Archive for the ‘Just running’ Category

MARATHON CHECKLIST FOR FIRST-TIMERS

10
Apr

It’s countdown time, your Facebook page is filled with running posts, injury posts and article upon article about what to do, what not to do, what you should have done, what it’s too late to do now and oh-my-god-you’ve-done-everything-wrong posts. Right? Yeah. ‘S’ok. Anyone who’s run a marathon has been there and heard most of it and I think I’m right in saying that you need to treat the advice in the same way that you treat all the suggestions about how to live your life, how to bring up your child, how to fold your laundry …… blah blah blah! Listen to all of it, nod, respect every viewpoint and then take the bits that are going to be good for YOU and run with them. In this case, literally!

For what it’s worth … here’s my list. Ignore at will or take what’s useful. Whatever you decide will be the right decision for you at this time.

– Whether you’ve done the training or you’re taking the ‘it’ll-be-alright-on-the-night’ approach, too late to dwell on should-haves and could-haves. Focus purely on the day that’s coming and getting yourself from start to finish. Remember – it’s all about the finishing photo!

– Don’t wait till you’re stressed out the day before your race to iron your name on your shirt. Do it a few days before so you have time to resort to Plan B without hysteria!

– You’ve heard it time and again but PLEASE don’t ignore it. NO NEW CLOTHING ON THE DAY! Nothing. Nada. Not even nail varnish!! God forbid – what if you find your new colour clashes with your laces????

– TOE NAILS. Cut them, file them … Brighton marathon is flat so little chance of you losing any – but why take the risk, eh?

– Double check your breakfast ingredients are all ready. Nothing worse than waking up to find Mum’s bought the wrong oats by mistake or forgotten to buy the all-important bananas!

– NO CARB-LOADING! You know that post-Christmas-dinner feeling when you can’t move because you’ve eaten so much? Why on earth would you over-eat the night before a big race – ensuring you arrive at the start line sluggish because your body’s still trying to cope with all that pasta! Stop it! By all means increase the carbs a little in the couple of days leading up to race day – but by ‘increase’ I mean perhaps a baked potato with your usual chicken and salad, maybe extra oats in your smoothie for mid-afternoon snack! Yeah, really! THAT is ‘loading’. No ‘double portions’. Double portions will merely lead to double trouble.

– I would love to know the percentage of marathon households emitting the familiar sound ‘OMG SAFETY PINS WE HAVEN’T GOT ANY SAFETY PINS’ on race morning. They’ll be in your race pack but invariably there’ll be a mishap. Just dig them out of the sewing box NOW so you’re not searching on race day and getting stressed. Besides, you know that if you have loads waiting you won’t need any because that’s just sod’s law!

– Charged your Garmin? #justsayin’

– Couple of wet wipes tucked away somewhere (they fold nicely in a mini sandwich bag) will see you comfortable if you get short-taken!

– Prepare for THE WALL! If (more likely ‘when’) you hit it you will feel that it’s affecting you far worse than any other runner. It isn’t. The wall is about perspective and strategy. Plough through it, leap (mentally) over it, go (figuratively) around it … but it DOES help to have a plan of action. Write a mantra on your hand and start chanting it to the rhythm of your feet (‘Nearly there, I’m nearly there’ or ‘I can do this, I WILL do this’ … or anything positive and ‘rhythmical’). Avoid phrases like ‘Don’t give up’ because they use negative words even though the meaning is positive. When you hit that wall your brain will only hear the ‘don’t’!! Maybe this is the time you can start counting strides? Pick a number, count, look up, take a drink, repeat, etc. I know somebody who wrote a few friends’ names on their hand and as they hit the wall they started having individual conversations with them (in their head). Whatever you do, it’s up to you. It’s never easy. You’re running a marathon, for goodness’ sake! There’s a reason very few people ever accomplish it. This is one of them. Give yourself the BEST advantage. PLAN your assault of that wall and remember … on the other side it’s time to run for home!!

– The expo ……… It’s exciting. It’s full of marathon fever. You can get lost in there. You can spend hours ……………… ON YOUR FEET! GO HOME! Feet need to be UP!

