Category Archives: running

5k A Day you say? Oh go on then…!

Standard

One of my favourite 5ks…with my bike-mad big boy as pace maker

Lately I’ve been distracted and drained by negative things. I’ve let everything that winds me up, stresses me out and generally saps my positivity dominate my waking day and my sleepless night. So with the summer holidays just around the corner, I decided I needed to re-focus and re-energise myself with a new happy project to drag me out of the doldrums.

My 100 Happy Days phase phased out after an amazing week in NYC and after Day 48, I stalled. It was almost too tough to top such a steady succession of happy days. That’s not to say I haven’t had a fair few since though! Some particular favourites have included running the Hackney half marathon in a PB time; enjoying the great outdoors and plenty of giggles at Center Parcs; performing live on stage at the 02 Arena with Take That; and watching Federer and Murray on Centre Court at Wimbledon…but I digress (purely to brag!)

So on a quest for a daily endorphin high, and in a bid to get beach-ready, I decided to set myself the goal of running 5k a day in July. This challenge required a certain amount of logistical planning given our family’s weekly routines and limited childcare options. But I reasoned that surely it wouldn’t be that difficult to find half an hour in every day to devote to pavement pounding when I frequently find myself wasting hours of my life Facebook-stalking and Instagramming my lunch.

The first few days felt easy, fun even. My usual running routine is limited to three runs a week; one 5k, one longer pace run (7-8k) and a distance run (10k or more). So not having to run more than 5k at any one time felt a bit like a luxury. I also soon discovered that I could multi-task whilst running short distances. Dog walking can be easily incorporated into daily runs if I plan my route around the local park. My energy-infused puppy then bolts about my legs as I do laps of the playing field panting far harder than he ever does. Childcare can also be managed during short distance runs. By plonking the boys in the playground (with strict instructions not to leave the fenced area), I can run rings around them which is ironic really as they usually do that to me! I’ve yet to work out how to do the ironing and reply to emails whilst running but with a few days left to go to until the end of the month, there’s still time.

In a bid to be sensible and kinder to myself I’ve allowed myself one rest day per week. There have been some days when squeezing in a 5k simply wasn’t going to happen. Last Wednesday for example; after leaving early to drive to Surrey for work, I then had to rush home to walk the dog before legging it to school to watch the Year 3 Folk Dance Festival, whereafter I collected the boys from school, the toddler from nursery and the tea from the pizza aisle in Tesco, before heading straight off to watch an open air performance of Mr Stink as soon Dave walked through the door. When I finally flopped on the the sofa that evening, I’d have rather boiled by own head than gone for a 5k run.

But has it been worth it, this pig headed and fairly pointless goal of mine? To be truthful, I’m not really sure yet. Physically I am exhausted. My body just isn’t used to running every day. My shins are sore, my legs are stiff and I’m fairly sure my muscle fibres are refusing to refuse just to spite me. Some days I’ve run so slowly that when I’ve caught sight of myself in a shop window or car door, I’ve looked like I’m jogging on the spot! And when I’ve reluctantly laced up my trainers simply to stick to my schedule, my NMA (negative mental attitude) has added seconds to my split times. I’ve also noticed how much my diet effects my daily runs. I’ve often used my running routine as a way to legitimise my bad eating habits. Chips for tea or biscuits before bedtime can be justified when I tell myself, it’s ok, I’ll run it off tomorrow (which BTW really isn’t ever the case as a half hour run only ever burns about 300 calories which is barely a bag of crisps!). So this challenge has taught me that I really need to learn more about how to better fuel and condition my body for exercise, instead of using exercise as an excuse to pig out and binge drink.

I’ve also learnt that I run faster first thing. And getting up early to clock my 5k before the kids are awake is hugely satisfying. I can then enjoy the endorphin rush and smile smugly to myself for the rest of the day, happy in the knowledge that I can put on my slippers not my running shoes once the little ones are in bed. Conversely, on those tough and tiring days, the thought of having to do a run when Dave gets home from work is almost as physically painful as the run itself!

