I am not a fan of running. I think a lot of people say that, but I really mean it.
I haven’t run for four weeks. My knee is better. I had started telling myself that I didn’t need to do any running training ahead of the Tough Mudder (TM). Because I was avoiding it…
Once again, I think I was measuring my progress wrong. I’d decided that I didn’t have enough time to improve my running enough ahead of the TM. So, in my wisdom, I decided to just not do it??
I wasn’t just going to sit on the sofa for five weeks. I was going to focus on strength training. To help with obstacles and build up my knee a bit. But on what planet, did I think that no running was better than some running?
Well, I came to my senses. I’ve done two runs in the last three days. Nothing big, only two miles each, but they were good miles. My pace is acceptable – for me (9:15 mile). I’d like it to be sub 9, but I can work on that.
So running is back on the menu. I’m going to plan for at least three a week, keeping the mileage comfortable and not trying to break myself.
During tonight’s run, I was thinking about what made it easier for me. What I can do for myself to keep the “I hate running” chant quiet in my head. So I started compiling a list. These are all things that help me, but at least some of them might help you too. Extra bonus – they don’t cost any money, it’s all with things I already have…
This is a big one. I’ve always struggled with breathing when I run, but I think I’ve unlocked some hidden power. The first is the right music – I’ll come to that later. The more fundamental one, is how I focus on my breathing.
When I did INSANITY! I learned many many things from Shaun T. Things like:
They might sound silly, but these things work. And he becomes the voice in your head. The golden nugget that I have (stupidly) only just applied to my running, isn’t a snappy saying. It’s something he says in one of the workouts, I forget which.
Basically, when you feel like you need to get more air, focus on the exhalation, the inhalation will take care of itself.
This means, you try and puff out as much air as you can, and focus on emptying your lungs. While you’re running, you need to do this smoothly and quickly. For me, by focusing on the out breath, it stops me from tensing and stressing about the in breath. This means it is easier to keep my upper body relaxed, it’s easier for me to get to and maintain a rhythm, and it means I can think about other things!
Boom. Nailed it.
The right music really helps. It has to be the right beat, consistent is best. The main quality of the music should be that you like it. Listen to something that makes you happy. Something that makes you want to push harder, go further, faster. Nobody else can hear what you listen to, it doesn’t have to be cool, it is just for you. Make sure you have decent headphones too, you don’t want to have to constantly put buds back in your ear or feel uncomfortable. Those distractions don’t help.
3. Run like nobody is watching
You know how people say that you should dance like nobody’s watching? Same applies to running.
Don’t be self conscious. Don’t care what you look like. Wear what you feel good in and don’t care about the rest.
When I stop thinking about other people, I find it a lot easier to focus on what I’m actually doing. All of my parts start running smoother, because the tension just falls away. I would almost go so far as to say that it is almost enjoyable…well, bits of it maybe!
4. Think gazelle, not rhino…
This is something I really struggle with, it’s sort of related to the previous point. If I don’t want to do something, I can be awkward. I’ll fight it. When I do that with running, I get sloppy and heavy with my feet and legs.
This isn’t good for my morale, and I’m pretty sure it’s not very good for my bones!
So, think springy! Start with your feet and ankles, think about how they feel when you run. The thing I find amazing, is that if I focus on these two things, it makes everything feel a whole lot easier through my knees and hips.
You might be thinking that it’s too much to think about, or that you’ll feel silly. BUT! Don’t forget, you’ve already mastered breathing and rhythm, you now have that bandwidth available. Think about your form and how to make your body move better.
5. Get outside
Seriously. The fresh air and daylight (if possible) is better for your morale than being in the gym. I went through a phase a few years ago of doing treadmill running. Everything looked really good, I was happy with my mileage, I thought I had really made some good progress. Then I went for a run outside. SO MUCH HARDER! Since then, treadmill running just doesn’t do it for me.
I also find the different sights and even smells a really positive distraction. I’m lucky, I get to run on footpaths and bridleways. I get to run in mud, see animals and beautiful sunsets while I run. I have to think about where I’m going to put my feet because the puddles are bigger or there’s a giant pile of horse sh…poo on the path I normally run. More good distractions for me.
The more positive distraction I can put in my head, the quieter that “I hate running” chant becomes.
6. Always run up hills
Psychologically, I feel like a total loser if I have to walk up a hill. So, I tell myself I can take a break once I’ve reached the top. This has two benefits;
i) I don’t feel like a total loser – which is always good
ii) I often don’t need to stop to walk on the down hill, cos I can just open up and take a rest on the way down, using a slightly more relaxed stride
I actually think hills are my favourite. I find running on flat quite dull, it’s when I’m most likely to walk.
7. Use a foam roller
My foam roller has changed my life! I only use it on my legs and bum. Those are the areas that hurt the most when I train, so they are the ones I tend to go easy on, which means they keep hurting…it’s a stupid cycle.
Since I bought my foam roller – and since I actually started using it – my recovery time is waaaaaaaay quicker.
I was sceptical at first. I didn’t think it would make any difference at all. But if it doesn’t completely remove any aches I expect to have, it certainly makes them last for a shorter period.
I bought mine on Amazon, and there are some really great videos on YouTube showing you how to use them…
I think these are just my first 7 reasons. I’ll probably come up with another set the next time I go for a run!