I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say that I find it hard to settle for average when it comes to sessions. I have that type A personality trait that always feels the need to be doing better than what’s expected. Therefore, when a session day arrives and my body isn’t feeling great, I find it hard to be comfortable with an ‘average’ session, even though its the best I have on the day. However, sometimes average is the best place for you to be, and here is why.
Prevents you overreaching.
Having average days can be exactly what you need. It can be a sign that you need more recovery and therefore remind you that it is ok to stay within yourself in order to get back feeling fresh. By doing this, it allows you to be more in tune with how you feel and contribute to consistency. Being able to tick off weeks of back to back training without pushing over the red line, not only allows you to train consistently because you’re not too tired, it also helps prevent injury. It can be hitting that red line that just tips you over into injury.
Allows you to be more than average.
Whilst it may sound contradictory, for the above reason, average allows you to exceed average. If you can get weeks and weeks of training consistently, you open yourself up to progression. Training is what makes you faster and stronger, so if you can do this for a long time without interruption, you will notice the benefits. It also means by just getting the job done on some days, you can smash others, and even better if this is a race day. Race days are when you can step out of average.
Fitness has a range.
Frequently when doing a session, there is a range of where you can be to achieve the same benefit. This may be a 5 second range, or even more, and whether you are at the highest or lowest point of this range, you will still be getting the same benefit. If your effort levels are at where you feel they should be, you are in the right place. This shows that every session doesn’t need to be hammered, because you can achieve the same result without flooding your body with so much fatigue. This also adds to my initial point about not overreaching and risking injury.
Allows us to appreciate above average.
Everybody needs average. If we exceeded average everyday, eventually that would become our average. Therefore, average will always exist. We need to have slightly less amazing sessions in order to recognise when one has truly gone above expectation. The tough days and average sessions keep us grounded and remind us not to take the journey for granted. It is the days where it doesn’t come so easily and we have to really dig deep that make us stronger. They make us appreciate that sport is not easy and no matter where you are in your journey, it will be tough. These days make the good ones seem so much sweeter.
For these reasons, average can give us a lot of benefit.
Whether you are a runner, an athlete, a gym goer, or a walker, setting goals is a positive thing to do. It allows you to train/exercise with direction, preventing you from feeling demotivated and unsure of where you are heading. It also allows you to witness your progress, and see how far you have actually come.
Setting goals is quite a simple concept that gives you direction and focus, however, I find the most beneficial part of goal setting is opening up about them. There is no reason as to why we should be shy about our goals, therefore we should feel happy to speak about them. Keeping them to yourself doesn’t help you feel any more confident about achieving them, in fact I find it makes me feel less confident that they will happen. I found this year a key example of this. I was always very shy about my goals and always kept them to myself. However, the last year I made myself announce them and reveal them to others, and I found as a result I felt more accountable to achieving them. I find myself striving for them with more determination and drive because I had explicitly stated what I was trying to achieve.
Whatever your goal may be, own it and open up about it. So, why is this?
Opening up about your goals and speaking about them allows you to take them more seriously. If you feel able to talk to people about them, it allows you to realistically see yourself achieving them. This allows you to feel committed to achieving them as you want to prove yourself right. Once you announce them, there is that human desire to follow up on your words. Therefore you see them in a more serious, determined light, and are less likely to back down from achieving them.
I also find, the more you say something, the more you believe it. It may be that the goals you have set yourself scare you. There is no shame in this. In fact, I think the scarier the goal seems, the better it is, because your goals should push you. The more you talk about them in a relaxed and open setting, the more you convince yourself they are possible. No goal is out of your reach, therefore talking about it as though it is your reality allows you to believe you can achieve it.
Therefore, next time you contemplate keeping your goals to yourself, shout about them, because once you do, you will see they feel a lot more possible.
