As sports go, running is one of the most accessible sports there is. All you need is a decent pair of trainers and you are ready to go, wherever you are. Whether you are thinking of starting running, or you’ve been running for a while, here are 5 important messages you need to know about the sport.
It’s not easy, but it’s not meant to be.
Running is hard. There is no denying or avoiding that. Don’t get me wrong, once you get to a certain level of fitness, you can go for an easy run and keep it feeling easy, but for as long as you are looking to improve, it will never become easy, but this is the way it is meant to be. As soon as you accept this, you stop waiting for the moment it will become easier, and you start embracing the challenge it poses. You stop looking elsewhere and hoping it can be as easy for you as it is for someone else, as that will never happen. Running offers us the chance to show up constantly, no matter how we’re feeling, and take a step forward in life, but it won’t come easily.
You will have ups and downs.
Running is like a rollercoaster. Its unpredictable; you never know if you’re going to go up or down and the direction is constantly changing. You can never predict how things might unfold but this is also what keeps you coming back. No matter how many bad days you have, the good ones WILL come and the hard work WILL pay off. This is what keeps us coming back day on day, because even if luck hasn’t been going your way, it will, and even just one good day is enough yo boost you to the next one.
You will experience a happiness like no other.
For me personally, running has brought a lot of heartbreak into my life, but it has also been the source of some of my happiest moments. There is nothing quite like the joy and contentment I feel when out running on a beautiful day. It doesn’t need to be with others, or a run that is of any significance, but moving my body outside in nature, creates such a buzz that I cannot explain fully until you have experienced it. Some of the most enjoyable runs I have done have been on a random weekday at a random time.
You won’t want to stop.
One thing I can hand on heart say, is, once you get the running bug, you can’t get rid of it and you won’t want to stop. Of course, some days will test you, but the satisfaction and enjoyment it brings will keep you coming back for more. Once you embrace the sport, you realise how it can so easily be part of your lifestyle. It is a sport you can take with you anywhere, bond with people over, and one that will make you feel positive about yourself.
You won’t regret a single run.
The incredible thing about running is that you never regret doing it. I have never been on a run and regretted doing so. Even if it was perhaps one run too many and caused an injury, or wasn’t the best thing for my health, I still don’t regret the run. Every time you slip those trainers on and head out the door for however long it might be, you are transported somewhere else. You can escape whatever is going on in your life and clear the mind for free. I am frequently asked what I think about when I’m running, and honestly, I don’t think anything, but I love this. Running completely clears my head and allows me to return in a more rational state, able to tackle whatever challenges may come my way, and I am confident it will do this to you too.
Having read this blog, I hope you feel the urge to take up running if you haven’t already, or if you already run, you remember, it will be a journey of highs and lows, but you will never wish it away
No injury, no matter who you are or what you do, is easy to deal with. It poses different challenges for everyone, but one of the hardest is not being able to do what you love. There is no easy solution to coping with it, but here are 5 tips to make this difficult time slightly more manageable to navigate.
Focus on what you CAN do.
When finding out you are injured, it is very easy to focus on what you can’t do. You are usually told, you can’t run, you can’t weight bare, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t. Therefore your brain focuses on these things, which you probably love doing, and consequently drives your mood down. However, this isn’t very conducive to maintaining a positive outlook at a time when it is helpful to. I therefore switch my focus to what I CAN do. Initially, this may not be very much, but there is always something. Perhaps you can still do a little bit of core, or you can do some non-weight bearing yoga. If your injury allows, you may be able to get in the pool, whether that’s to swim or aqua jog, but be very cautious in the initial stages as you don’t want to hinder the recovery process. Focusing on these few things allows you to recognise that your injury hasn’t taken everything away from you, making you feel a bit more positive.
Allow yourself to wallow, then move on.
We should all be able to feel however we feel when we get injured. In fact, we need to allow ourselves to experience our true emotions in order to process what has happened. If we constantly force our true feelings out of the way, they will not disappear, just linger under the surface and erupt at some point. Therefore it you want to cry, cry, if you want to be grumpy, be grumpy, whatever way you want to feel, allow yourself to go through the emotions. However, know when to draw a line. We cannot hold on to the past forever, therefore we need to stop and look forward at the journey in a more positive light. Even if you do not feel ready to move on, encouraging yourself to do so allows you set a more positive tone. This will also encourage you to see there are brighter times ahead and all is not lost. In fact, this new path may lead you somewhere better than expected.
