WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN A HIPPY, ROOKIE RUNNER DOES A HALF MARATHON?
This is no joke! With less than a month before my half marathon, I’m TRYING to do one thing and one thing alone – remain positive. I’m nowhere near as ready as I was compared to my first experience of running 13 miles but at this final stage of training, my principle aim is NOT. TO. DROP. OUT.
Did that intro sound determined and gutsy? Good! I hope so, ’cause between you and me, I’m shitting it!
Let’s quickly rewind to September 2016 and a warm summers day at Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, Surrey. The Surrey Bacchus Half Marathon was my first attempt at anything long distance. Not only was I amazed that I completed the all-terrain course in just under 2.5 hours, I was even more amazed at the runners who partook in the wine tasting experience that’s dotted along the course, too!!! HEROES! *hic
With three months of solid training behind me – which began with 5-10 minute rookie jogs in the park then built up to longer stretches – even though I was still cacking it back then, I felt totally ready. Mentally.
As someone who has never been to a gym before (ever!) it was never my intention to start running to ‘get fit’.
Like with yoga (the only other exercise I do, albeit not enough of these days) road running, for me, has never been about the physical.
I use it as a means to go deep, to discover and grow.
Sounds all hippy-shit, innit? As a good friend said recently, “The river runs deep with you.” Which is bang on. There’s more to F.T. than fashion ramblings, innit! I’ve blogged about why I started running to stay sane in an attempt to quieten down my whirlwind thoughts and process my life, so perhaps have a gander… You can read more about it here.
Completing my first half marathon was such an achievement and from there, I caught the bug. I am officially a running bore, ha! Are you? If so, comment below. I’d love to geek about this running shizzle more. I find it so fascinating…
I learnt so many valuable lessons from this epic, debut run and right now, as I am on the cusp of another, I’m really trying to not just dig deep and remember the ones that will really see me finish but also the simple things too, that I totally overlooked as a rookie runner.
SO. Are you ready?
That’s OK. Let’s recap!
DON’T WEAR GELS OR NAIL POLISH
Who knew? I didn’t.
Raving in heels in my youth RUINED my feet. Running is now my raving and while losing your toe nails doesn’t happen to everyone, I actually made the situation worse by pounding the pavements with gels on. Whoops! I hadn’t taken them off from our summer hols, see! BIG MISTAKE! Of which I discovered afterwards when having a post-run pedicure. The poor girl had to practically chisel the stuff off. It had got welded on after all the training and the half-marathon itself. So my advice is clear, avoid gels at all cost and steer clear from all polish too. Treat yourself afterwards.
If you want to still be able to walk the next day, this is vital. Never skip this or you’ll feel like the Tin Man after a sleet storm. I actually really enjoyed this part more than I initially thought. I use it as a time to do a some deep yoga stretches and meditate. I’ve also started using a glucosomine gel for muscles and joints. I rub in Vitabiotics Jointace Gel on the soles of my feet and any other aching parts post-run. Feels insanely good plus the essential oils really uplift.
I feel very thankful after a run. The human body is an amazing thing. Give it the credit it deserves.
NOURISH YOUR SOURCE
I totally ballsed this up the fist time and didn’t eat enough to replenish all those lost calories and started to feel quite unwell, but didn’t put two-and-two together. GAH!
I eat pretty well/normal but wasn’t increasing my portions and occasionally it’s not unheard of for me to skip a meal. At first I thought I had a sick bug as my stomach seemed to feel delicate but bloated. Headaches too and then heart palpitations. The latter very nearly meant I came close to pulling out of the race.
My Dad died of a sudden heart attack, three years, nine months and 22 days ago.
Three months after his passing, the same happened to my Uncle. Both were fit, healthy, non-smokers. My Auntie is on heart tablets as is another Uncle. With this history of heart problems once I went to my GP complaining of palpitations, she put me forward for EVERY cardiology test available.
GOD BLESS OUR NHS, INNIT!
Many tests later, it transpired that I do have a slight arrhythmia (skipped beat) but nothing to cause major concern…
So off I ran (literally). Looking back, I do think that not nourishing my source contributed a lot to the above. So go ahead, stuff your face and ENJOY, ha! I’m also looking into buying some post-workout protein powder too. Let me know if you’ve tried any – I hear that some can taste like crud. I’ve been recommended MyProtein plus I’ve started taking some vitamins too. So far, so good and my knees haven’t given me any bother yet, so I’m going to carry on taking Vitabiotics Jointace Collagen tablets, once a day – they seem to be doing the trick.
Many of my friends CANNOT believe I do this. And I geddit. I used to run to the beat, but then discovered the art of meditative running. (I just made that up!) By not having any distractions other than the thoughts in my head and the world around me, when I go for a run, I go through a mental de-cluttering process as I start to take control of my thoughts.
With the idea that my dominant thoughts become my beliefs, when I go running, I enter a ‘zone’ -usually after 5k- when the real clear out truly begins.
There’s no way I could do this with the distraction of music or a podcast playing. When the main purpose of me running is to exercise my mental well-being, I need to be in the now, my senses need to be alert so I can pay attention to what I can smell, see, hear, touch and taste. By rooting myself in the present, only these observations are encouraged. Anything else; to do with dinner, a blog post an Insta comment etc, gently gets pushed out. It’s so hard to master, but THIS IS WHY I RUN, folks.
Learning to focus my energy on the NOW, not the later on, nor the past is, IMHO, where your true self and source of energy exists.
FOCUS & FORM
Continuing on from the above, when it starts to get painful – I tend to look down a bit. Not stoop, but I’ll avert my eyes to just a few strides ahead because that is all I need to see.
Looking too far ahead when you’re feeling shit will never offer clarity of thought. Not just when it comes to running, in general, innit?! Whether it’s literal or figurative, when there’s a hill to climb you’ve got to focus, look down and you’ll get there, step-by-step! (All together, now “Oooh baby. Gonna get to you gu-u-u-urrrl! Soz! NEWKIDS4EVA!)
And likewise, when I feel in total alignment, I begin to look up and around me and that’s when I offer up my personal affirmations.
This entire process are my most honest thoughts on the benefits I have gained from running and why it has become a total game changer for me. I get so much from it on a mental level, all the physical stuff is just an added bonus.
Finally, let’s discuss form. When I went on a 2hour run today (gulp) a fellow runner pulled up alongside. He was part of a running club and in particular, he helped people improve their form. Upon observing mine he gave me a few tips. (How awesome is the running community?)
OH MY GAWD! It’s totally changed everything! He told me to lean back into my stride which will allow me to lift up my knees a bit more, which not only makes you go faster, it actually makes it easier too. Genius!
To be fair, Mr. Husband has told me this before, but I can’t let him be right on everything, can I?
By no means am I an expert and these are my rookie, hippy views and advice on running. Thank you, as always, for reading. There’s so much more I could chat about, so do comment below if there’s something I missed or if you’re ‘inspired’ to lace up and join me. YAY!
My half-marathon is on the 18th March, so wish me luck! EEK!