As athletes we always prioritise training and do everything we can to squeeze it all in, so much so, that we often forget the importance of recovery. More often than not, recovery is just as important as any form of training, because without good recovery, we would not be able to train to the level we want. Over the past couple of years, I have made a strong effort to prioritise recovery, and I am definitely noticing the benefits of doing so between sessions. I simply feel better for longer. Here are a few of my top recovery tips:
Embrace the massage gun.
Ever since the Pulse Roll massage gun came into my life, I have been a complete convert. They are definitely not hyped up enough because their recovery benefits are great. I use my massage gun both before and in between runs on a daily basis. It is great for the former as it helps loosen up your legs before you head out the door, and even better for the latter as you can get into those tighter areas to boost your recovery. The massage gun allows you to give yourself a more general massage, more frequently, as ultimately, you can’t go to see a sports therapist on a daily basis. This is great for maintenance and keeps any tight areas loose, preventing them from building up and causing bigger problems. Get yours here and use the code Hannah15 for 15% off.
Stretch and foam roll.
Stretching and foam rolling is another tool that us runners are quick to neglect. It can seem boring and time consuming, but it doesn’t need to be. To avoid boredom you can do it infront of the television in the evening, and you can do as much as 10 minutes a day to notice some benefits. Whilst a degree of muscle tightness is good for runners, stretching and foam rolling prevents things getting too tight, and again causing injury. It also helps improve your range of movement, allowing you to lift those knees higher, helping you drive through the motions when you are running at speed.
This is quite possibly one of the most important recovery tips there is. If you want to recover well, you need to provide your body with the energy to do so. There is no better way to do this, than by fuelling your body well before, after and in between runs/sessions. I try to have some form of recovery as soon as I have finished my cool down after a session. This usually takes the form of a recovery drink. I use Drink EO3, but milk can be a great alternative. It is then important to make sure you are eating plenty in between runs, but also that you are giving your body plenty of nutrient rich foods, to ensure your body is not lacking anything. Good food is a great recovery tip. Just remember to EAT EVERYTHING in balance, so don’t deny yourself of any foods!
Personally, I find active recovery is great. It isn’t for everyone, and it is important to keep it super super light. For me, I enjoy a short easy stroll. In between runs, this just helps to keep my body moving smoothly, and stops everything from seizing up from being sat down. It flushes my legs out a little and gets me feeling slightly looser. Active recovery could also refer to hopping on the cross trainer on a non-running day, or going for a super easy run on another day. It is important to do what allows you to keep fluid.
This is quite possibly the easiest form of recovery going, but again, one we are all quick to compromise when life gets busy. When we go to sleep, a lot of recovery and adaptation takes place, something that is essential to us. If this gets compromised, it is likely we won’t recover to the same extent, which will also increase our risk of injury. Ensuring you get around 8 hours of sleep each day will allow your body to recover optimally, and keep your legs running.
I hope these recovery tips that benefit me also help you.
For a long time, I had very little experience of running on treadmills, and therefore wasn't aware of their advantages. It wasn't until I stepped foot on a NoblePro treadmill, that I was converted, and began to see how beneficial they can be. Whether the weather is bad or I just fancy a change, treadmill running has a lot of positives.
So, when do I use the treadmill?
This is probably the most obvious reason to jump on the treadmill but it makes a lot of sense. It isn’t a case of being a ‘soft runner’, but instead a sensible runner! If it is blowing a gale outside, jumping on the treadmill for an easy run can be incredibly effective. Easy runs are predominantly for recovery, and battling the wind will only mean you have to work a lot harder than you would on a normal recovery run. Using the treadmill means you will actually actively recover and won’t be unnecessarily tired for your next session or run. Similarly, if it is cold and pouring with rain, you don’t want to force your body to work extra hard. If you get too cold you may become unwell which would mean time away from training, but if you run on the treadmill, there is a lot less risk of that!
It can also be great for early or late runs, when it is still dark outside. This is more the case in the winter, but in the summer there can still be poor visibility in the morning or on cloudy evenings. For the sake of your safety, why not just get on the treadmill?
Nursing a Niggle.
