Thinking about lacing up your trainers? Donna Fraser, four times Olympian & Her Spirit running coach, reveals the benefits of running, as well as how to stay motivated

I really believe that most people can enjoy running. It’s a brilliant (and cheap!) way to get fitter, stronger and healthier. In fact, research suggests that running could help to improve lung and heart health, as well as reduce your risk of long-term illnesses. Running is also thought to improve mental wellbeing, and reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress. Now that’s food for thought!

For me, it’s the boost in confidence and the post-run endorphins (aka happy hormones in your brain) that make running a real winner.

Top tips for getting started

I know that running can sometimes feel daunting – especially if you’re a beginner or you’re returning after a long break. But remember, there’s no pressure to jump in at the deep end – even short runs can leave you feeling more energised, more focused and able to enjoy all that life has to offer. And the best bit? All you need is a pair of trainers to get started! Oh, and a bit of motivation.

Here are five simple ways to kickstart your running journey:

Remember your warm up

Don’t underestimate the power of a quick warm up! Many people sit at their desk all day, then bolt out the door and feel stiff and out of breath. Getting blood flowing to your muscles is so important before you ask them to do more.

Start gently

Don’t be afraid to embrace the run/walk method. Walking doesn’t mean you’ve failed – it’s actually the path to enjoying running. 

Buddy up

Reach out to friends, family, colleagues or neighbours to see if you can find a running buddy (if any COVID-19 restrictions allow). There might even be a local running club you can join. Having someone else there will help keep your motivation up.

Be strong

Don’t just run! Taking 15 minutes each week to strengthen your muscles will help you get the most out of running and avoid injuries. Strength and conditioning coach, Mel Young, explains the importance of strengthening our bodies over here.

Come join Her Spirit

Download the Her Spirit app and sign up to the Give Me 5 programme. Over eight weeks, I’ll help you to run a full 5K. The programme also includes five minutes of yoga and meditation to help with recovery, plus you’ll get a new recipe every week. What’s not to love about that?

How do I keep going once I've started?

More of the above! Plus, you could try setting yourself new goals. You could aim to go a little faster, a little further, or even learn to improve your running technique. Sound good? When you’re ready, why not join me on the Faster 5K or Run Better Together programme?

Make running a habit

Whatever your running goals are, remember that consistency is the key to staying motivated and making sure you aren’t a one-run wonder.

Research suggests that it takes over two months before a new behaviour becomes automatic. Whether you’re aiming to run once a week or four times a week, try to plan each run in advance so you can set the time aside in your diary. I like to run first thing in the morning – I often find that if I leave it until the evening, I don’t get around to it. We’re all human!

Running all year round

Although lacing up your trainers when it’s wet, dark and rainy can be tricky, running is actually a great year-round activity. I know it can be hard to stay motivated in the winter, but there are definitely some bonuses. Not only is it a great excuse to get a new running jacket or some snazzy reflective leggings, but it’s also great because you won’t overheat. Still not convinced? In the cooler months, many paths are much less crowded, so you’ll get your very own winter wonderland.

See – it’s not all bad! Before you grab your trainers and dash out the door, remind yourself that there’s no such thing as a bad run. It’s your time and your pace, so don’t compare yourself to anyone else. And most importantly? Go and enjoy yourself!

Who is Donna Fraser?

Donna Fraser is a four times Olympian, Her Spirit Advisory Board member and lead on all-things-running at Her Spirit. In 2009, Donna was forced to retire from the world of athletics after being diagnosed with breast cancer. In the same year, she made a life-changing decision to undertake a mastectomy. With the 2012 Olympic Games being in London, Donna’s passion to inspire others drove her to return to the track in 2012 and make her fourth Olympics.

Who are Her Spirit?

Her Spirit are on a mission to inspire women to become fitter, stronger and healthier. They believe that your mind, body and fuel are intrinsically linked and taking small achievable steps will lead to big changes. Her Spirit support women of all shapes and sizes to achieve goals that they never thought were possible.