– Finally … marathon week … expect flu symptoms, bronchitis, IT band playing up, that old ankle injury will come back, you’ll feel ill, knees are aching a bit, that cough has returned ….. etc. etc. etc. You are not alone. Even better, for the vast majority of you these symptoms are all in your head. I can hear you right now: ‘Are you kidding? This sore throat/(insert appropriate symptom) isn’t in my head. It’s real.’ Yes, it is. Sorta! But it’s only a ‘temporary real’. I PROMISE YOU – a mile across that start line those symptoms will have disappeared (you’ll have a whole new set of things to think about haha). For now though, this is your body’s way of making you take notice. It’s merely saying ‘Time to compromise! You want me to carry you for 26 miles? Then feed me, give me water and get these legs on the couch!’ The least you can do is listen. It does have a point, after all.

I AM EXCITED FOR EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU. A marathon start line is an incredible achievement all by itself. Look around, feel proud, feel the buzz, ditch the excuses and do what needs to be done. The magic only happens outside your comfort zone. Go chase it.

Tags: , , , ,

Chi Running – a workshop for beginners

24
Jan

CHI RUNNING WORKSHOP

Talk to any runner about energy and he/she will happily launch into conversation. Mention ‘chi’ rather than ‘energy’ and odds are a small percentage will nod knowingly, a slightly larger percentage might smile and pretend to be open to ‘whatever works for you, dearest’, some will respond with a derisive snort and others will roll their eyes and turn away. Of course it is a matter of each one to his own, but as a slow ultrarunner – and therefore someone who is out on a course for considerable hours – an opportunity to learn rudimentary techniques affording me forward motion with maximum efficiency and minimal effort could not be missed. It was with some excitement, then, that I found myself stepping through the door of Gray Caws’ Chi Running Workshop for beginners (http://www.n8pt.com/). I would not be disappointed.

The small group (5 in total) was friendly and meant that everyone got ample individual attention and it was easy for everyone’s questions to be answered. Following brief introductions and without further ado, the first order of the day was to film us all running. After that it was back to the classroom but there was no time for sitting down. In fact, there was very little sitting down. A couple of my friends had speculated that we would spend an hour at least listening to the origins and philosophies of all things ‘chi’. Not so (although, having a teenage background in martial arts I am great believer in the power of chi so I wouldn’t have minded this at all!).

The morning was spent learning about correct postural alignment, why it was so important as a runner/walker and what we should be aiming for and how to adjust and correct. In the most basic terms, the better your postural alignment the less work the body has to do to enable forward motion. In other words, the less effort would be needed. We spent a lot of fascinating time learning exercises to correct and ‘discover’ the most ‘functional’ posture – in terms that made such complete and ‘grounded’ (no pun intended) sense.

Having got the general gist of these basics, it was then time to analyse our individual running form (video-ed earlier). Armed with the knowledge of what we were aiming for, these analyses were hugely informative and enlightening. Even after just that couple of hours, we were all able to view movements such as ‘my arms keep crossing my body’ or ‘my feet fly out to the sides’ not merely objectively but with a very comforting and motivating awareness that we now knew ‘why’ we did it, where the movement originated from and how we could begin to correct it.

The afternoon afforded us time to put some of this into practice with drills focussing on maintaining alignment while moving, the effect of cadence and the importance of arm movement.

If ever there was a worthwhile workshop for runners – or walkers (!), this was/is it! Sceptics can stay away. All others should put aside any preconceptions of ‘fluffy’ ideas or images of groups of runners chasing various auras around the park whilst chanting various incantations (don’t tell me some of you haven’t pictured this!). Nothing could be further from the truth. For a runner – and I think (probably mistakenly but definitely subjectively) endurance runners – the word ‘chi’ should be readily available in your vocabulary. It has certainly jumped to the top of mine. Check out upcoming workshops or find out more at Gray Caws or  http://www.chirunning.co.uk/.

Royal Parks Half Marathon – 11.10.2015

12
Oct

The loveliest and most enjoyable HM I’ve had the pleasure of running. I mean, really!! If I was to recommend a HM to anyone it would be this one. So THANK YOU to the Royal Parks Foundation for super organisation.

