Marathon Monday: Things I’ve learned 1
It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a Marathon Monday post. Not because I haven’t been running, I have. A lot. Three runs a week, without fail, two shorter runs during the week, one long run at the weekend.
I’ve also added new volume training to my workouts to help fix my back and am seeing some real progress. All I needed to do was strengthen it, and my core. I’m an idiot.
But the realisation also came this week, when I had some friends who are taking up distance running start to ask questions, that it might be useful to do a post dedicated to the stuff I’ve learned. The stuff that maybe the magazines and websites don’t tell you. I’ve picked the brains of some great fellow runners for info too, so this is the first of two posts. This one will cover generalised stuff – specially for beginner runners, and then next week, it’ll be the heavier stuff, for those moving from 5-10km into longer runs. With thanks to Zoe, my personal twitter coach (she shouts at me via tweet regularly) for her two pence.
Get out there
Just getting off the sofa and pulling on your trainers some mornings can feel like an achievement. But get out the door, pick a short route around home and go before your brain realises what you’re doing. I often have my best runs on the days I dread it.
A lot of runners will refer to the treadmill as the ‘dreadmill’. If this is you, and even though you could catch up on Emmerdale while you’re in the gym, you still find yourself bored, get outside. Find a local park to run in, a canal to run beside, or a Park Run you can take part in.
Not feeling confident enough to run with others yet? Running apps are a great way to help you start – the NHS offers a full couch to 5km plan so you can move from a walk, to a gentle jog, to a run. I’ve been using Endomondo for years – it tells me my pace and my overall time and I can reset it to walk/run pacings, sprint sessions, and a regular route. Other apps like Strava, Map My Run, and Garmin Fit are available.
There’s a great deal of evidence that shows that exercising with a friend means you’ll not only enjoy it more, but stick to it. And there are also LOADS of running groups on Facebook, and Twitter feeds you can follow for support and encouragement. Personal recommendations include Run Mummy Run, The Fat Girls Guide to Running, UK Run Chat, The Running Bug and I Will if You Will. The running community is awesome, and inclusive – we celebrate every victory – whether it’s a first race, a first run or a personal best.
There are also groups like Jogging Buddy, so if you want company but don’t know anyone who runs, you can find someone local to you.
Stick to it
Tell people you’re going out for a run. Tweet it, pop it on a Facebook status or just tell someone you’re doing it. Saying it, stating it, means that you are more likely to do it – even if it’s just because you don’t want to look like an idiot for saying it and not doing it. Works for me.
Commit to a certain number of runs per week and make sure you can work them into your normal schedule. Everyone has busy lives and there are plenty of ways of fitting in running, for example you could run along a towpath or around a park at lunchtime if your workplace has shower facilities. Or how about running part or all or your journey home? It takes some logistical planning but the smugness feeling you get when jogging past the stationary traffic is priceless.
In all weathers
Face up to the fact you’ll have to run in the rain, the dark and the cold. feed off the challenge, and ask running mates for tips on keeping warm and being visible to others on the paths.
Personally I find running in the rain is AWESOME, and much preferable to running in the sun. A tip is to forget that it’s rain, forget about dodging puddles or running under shelters and just let it go. Splash in the puddles, let yourself get soaked to the skin. It feels amazing. Even if you need a warm bath when you get home.
Don’t give up
As I mentioned above a way of ensuring you stick to your training is to tell someone about it, or to run with someone else so that there’s no way of wriggling out of it. Running with someone else is also something nice to look forward to as it becomes a social occasion – a chance to catch up on the gossip.
Don’t freak out if you have to miss some training because of a cold, or having to take the dog to the vet/call a plumber etc. So long as you have kept up your previous weeks training and you can get back into the swing of it after everything’s back to normal, you won’t instantly lose fitness. It’s another way of saying train when you can, because you never know what might stand in your way.
Hungover? Go for a little jog. I find I always feel better afterwards, as I’ve not only sweat off the last of the booze, but also hydrated properly.
We all have bad runs
Oh we do. We have slow ones, frustrating ones, ones where your app fails, or you get caught in a hailstorm. It’s OK. It’s disheartening, but look at it this way, you’ve got a bad run off your back. Whatever your goal is, a bad run has been an gone. The next one will be a good one.
Get the right kit
This might not involve spending a penny, or can cost you a fortune. Again, personal preference. Investing in good trainers will be worth it, but I run in leggings that cost me around £15 a pop, and t-shirts I pick up in a thrift shop for £5 for 5. On my feet however, are trainers that cost me close to £100. Start cheap, and edit as you go.
Also remember in the winter you’ll to light yourself up like a Christmas tree, and wrap up, and for summer (and for rainy days) I’d recommend a hat or cap, and maybe some sunnies. Places like Sports Direct will keep the cost down for you.
You never stop learning
Ok, so this sounds a bit trite, but it’s true. I still learn stuff about what my body can do, what it can’t, what it hates and what it loves.
You’ll discover (as mentioned above) what kit you like, what running style you like, what weather you like running in. I discovered this year that I can run just as fast in the sunshine as I can in the rain, I just prefer the rain – I don’t get so hot, sweaty and grumpy.
I’ve discovered what bits of my feet, no matter what brand, or how pricey the trainer will rub (I use Engo to fix these bits in my arches). I also discovered that I don’t need to take water to drink on a 5km – or even a 7km – but will start to fail and need water above this. Everyone is different. Listen to your body.
I hope this helps a tiny bit on your running journey – but would love to hear if you have a recommendation of your own.