The treadmill can be a great bit of machinery to use when you are nursing a niggle or you feel one coming on. The treadmill allows you to minimise any risk factors such as uneven ground or cambers in the road, so you don’t have to worry about extra stress that may expedite your niggle. A couple of months ago, I had a few weeks off from running due to a niggle and on my rebuild, I did most of my runs on my NoblePro treadmill. I was able to avoid having to make any sudden movements, such as stopping for cars or animals, and uneven ground where it may pull on certain areas more and aggravate the niggle.
Control the pace.
If you are wanting to strictly control your pace, the treadmill is a great tool. This can be beneficial on easy runs or even tempo sessions when you want to lock into a consistent pace. I personally love the treadmill for recovery runs as it can make sure I don’t run too fast. I can dial into a specific pace and not worry about whether I have sped up without realising. You can switch off and know you are going the exact pace you want to go.
At my current stage of life, the latter is much more relevant to me, but the former is a consideration for many runners. I have an epileptic dog and therefore at certain times he cannot be left unattended incase he hurts himself. This is when my NoblePro treadmill is a life saver. It means I can put the dog exactly where I can see him (at a safe distance away from the treadmill) and if I need to tend to him, I am just a jump away. Additionally, if you need to keep an eye on the kids but are trying to fit training in, the treadmill is the perfect piece of equipment. Whether they are playing or napping, you can run in peace, knowing they are safe.
Don’t need a reason.
Finally, whoever said you need a reason to use the treadmill? Running is running wherever you do it, and if you fancy using the treadmill, use it! Some days I wake up, and I really fancy just putting on some music and switching off with a treadmill run. I don’t need a specific reason to do this, except because I want to, and neither do you.
So, if you are contemplating whether a NoblePro treadmill could benefit you, my answer is yes, it would, and I hope the above reasons show this.
*If you want to experience the benefits of a NoblePro treadmill, you can use the code: hannahi to get 5% off. You can also view all NoblePro treadmills here.
Running for GB has been something I have dreamt of doing for as long as I can remember. There have been a few times where it was a possibility, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Last weekend however, I got the opportunity to pull on the GB vest for the first (hopefully of many) time at the European 10,000m Cup, and it didn’t disappoint. Whilst I hoped for a little more performance wise, I gave my all and enjoyed every second being part of the team!
A lot of the time, running is a very individual sport. There is the personal team of people that makes everything possible for an individual, but racing itself is a very individual event. You are racing for your own time or position, independent of everyone else in the race. They are all your opposition. However, last weekend was a team event, and it was so nice to be racing for others as well as for myself. It added another dimension, as regardless of how I felt individually, my performance could still give a lot to the overall team result. It was pretty incredible at the end to come away with a European team bronze medal!
It was also great to spend time with other GB athletes who you usually only see in passing as races. Most of the time you catch each other prior to a race when nerves are building and no one really wants to chat, therefore you never really get to know your opponents. The weekend allowed you to talk and really get to know the sort of people they are.
The Race: Experiences and lessons
The race itself was a very exciting event, but one thing it taught me, is that whatever event you’re in, it is just another race. I was quite nervous beforehand, and built the race up to be quite scary, but as soon as I was on the start line and the race gun fired, it was the same as any other race. This is why sport is such a grounding world to be in, because regardless of the vest you are wearing, or where you are running, you are doing the same thing you do every day. It doesn’t matter what event you are at, the practice remains the same and you have to keep working hard. No matter what level you reach, it is always hard work, and that’s the great part!
Being a championship event, the style of racing was very different to a race where everyone is chasing a time. There is a lot more to focus on and be wary of. The race started out very slow and messy. People were tripping up, pushing others, and it was very congested. It was very difficult to find a flow as you were constantly having to stop/start to prevent yourself getting tripped up. The race then started to pick up which spread the field out slightly and allowed you to run properly. It was however still quite congested and difficult to find your own rhythm. This is not something I have had much experience with so far and I found it did tire my legs more than normal. After about 7k, I found myself on my own and just had to focus on holding on and battling the wind. I was just so happy when I crossed the line and could officially call myself a GB runner.