Learn from it.
Injury, in all shapes and forms, is a learning curve. I believe, everything happens for a reason, therefore, there is always something to take away from injury and improve upon. Instead of getting frustrated by it, I try to learn from it. I look at what I could have done differently and try to understand what might have caused it. I can then put new changes into motion, even before I can get back to training, so I am actively doing what I can to reduce my risk of getting injured again. There may not be something obvious that jumps out at you as the cause, so look for those multiple little factors that could all have played a small part and start learning from your mistakes.
Talk about it.
I personally find talking about what I am going through to be incredibly therapeutic. When I keep my thoughts in my head, it is very easy for my brain to catastrophise and run away with itself. Therefore, letting it out allows me to rationalise those thoughts, but also to just free some space in my brain. If you find it helpful to speak to your family, use them as sounding boards, but also don’t be shy about speaking to others. Sometimes family members don’t quite understand what you are going through, simply because they are not interested in sport, or running specifically. Find others who can understand how you feel and chat to them, as this will allow you to see all your thoughts are completely justified and remind you that you are not alone. There are plenty of people who have been through injuries. Almost every athlete has been injured at some point, so take comfort from their experiences.
Find joy in other things.
Whilst injury sucks in a lot of respects, it does also have an upside to it. This being, it gives you extra time to give to other aspects of your life. Injury (hopefully) doesn’t come around very often, so make the most of this spare time whilst you have it. You may have another hobby that you are not usually able to dedicate much time to, such as painting, reading, writing, or exploring. Perhaps there are some friends who you have not been able to see as much as you would have liked. Use this time to visit them or go out for meals with them. You don’t need to torture yourself by sitting in silence dwelling that you are not able to do your sport, it is ok to enjoy yourself at this time, because it won’t last forever!
If you are currently injured or returning to running after one, I hope these points help make your injury a little bit more manageable. Remember, this time will pass.
At times, the gym can be a daunting place. Maybe you’re not too sure what you’re doing when you get there or you just feel slightly out of your comfort zone. However, the gym really is for everyone and every BODY. It is a safe place if you make it one.
Here are six things I employ in order to feel my most confident self in the gym.
Before you get to the gym, plan what you are going to do. Write it in notes on your phone, or on a piece of paper so you won’t forget. This helps avoid drifting. I find myself feeling much more confident in the gym when I know exactly what I’ve got to do. This way I’m not left wondering what is next.
Get to know the gym.
If it’s a gym that is new to you, get to know it before you begin your workout. Take a walk around and see where everything/what is there. This way you’ll know exactly where to head for each exercise, but also, if anything is missing you can make some adaptations/changes whilst warming up.
Give yourself time.
Don’t rush yourself whilst you’re there and make sure you have allotted plenty of time to get your session done. I find this helps prevent me from rushing, so I can make the most of the workout, but it also means I have allowed time to find out where everything is. If you have lots of different exercises, you may have to wait for certain equipment to become available, so factor in extra time for this.
Dress for you.
Whenever I go to the gym I want to feel confident but also comfortable. Therefore, dressing correctly for me is so important. Some people prefer tight fitting clothing so there is less to get in the way, whereas others prefer loose fitting clothing as it’s more comfortable for them. I personally prefer tighter clothing so it doesn’t distract me or make me overheat! The number one priority is that whatever you’re wearing, you feel confident in it!
For me, headphones are a must at the gym. Less so for the entertainment, and more for the vibe they give off. Don’t get me wrong, having the right tunes pumping gets me in the mood for the gym, but it also allows me to get in my zone and shut off from everybody else. Headphones essentially act as a metaphor for ‘don’t talk to me’. It also helps prevent people chatting to you when you don’t want them to.
*remember to charge them, as I have made this mistake many many times.
Most importantly, remember, you belong there! The gym is for every BODY, so go workout and embrace it. People are only looking at you as much as you think they are. In reality, everyone is more focused on their own session ahead, and they do not care what you are doing or what you look like. The gym can be a safe place for everyone, just be confident in what you’re doing by employing the tips above.
