Running has always been a passion of mine. I’ve run on and off for a few years now, mainly just for fitness reasons. Now I work in an office and sit in the same chair 9-5, I used it as a great excuse to get outdoors and care for my body more.
When 2016 arrived, I decided this was the year to start making plans and achieve the things I want to, a half marathon being one of them. I signed up to The Great Eastern Run, which is our local 13.1 miles in Peterborough, and the training began.
When I first signed up in May, I could comfortably run 5K. I’ve come on leaps and bounds since and learnt when to listen to my body and when to give myself a little push. There have been some days where I’ve scheduled a run, but my body simply doesn’t feel up to it, so I just haven’t gone. It’s better to listen to your body and run great the next day, rather than push yourself and have to take a weeks break.
After 4 months of training I ran my first ever 9 miles last night, completely non stop. I was full of energy until mile 8 and practically a hobbling mess throughout the final mile, but I did it and felt great for it, so I wanted to share a few tips on how I’ve come this far…so far.
– Breathe – Whilst this is pretty obvious, this is absolutely THE most important tip I could give anyone. A lot of people say to me ‘oh I can’t run because I can never get my breathing right’. You have to focus. And when it gets too much on your lungs, stop for a little while and ease off.
While practising yoga I’ve learnt what they call Ujjayi breathing, and honest to god…LEARN IT! I feel like this is something I have recently got the hang of, and it must be impossible to maintain this throughout your whole run, but when you really feel like you need an extra dose of energy or something is causing you pain, really focus on the technique for a few minutes and breathe deep into the area causing you trouble, and you should hopefully to start to feel the discomfort wear off slightly.
– Drink – The longer you run, and depending on what conditions you run in, you are going to sweat. This means your body needs those fluids replacing. Make sure you have a big drink before you go, and one available as soon as you return. If you’re going on a long run and have the option, it would also be beneficial to take sips throughout your run as well.
– Stretch – Your muscles work hard while they run, and that feeling you get in your legs after a few miles, like cramp, that’s your poor muscles! Find some stretches that work for you and really sit deep into them to relieve your muscles, it will only help you in the long run *no pun intended* and assist with feeling not quite so tight the next day.
– Try running without music – This one really is a personal preference, and I know a lot of people who wouldn’t even dream of running without their earphones in, but maybe just trust me on this one? I used to run with music, I’d even have a playlist ready to go with my favourite, up-beat sounds, but it just didn’t work for me. I’d be focusing too much on getting to the end of the song and it would play on my mind, making me concentrate more on the fact that my body felt like it would collapse any minute. Without music, I can listen to what’s around me. I run by a river so you will always hear the beautiful sounds of a bird or the tress in the wind, and you can guarantee there will be a dog walker just waiting to say ‘good evening’ and give you that extra encouragement. (Please note, some may tell you you look knackered – true story.)
These are just four of the things that have really helped me with my training and made a difference in my practise. It is clearly very important that you focus on your diet, get proper running shoes and train sensibly but there are certain things that work well with different people. Long distance running is as much about your mental attitude as it is your fitness, because that’s a long time spend on your own, or with a training parter/group, working your body hard.
Whilst training for the half marathon I am raising money for a foundation called PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Animal cruelty is something very close to my heart and feel like it could do with more attention. If you would like to donate I would of course be very grateful, and you can find my Just Giving page here.
No matter what the outcome of this run, I have put 100% into this and simply hope to make it to the finish line! If you would like anymore guidance or have some tips you want to share that has worked for you, send an email my way!