1. Skint after the excesses of Christmas?
Don’t worry, because running is essentially free: no gym fees, no minimum contracts, just hit the road. You might need a pair of trainers or a sports bra if you don’t already have these, but once you do, anything else is an added extra.
2. Anyone of reasonable health can run. Start small with a minute of running followed by a minute of walking and repeat. Build up gradually and within 10 weeks you’ll be able to run for half an hour. From there it’s just a matter of how far you want to go.
3. Runners are a friendly bunch. Joining a running group, a club, or regularly taking part in an event like the Hampstead Heath Park run will introduce you to a whole community who are always keen to share hints, tips and stories of their misadventures.
4. We’re all busy people, but a short run can be easily fitted into most days. Half an hour before work or on your lunch break a few days a week will make a real difference. Or run all or part of the way to or from work to save tube fair and stretch your legs instead.
5. It’s not just good for your body, running a few miles will help you destress and put you in a better mood.
6. You can do it on your own, when you want. You don’t need to get nine other people together and hire a pitch or go to a class at a set time and place, just lace up your trainers and off you go.
7. As your runs get longer you’ll find yourself exploring your area like never before. Unlike cars and bikes, pedestrians can go anywhere (within reason), stop when they want and investigate where different paths go.
8. Creative people run. Novelists Haruki Murakami and Neil Gaiman are big fans of running. But whether you’re working through the plot of your novel or trying to figure out problems of a more personal nature – running unplugs you from the distractions of phones, TVs, the internet or other people and focuses the mind.
9. However fancy your gym might be – however soft their towels and nice their free toiletries smell – it’s still a big room full of other sweaty people watching TV screens. It will never beat a run on Hampstead Heath out in the fresh air. Even when it’s raining.
10. Rediscover the pleasure of splashing through puddles and getting muddy on the Heath. Run through winter (it really isn’t that bad if you’re dressed sensibly) and you’ll appreciate more fully the first signs of spring appearing and enjoy watching the seasons change.