My essential items for summer training.
As a nation we aren't often ready for when the hot weather hits. It can come as a bit of a surprise as no matter how frequently we are warned of the hot temperatures to come, somehow it isn't until it arrives that we actually prepare for it. As the years go on and our hot summer days seem to get hotter and hotter, I try to do my best to cope with the hot weather. Here are a few items that might help you when the hot weather pounces
1. An insulating water bottle
Something I have learnt as the hot weather has been intensifying is the need for a good water bottle. By this I mean a water bottle that actually keeps your water cold. It can be hard when you have a track session to place your bottle in just the right place so it doesn't get heated by the sun, and you can get to it during your recovery. But, with an insulating water bottle, your water will no longer be cold. These water bottles can be left in the sun and keep your water cool for up to 24 hours. This way you can ensure you will be able to take a refreshing sip of water in the middle of your very hot and sweaty session.
2. A hat
As runners we are often caught in direct sunlight with nowhere to hide on a run. It can be easy to forget, but our heads are taking the brunt of the suns power. as it is always looking at it. I have found a few times, I have got back from a run and an hour or so later I feel a bit dizzy and nauseous. This I found out was due to getting too much sun to my head on my runs. Having a decent hat can allow you to protect the top of your head and it also provides a little bit of shade. If you are extra cool, you can ever wear it back to front to keep the sun off your neck! ;)
3. Sun cream!!
One of the most important things to remember for the hot weather that won’t necessarily cool you down but will help protect your skin is sun cream. The hot weather may only be temporary, but skin damage from the sun can last forever. I personally find the transparent sun cream is nicer on your skin and feels a lot less greasy when you are having to put your running clothes on over the top. It also takes a lot less time for it to sink in and for you to forget you even had to put sun cream on!!
4. Get kitted out!
Finally, something I find very important for the hot weather is having the right clothing. A good pair of shorts that don’t rub around your thighs or waist when you get hot and sweaty is essential. There is nothing worse than chaffing from your running kit, so invest in some good shorts to get you through the summer! A good crop top is also a must! Whilst for you men reading this, a crop top may not be quite as essential (no assumptions being made!) for me it is a must! I like a sports bra that doesn’t rub around my chest and is also made of a soft, light material. I love running in the Mizuno Alpha sports bra as it is made of an extremely comfortable material and also has a nifty pocket on the side for your car or house key! Last but not least, get yourself a good few pair of socks! In the hot weather our fit can get rather smelly in our trainers. Opt for a good quality pair of socks that don’t make your feet too hot, nor make them too smelly, or you’ll find everyone avoiding you after your run!
I hope you find these few items helpful to getting you through the current hot weather training and racing we are going through!
It can be good, and it can be bad, but what’s important is we don’t put too much of it on ourselves. Pressure can come from others and from yourself, but personally the pressure that gets to me the most, is that which is self-inflicted.
A little bit of pressure can be good.
Pressure can be very beneficial to performance, if we deal with it well. Sometimes putting a little bit of pressure on yourself, or having others put pressure on you, can push you into performing well. If we feel as though others are watching how we do or expecting something in particular, we are driven to deliver. A lot of the time this comes from the benefit of nerves. I find, if I feel nervous before a race I tend to race better. As soon as the start gun goes, my nerves disappear and are released into the race. Nerves tend to amount from the pressure I put on myself. This is good pressure. This is the pressure of me wanting to do the training I have done justice, and reflect this in a good race.
Too much of a good thing.
However, this isn’t to say that pressure always works to our benefit. I am definitely guilty of putting too much pressure on myself. At times I expect way too much and expect things that are not possible at this current time. I can become so preoccupied with where I want to be, rather than where I am, that I forget to enjoy the here and the now, and put pressure on myself to be better than is realistically achievable. This is when, for me, pressure gets the better of me. If I expect too much of myself, I am constantly disappointed. Not because I won’t ever achieve what I want, but because I expect too much from myself currently at times.
I race my best and get the race performances I deserve when I am nervous but excited to race, and this is when I don’t put too much pressure on the race or myself. Whislt it can be easier said than done, we need to remember the enjoyment we get from this sport, and how the downs and difficult parts of our journey’s are the most important parts. If we always lived up to the expectations and pressures we put on ourselves, we wouldn’t enjoy the rewards as much as we do when they eventually come.
So, how do you deal with pressure, and does it work for or against you?
