From 0 to 5km

For as long as I can remember, my New Years Resolutions have always included “to get fit”. Year after year I would look back on my journal, postponing my fitness goal to a later time, promising myself that THIS will be my year (HINT: it never was).

There were many instances where I would begin some sort of fitness program, be consistent for two weeks, thinking that I was finally on my journey towards my dreams. The next week I would skip one of my workouts, and then skip the next hundred. And the cycle continued…

I’d accepted my fate – fitness just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t until the second round of isolation when I realised that fitness is for every single one of us.

After iso 1.0 had finished and life was beginning to display some signs of normality, I began to feel unsatisfied with my life and daily routines. I could no longer mask my bitterness with nice dinners and drinks. I began to realise that I was upset with myself for not making the most of the first quarantine and that essentially, I wasn’t being true to my ideal self.
The start of iso 2.0 had plagued me with unhappiness and emotional volatility. I was a victim of my circumstances and I felt like I had lost control over my time.
Iso 2.0 was, in a way, a salvation, and another chance to prove to myself that I can be what I aspire to be and that that power lies solely within my own hands.

Working at Nike, I’ve long been tempted to start running. At one point I did try, but stopped 3 weeks into my feat.
This time I was determined to pursue it properly.

I’ve never been a fan of running. My school cross country efforts were abysmal and I never understood what the hype around running was. I decided to surrender myself to the Nike running cult and try it out for myself.

The first run was tough. I struggled and reached a distance of just under 2km. By the end of my run I was feeling exhausted and possessed a throbbing headache. 15 minutes later, following my shower, I felt ecstatic. My headache had passed and an overwhelming sense of happiness washed over me (this might have been that runner’s high that everyone seems to talk about). I was feeling better than ever before and tremendously excited for my next run.

I began running 2-3 times a week. For my first couple of runs, I struggled to reach any more than 2.5km. It seemed like that was where my energy exhausted itself. It was after a chat to a fellow Nike colleague and friend about my plateau that I began to see changes.
I was told, for lack of better words, “don’t be a pussy”, just run further. And so for my next run, when I had reached 2.5km, feeling defeated, I thought exactly that, and ran 3km.

The secret to going further and further every couple of runs is mental grit. We always have some more metres left within us when we reach the point where we feel we can’t run any further. Our brain is only endeavouring to trick us into believing that we physically can’t bear anymore.

Running is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one. While improving your physical fitness you’re also improving your mental stamina. Running will strengthen your mind, transferring this newly-formed fortitude into your daily tasks, making you more productive and persistent.

So if you want to take the first step on to the path that will completely transform your life, read my top tips for reaching 5km within a month.

TIPS:

Listen to a podcast
This was vital in reaching 5km. Finding a simple-to-follow, conversation-style podcast is a great way to distract yourself from your own mind convincing you that you need to stop running.
I recommend podcasts that do not require too much concentration and are more lifestyle-based as these are easier to zone-out to.

Take it 500m at a time
Immediately aiming for 5km can be daunting. Aiming big can often lead to reaching small. Plan for 5km but when starting your run, don’t expect too much from yourself. Once you reach a point where you’re finding it difficult to continue running, aim for small goals. Tell yourself – just 500 more metres. If even that intimidates you, take it 100m at a time. Once you reach .5 of a kilometre, repeat the process. I find stopping at .0 of a kilometre is much more satisfying than .5 so push yourself that little bit more to get there. Keep reminding yourself that you’re in control of your body and that you are capable of running a little bit further.

Have a shot of espresso
This is something that my Nike friend, once again, taught me. This may be a placebo effect but having an espresso shot 10-20 minutes before your run provides that extra bit of energy to allow you to push forward. This is especially helpful if, like me, you run at the start of the day.

Got a stitch?
For some unknown reason, whenever I reach 2km I start to develop a stitch on my left side. When this happens, I find it helpful to fix my posture to ensure I’m running with a straight back, and to focus on my breathing by breathing deeply and letting my breath out slowly. The stitch should pass within minutes.

Run for your health, not for your looks
I find that many people exercise for the wrong reasons. Although it is nice to look fit, it’s more important to feel fit. Running to look good but then not seeing any changes can demotivate you and stunt your progress. Run to get your blood pumping, to increase lymph flow and improve your immune system, to receive a rush of endorphins, to feel better about yourself and to know you’re doing what needs to be done to reach your goals. Don’t run purely to have more quad definition (although that is an added bonus).

I hope you’ve been able to find something at least a little bit useful within this post. Running has completely changed my life and gifted me a new appreciation for it. It has improved my mood and fuelled passion into other aspects of my existence. Run to believe in yourself, run to build your confidence and run to be the person that you always wanted to be.

“One run can change your day, many runs can change your life”

– Unknown
NatashaSchap

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