Was I well prepared for it? Erm … nope! Most definitely not. Actually, I think I was the least prepared I’ve ever been for ANY race. My plan, therefore, was not to race. In fact, I was ready to implement a walk/run strategy and figured there’d probably be plenty of walking as I’ve done very little running in the last few months.

The day was already made better by running into Kay and Steve McMenamin at the train station, so LOVELY company all the way. Have to admit that I’d probably still be trying to find my way to the start line!!

Royal Parks HM 2015

Not sure what I expected but I DIDN’T expect such a massive field of runners – c. 15,000? Somehow I thought it’d be smaller but for me this is always good news as it increases my chances of not being last (again). It also meant, however, that the trek from Gun Time to start line was almost 20 minutes and you know what that means for us oldies?? 150m past the start line and I had to join the queue for the loos!!! And yes, there was a QUEUE! I thought that was quite funny – although slightly demotivating so early on in the race to see everyone running past and disappearing into the distance. It did give me a mini goal, though. Once I started running (about 6 minutes later – what do people DO in these toilets???) my aim was to try and catch up with the field again!

Cut a long story short, I settled early into a pace that felt good and just enjoyed everything! The route was simply lovely and after the soul-sapping ugliness of Brighton which sucks the life out of me on a daily basis, it was wonderful to breathe in energy and replenish depleted souls surrounded by old, solid, majestic buildings that ooze history and character. I think I enjoyed the run up towards the Houses of Parliament and up and down the Strand as much as I did the parks and all the arches – St James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park … Admiralty Arch, Wellington Arch, past Marble Arch, and with other sites such as the palace, the Royal Albert Hall and Kensington Palace. There was always something to look at and it was glorious. Sunday morning and I didn’t have to watch out for blood on the pavement or kick cans out of the way once! Quite a treat!

I had two battles along the way. I won one and lost one. One little voice very frequently whispered ‘What happened to the run/walk strategy? Now’s a good time to walk!’ – to which I consistently answered ‘My lungs are fine, my pace is good, the only thing that’s unpleasant is my legs hurting A LOT but that’s really not a good enough reason to walk, so keep running.’ I was VERY pleased to win that war of whisperings and finished without walking. The other battle was the one with my trainers and that’s the one I lost and the reason my legs hurt so much. I’ve loved running in my Ons and I’ve run up to 10 miles in them but I’d heard rumours that people had had a lot of calf trouble running longer distances in them. This was definitely what happened here. My calves and hams SCREAMED quite early on – they have NEVER been so tight. Not only that, but my feet really hurt towards the end – and my calves were so tight they were causing knee pain and blah blah blah. I definitely lost this battle. The Ons have been relegated to 5k and 10k only.

Those were the personal niggles. Race organisation niggles? Yes, I had one. For crying out loud, people, TOPLESS WATER BOTTLES ARE OF NO USE WHATSOEVER TO RUNNERS!! Jeez, what a waste – and what a nuisance. It was hugely irritating (a) not to be able to take a proper drink at any point because you couldn’t carry the bottles since none of them had tops so you had to take a quick slug and throw them: and (b) what a massive massive waste, seeing 15,000 250-ml water bottles being thrown to the side as runners took a few sips and then abandoned them (again, because the tops were off so they couldn’t be carried)! I just don’t get it! Whose idea was that?

One other niggle: what’s with the closed-off finish line – with no spectators being able to cheer runners across or take photos? It didn’t bother me personally but had I being running my first-ever race or was doing it for an emotional cause, then I think I would have found it hugely disheartening to cross the finish line without my supporters? (just a thought)!

But apart from that … absolutely not a single other complaint. The support was amazing – massive thanks to everyone for lining the route and making LOTS of noise! It was very much a spectator-friendly route, too.

Huge thank you to Kay and Steve for the best race-day company! Xx

Official time: 2:18.30 (including loo stop)

Without loo stop: 2:13 – which I’m perfectly happy with.

Royal Parks HM 2015 after

Tags: , ,

Copyright @ Put the Kettle On
Powered by WordPress | Floral Day theme designed by SimplyWP