Alright, I am biased but IMO if you are looking to get active, that is super flexible, adaptable both solo activity or sociable (however you prefer to workout) and doesn’t cost a lot? Then running is the answer. Of course, there are other activities to kickstart your fitness: yoga, cycling, or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) that you can just download an app, or live stream off YouTube, borrow a friend’s bike and you’re set (especially since the pandemic, everything is an app these days). However more and more women are choosing to lace up and chase down the miles on foot; they’re choosing running when, more often than not, they hated it at school.
Here’s why women should factor in running because although it’s simple, the runner’s high is real:
You don’t have to be good, experienced or have a running CV to get going. You can start running at ANY level – and I know this is a barrier for so many women I have spoken to over the years “oh, I can’t run” or “I’m not very good at running” … this doesn’t matter within the running community. Whether you decide to join a running club or not, you can start by jogging for 30 seconds, and walking for a minute for 15 minutes – that IS running! Running clubs will never ask you to be at a certain level to get started, nor do you need to prove your worth when applying for a half or full 26.2 marathon! Give yourself enough prep time, and you can get there – running is a fantastic sport and community that does NOT discriminate. You may even become a better person for it…
As an individual sport, you are completely in control of where, when and how you go about running. You’re not reliant on anyone else like team sports, or even on venues like athletics or tennis courts. It is all about you, how you feel, your pace, your distance, routes and what time of day you prefer to get your fitness done.
I never could get to grips with early AM gym sessions or very late PM classes – for me and my running, I feel most energetic and structure my day so that I can run at lunchtime. The beauty of my Ultramarathon training is that I schedule it as part of my workday, and adjust the time, efforts and routes depending on what will fit me best – no one else.
Also, an important note: as females, our menstrual cycle will dictate our energy levels, as well as PB potential. If you’re training for a race, it’s worth keeping in mind that different weeks throughout your cycle will demand you to run and train differently. If you’re in a team sport, this is very much ignored, whereas in running you are in complete control to decide how to train – for example: in your ovulation phase – you can lift heavier, and push for a PB timing over the luteal phase, and so on…
And the best part? Nobody cares! Runners all understand that some like to run with music and totally zone out, others love to chat and trot slowly. Being part of a running club or community is so much fun, being surrounded by like-minded people, meeting new people and finding new places and races is the best, and who knows, running amongst others could be the little push in your training that you need in those motivational dips we all suffer from time to time.
You can even involve the family! Get the children on bikes and run beside them, take your little one’s stroller and bond through the beautiful scenery.
Probably one of the most important points – running as a sport in general, is one of the most inexpensive sports or activities out there. You don’t require memberships, facility hire or travel. Yes, quality running shoes and appropriate kit can be expensive, but they should last a while – I have a top from over 10 years ago and it does me just fine still to this day. A pair of shoes, bottoms and a T-shirt will get you started at least.
So many runners will tell you this: “running is the cheapest therapy.” Because running has to be the most natural sport for us as humans – which often requires less thought (I haven’t met anyone that runs saying ‘left foot right foot left foot right foot’ yet). So mentally you can switch off from what you are doing and lend your brain the space to process your day, week, month, situation, meeting, email from your boss, figure out how to afford that next incoming bill. Running through nature – surrounding yourself with trees, vibrant blooming flowers, flowing rivers, and the smell of wild garlic is a therapy for the senses. There is nothing that compares to running through the countryside to clear your mind, it always feels like your problems are so far away, and not busy overthinking or catastrophizing things.
Any cardiovascular activity 20 minutes or over will impact your heart health and fitness levels. Short burst interval training, fartlek training, threshold training will all boost your fitness even if the session is short. Life tends to get in the way of everything, and running seems less important each stressful day sometimes – so running in the park for 20 minutes whilst your kids are playing their sport is a way better option than driving to a swimming pool or fitness class that no doubt will take much longer. Sometimes I mix and match my sessions, if I need to do a 30 minute run and gym session on my run schedule – well I run to the gym, workout and run back.