I always feel like I need to preface my running posts by saying how crap I am at running.

I have a fundamental belief that unless you are a very good athlete competing at some kind of professional level, when it comes to fitness, you are always just competing against yourself (as cheesy as that sounds).

Your onus should always be on improving your own fitness rather than worrying about how much better, faster or fitter someone else is than you.

As fitness expert Bill Philips says (and I paraphrase somewhat): “You have to start recognising the small everyday successes like doing your planned workout or eating well for the day. If you want until you’re at your ultimate goal to take pride in your success, you won’t ever get there.”

I like using a number of tools to provide information and advice or simply just to keep me motivated.

Couch to 5k

This free app is genuinely amazing. It uses an interval running technique that mixes walking and running. It makes running totally non-intimidating and sets very achievable goals. The vast majority of people will be able to run for 60 seconds – which is the length of the runs in week one. You alternative running (jogging) with walking and slowly up the running and lower the walking until you are running for a steady 30 minutes. This may not be 5k for everyone, but it gives you an excellent base to reach that distance.

The podcasts are narrated by a lady called Laura – much beloved in the C25k community (there are some very nice forums online for people doing the programme – very supportive and non-judgemental. Worth checking out).

There are also podcasts for after you complete C25k – aimed at improving cadence and distance. Also very useful.

No Run Intended by Hannah Phillips

I absolutely LOVE this book. The tone is so warm, witty and friendly. I tend to enjoy reading running books that I can identify with – normal people taking up the sport and succeeding in terms of completing runs like marathons and halfs, not necessarily elite athletes.

Hannah Philips is unashamedly honest in her account of why she took up running (she saw the reflection of a ‘fat bird’ in a window before realising it was herself…) and the trials and tribulations of running. She also sheds a brilliantly accurate light on the triumphs – those little wins that feel so incredibly important. It’s unbelievably inspiring as well as very funny and moving.

It’s not just a book about running: it is a very intimate portrayal of one woman’s life and struggles, and committing the words to paper to share is brave. It’s impossible not to like this author. As you can probably tell, I couldn’t recommend this more highly.

Garmin Fenix 2 Training Watch

I was jogging round the docks a few days ago – still even slower than usual on account of my broken rib-enforced hiatus – when I started chuckling to myself. Here I was jogging painfully slowly and in obvious discomfort, clearly not the finest athlete, but bedecked no less in one of the best running watches on the market.

This was a gift (thanks have to go to my mum for buying it, and my sister for choosing it) and I love it.  The satellite tracking is amazingly accurate, it is water proof, it’s good for a multitude of terrains. I have barely scratched the surface of what this piece of kit can do.

While you can see your pace and distance at any time, if you can resist peeking (yeah right) it vibrates every time you complete a km, giving you your average speed for that distance. It helps me to push on a bit more, having the time benchmark to work against, and means my runs are more accurately tracked.

HIIT runs by Bill Phillips

I am by nature a bit of a plodder. I can jog for an hour and a half at a slow pace. What I need is some kind of fairly strict guidance for shorter, sharper bursts. I personally really enjoy this high intensity interval training run designed by fitness supremo Bill Philips.

You can use this outline for any kind of cardio, but I think it’s great for improving running pace, as well as providing a really solid workout in just 25 minutes. You walk/run for two minutes at 3/10 perceived effort, two minutes at 6/10, and one minute at 8/10. You then repeat this five minute circuit five times.

This is a really good one for getting a sweat on in relatively little time. It’s also good for us slowpokes who can enjoy running at a pace of 4 mins and 30 secs or less – but only for one minute. Doing this has made me realise I can afford to up the pace a little on longer runs. It also feels like it’s helping with cardiovascular fitness.

I would really recommend keeping a rough note of your speed – it’s really easy to measure improvement that way. This is a great circuit for most people irrespective of their fitness level because it is as difficult as you make it. Because you’re working at a specific level of effort, as you improve, you simply raise your speed rather than the length of the run. An excellent compact workout.

I’m always on the lookout for new apps or books that will help or be motivating – please post in the comments if you have discovered anything you think I’ll find useful!




2 replies on “The books, apps and other tools I used to start running and to keep motivated

    1. Oooh thanks for the recommendation! I absolutely will…and you really should read No Run Intended, the funny bits really are hilarious!


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