How To (Pretend To) Be Fit

12 Jun

I went for a run today, the first one since my exams, and to be honest, quite a long time before that… It’s embarrassing having to stop every five minutes and have people look at you with their smug fat faces as they walk past you, as if they could do much better. Well, as a fair weather runner, I find myself only running in the Spring/Summer time, and so my fitness fluctuates up and down dramatically throughout the year. I have been known to run the 10K Great Yorkshire Run before, but now I could barely manage 1K… As a result however, I have quite a lot of practise at faking my fitness to avoid the shame and inevitable embarrassment which quite often forces people to give up on trying to get fit before they’ve even started. So here are my tips, just to get you through that embarrassing period:

  • Avoid gyms.

Gyms are full of fit people. It’s a place that I would not dare to go until I was also fit, because you cannot escape their glares and horrifyingly, the people that designed the gyms thought putting mirrors everywhere would be a fine idea. My puffy red sweaty face is not what I want to see, let alone other people.

  • Pick your running time carefully.

I live on the same road as a school, so mornings between 8-9 and afternoons between 3-4 are a no go, because a run in with the school run is not desirable. Early morning is a prime time for runners, so you’re likely to bump into loads of those, so I would recommend late morning, 10 o’clock for example.

  • Pick you route carefully.

Two important questions you should consider are; is this route going to busy with lots of people? Are the people on this route going to be other runners or not? Depending on the type of person you are, you may gain encouragement being surrounded by other like-minded runners like you. But, especially when you’re starting out, the other option may be preferable. Parks tend to be filled with runners, while road running gives you endless options for your route so you can avoid/greet as many other human beings as you like.

  • Don’t wear all the gear.

“All the gear with no idea” comes to mind. Be safe and appropriately dressed, but if you wear all the latest running gloves/pedometer/running sunglasses/earphones, then people will expect you to be good. If you dress like a beginner, you’ll avoid looking silly. Also, if you’ve never tried running before, don’t go and fork out on all the fancy equipment to then find that you’d prefer swimming…

  • Don’t be ashamed to slow down or stop.

The worst thing you can do is keep pushing yourself because you feel you have to, either because of other people or your own expectations of yourself. You will look more of a fool if you turn red in the face, pant like an asthmatic donkey and collapse in a heap (I’ve been there, it does not look cool) than if you come to a steady stop and walk until you’re ready to start again. Another little tip, if you do have to walk, look like you’re power walking by holding yourself up straight, then it just looks like you’re doing interval training… (wink! wink!)

  • Be proud of yourself.

Just donning those trainers and sexy Lycra shorts and stepping out in public is a courageous act in itself, so be proud of your courage for giving it a go. If you’re proud of every little achievement you reach, like making it to the next lamppost compared to yesterday and including making it out the door which is a vital first achievement, then you will be more spurred on to continue. And then one day, who knows, you won’t have to pretend to be fit, you actually will be!

Happy running, and wish me luck with mine!

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