Racing internationally does come with quite a bit of travel, but this is unavoidable. If you want to compete at a higher level, you have to get used to traveling abroad to do so. I do not have masses of experience travelling abroad to race, so it was great to get another opportunity to do this. The journey there was far from ideal, which is actually a positive, as it allows me to get used to racing when things don’t go to plan. We are so used to having the perfect preparation before races, but this can’t always be the case, so it is good to get used to disruption to routine.
Ultimately, it was an amazing experience that has left me feeling very hungry to get faster and do it all again!
It can be difficult to find the best pre and post session foods for you, but I emphasise the FOR YOU part, because what works for one doesn’t work for another. I know lots of people find porridge the best pre-session food, therefore I felt I had to eat that too, but I HATE porridge, and it makes me feel sick, which doesn’t really make for the best pre session food. That being said, it can be helpful to know what works well for others in order to use it as inspiration when you are trialling different things. For this reason, here are some foods that work for me.
If I have a session or race first thing in the morning, my go to is toast with almond butter on it. This works well for me because it sits comfortably in my stomach, fills me up, and I love the taste of it.
Bagels are another great choice. I tend to have bagels pre race as opposed to prior to sessions because I find they are not quite as heavy as toast or bread. Therefore I find them slightly easier to digest before running hard. It also means I am less likely to suffer from a stitch or stomach pain.
If I want a light snack to prevent me getting hungry that isn’t too filling, I tend to go for a cereal bar. I love the yogurt and apricot Eat Natural bars and I also eat these frequently so I know they do not cause my stomach any upset. Any cereal bar that you are familiar with is a great option. I tend to have a cereal bar around 2 hours- 90 minutes before racing to prevent hungry from striking too close to the race.
Another snack most runners are familiar with are bananas. A banana is a great way to get some fuel in if you are slightly pressed for time. They are not too heavy that they will cause you any upset, but they are also substantial enough to fill a hole.
Immediately post-session, as soon as I have finished my cool down, I have a recovery drink. For me this is an Omega 3 recovery drink called Drink eo3. It’s tasty and has everything I need to kickstart the recovery process as quickly as I can. This can however be as simple as a carton of milk, or if you prefer a protein shake, that works too. This allows me body to start repairing before I have even got home. You can of course eat something like a bar straight after training, but I find a drink a lot easier to stomach as I am often not hungry straight after a session. I then make something to eat once I get back home.
Post session foods are definitely a lot easier as you do not need to worry about how they sit in your stomach. The most important thing is to ensure you get a balanced meal in to your body to allow the recovery process to take place as effectively as possible. It is also great to choose something that is easy to prep so you can eat as quickly as possible.
My go to meal quite often includes some form of eggs and avocado. I am an avocado lover, and despite what anyone else says, I actually think it is still underrated! I will often have avocado on toast with poached eggs and smoked salmon. You can switch the salmon for something else, or skip it out if you don’t like it. I add some greenery such as spinach or sometimes tomatoes.
With or without avocado, eggs are a great post-session food. Boiled, scrambled, fried, or even as an omelette, they provide lots of goodness whilst also being tasty.
If I don’t feel like eggs, I will frequently have a sandwich as it’s quick but also satisfying. I love fillings such as hummus and roasted vegetables, goats cheese, or a current fave is a mozzarella, pesto, spinach and sun-dried tomato toastie.
I tend to for bread or toast at lunch, but pasta is a great choice too. It’s quick to cook and you can pair it with almost anything. If you make enough for two, you can have it cold the next day to save time.
These are just a few of the options I gravitate towards. They may or may not work for you, but there is no harm in doing a bit of experimenting.
