If you've ever thought, "I could never do that", as you've watched a spritely and sweaty activewear-clad human dash by you while slowly waking up from your morning coffee, you're not alone.
Getting into running can feel like a mammoth task. In an era of 'hot girl walks' and 'pilates princesses', there's something a little more intimidating about becoming a 'runner'. Given the proven mental, emotional and physical benefits of the practice, it's a little unfortunate how many of us feel like this.
There's no 'wrong' or 'right' way to start
Much like starting any project, there are no set 'rules' you need to follow to get into running. You don't have to wake up at 4 am and run 10 kilometres before sunrise to do it 'right'. You don't have to be marathon-ready within six months of starting — in fact, you don't even have to have an end goal in mind.
"The beauty about running is that you don’t need much, and you can literally do it anywhere," says Henshaw. "There’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s all about just getting out there, don’t worry about anyone else. Just run your way."
The only 'things' you need to start are a good pair of shoes to (literally) support your journey and a can-do attitude.
"It’s only very recently that I’ve started to believe that I am a runner. Before, I would head out the door and run as fast as I could for as long as possible. I’d then beat myself up because I didn’t get very far. I’ve learned that taking it slow and weaving in walking breaks doesn’t mean I’ve failed. They’re actually essential to help gradually build up your stamina," says Smith.
"If you're on the hunt for a good pair of shoes, I highly recommend the New Balance 1080v13s — the Fresh Foam midsole is incredibly comfortable to run on. These shoes will help you run with confidence whether it’s an easy long run or some shorter, more intense efforts," recommends Henshaw.
Mental challenges are part of the process
As we've all heard many times before (but it is always tricky to internalise), comparison is the thief of joy. When it comes to running, comparing your progress to others can make the process tougher than it needs to be.
"It may not seem like it, but running hasn’t always come naturally to me. The moment I stopped comparing myself to others and focused on my own milestones, I noticed a flip in mindset," says Henshaw.
There are always mental challenges associated with picking up a new skill, so it's normal for doubt to creep in while running. However, if you really believe deep down that you aren't good enough to run, sticking to a routine, training and unlocking your full potential will be difficult.
"Try writing down some reasons why you want to run that are important to you and repeat these in your head along with your positive self-talk when it gets hard and you want to give up," says Henshaw.
"The more you tell yourself you can, the sooner you will truly believe it."
Make it fun for yourself
All exercises can be challenging. But that doesn't mean you can't make it fun for yourself. After all, there's no better way to con your brain into enjoying something challenging than associating it with little treats and accomplishments along the way.
One of the easiest ways to do this is with a banging playlist — because who could possibly hate running while SZA blasts through your headphones?
"Music is a massive motivator for me, so find an epic playlist to power you through those harder runs. Start slow and be okay with taking walking breaks," says Smith.
Additionally, group running is a great way to find motivation and stick to a schedule. New Balance has recently partnered with the popular app Kic to launch an eight-week running challenge called KICRUN Club. To launch the partnership, they'll also be hosting two community running events in Sydney and Melbourne for those who are new to running and want to meet like-minded people along the way.
"It’s not about pushing yourself as hard as possible every time. Instead, run at a pace where you could easily hold a conversation. Try not to focus on anyone else. Just get out there and run your way," says Henshaw.
"Finding a community, whether that’s online or IRL, makes running so much more enjoyable. Seeing other people run towards their goals is so empowering."
Overall, being kind to yourself and enjoying the process of learning a new skill is the best way to find joy in running. Putting a tonne of pressure on yourself and expecting perfection is a recipe for disaster in most cases, so it's no different for running. It's all about getting out the door and, when all else fails, put one foot in front of the other.
Sydney: Wednesday, 27th September. The Domain, Art Gallery Road, Sydney, New South Wales (5:15– 6 PM) Register for the event here.
Melbourne: Monday, 16th October. Domain Road, Botanical Gardens, Melbourne, Victoria (6 — 6:45 PM). Register for the event here.