Time to pick it up!

It’s been a strange time hasn’t it!

Races cancelled or delayed, goals shifting, social distancing, no ParkRun, exercise limitations and the list goes on and that’s even before we start talking about pay cuts, furloughs and so on. If you add to that a new baby in the house, which, don’t get me wrong, is wonderful, but oh my, it’s difficult to keep running with the combination of being demotivated, working harder for less while getting slowly more and more tired every day from broken sleep.

Now though, now, it is time to start picking things back up, stop, well, let’s say reduce the alcohol and focus on improving my health. Now, I’m not a fast runner and never have been, never will be, I’m a big bloke, not built for speed! But, I am determined when I decide to do something, this particular something being to run an ultra, specifically, The Race to the Stones which has been delayed to next year. I won’t complete it fast, but I will complete it, so in order to do that I now need to start upping my weekly mileage which has recently been less than 20 miles a week every week.

My running over the last few weeks has been a challenge, I used to get up early, follow my plan and get it done but the passed few weeks, I wake up tired and demotivated then go back to sleep more often than I should, sometimes I get out but because I overslept I only have time for a short run. This past week, I have made the decision to start making time for my running again, if I get up early, I will run in the morning, if not, I will use my lunch break to run, even if for a shorter time, either way, I will run, I will increase my resilience. So this week, I have run every day, even when I did not feel like it, even when my legs were hurting, even when I wasn’t feeling it, so this week is the first time since lockdown that I have run over 20 miles.

That makes me proud.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, just getting out there freeing your mind for some time every day, this is where I’m really starting to find the value. Now I love running, have done for a few years now, but the difference I am finding since lockdown, is that it is definitely helping my state of mind. Here we are, coming out (slowly) from lockdown, we have a young baby (our beautiful little girl, bless her) and I have just been promoted at work while I can’t even go there to make an impact and with previously reduced running hours, all things add up to higher than normal stress. I found my reactions to situations have been off balance sometimes, when I reflect on this, I feel worse, but what is interesting is that as I have run more this week, my reactions level back out. This is cause and effect and I love it, it’s simple, relax and exercise, get fresh air, life gets easier.

For anyone who may be struggling, put on a pair of trainers and get out there.

2 social soulless sociopaths bound together in a friendless world

So this post is nothing about 2 social soulless sociopaths bound together in a friendless world, I just heard that phrase recently and it made me laugh, thought maybe it would share a smile!

Today was a rest day so I am feeling fat and heavy, hold on, I am fat and heavy(!), well, more than normal! I have been sat at my computer fathoming out spreadsheets for work all day and cajoling people into doing what they are paid to do, but hey ho, I’m paid too!

The rest day is an odd beast, the night before, I look forward to not having to get up early and going out in the rain. Then I wake up early, get up and look out the window, wanting to run! I then proceed to slouch around all day and hardly move.

Normally I take about 13000 steps a day, on a rest day, it’s more like 3000 steps and I really feel the difference.

Anyway, Just a short note tonight to have a grumble about inactivity, looking forward to my run with a friend in the morning!

My Stryd wind pod says I’m balancing my running stress and recovery and my TrainingPeaks PMC says I’m getting fitter (blue shaded area), in fact, fitter than I have been for over a year now so I will trust the data!

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The Secret to Successful Running

So many people run these days, it’s awesome. I love being out on a run and seeing others out there.

While out running today, I was pondering the ‘secrets of successful running’.

It’s an interesting thing to think about and because my planned run today was 90 minutes long, I decided I would give it some thought.

To me, I am successful as a runner if I enjoy myself and I achieve the goals I have set myself (such as complete a certain run etc) but for others, they might not consider themselves successful unless they achieve a certain time over a set distance. For example, I saw a post on Strava by another runner saying his run was ‘worst ever’ (or words to that effect) and I thought, WOW, if only I could run like that and be dissapointed! Granted, this guy is a lot younger than me so his targets are completely different, but I wondered how that made him feel to have run a distance and to think it was so bad. Did it inspire him to work harder next time or did it make him unhappy. Either way, it’s a shame he sees his running that way don’t you think?

Today I ran a little over 7.6 miles in my 90 minute run, I ran in power zone X for 60 minutes of that, with a 15 minute warm up and 15 minute cool down, an average of 253 watts, which is about right compared to my plan. Great, by that measure todays run was a success!

I also completed my weekly mileage plan, boom!

I matched the training plan (pretty much) with the power bands I was supposed to run in.

Lastly, I enjoyed it!

That, to me was a success every way I looked at it!

So, thinking about the ‘secret to successful running’ I think, the key is to really prioritise what is important to you, accept that you will not always achieve that and when you fail, treat it as learning, it all becomes a win-win then.

Of course the running elite will have different views, that makes sense, I expect they are not running to enjoy themselves (anymore?), they probably run for different reasons, such as money, pride, honour etc, but for the rest of us, maybe cut yourself some slack and learn to enjoy running again. When I was running today, a young boy of maybe 7 years old came racing towards me with his dad in ‘close support’ and I saw the joy on this lads face and remembered my joy of running when I was a kid. I am finding that joy again, less exuberant, sure, but it’s there and I love it. I’ve never been the most athletic, but I certainly used to enjoy running, I remember a kid in my junior school named Ian Butt (yeah, I know!), he was a fast runner and at that time, I thought of him as a good friend. He told me that the secret of running fast was to have your hands flat and pointy then showed me how he cut through the air, sadly, for me, this didn’t work, I didn’t run any faster, but I still loved running! These days, after having a coach support me on my running dynamics, sometimes I think that maybe Ian wasn’t that far off the mark! 

Ultimately, I think that the real secret comes down to you, define your own success measures, set yourself targets and work towards them, enjoy running, when you’re out there, focus outwards and relax. Maybe that sounds a little lame and you were hoping I would give some magical answer, sorry, flat and pointy doesn’t actually work! Set your goals and enjoy it, take all the help you can get (good advice, good kit, good data, great weather if you can!) and give yourself the time.

The secret is simple. Go do it.
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