With times such as these forced upon us, we are all being asked to ‘socially distance’ ourselves from other people. This is such an important thing to practice and we all should be doing it, even if we don’t think we need to. For some people out there it is vital to protecting the future of their lives. It can’t be stressed enough, even though it has been said a lot, but we really do need to stay home to help the world stay safe.
At times of social isolation, we are all being asked to spend more time alone, and less time with others. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to have some form of interaction from the people we live with, but for others they are completely on their own. From personal experience, I know I struggle when being asked to spend a lot of time alone. I have too much time to think about my own thoughts and this can cause me to feel quite down and negative. I have been fortunate enough to be able to move back home to be with my family until all this madness settles down, but this isn’t the case for everyone and there is no denying it can be extremely difficult to cope, but this is ok.
When you feel lonely, and as a consequence negative and down, it is important not to beat yourself up. It is only natural to feel this way. There is nothing wrong with you or your mind, it is how the majority of all humans feel when they spend too much time on their own. We are so used to having lots of human interaction that there is no surprise, when this is cut off, that we struggle. Whilst it is a horrible way to feel, just remember, you are never truly on your own. Here are a few ideas of how you can tackle this difficult time of isolation.
If you are still able to get outside for your daily dose of fresh air, don’t let this opportunity pass you by. It is incredible how much better and clear-headed fresh air can make you feel. Whether you go out for a short walk or a run, this time outside in nature can bring a big boost to your day and really help your mental wellbeing. Just remember, stay at least 2m away from anyone who doesn’t live in your household. If however, you are in complete isolation and can’t get outside, fresh air can still make a huge difference. Open your windows and let the wind blow into your house. Not only will this make your mind feel fresher, it will also make your house feel cleaner. If you have been cooped up inside for a while, you can begin to feel dirty, even if you are extremely clean! The fresh air blowing through your house can help keep the air inside moving so you don’t feel dirty and confined!
Face time your friends/family.
Whilst social media and technology may drive us mad at times, it is truly coming to the fore right now. The ability to check in with friends and relatives without seeing is so valuable. It is important at these times to remain in contact with our loved ones. They may be struggling with this situation just as much as you are, so please do give them a call. FaceTime is also a great device as you can actually see the person you are talking to. Being able to see their face makes it feel as though you have actually interacted with someone during the day. Phoning can feel just as distant as texting at times. Seeing the face of the person on the other end of the line reminds you that you aren’t alone.
If you don’t have the facilities to FaceTime a phone call will still make you feel that little bit less alone!
Set a daily plan.
Setting yourself a plan for the day can help prevent you from drifting through the week feeling lost and without direction. Even without isolation, I do this on a daily basis as it helps give structure to my day. Starting the list with details that you wouldn’t usually write down such as waking up, getting dressed, and eating breakfast can start your day with intent. If you have wanted to watch a particular movie, or you’ve been meaning to tidy your wardrobe for the last few months, or you have some life admin that you keep putting off, write these on the list and tick them off as they get done. This will also help you feel as though you have achieved something in your day. By ticking something off, even if it is just eating breakfast, you’ve been successful at that! This adds some positivity to your day.
Try new things.
When trying new things, there is no saying you have to do anything drastic or radical. This may be down to the meals you make. When working from home, meal times become an important part of the day as they break it up. Be experimental and make things you have never made before. Due to the lack of ingredients in the supermarkets you may have to get creative and try something really outside of your comfort zone, but this can be fun and exciting! Also try making meals that you enjoy and look forward to, so you have something else to brighten your day. You may also have wanted to practice drawing or colouring, or photography, whatever it is, give it a go!
So, if you are struggling with self-isolation and feeling alone, reach out to other people, as you are definitely not alone. You can always contact me if you just want a chat!
At such unprecedented times as these, when your regular training week is thrown off balance, you’re told to socially distance yourself from others and avoid being in groups, it can be difficult to know what to do running wise. As a result, we are all having to resort to running alone, whether you are used to it or not. Solo training is not for everyone, but at such times if you want to continue training, you have to get used to. I am fortunate as I tend to do a lot of my training on my own anyway. Due to this, I have developed ways that ensure I get the job done properly with as much, if not more, enjoyment! Here are a few tips and tricks I employ:
It is important to be disciplined and set yourself a strict time schedule. If you usually do your sessions at 9am or 5pm, don’t change this. Stick to your routine as much as possible. However if you are able to do them in the morning and would rather, do this. Whenever you do it, make sure you stick to the timings you se yourself. Setting yourself a specific time to start your session, will prevent you from continually nudging it backwards, delaying your start time. If you’ve said you are going to start at 9am for example, this is when you have to start. Be strict on yourself.
If solo running is not something that you enjoy or you are used to, try to see the positives that surround it and embrace it. Whilst yes, you may be on your own, there are so many things that are good about it. Learning to run on your own should be embraced as a time to push yourself and your mental strength. If you struggle doing it, tackling it and conquering it, will only make you mentally stronger. You never know when you may find yourself running alone in a race. Therefore, you need to be able to push yourself to your limit without relying on other people to pull you along. Running alone is a time to be treasured.
The other thing to remember in order to keep yourself positive is, if you are distancing yourself and spending more time at home, the chances are you will be spending a lot more time with those in your household, be it family or friends. When you spend the majority of everyday with the same people, you will be grateful for the time on your own, out of the house. You will be desperate to spend some time in the fresh air, on your own, that you probably won’t struggle with the lack of company.
