Happy new year everyone!
Like many people I like to do a bit of reflection at this time of year on the year past and my hopes for the year to come.
I haven’t really formed a plan for next year yet, but I have some thoughts about running and fitness.
What worked for me in 2015?
Taking the stairs! Having acquired a fit bit one mid year, I became aware of how many steps I did (didn’t!) take in a day, and how many flights of stairs I climbed. I decided to meet my target by taking the stairs to my office on the 5th floor at least once per day. Of course it was difficult at first but now I can get to my floor without stopping, so it’s been good for fitness, but did you know that stair climbing uses your gluteal muscles? If like me your daily activity involves a lot of driving or sitting at a desk, your ‘ glutes’ don’t get a lot of action and can become quite weak, but they are essential for good running form. If they are weak then you use your hamstrings more and this can affect your pelvis and lower back. I don’t think that it is just coincidence that since I started to take the stairs my back pain has improved and my running too.
Counting my steps when I run. If you aren’t a natural born runner it can be difficult just to keep going when you are out for a run. For me it’s like I have a pacemaker in my body that is set to ‘walk’ and the minute my mind wanders I find that I have in fact slowed to a walk no matter how healthy my legs or lungs feel. So I started to make every step count, by counting them! Groups of 8 steps, 10, 12 or 20 sets depending how I’m feeling, one set for every finger, once or twice around the hands. It just helped to keep me going and after a few weeks I think that I did manage to rest my ‘pacemaker’ such that I can manage to jog along a bit better now.
Wearing flat shoes. I started this because I thought that it would help my back pain, and also that it would be easier to take the stairs. Whether it’s the stairs or the shoes, something has worked because I used to wake up every day with a stiff back, bad enough to have to roll out of bed sideways and bend my knees to stand up! That has improved so much over Autumn.
No added sugar. At the beginning of November I gave up sugar in coffee and anything that obviously had added refined sugar, so cakes, sweets, biscuits and chocolate. I allowed myself to eat anything else. Miraculously I lost 4lb in a month without feeling hungry and apparently without effort. I felt good on it too, my running seemed to go well in November! I had a break from this over Christmas and have gained 1-2lb so I’m keen to get back to sugar free for the new year.
Returning to running after my ‘break’ from my healthy lifestyle hasn’t been easy – my legs seem to have lost that ‘spring’ I had noticed at the end of November. My brain seems to have lost its focus. It took me 90 minutes to do 6.5 miles and it was a struggle – do I really believe that I can do a marathon in May?
Because I have been struggling I’ve done pretty much what you shouldn’t – running every day over the weekend to try to ‘catch up’.
Now that I’m back on the sofa the marathon doesn’t seem so bad or so unlikely, I still have 5 months to go and the worst of the dark days are past, and hopefully the weather too. ( I’m lying about the weather, Jan and Feb are usually really cold and wet!) However I think it’s my head that is letting me down not my legs or lungs. There were a lot of negative thoughts slowing me down.
To be honest I feel a bit apprehensive about the long runs. I don’t think that it’s any coincidence that my first break from the plan coincided with the first 8 miler (and a trip to the US), then after building back up again I still feel a sense of trepidation of doing 6 or 8 miles as a regular training run. Why? When I have done them they have been great😀
The problem may be that I’m looking for ‘perfect’conditions for me to get out.
The main condition is open ended time. I know that I will need nearly 2 hours to complete an 8 mile run, and I would like an hour after that to bathe, eat/drink, stretch. If I’m worrying about getting back in time for something else then I procrastinate, trying to decide if I’ve got time, then of course I’ve left it too late and I haven’t got time! I’m already worrying about how long it’s going to take me to do 12, 16, or 20 miles. I’ve been re thinking my training routes, identifying where is lit and reasonably populated for running in the dark. I’m Thinking more about out and back, so that I can get the mileage or the time correct. That way I won’t need to worry about not getting back in time.
There is something to look forwards to in 2016 however, my baby sister is taking up running, so I may soon have a running buddy! She told me at Christmas that she has signed up for a local couch to 5k group. I’m hoping that we can do park run together before long.😊
I hope that you have something to look forwards to in 2016 too!