I can't run


Oh, how tragic I was in gym at school. I could only manage one lap of our playing field. Weekly hockey matches left me on all fours gasping for air and I once got stuck on top of a hobby horse. With braces and a Harry Potter obsession to boot, I was basically a sitcom teenager.

I went to the gym sporadically throughout my early 20s, like most people. Then I moved to London. I started running round the local park. I moved again and ran round the O2 every night. Then moved back to Perthshire, up to Aberdeen...regular moving isn't conducive to regular running. As soon as you create a routine for yourself, it's time to start all over again.

Now I'm settled, I run three or four miles almost every day, with good times too. The girl who could barely make it once round her school football pitches is now officially a runner. Here's my advice for all you sitcom kids who doubt yourselves.



1. Start small. Try and find a route it'll be easy to add sections on to later. Don't worry about making it the whole way round without stopping. Push yourself, but don't worry about walking when you need to. 

2. Run whenever you want. My colleague Lorraine runs four miles every morning before work. If I did that, I'd be asleep for Mike getting home from work at midnight. If I run before tea time, I have a huge portion because "I deserve it". My ideal running time is about 9pm. It might not be considered the best time to run, but it is for me and I'm more likely to keep the routine if it works for me.

3. Get your clothes on. Dear God, there are some days I don't want to run. I go to counselling on Wednesdays and came home this week completely drained after a "breakthrough" moment. Even though I knew I'd feel much better afterwards, I just wanted to lie in bed all evening instead. You know the episode of Friends when Chandler is scared to get married, so Ross gets him to do everything a bit at a time? That's my experience with running. If I can just get my sports bra and a pair of shorts on, I'm already out the door. If you can just lace up your shoes, you're already there.

4. Don't worry about putting the right clothes on. At least not to begin with. Expensive stretchy, breathable clothes and bouncy, life-changing trainers will be added guilt on the days you don't run so well. Get a decent, affordable pair of running shoes and a sports bra (if required) and anything else you're comfortable in. You can add to your clothing collection later.

5. Enjoy it. At the beginning, I was so hard on myself. I'm not running as far or as fast as I'd like. I'm not losing weight or getting toned quickly enough. It's turned into something I need for my mental health and general wellbeing. I'm spoilt rotten by living somewhere beautiful. Try to run in surroundings that make you happy. Enjoy your body moving. You are lucky if you can run.

Lauren Aitchison