If you do find it difficult to switch off from the struggle of running or doing a session solo, find particular things to focus on at different times of your run or on separate reps. Maybe you find yourself clenching your fists tightly when you run, if so, you could choose to focus on staying relaxed and loosening your hands on one of your reps. You could then focus on your breathing, especially keeping it relaxed and controlled throughout. Whatever it is you feel you need to work on, give yourself time to work on it.
Finally, one of the most important things to do, is tell someone where or when you are going. Even if it is a text to a friend to say ‘I’m just off for a run for 45 minutes’. This way they’ll know when to expect you back and will give you a call if you’ve been longer than they thought. It is more vital you stay safe than get the job done.
Oh, and make sure you wash your hands when you get back. Thoroughly!
Stay healthy, safe, positive, and active when you can.
It can be difficult to know what to eat before training sessions and races. You want something that is light enough to sit well in your stomach but you also want to ensure you are sufficiently fuelled.
The main way to understand what your stomach can tolerate best before working your body hard is through trial and error. You never know unless you try. What one person says works for them may not work for another. We are all individual and we all have different likes and dislikes. I am no nutritionist and there is nothing I can suggest that you should do, but what I can tell you, is what works for me.
When it comes to pre race or session fuelling, timing and organisation can be crucial. You need to be organised so when you leave the house in the morning, you have all the snacks and food you need with you. You also can’t be on your way to the track and throw down a sandwich 10 minutes before you are about to start. This will not bode for a pleasant or comfortable run. This too involves some trial and error, but eventually you will find out what works best for you. I personally leave 1.5 hours between having a light snack and starting the warm up of my session. This tends to take the form of a banana or snack bar. When it comes to racing, I tend to have a larger snack, such as a bagel with almond butter as I know from experience this sits well in my stomach. I will eat this roughly 2.5 hours before my race start time. That works for me, but again we are all different. Some people can eat up to an hour before racing whilst others need at least 4 hours. What sits well in our stomachs is different for everyone, and it takes us all different lengths of time to feel comfortable to run again after eating.
What you eat and when you eat it can also depend on what session or race you are doing. For shorter, sharper events you won't necessarily want to eat the same thing at the same time as you would for a 10km race. Fuelling the right way for you is all part of the journey towards becoming a better and more experienced athlete.
Here are a few light snack and meal ideas that may help you prepare for your upcoming race or session.
Light snack ideas:
There are plenty of food options you can try before racing or training, and there is no one solution suits all. Ultimately, when it comes to fuelling, I find the best thing to do is not overcomplicate it. As long as you are feeling relaxed and leave enough time between eating and running, there are lots of different food options that can work for you. So, if you're trying something new, trial it out on a session before you race and find out your best pre-race/training food options.
Whether it’s in relation to everyday life or running, we all have values that we like to live by and live up to. There are things that we want to achieve and succeed at, but ultimately, we want to live up to our values and do ourselves proud. Our values follow us through every day and different ones come to the fore at different times. When it comes to running, my values are those such as quality, positivity, courage, and strength. I like to employ my values into my day to day life as well as my training. Whether I am on the front line of a race or having my breakfast in the morning, there are different values that I follow.
When standing on the start line, I do want values such as strength, toughness, determination and positivity to be running through my mind. At other times, outside of running, I have different values, such as compassion, thoughtfulness, happiness, and honesty. If I stick to my values and use them to drive my performance, I usually perform better and feel much more satisfied at the end of the race compared to when other goals are on my mind. If I am aiming for a time or to be among certain other athletes, I don’t perform my best, however, if I aim to stay strong and positive throughout the race, I finish feeling as though I have done myself proud. Making myself proud includes adhering to my own values.
For example, in tough sessions and races, I have to stop the negative thoughts that may enter my mind and think, what would Hannah do when being positive and courageous? Well, she would dig deep and keep pushing through the pain her legs are in and she would have the confidence to go with the race and not fear what the outcome may be. This interlinks with the main reason why I run in the first place… enjoyment! The best way to ensure that my thoughts stay positive is through enjoyment. If I am enjoying pushing my body during a session or race, I am positive, and negative thoughts don’t enter into my mind. However, if they do, I try to focus on different aspects of my session and break it up into small, more manageable sections to make it mentally easier.
My training is not about quantity, but instead quality. It has taken me 1.5 years to build up to where I am now, and this still includes no double runs and I still only run 5 days a week. Yes, my training does consist of cross training alongside it, but I no longer have that urge to want to do more. I am able to see that more is not always better and for me… quality is much more important. I am very conscious to stick to the training I have been set and not add extra miles in here and there. Whilst I may occasionally feel I need to, I know what my coach has set is what is best for me, therefore I trust her. I make up most of my mileage in sessions, when quality can be kept high, so I make the most of all the miles I do.
Toughness, or strength, is another one value that I mostly employ in tough sessions or races, however it can also be used in everyday life. This is the value that reminds me I am strong and that my body and mind can do more than I believe. When the going gets difficult, I remind myself of everything I have been through in the past. This makes me realise that a tough session or race really isn’t as scary as I first believed. It helps give me the strength of mind and body I need to be ‘tough’.
The values I employ in running and my everyday life, vary quite considerably. Depending on the situation, there are different beliefs that I follow. If I go through training, racing, and everyday life in line with my values, I feel proud of the person I am. No matter where I finish in a race, if I have raced true to my values, this is the best result I can get. So, what values do you like to live by?
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!