It has now been 7 months since my injury and 3 months since the return to running began. The first run involved 3x1 minute running with 9 minutes walking and by Christmas Eve I had progressed to a continuous easy 3 miles. I then did my first session 2 weeks into the new year and have been gradually building since then.
So, where am I now running wise?
*it is important to know this is only a rough guide and is personal to me. Depending on how I feel, it can be pulled back and changed. It is also set by my coach James Thie who has lots of experience in coaching and has come to know how my body responds to training. It is however 100% down to me to listen to how my body feels.
Monday- Progression run
Mondays have always been one of my favourite training days. Most people dread a Monday, but I see it as a clean slate and the day I decide to be the best, most sensible athlete I can be for a new week. Monday’s are also progression day, and I love a progression.
Whatever level you are at, progressions are great as they are completely relative. They do vary depending on how I feel, but I can usually suss this out pretty quickly into the run. I start super super easy and gradually increase the pace every kilometre. The amount I increase it by depends on how I feel that day, but it usually takes care of itself as I discover how the legs and body feel. It is important I start extremely conservatively, as I want to be sure that each kilometre will be faster than the previous one. You can also vary the length of the progression depending on what you are training for/how your tiredness levels feel that day.
Tuesday- Session day!
Tuesday is always a session day, and currently, this usually takes shape of a fartlek session. Fartlek is a training method that includes variations of speed and intensity. The reps and recoveries can be of any length, and this usually dictates the intensity. For example, I have done sessions of 5 minutes/4/3/2/1/3/2/1, with the following rep as recovery. The 5 minutes is a much more controlled pace that you can sustain, whereas the 1 minute, is all about pushing the pace. These are again great for athletes of all abilities, as the pace is completely relative, you just have to be able to sustain the pace for the rep length.
Wednesday- cross training and gym.
I personally respond quite well to cross training. It is an essential part of my training to help keep me fit, but it also reduces the amount of stress my body is exposed to. Following a session the day before, which is quite stressful on the body, it allows my body to recover without continuing to put a high level of impact through it. This is essential post injury, but also at all times of training to help prevent injuries.
Thursday- Easy/Steady run
This is also a very flexible day that completely depends on how my body feels. If I’m feeling tired, I will stay on the easy side, but if I’m feeling quite fresh, it can be more of a steady pace. It will however not be faster than steady, as the next day is a session day so I need the body feeling good tomorrow.
For the those who aren’t sure what a steady pace is, it is faster than easy, but it still feels comfortable. It lies between easy and tempo, but is very much dictated by feel. As you can probably tell by now, my training is very much guided by feel, which is important to ensuring I listen and respond to my body to get the best out of it on that day.
Friday- session day two!
Fridays are a good day because it’s the second session of the week, which means it’s another opportunity to get the legs moving.
Currently Fridays are usually tempo based. This may be in the form of a continuous tempo or intervals involving a mixture of tempo and other paces. Tempo is a controlled hard effort that can be held for an extended period of time. You want to feel like the body is working, but you could keep that pace comfortably going for a longer time.
Saturday- Complete rest or cross training.
Saturday has a similar explanation to a Wednesday, except it is consistently a rest day. Rest is essential to recovery, but also to keep the body in one piece. Rest days are therefore a non-negotiable. Therefore, even if I feel great, I will still have one. They only vary in the respect, if I feel I need to have an extra one because I’m very tired, this is always an option. However, not having one is NOT an option. This is something I am very strict on ensuring I do post-injury.
Sunday- Easy long run
My long run has been very slowly progressing week on week since my injury. I have currently been sat at 65 minutes for a couple of weeks. I do my runs/long runs off time as opposed to distance. I have always done this and I find it more relaxing on the brain. This is because however I am feeling, I will always have the same amount of time on my feet. If I feel tired, I can go slow and know that I will still be on my feet for the same amount of time, as opposed to longer because it takes more time to complete the distance. This is however completely personal preference.
In addition to running, my week involves a lot of other things, such as recovery methods, fuelling, S&C and cross training activities, but I will do another blog to explore these. There is a lot more to a runners life than just running.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!