You don’t need anything but…

Let us assume you are someone like me, and you are taking up a new sport, namely running because oh…you have a yen to run in the wilderness, or at least, pretty parts of nature, preferably without snakes and to do that, being able to run would help.

You will need to skip every magazine or online article that says “you don’t need to spend much money to start running”. This is most probably a lie. What follows is a list of the stuff I got so that I could take up running. Your mileage and life may vary in terms of whether you need all of them, or possibly any of them. If you have got everything already, then you probably run already.

  • decent pair of running shoes, preferably not completely decrepid because you’ve owned them for “some time”.
  • at least one sports bra if you are a woman. Particularly if you are well endowed, this is not something you should skimp on. I’m not going to recommend any particular brand but if you have trouble finding a source, well I ordered mine on-line from figleaves, and so help me god if Brexit fouls that up on me, there will be swearwords.
  • Some comfortable to run in clothes. You may or may not have suitable stuff in your wardrobe. I did not.
  • A couple of pairs of socks.
  • Probably not a bad idea to get a box of plasters as well, just in case.

Okay. The shoes, I bought in the sale, down 30%. The sports bra I paid full whack for. The clothes I bought in a sale too. The socks I had. The plasters were cheap. All told though, if I had paid full whack for what I bought, we are probably looking at around 150E. Running is not cheap and what’s more, now that you’ve got all that stuff, you’ll be maintaining it and replacing bits of it as you go.

Now, I also got a couple of extra bits and pieces and already owned a couple of other bits and pieces which contribute to the running experience.

  • small back pack to toss a bottle of water into and your keys. I
  • a water bottle.
  • some sort of music player
  • headphones.

In truth, if you have a smart phone you have the music player sorted and probably the headphones. I got the small back pack in the sale where I bought the clothes cheap, and they were doing special deals on the water bottle if you spent something like 25E at the time. I bought the bottle. In hindsight I don’t like it but I am stuck with it until I get my hands on one of my own Swiss water bottles (admittedly slightly heavier being metal, but not having the filter which makes getting the water out a bit too much like hard work). For music, I tend to go with Above and Beyond’s Group Therapy podcast.

After that it really is just a case of getting out there and running until you can’t (and walking the rest of the way) (until you’re running more than you can walk). There are programmes and apps and websites, and pinterest pins providing all sorts of advice but the one piece of advice that worked for me when I was swimming training is it doesn’t matter how much or how little you do so long as you do. Regularity matters. I haven’t got this sorted yet but I get other exercise during the week so from a pure exercise point of view, I’m moving and it’s feeding into the running.

If you are a child of the modern era and possess a smartphone, the chances are, you will also want to figure out how best to start tracking your progress. I have two plans of attack here. I have Google Fit tracking my movement all the time. I also use Runkeeper as a more specialised app. So far, they tend not to agree. I also lie and tell Runkeeper I am walking because let’s be honest, right now March 2017. I walk more than run (the objective is to change that of course). Today Google said I did 5.05km and Runkeeper said I did 4.6. They also didn’t agree on the average pace for obvious reasons; they were dividing differences by the same amount of time. So the difference is plus or minus 10%. I can live with that more or less. For now, anyway. What I can see is an improvement over last week which is good. Since I don’t trust one of today’s Runkeeper splits, I’m not going to be totally surprised if next week, it falls back a little.

Most of my life, when i have gotten interested in something, I tend to do quite a bit of reading about it. I’m somewhat disappointed by a lot of what comes to me from running reading. On more than a few times, I have come across different articles talking about how horrible running is, and that running is not fun. I find that sad. I think if you’re going to spend a lot of your time doing something – and we have so little free time – it’s worth finding a way to enjoy it. I really don’t know how much of my training run is actual running at the moment and it’s not enough for Google Fit to identify it as such – but the small stretches of running I have done, have really put a smile on my face. We don’t do these things on sufferance or at least we shouldn’t. I used to swim 1600M three times a week and it was a hard journey to get to the point where I could string those 64 lengths together. But I never hated swimming. Some strokes could be harder than others but au fond, the main reason I kept on going back was not to tell people “I can swim 1600m”, but because I actually liked doing it. It can be hard enough to keep doing something you like doing because Real Life. Doing something you actively don’t find fun strikes me as wasted opportunity. There will be days it’s harder than others because oh, it’s raining, you’re a few days’ shy of your period.

People run for different reasons. Have different motivations. I know people who run to do road races. Other people run for the hell of it. I know a couple of people who have trained to do marathons. Some people run with friends (Runkeeper will nag you about this by the way). I run on my own, listening to music, listening to the five minute reports of how I am doing. I’m not sure how I’d feel about running with someone else. Particularly at the moment when the running bit of things is erratic and limited. Sometimes you need space to grow.

My hope is that come September, I will be fit enough to go for short runs in the mountains in Switzerland. What I really want to do with this is not run road races with lots of people but to run in beautiful places. I have a yen to go back to Zermatt this year, preferably before it snows, and run around there a bit, and then paint or draw when I’m not moving. I have six months to get there. In the meantime, I get to run around a rather picturesque part of Luxembourg and see the turning of the year here.