Some people love it, and others hate it, but for me, the 10k distance is my favourite. I like the fact that it’s a slower burning pain that progressively gets worse, but it is also short enough to allow you to get your legs turning quickly. It is also a great race distance that you can battle with your opponents over. With a 10k focus, you can have speed in your training plan as well as tempos and get immense benefits from covering that range. So, here are my 3 favourite 10k sessions.
E.g. 4-8 miles tempo.
This is my ALL TIME favourite session. As soon as I see a continuous tempo on the plan, I know it’s going to be a fun week. Tempo pace tends to be a comfortably hard effort that you can sustain for an extended period of time, such as an hour if you had to. They can also range from 4 to 8 miles in length, or even further.
If you are new to continuous tempo work, I would recommend starting with something like 3x10 minutes with 90-120 seconds jog recovery. You could then try 2x15 minutes with the same recovery before progressing into a continuous effort. I would then recommend doing 20-25 minutes continuous and slowly building it up from there.
Tempos are great as they are a bread and butter session. They allow you to build up a strong base and be confident in the fact that you are able to maintain a decent pace for an extended period of time.
Interval Session at 10k pace.
E.g. 5-7 x1200m @10k pace with 90 seconds recovery.
This session is especially great if you are looking to do a 10k on the track. If you are not, you can change the 1200m reps for something like 4 minute reps. It is great because it allows you to lock in to your 10k pace and tick off lots of consistent laps. It may initially feel faster than expected, but this is normal, don’t let it scare you, because come race day when you are rested and have others around you, the pace will initially feel easy. This session helps teach you that even when you’re tired, your 10k pace can still flow.
Working through the paces.
E.g. 2 mile tempo, 2 miles @ 10k pace, 6-8 400’s @ 5k pace.
This session bites. Starting off at tempo means that the 10k pace 2 miles hits harder than you expect. When you then pick it up further to 5k pace, you really feel the speed on tired legs. This is however great for replicating a race that may start conservatively and slowly wind up. It gets your legs used to running fast on tired legs and prepares you for the final 3k when your legs are not thanking you for what you are putting them through. It hurts, but you will so much satisfaction once it is done.
These are just a few examples of some 10k training sessions, but you can vary the length of each session depending on where you are at.
Society has progressively built itself on the idea that we all need to be better than we currently are, and to do this, we need to have more. Marketing in all sectors of life, be it clothes, technology, food, even cleaning products, is designed to tell you that your life could be much better if you had more, specifically more of what they are trying to sell. It is a clever marketing strategy, but it has become so ingrained in us and society has placed so much value on it, that it has affected the way we think about ourselves. At every corner we are faced with the decision to continue to be ourselves, or become something better. In the eyes of society, we are never enough as we are, but this is not true. We have everything we need inside us right now to achieve what we want. However, society doesn't always make us feel this way.
This led me on to thinking about how happiness is intrinsic. The only thing that can make us happier comes from within. You may believe that if you had more money and a Lamborghini you would be a lot happier, but then what would make you happy after that? If you are always living life for the next thing that will bring you happiness, it will never be enough, because you will constantly seek happiness externally. Materialism cannot provide genuine happiness. You won’t feel sustainably happy until you look within. In the end, we have to do the hard work ourselves to achieve happiness.
Not too long ago, I found myself never really feeling that enough was enough. I wanted to earn more money, have more things, be more than I was currently. I wasn’t happy within, because I was always waiting for the future, and seeking more externally, instead of enjoying the present. So with some guidance from the wonderful Wendy, I looked within. Asked myself, what is it that can truly make me happy? And the only answer was, myself. Searching for more externally is a sign that I was not feeling enough internally, so I had to work on this.
As soon as I accepted that when my brain searches for happiness in materialistic things, it means I am not happy inside. Therefore I need to get to the root cause. Many of us never look within, because it is difficult and the truth can be painful, but as soon as you explore those darker places and darker thoughts, you find something much brighter the other side. That is contentment. You will of course find joy from doing exciting things, but you will not depend upon them for happiness, and you will not think you need them to be any more than you are. It is also very important when you find yourself feeling ‘not enough; to step away from social media, advertising, television, etc. and find your inner contentment. As great as they can be, all of these forms are built on the idea that we are not enough without them. Step away, and you will find that you are enough, just being you.
