Posts In: Running

Half marathon blues

March 20, 2016

This Saturday, 26th March, I’m running what is probably the highest-profile race I’ve run yet – the 2016 World Half Marathon Championships.

[Not because I’m a super speedy athlete I might add, but because it happens to be taking place in my home town of Cardiff.]

It’s the first race I’ve run this year, and the first I’ve been involved in since the New York marathon, back in November of 2014. In fact I’ve only really been back running since January this year, having taken a year plus off due to complete and utter exhaustion after the madness that was throwing a marathon training schedule on top of the chaos that happened to be my life at that time. (Not yet read the rest of the blog? The ‘d’ word – divorce.)

Training to this point had been going fairly well – the mileage was creeping up, the long runs getting longer and the speed sessions easier. I was looking at at least a 2h10 which, when you consider my personal best of 1h54 was achieved over two years ago now, was something to be proud of.

Then two weeks ago I picked up a bug. First a spell of dizziness that had me off work for a couple of days and now a cold/cough that has landed on my chest and doesn’t really want to shift.

I ran yesterday for the first time in two weeks – just 2.3 miles, to test the water and stretch the legs – and it was ok but the thought of another 11 on top of that…not good.

And so I find myself sat here this morning faced with a familiar dilemma – with a week to go do I lay off the training and aim for the best possible health for the race or keep at it (albeit more gently) and run the risk of prolonging the illness and being less than well on the day.

The thing is I already know the solution is the former – trust in the training to date, safe in the knowledge that if I ran 13.1 miles a fortnight ago I can do it again in a week’s time. But those demons in my mind are at it again – you’ve let yourself down, you’re underperforming, you can do better, blah blah blah…

I should be long running today – the last one before the race – and instead I’m writing a blog post about not running! Ugh. I’ve learnt a lot since the last time around though – about listening to your body and not blindly sticking to the training schedule, and about letting these negative thoughts come, and then go.

So I’m choosing (trying to choose!) not to get caught up in the negativity today and instead I’m going to take it easy. I’ll be wandering to the farmer’s market (yum!), catching up on some TV (Grey’s, Scandal and Madam Secretary if you’re interested) and working out how I can create some space in this coming week to rest, fuel and mentally prepare for next Saturday. Because that’s the best I can do.

But it’s tough. And if you’re a runner (indeed any athlete) reading this I’m sure it’s a familiar story. Why don’t things ever run smoothly eh?!



New trainer day :)

February 25, 2016
Yoga for Runners (Hatha)

Oh the joys! Of unboxing your brand-new running kicks and taking them out on the road for the very first time.

Never has your run felt so smooth and easy; never have your trainers felt so responsive and springy…. If only the session in question hadn’t been a series of 200m sprints!

[If you’re interested 4 x 200m with 30 seconds rest, followed by a 3 min rest and then a further 3 sets of the same, with coaching from an actual Olympic sprinter! My legs felt good throughout but my lungs….another question altogether, thanks asthma.]

I’ve opted for a pair of Brooks Ravenna this time around, a change from my previous Asics Cumulus and hopefully a little lighter and faster. Not that I’d ever talk down the trusty Asics, after all they took me through the New York marathon (of which pics below!), but with my toes just about to break through the mesh uppers it’s time for a change.

It’s a bit of a faff really trainer shopping – there are so many choices and so much scope for it to go wrong. Fingers crossed I’ve picked well though – time, of course, will tell!

What do you run in? Drop me a line and let me know…

Though in the past I’ve known some (not all) yoga teachers to frown at the idea of their students also being runners (shortened hamstrings, busy mind, overly goal-oriented) I’ve always found the two to be pretty complementary (for many of the same reasons!).

And I know I’m not alone. I see more and more runners from my club trying out yoga, and only this morning received a yoga for runners email from renowned running coach Greg Mcmillan. Setting up yoga classes specifically for runners has been a part of my plan from the start, but it’s good to know there’s seemingly a growing demand out there!

And why wouldn’t there be? When yoga supports your running ability by helping develop a strong upper body, lengthened and strengthened leg muscles, flexibility in the hips, a rock solid core, improved posture, a greater lung capacity and a stronger, more conscious and more resilient mind.

For me, running is what gets the blood pumping around my body, with the wind in my hair and the ground beneath my feet (I’m an outdoor runner, no gym bunny here!).

It puts me in touch with nature but at the same time connects me to myself. Allows me time to escape the world (see Introvert and proud) but also provides a social scene that I love. I solve many a problem, emotional and practical, out on a run and I feel cooped up and constrained when I’m not able to get out.

But yoga. Yoga is equally important. It calms my frantic mind and grounds me. It teaches me compassion, patience and persistence. It reminds me of the importance/relevance of what you put out into the world and (namaste) that there is the same light in all of us – something we would all do well to remember.

Both give me a lightness of mind. And yes, both keep me strong, and in shape. But, and here’s the crux, the consistent practice of both together gives me a strength, flexibility, fitness and lightness of mind that previously felt out of reach.

Yoga by itself didn’t provide the aerobic fitness and exposure to the fresh air that helps me feel alive. And running, by itself, left me regularly injured from sore, overtight and overworked muscles (even with an appropriate training schedule).

Yoga, without the running, can leave me overly dependent on myself. But running without the yoga, sees me hampered by a mind that repeatedly lets me down with negative self-talk and ‘you are not capable’ messages.

I never set out to do one for the other, rather it’s a happy coincidence that I have grown to enjoy them in equal measures (and that the results of one seem to enhance the results of the other). So I choose to do both. Because I love both.

If you feel so inclined I’d say give it a go. And if you’re already a runner and you’re not practicing yoga? I’d say you’re absolutely missing out!

…and breathe

January 6, 2016

I was supposed to run tonight. But I haven’t and, do you know what? That’s ok.

In previous times I’d have seen this as failure. As ‘copping out’. And I’d have berated myself all evening for it too, with relentless negative self-talk about how lazy, fat, useless and uncommitted I was. But today I recognise my decisions as a positive choice.

I didn’t sleep well last night and my body is tired. I’d have labelled that an excuse before but it’s not. My body has said ‘stop’ and I’ve listened.

I’ve come home, cooked a beautiful roasted tomato and red pepper soup (thanks Deliciously Ella!), had a bath, chatted to both a friend of mine and my Mum and just…decompressed.

After all, I did 8.5miles last week. And 3miles already this week. Plus daily yoga camp. And my usual yoga classes. That’s hardly the schedule of an inactive, lazy person now is it?!

So self-love. Rock it.

And don’t underestimate it.

Being able to listen to myself and my needs without judgement is a huge learning for me. My other half says I’m the least judgemental person he knows but the truth is I’ve always been pretty good at judging myself. Something I’m making a concerted effort to give up.


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