Feeling a bit meh about your progress? I have been recently, especially on the long run front. However – today was a different story, and I think there are a few things that contributed to it.
I realised today that the 24th April really isn’t that far away. 4 weeks on Sunday aka 30 days. And, as off this morning, I hadn’t really had any solid long runs. A crappy 19 and a supposed 19 that was actually a 17 because I got the bus back from Earlsfield because I was just fed up (LOL the benefits of living in London!) There have probably been some OK 15-16s, but nothing really to write home about.
On the plus side, my speed is still sticking around – I had a pretty decent run at the SEAA relays last week at Gravesend, clocking a 6.17 average and hopping my team up a place, which I was quite happy to have done on leg 5, but it was only just shy of 3 miles…nothing major to write home about when you are supposed to be marathon training.
However, back to today – 19.5 miles and I enjoyed pretty much every minute of it. I might not be quite where I want to be as life has VERY much got in the way of training, but today was a perfect mental boost that everything little thing is gonna be alright (singing some Bob Marley here)
So read on for a few tips to help you get your head back in the game, fall in love with running again and, most importantly (well at least for me right now), help you realise that you can achieve your goals…
- Enlist company
My mum had her final long run before Manchester on the plan for today. So we started out together and did the first 5 as a team, before I started to play. My dad also kept popping up on his bike and then we all went for breakfast after. There’s something about taking a chunk of a long run up with other people that makes it SO much more bearable. It distracts you and allows you to relax a bit. Running can be a lonely sport – and the more time you spend with your own thoughts, the more time you put an internal pressure on yourself.
- Take a route away from your usual.
Switch it up! It’s BORING doing the same thing day in day out. I’ve got used to the same routes and it’s making things stale. It was so nice to be doing my long run out of London. I mean, Richmond Park and the Thames path are lovely as far as London goes, but just getting there stresses me out – traffic, people, too much crossing of roads. I was back in the country lanes, with great scenery and the odd hill here and there. Mentally, this allowed me to switch off a bit more and it seemed like less of a chore. Plus I got views like this:
- Do something a bit different.
I changed it up. I knew I wanted to do around 20 miles. I didn’t know what pace, or if I was doing a few at planned marathon pace in the middle. So instead, I did 5 easy with mum, then proceeded to do 1 around 10-15s faster than PMP (so around 7.35ish), then turn back round and go and find her again and do a slow mile. So this times 5. Which took me to 15. And then really, I didn’t have that many miles left to go! I got to 15 without feeling like I had got to 15, and my focus was a mile at a time rather than the whole 20. Yes, a training plan is generally needed, but it’s not the script of life. One deviation won’t ruin your race.
- Have a vague, not an exact plan
My mum had planned a route, I hadn’t. All I knew was where I needed to be for breakfast. My choice to do on/off miles 100% was not in the plan. It started really so that I could keep running with her but then I kept it going. Then I changed my route in my head. And it all worked out OK.Not worrying about the exact second you have to meet per mile takes a heck of a lot off your mind. I mean the downside is, you end up 10 miles from your front door, so do make sure you check a map.
- Don’t be afraid to take a step back.
Around mile 18 I cut into a footpath and there was a fiddly gate. I took a minute or after going through so to regroup and you know what…the world didn’t collapse around me. If you need to walk, stop, breathe, drink, take a week off, take a month off, then do it. It is 100% OK.
- Take the pressure off
I didn’t really think about what I was doing today. There was no “I must run at this pace for this long” And you know what…I ran exactly what I needed to! I ran more by feel than looking at my watch and it was a pleasant surprise. I did far better than I was expecting myself to. So throw caution to the wind, leave the garmin at home, turn the screen to be under your wrist, set yourself certain points to check it – running isn’t all about a numbers game, and you may be shocked by what you can do when you aren’t forcing yourself to do it.
- Don’t panic.
During the faster one miles, I felt like I was out of my depth. Which is ridiculous, I know I can easily hold that pace for a mile. A bit of internal chit chat and a smoother pace helped me get to it. Panicking and trying to push my pace to make up for it just made me out of breath and even more stressed. Same with hills. Embrace them, don’t chase them.
- Pick a nice day.
Unfortunately, not always possible, but today it definitely helped. Spending most of the week slogging away in the cold and when it’s always dark isn’t the most inspiring. Good Friday and a day off couldn’t come at a better time. If the sun is out, drag yourself out – you’ll feel better for it.
- Give yourself time.
Again, one that isn’t always possible, but going for a run when there is no pressure to be back is perfect. You aren’t rushing, therefore your time and distance doesn’t matter. And you’ve got time to stretch, relax and wind down at the end of the run. I HATE constantly checking my watch to make sure I’m going to be back in time to get ready for work. You lose the sense of freedom which is so integral to running.
- Set yourself a fun activity at the end
We went for a family breakfast at our favourite post run cafe. I knew I had something to look forward to and that helped me take my mind off it. It also meant I knew where I was ending up – so I knew exactly how much longer I had to push for. Visualise the end and it makes it a heck of a lot easier to imagine yourself there.
- Remember why you run
Simple as. You wouldn’t be a runner if you didn’t enjoy it in some way shape or form. People fall in and out of love with running on a regular basis and there is a simple way to Make a run happen in the way that helps you reconnect with the reason you love running. This is different for different people – it might be hitting fast 400s, it might be reaching the top of a tough climb, it might be simply feeling the breeze in your hair. You do you. It’s the best way to bring you back to your senses. Take your watch off. Throw caution to the wind. If you need to take a few days off, do it. If you need a few weeks off, do it. Do what it takes to get your head back in the game – running is a one person activity and you’re in charge.
So, anything else? How do you get out of a rut? Any particular workouts that you know will make you feel on top of things?