So with the figurative finishing line in sight, it’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to going back to my less demanding ‘as and when’ weekly running routine. In fact, I plan to take large chunks of August off as a reward for my efforts this month! Assuming I make it to Friday without injury or apathy, I’ll have run 130 kilometres in one month which is considerably more mileage than I’ve ever achieved before. And maybe my legs do look a teeny bit more sculpted than they did in June, so my beach ready remit has in some small part been addressed. But give me a week in the Med and on the prosecco and I’ll no doubt be back to where I started…but hopefully with a clearer idea of how to chase my thirties with a bit more direction and dignity.

  

Advertisements

Why so weary? 

Standard

My beloved running shoes that literally have my name written all over them but that I’m struggling to get into

I’m in a running rut. This has happened to me before but this time round I’m beginning to panic as I’m signed up to do the Hackney Half Marathon in less than 4 weeks time (and I really don’t want to pull out of my second race of the year….hashtag-sadface).

I blame New York. It’s all New York’s fault. Although we walked our asses off (28,000 steps on one day alone you know!) and I was very happy to take a break from my weekly running regime, I’ve struggled to put my trainers on and my heart into it since we got back. And ordinarily it really wouldn’t matter much as I could ease back into regular running in the same way as I’ve had to ease back into my regular post-holiday routine. But with the Hackney Half hanging over me, and with a handful of my super-fit runner friends preparing for the run themselves, I can’t escape this (largely self-inflicted) pressure to get race-ready. 

As a result, I’ve started philosophising why I run in the first place. I first started regularly ‘jogging’ (as the word ‘running’ is actually a generous and slightly misleading word when it comes to describing my pavement pounding, heavy panting technique) just after baby number 2 was born in 2007. My friend Anya coerced me into entering a 5K with the objective to run the entire race without stopping. We did it, and in addition to the flushed selfies we took afterwards, I have happy memories of that day. Thereafter I aimed a bit higher and entered a 10k the following year and then a half marathon a year or two after that. 

Running helped me to shift the baby bulge. Running gave me the opportunity to listen to interesting audio books or my much neglected collection of trance albums instead of Charlie & Lola stories or the Hokey Kokey. And running afforded me a little bit of status; “Oh, you’re a runner? I like to run too. Signed up to Royal Parks yet? I did that one last year…” Running was always supposed to be fun, and for the large part, it always has been.

So why can’t I snap out of this ‘reluctant-runner’ mindset? This week I’ve started to think up new ways to trick or kick myself into feeling motivated to go running. 

These have included:

  • Eating an entire Cadbury’s Easter egg in one evening – I hoped the guilt will force me into Lycra the next day. But it just made me feel sick! 
  • Buying a new sports bra – the temptation to try out my new kit did prove irresistible, for one run. Thereafter the novelty was lost.
  • Tracking my runs in miles instead of kilometres – going for a 5 mile jog somehow sounded less exhausting than going for an 8k run (it wasn’t!)
  • Finding an audio book to become obsessed with – I’ve been listening to Serial, a 12 part true crime story, in the hopes that my impatience to find out what happens next would motivate me to head out for some headphone-alone-time. But then I started cheating by listening to it on my commute to work and whilst dog walking too. Fail.
So despite my very best psychological efforts, I’m still feeling weary; it’s as if I’ve lost my running mojo. So what’s a girl/wobbly-woman-approaching-40 to do next….? Do I force myself to go the distance (quite literally!) and enter the Hackney Half to enjoy the accompanying sense of achievement and belonging, but knowing all the while that I will under perform and potentially dent my long term confidence? Or do I re-categorise myself as a fun-runner content on running the same routes and routines week in, week out but risk permanently damaging my morale and the chance to ever improve on my PBs? Dilemma!

 

#100happydays – day 40

Standard



Truth be told I’m loosing momentum at this stage of my happy days marathon. Thinking of something new and unique to be happy about every day is turning into a bit of a chore, not least because most days I’m just happy to make it through to bed time! But with some very lovely things to look forward to in the next 60 days, I’m determined to keep calm and blog on, so….

Having noticed how sluggish and slow my runs have been of late (I’m attributing this to my metaphoric uphill climb to turning 40, after which point I’m told it’s all downhill from there on…), I’ve tried to include speed training in my running routine. And today’s 5k was my fastest of 2015 so far. Gotta love those endorphins!