How Not To Run

Posted by in April's Magazine

I was recently chatting with our esteemed editor, bouncing around ideas for this month’s fitness column; my original thought was an article on how to run. When I proposed this simple plan to him, he surprised me with a question, “Why would anyone read that, surely it’s a given?” I had to agree that it may hold limited appeal and conceded, “Well, I’ve had lots of personal training clients who have wanted to learn how to run properly. They know how to struggle along, but not how to run easily.” I pointed out the classic film, Run Fat Boy Run, comedic gold in how not-to-train-for-a-marathon, (Eddie Izzard, legend that he is, must have watched it as part of his Sports Relief preparation).

After a few short minutes of debate I agreed to write a piece on how not to run. Now this goes against all of the neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) I’ve been reading about recently. “What the hell is NLP?” You ask. It’s basic dictum is that it’s easier to change habits through focussing on positives, rather than negatives. For example, if I say,


“Don’t imagine a huge slab of moist chocolate cake dripping with chocolate icing,” what’s in your head? Not an empty space I would wager.

Chocolate cake aside (literally), let’s get onto running. Or not. When many folk start, or get back into running after an extended break, the first thing they do is pelt up the road full tilt at the speed they think they should be running – this is far too fast. Think of Simon Pegg running in his underwear in the aforementioned film and you get the drift. To get into running, start slowly. Run slower than you think you need to, and you may get around Leith Links in one go at a nice easy trot. Once you’ve conquered one run at a snail’s pace take it up a bit higher, say to Chihuahua speed – the idea being to start slowly and build up. If keeping up a slow trot is a struggle, try jogging for a wee bit, then a walk and another slow trot. An easy way to measure this for yourself is to jog/walk between streetlights. Again, Leith Links is a bonza locale for this. Keeping an exercise journal is a good way to stay motivated and track your progress as your runs get longer and faster. You can map your runs in a Google maps style at: This also gives you an option to log your runs –  very satisfying.

Beer is bad

Whilst I don’t believe it’s absolutely imperative to spend lots of dosh on your exercise outfit, it’s important to have trainers with cushioning, especially if running on tarmac. Get a proper pair of running shoes, which are lightweight with lots of squishy sole and a wider base, so you’re less likely to twist your ankle. You can get a pair from £30 from a sports store. If you do have dodgy feet, ankles or knees, it may be worth you going to a specialist running shop to get fitted. A fast wicking top that absorbs moisture away from the body is useful in the changeable Edinburgh climate. For women, a well fitting sports bra is essential, truly essential.

As I enjoy running, this article has ended up being about how to run positively (sorry editor!), so I will conclude in the negative plane.

Do NOT run:

After four pints of beer.

After eating leftover takeaway curry (this is bad).

In a bouncy fashion on the balls of your feet, you waste too much energy going up and down and not enough going forward.

In dark clothes if it is dark outside.

Irregularly; three shorts runs a week is better than a massive run every now and again where you spend a week recovering.

There has lately been an explosion of charity runs in Edinburgh, here are some of the most popular:

Bupa Great Edinburgh Run

Sunday 2nd May

Run 10km around the centre of Edinburgh with a bunch of other folk.

Edinburgh Marathon

Sunday 23rd May

Entries have now closed, however (at time of printing) you can still enter on behalf of a charity. If 26.2 miles seems a bit far, you can do a ½ marathon or apply for the relay with a team of four.

Race for Life

Sunday 13th June

Ladies 5km/10km around Arthur’s Seat for Cancer Research, they also organise a mixed 10km run at Hopetoun House, in September.

The Big Fun Run

Sunday 25th July

One of series of twenty-one different 5km fun runs across UK, the Edinburgh course starts at Holyrood Park.

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