What a night; my Night of 10,000 PB’s adventure.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking, lots of people have said it, it’s a lot of laps. However, going in to it, the laps were the least daunting aspect of the event. As someone who spends a lot of time doing hundreds of laps of the deep end of a swimming pool whilst aqua jogging, 25 laps of a track didn’t seem all that bad.
The most daunting aspect of the 10,000 to me was the pacing. As someone who easily gets carried away and often goes out too hard, especially on the track, I was worried about doing exactly that. I knew if I went out hard 25 laps would in fact seem extremely long and painful. I had countless chats with my boyfriend, telling me not to go out too hard, and to be sensible. Sensible is not something I am used to being. But, I didn’t want to suffer a very painful final 5k, so was determined not to go out too hard. As the race gun went, I tried my hardest not to let the adrenaline get to me too much, but after the first lap, I heard my boyfriend shout, ‘Hannah, be sensible’. I guessed that meant I wasn’t doing as I was told. After that I eased into my pace, I managed to stay pretty consistent for the rest of the race.
For anyone looking to do a 10,000 on the track, my first bit of advice would be, make it a good race! I was very lucky to be able to do a race with such an incredible atmosphere. The buzz, excitement, and most importantly, the support of the Night of the 10,000 PB’s made every second of the race enjoyable. Having support the entire length of the race, at every side of the track, was enough motivation for anyone. I have never done a race with the same number of spectators as that, and it was incredible! Look for a 10,000 with plenty of support, you will need it to get you round and make it as enjoyable as it can be.
As I said, the number of laps wasn’t something I was worried about, however, during the race it definitely seemed a lot of laps. As someone who doesn’t tend to look at their time, having the clock at every corner of the track was something I wasn’t used to seeing. I told myself not to look at the lap counter, but it was pretty hard not to. The first 10 laps flew by, it went so much faster than I thought, but the middle 10 definitely seemed to drag. It was then that the support of the crowd really kicked in. It was their cheering and shouting that made sure your motivation didn’t flounder. Once the final 5 laps arrived, it flew by once again. It was those final 5 laps, where you had to dig deep and push.
So, in reflection, how did I feel it went?
Overall, I loved it. I achieved the most important thing in that race, and that was to enjoy it. There wasn’t a single moment through the entire 25 laps that I wasn’t loving what I was doing. And that to me, is better than any result. Whilst I was pleased with where I placed amongst the field, the time wasn’t quite what I was aiming for. However, I wanted to finish the race strong, rather than over doing it and failing to hang on for the remainder of the race. Next time, I would try to stick with the pace I was aiming for, as now having done my first 10,000, I feel I could run the time I wanted, and I know what the distance feels like on the track for next time.
It was such a great experience, and something I have learnt a lot of lessons from. So, on to the next race.
Relaxing and letting go is something I tend to find very difficult. I am a sucker for routine, addicted to time schedules, and love to be organised. It is very rare I enter into a day without knowing exactly what I am going to do, and when. For my lifestyle, where my days can be quite busy fitting in work, training, and university work, I need to be organised, otherwise everything wouldn’t get done. But I don’t always need a schedule to run my day, at times I can let go and go with the flow, this is on holiday. Whilst I know I can let go on holiday, it is something I still struggle to do.
Last week I went away with my mum. Just the two of us and the dogs. From the get go she told me that all my training would be done each day, but she wanted me to relax about it. She wanted me to lie in, wake up whenever, train whenever, and not be governed by a schedule. She said it’s basically a training camp without the time schedules. I must admit I found this very hard. Without her constantly reminding me we had nothing to do and I could train whenever, I probably would’ve stuck to my usual daily schedule. I am naturally an early bird, and my lie in is 6:45am, but knowing I could have a slightly slower morning before starting my training was refreshing.
It is good for all of us to learn to let go at times. Sticking to the same strict routine day in, day out, becoming consumed by time schedules and routines can be exhausting without even realising. Especially when training is near enough non-stop all year round, you forget to shut off at times and get stuck in your daily routine. Sometimes all you need is to slightly change how you do things and when you do training in order to refresh your mind and prove to yourself you can be more relaxed about training and still get it all done.
Whilst throwing away the strict daily routine may seem daunting, and not necessarily enjoyable at first, it was very beneficial for me to do this. It made me completely switch off and relax, for a week. Whilst I enjoyed it for a week and I needed it, I was very happy going back to my daily routine. Letting go did me the power of good, and I have now returned home feeling refreshed and ready to go again.
Sometimes we just need to switch off, and I needed this. It can be important to learn to let go off the control we have over our everyday lives and chill. It is important to take advantage of the down time we get, as it doesn’t come all that often.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!