I have been running outdoors for the last 10 years. A consistent occurrence of 3 or 4 times a week, with the exception of when I was pregnant with my second child. I took time off to deal with severe morning sickness and the general nightmare of pregnancy, not to mention trying to look after my 3 year old daughter, without having the help of Victoria Beckham’s nannies!
Once, my son was born and I was given the all clear by the doctor I was back in my Asics trainers. Running outdoors had been alien to me; I was like a lot of other people paying for expensive gym memberships and constantly feeling guilty for not going regularly. I found it incredibly difficult to organise myself and make time after having my eldest daughter; fitness was very stressful. I had to hand her over to my husband on a Saturday morning, drive to the gym, struggle with parking, find a locker and run for 45 minutes on a treadmill otherwise the drive wasn’t worthwhile.
The shower afterwards was a scene of complete panic, running into the shower barefoot the thought of even sparing a few minutes to manoeuvre my feet into flip-flops seemed too time-consuming. Frantic slapping-on of the body moisturiser must have made me look like A crazy women! The gym sessions were leaving me frazzled and exhausted by the time I had driven back home, dodging the missed calls from husband, enquiring why I was taking so long? I was, though, determined to squeeze back into my pre-pregnancy jeans, and I didn’t feel like me in a 3 stone heavier body, I missed the buzz of a highly intensive workout and listening to music whilst in the gym gave me a break.
It so happened our house is next door to a beautiful park, Gladstone park. I’d peer out of the window and there were always a steady stream of joggers, different sizes, young and old. I started to wonder why I didn’t just do that too. No cost, closer and with fresh air. So I did..
On my very first try I went out with head phones (music has always been a must for me), I wore a pair of leggings, a running top and a hooded top (have never liked the cold). Within a minute of running which happened to be up-hill, I was peeling off the hooded top, and panting for air. I managed to cover the majority of the park once round, and timed it, which took 20 minutes. I found the run completely different from being pushed along on the treadmill. I really had to shift and move my body weight, it was harder and a completely different technique. I had worked up sweat and my heart,lungs and legs had really been challenged, in only 20 minutes.
The next morning I decided to increase my jog and covered the park twice round, a total of 45 minutes. It was painful, but I found the natural beauty of being outside, helped me take my mind off the pain. The variety of uphill, downhill, flat running, shuffling along (knowing at some point I will complete the run) and listening to upbeat music had really lifted my spirits. I was experiencing runners’ high -. a complete buzz, the sweat dripping of my forehead was just amazing. Since then I have never looked back. I have been running through all seasons, and to be honest as much as I hate the winters, running out doors during winter is the most beautiful and satisfying; With the contrast of a gusty wind on your face and the boiling heat in your body. I think there something wonderful about pushing your body and mind hard; it is amazing for the soul..
After years of solely running in the park, I decided I could run anywhere and so I combined it with the school run. With some trepidation as an experiment one morning I ventured on the tube with my son. and it was a real success. The tube was super -fast. we cut our journey in half when compared to driving. It was a breeze, no stress with parking. After having dropped him off I jogged the 5 or 6km home.
I felt conspicuous at times in front of all the parents, but I discovered once I put on my head phones everything and everyone became a faint image – I was in my zone. I felt a huge sense of achievement after the run, and had managed to do the school run and fitness before 10 am, and could now start my day! Thanks to outdoor running, I feel my body is in the best shape possible, in my 40s compared to my 20s. I feel strong, toned, healthy. I can squeeze into skinny jeans, can eat whatever I like (in moderation) and can still enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings. I strongly believe fitness should be free and should not cost a fortune!…. Who has the time to use all the facilities in these swanky gyms??
My top tips
Most importantly, wear a sports bra. it has nothing to do with the size of your breasts, by running outdoors without one your breasts will droop, sag and will feel painful. not to mention how embarrassing it looks.
Good quality trainers. I would advise Asics try to spend as much as you possibly can afford. it is an investment and remember, far cheeper than gym memberships.
The right running gear. Not an old tracksuit. Ideally good quality lightweight materials, you will be boiling within minutes of running.
Please no jewellery or make up, have your hair tied back.
Music ( a must for me)
You do not need to carry a water bottle. it adds unnecessary weight to you and it will make your run uncomfortable. I promise even a 1 hour run will not leave you dying from dehydration. You can make up for it afterwards.