Falling in love with running at the gym

When I first joined a gym I had no idea where to start, or what type of exercise I would enjoy, I just knew that I wanted to be more active after a day spent sat at my desk. I worked my way through three gym memberships before feeling like I knew what I was doing on the treadmill! Fast forward four years and I have several 5k’s, 10k’s and half marathons under my belt – and I only run outside when competing! 

For me I love the security and safety that my gym provides, when running if I injury myself there is help-on-hand, if I run out of water I can grab an ice cold drink, the air conditioning keeps me cool and there are mirrors all around me so I can monitor my form. I also do not have to worry about being so lost in the miles that I fail to check for traffic, or get lost in an unknown part of town miles from home. The main reason why I love gym running is that the treadmill is like my coach, it keeps my pace regulated, keeps me on track, gives me real time performance data and helps me constantly improve my speed and endurance. 

Ultimately there is no substitute for hard work – you will only get out what you put in – but here are my top tips for falling in love with running at the gym.

Prepare yourself for success

  • Put together a playlist of your favorite songs, they do not need to be fast paced electro dance tunes, just music that you really love listening to
  • Make sure your running shoes are light and comfortable, they do not have to be expensive, but should fit well and not be too heavy 
  • Get a good water bottle, one with a straw is best, the less fussy the better
  • Buy some hand towels and a pack of antibacterial wipes

The perfect date

For your first run choose a quite day so that you do not feel intimidated. Simply ask the staff when would be the quietest time to use the treadmills and set up your first date!

Love at first sight

I believe choosing your machine is crucial, I use the same machine every single day! My favorite machine is perfectly positioned under the air-conditioning vent, has a side view mirror so I can make sure my form is correct, and to the other side is a shelf which I place my bag, water bottle and towel on. My treadmill is also far enough away from the speakers that my own music does not have to be on too loud to drown out background noise/music which reduces damage to my ears. There is also ample room at the side of the machine for me to stretch off and I have a view of the local woodland – its perfect! I would really encourage you to look at the positioning of all the treadmills at your gym then choose your favorite machine and bond with it ☺

Get to know the operating system

It took me a couple of weeks to learn how the operating system worked on my favorite treadmill, I consider these weeks wasted as I didn’t really have a plan or measure my progress. When running one day I decided I would ask reception for a copy of the user manual so that I could understand how to get the best out of the machine. The fitness first staff provided me with a copy of the manual, directed me to a two hour YouTube tutorial on the model and set up a demonstration with a member of staff – I couldn’t have asked for more! 

Reach for the stars

Once I knew how to properly use the machine I decided to set a goal of covering 15 miles per week, split over three mile sessions. I didn’t increase this distance for some months, instead focusing on covering the distance at a constant speed without overstressing my body or constantly needing to stop the run to catch my breath. I was committed to gradual, gentle improvements without causing injury. You should be able to complete your work out without gasping for breath. Take deep breaths and find the pace (even if it is walking for now) that you can keep without running being overly difficult. Most of all find a pace that you enjoy, as this is your personal time, alone with your thoughts, so relax and savor every moment!

Slow and steady wins

Covering three miles per day at a fast walking pace will take around 55 minutes (0.9 incline at 4.1 mph pace), and for a beginner I think that is a realistic goal. I believe you should not feel overwhelming pressure to be a professional runner from the outset, life is a journey and running is more about continuous improvement that sprinting six minute miles for an hour. You will find that when holding a 0.9 incline at around 4.3mph (approx. 15 minute miles) you have to start to jog and start to run at around 5.2 (approx. 12 minute miles). Find the pace that works for you now, then work on improving it.

Stretch it out

Stretching is essential after a run and will help reduce the risk of injury and speed up recovery time. Make stretching simple by following the many stretching tutorials on YouTube or downloading the many free stretching applications from the app store. You can also ask the gym staff for some pointers to make the most of your stretch and cool down time.

Ok…. here’s the plan

Consistency is key, so make sure you find a perfect time to go to the gym and put the miles in. Block out that time in your calendar and commit to going to each session. I promise you that within a few months you will look forward to that time and to your fix of endorphins!

Step up the pace

If you have been holding a steady pace for a while then you may want to increase the speed, distance or incline of your runs. Personally I like to increase the speed until my work outs reduce in time, then increased the distance to get the time back up. Some days I want to sprint the stress away, and others I want to just carry a slow jog and mull over a big decision or think something through, but I always try to progress my performance and move my running forward, even if I go off plan for a day ☺

Earn & share your glory moments

If you have been working hard and have improved one area of your running then you have earned your glory, well done! Don’t forget to take a picture of the results screen at the end of your run and share it on social media! If you have been capturing pictures of all of your results screens then why not download a free collage app and create a side by side pic to show your progress like this one!

Fuel your performance

I cannot eat anything before running, but I have friends who cannot run without eating. I think it is all down to personal preference, but one thing is for sure, you need to nourish your body properly when regularly running or you may feel fatigued and possibly stop running altogether. At the moment I love natural raw foods and hemp protein smoothies after a run, but when I started a big glass of water and a banana was my post work out treat to replace lost energy and get rehydrated.

I hope these tips will help you! Do you have a tip that I missed out? Be sure to let me know in the comments or on social media! 

I wish you the best of luck with your running ♡