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Illustration: Jordan Moss

How to start running (and actually stick with it)

This Time Out writer went from total running sceptic to legit marathon completer. Here’s how you could, too

Written by
Jessica Morgan

Want to know how I went from someone who thought ‘how on earth do you have fun running when, after five minutes, you’re fighting for your life?’ to a legit marathon completer? I’ve got three pieces of advice.

First, don’t overthink it. Pop your trainers on and head outside – you’re already halfway there. I started small: just like that. I signed up for my first 5km. I hated it: my legs hurt, my lungs burned and I muttered ‘fuck this’ the whole way round. But I finished.

Then, join a running club. I am now part of Run Dem Crew, where I’ve found some of my closest friends. While the pandemic has stopped us from meeting up, my weekly runs make me feel closer to them. I log my mileage on an app, checking in with my friends. It has become a lifeline during lockdown.

To my great surprise, I actually enjoyed putting myself through pain

And finally, realise that not every run is going to be your best. Just after my 5k I joined LDN Brunch Club, a running collective who meet on Sundays and hunt out the best brunch spots in the capital. On my first day, I leapt out of bed, picked my best outfit and headed to Shoreditch. I was terrified: 20km was the distance. Little did I know my poor inexperienced muscles (and smoker’s lungs) would pack in at 8km. I tapped out, let the group go on without me and sulked.

But I got back up again. The following week, I joined the group again, only this time on a shorter route, chatting with the runners along the way. The social element made me forget the lactic acid filling my muscles, and the endorphins helped me not to think about my worries. To my surprise, I actually started to enjoy putting myself through pain. That’s when I went from running once a week to three times a week. Next thing I knew I was doing a marathon. See you at the starting line!

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