The largest amount of happiness comes from accepting that you are enough. You do not need anything to be better than you are. You can do whatever you set your sights on, with everything you have right now. Anything else is a bonus, but you just being happy with you, is more than anyone could wish for.
Your needs as an individual are very different from the next person’s. Not only physically, but also mentally. However, in this instance, I refer specifically to our fuelling needs, and these also differ. If you are an active person, your fuelling needs will differ considerably to someone who lives a very sedentary lifestyle. No matter what others may say, you need to fuel yourself plentifully.
Ignore indirect comments.
It is very easy to find your thinking swaying towards that of believing that your dietary needs are the same as someone else’s. You may find them saying things such as, ‘oh I don’t need pudding, that’s a bit greedy’ or referring to the need to earn food. Nobody needs to earn food, but someone who does very little to no exercise, may be more cautious of the amount they eat in order to maintain a healthy body. However, as active individuals, our focus is instead on making sure we eat enough, therefore you do not need to ask yourself whether you are being greedy, but instead remind yourself of the amount of fuel you do require. It is not greed, it is a genuine physical requirement to stay healthy and fit.
Trust your needs.
For this reason, it is important to believe in your needs and be confident in what you know is best for you. Other individuals may make comments about the volume you eat, but don’t be swayed by their uneducated words. There is no truth to what they say, especially as they do not understand your needs based on the training you do. Be confident that you know what is best for yourself and follow through with that. If you sacrifice fuelling yourself properly ahead of what others think, you will only struggle as a consequence.
What to do if you are losing belief.
If you find yourself becoming affected by the words of others, remind yourself of the detrimental consequences of underfuelling. As soon as you think about the increased injury risk, health complications and hindered recovery, among other things that comes with underfuelling, you will remember how important it is to recognise your own needs and act in line with them.
I hope this blog gives you the confidence to trust in your own needs and not feel pressured into acting differently. Your needs are different to those around you.
Life can be difficult. It can throw challenges at us from all directions with little rest-bite in between them. It can really test your resilience in ways you didn’t even know needed testing, but that is the power of life. There is however a massive strength that comes from persisting and as cheesy as it sounds, never giving up when times get tough. Here is why you should never give up.
Don’t know what’s around the corner.
Tough times don’t last forever. They simply can’t. Even if they never fully go away, you learn to live in them and embrace the power they have provided you with. Whenever anything gets hard, it is important remind yourself that it will get better, because you don’t know what is around the corner. There is yet another cheesy quote that couldn’t speak more truth. It goes: Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. For this reason, see difficult times as a chance to develop and build yourself. You never know what is the other side of a difficult time until you get there, so persist because it may be very very bright.
Will never succeed if you do.
Whilst some peoples lives may look perfect from the outside, like nothing bad ever happens, it’s just not true. Nobody has the perfect life, because it doesn’t exist. No successful person ever experienced success without going through difficulty. This is because no route to success is straight forward. Therefore, instead of seeing challenges as something negative, be grateful for them, because they are helping you get where you want to go, more than you even realise. Challenges are part of the process to success.
Know your worth.
Ultimately, we only give up on things in life because we do not think we are good enough to get through them. However, we are as good as we tell ourselves. There is no reason to believe that we aren’t good enough to succeed, therefore there is no concrete reason as to why we should give up. Just like the previous point mentioned, if you give up, you will never succeed, therefore you will never know just how good you could be. Keep going for yourself.
Finally, a lot of satisfaction comes from not giving up. Whatever happens, and whatever the outcome, you will know that you gave your all. This brings an incredible feeling, because you will never look back and think ‘what IF’. You can be proud that no matter what you persisted and did all you could. If anything, be proud of the effort you put in.
If you ever feel lost for motivation as to why you should keep going when times get tough, I hope this helps remind you.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!