myself. Running has helped my mood improve exponentially. After training, I feel good all day. I love the feeling of body aching and the sense of what I have achieved. My appetite for snacks lessened, though I can still treat myself occasionally! People started complimenting me on my appearance, saying that I looked thinner all the time and I loved it. I felt infinitely happier and healthier and with a half marathon and then my first marathon next year, there is no way I'll be stopping running anytime soon.