There are many benefits to running; first-and-foremost it’s one of the best ways to get fit, secondly, the ever-soaring price of a gym membership is no hinderance as it’s totally free and can pretty much take place anywhere. It’s a stress buster, and an instant mood booster. And so the list goes on. Setting out on your first run however, is not always quite so easy, but with the pressures of looking good for summer ever-present at this time of year, now is as good a time as any to dig out your trainers.
If only it were that easy. There are many draw-backs for women embarking on their first run. Not only does running by yourself make motivation difficult, some people just don’t know where to start. For Kim Scott, mum-of-two from Cramlington, and (now) running enthusiast it wasn’t always quite so simple either. Out of a fear of being judged in the local gym for being overweight and unfit, she sought out running as the answer to her insecurities, ‘it was something I could do on my own, and in the dark’ she explains, ‘so nobody could see me, or judge me’, and after getting a place in the Great North Run, she decided she would dedicate herself to training.
‘After setting up a Facebook group and adding a few friends to let them know I’d be running at this time and in this place, I turned up on the first night to so many women waiting there’, it was then she realised there was a real demand from women who really wanted to be more active and exercise – and so, These Girls Can Run was born.
Inspired by This Girl Can, due to their close work with active Newcastle and North Tyneside (both promoters of the This Girl Can campaign) Kim strived to keep similar messages within the spirit of her group, ‘there is nothing more powerful than telling women not to worry about how they look, whether their thighs are wobbly or they have rolls on their stomachs. Getting out there, being active and having fun is what it’s all about.’
Kim explains that the groups are always mixed, both in ability and aims, ‘some women run to get out of the house, others use it as a their time to de-stress and switch-off from the demands of busy jobs, other ladies have just become mums and have lost a little bit of confidence. The most important thing for them is that running gives them that confidence back’, and whilst each individual has their own goal to work towards, she says the best thing is seeing them all come together, ‘thats when it’s special, it’s all about being part of the team.'
Changing women’s perception of running (created by the endless and scarring years of cross-country running in school) is important to Kim and she has worked hard to form a group that is accessible to all women, ‘we don’t leave anybody behind, we work as a team and we support each other’. With the hardest part simply turning up, she encourages women to ‘come along receive a really warm welcome and anything you do after that is a bonus’ and with most new members turning up not even sure they can do it, she insists ‘you’ll always surprise yourself on your first run’.
As well as overseeing the personal challenges set by the individuals she leads in group runs, Kim has also set herself her own – to run a half marathon every week (that’s 52 half marathons in 52 weeks). ‘It’s a bit scary’ she admits, ‘but I’m raising money for Jessica’s Sarcoma. I started at the beginning of this year and I’ve just finished number 23, so it's going well’.
With the Great North Run looming, and Kim completing a half marathon a week, we took the opportunity to ask her for some last-minute advice in the final month of training to get through those 13 miles. Believing in yourself was most important to Kim. ‘If people don’t think that they can do it – it’s a huge barrier. Have that belief from day one that you can do it, and you will’, she explains. It is also just as important to rest as it is to run, and Kim stresses the importance of listening to your body in the run up to bigger events, ‘one of the things you will find as miles increase and you start to go out for longer runs, everybody becomes fixated on the mileage. As the miles increase those rest days become just as important as your running days.’
FIND YOUR RUNNING MOJO
There are many ways to get involved in running in the North East and we’ve found the best (and cheapest) for you to get stuck in
Find a Local Running Group
Being part of a community of runners can be great encouragement for your training, and with the sprit of motivation you’ll keep each other going. Run England supported by England Athletics brings together running groups (like These Girls Can Run) from across the country, led by qualified and insured group leaders, search for a local session, lace your trainers and turn up.
Go Along to a Park Run
The idea; register online and head to your local starting point for 9 o’clock. Take your barcode with you and run the 5k course in your own time – there’s no pressure to race and you’ll be greeted by volunteers and runners of all abilities. When you finish, you’ll have your barcode scanned and your time will be recorded on your park run profile, it’s a great way to keep track of your progress.
Get Downloading the Latest Apps
It’s the 21st century – there are apps for everything and certainly thousands for running, but which are best for beginners? If it’s motivation you’re lacking try Endomondo, a running app with built-in audio encouragement. You’ll have a voice spurring you on, whilst your distance, speed and calories are being tracked too. If it’s where to run that’s holding you back then Map My Run will provide inspiration, their superior mapping system allows you to discover new routes in your local area.
Head to your phones app store to download.
Couch to 5k
Loved by so many, if you haven’t heard of this NHS approved initiative, where have you been? Made with beginners in mind, the aim is to get you running 5k in just nine weeks – and no, it’s not as scary as it sounds. It simply alternates running, walking and resting, increasing the former as your fitness improves.