As a runner who has been having a go for some years now, I sometimes get asked advice about starting out, and recently my sister-in-law got in touch to say she and her fiancé were thinking of trying running themselves, and I’m always keen to encourage women’s running, especially if it means a family member getting fitter! She wanted to know specifically about shoes: should they get special running shoes, or is it ok to go out in any old trainers, that sort of thing. I gave the usual advice that, if they are going to commit to it, then they should really get themselves down to a reputable running shop and get their gait checked out but, if they are only going to dabble for a bit, then forking out for potentially expensive shoes might not be such a great idea. As always with a female runner, I said she must get a good support bra if she gets nothing else and, being the soon-to-be committed runner that she is, she went and got her gait analysed (and met her first treadmill – hey shop assistants, not everyone knows what to do when it stops!) and also invested in a top notch Shock Absorber bra. So, running can be one of the cheapest and most ‘easily dressed’ of sports for a beginner to take up: just put on your shoes and something comfortable and go out and run, but when you get a bit more into it, you can become quite caught up in tracking down the best fabric for long distances, the optimum length of top to avoid ‘riding up’ distractions and the lightest shoes available for racing a PB.
In my time as a runner, I have considered all of these points and, as a female runner, I have a moment of realisation about this time each year, as I put on a nice summer skirt or dress with sandals, look in the mirror, sigh and say: ‘Ah, I am a real runner. I have runner’s tan’. I am met by my reflection that shows a perfectly tanned area between the tops of my ankles and just below my knees – the capri tan. Now there are other, more confident runners who would just go out and buy a pair of shorts at this point, but I don’t fall into that category, I like to do a bit of research first before I commit to exposing more flesh than is comfortable. My first port of call was the Up and Running website – I have visited the Manchester store on a previous family visit and bought a pair of shoes and a long-sleeved top, so I know how good the quality of service and products is, and wanted to have a look at their online presence. After getting slightly distracted by a great offer to help runners who are training for a charity event, I found myself looking at the women’s shorts section. Now, I do already own two pairs of tight, cycling type shorts, but feel too self-conscious in those, so had a look at more loose-fitting shorts. Most of the baggier shorts look a bit too, well short for my liking, but these NBs caught my eye. They do look like they have a nice structured feel to them, but I was slightly concerned that I might try them on and find they are revealing a bit too much thigh wobble, so quickly consulted the returns and exchanges policy.
After my extensive stare at shorts, I had a wander around the rest of the website and was pleased to see they have the High 5 Zero hydration tablets I like so much at a better price than where I bought them last time I was also impressed with the variety of products available and the ease of navigation. The area I particularly liked though, being a blogger and all round running community enthusiast, was the advice and community sections. Here, you can follow Up and Running on Twitter, join a Facebook group and read the blog where staff talk about events they have attended and offer advice on a whole range of running and fitness subjects. I think an experienced runner would be well advised to direct a newbie in the direction of the Up and Running stores and website, where they will be given the support and encouragement they need to head out and pound the streets from a knowledgeable and friendly staff team.