I’m writing this on the Friday before the 2018 London Marathon. I have a slight pang of jealousy, this time last year I was on the eve of running it. Until late 2017 running was pretty much my only form of exercise. After the marathon, I took a month off and then slowly I fell out of love with running. Maybe that is a bit dramatic, I’ve been busy and let’s be honest, it’s always easier to not exercise. I started to enjoy boxing and I have been weight training at home too. All of this detracted from my running at a time of year when I didn’t need an excuse not to run because the weather was horrid. Now it’s getting warmer and I’ve decided that I need to learn how to run, again.
Learn how to run again, working towards a goal
This is probably one of the biggest reasons that I fell away from a running life, no goal. I enjoy running, no really, I do. The issue is that I struggle without an end game. I need a goal. When I was training for the marathon, I would be running 3-4 times per week, both short and long runs – lots of running. I knew what I was trying to achieve, I knew that training was needed in order to reach my goal. The goal on this occasion was a little extreme, 26.2 miles is significantly more than a walk in the park. If you don’t like running, why would you go running? To get fit maybe, well that’s a goal. You see what I mean? Unless you LOVE running, working towards a goal will provide a reason to get out on the road.
Creating a goal
My focus since the new year has been strength training. I’ve been lifting weights twice per week in my home gym and hitting the bag on the days in between too. On the odd occasion that I have chosen to go for a run this year, I’ve tried to pick up where I left off all those months ago. Don’t do that. I was running a ‘decent’ 10 km time at my peak, circa 50 minutes. I’m a lot slower now despite my efforts and on one run, I didn’t even finish the 10 km. Sometimes you need to reboot, create a new goal and start again. My aim is to get back to the pace I was at previously for 10 km. This is going to take some time and a lot of hard work, but I’m hopeful I can get there before the cold weather returns.
The goal may differ wildly between people and should be a very personalised thing. For those who don’t run, a goal might be getting around their chosen route without stopping. Find something you want to achieve, make a plan, get it done!
Push yourself, but don’t break yourself
As the saying goes, “don’t run before you can walk”. Most people wouldn’t decide to learn how to run by going straight to 5 miles. Even as someone who has been running for a long time, my body will only maintain a certain level of fitness if I just stop going for a run. You need to gradually build up running fitness, you might be able to breathe ok, but how about your legs – or vice versa. Another issue many will face is the weather. Those who don’t run regularly might not feel like going for a run when it’s cold. I assure you, running in the cold is a lot better than running in the heat. This weekend is set to be in contention for the hottest London Marathon on record, around 24 c. That sounds awful, best of luck to everyone, remember to hydrate regularly!
I’ve run the London Marathon twice now, once in 2012 and again last year. Prior to that, my debut marathon was back in 2006 when on my first trip to New York and to the US, I ran the New York marathon. The training for each of this events differed wildly. In 2006 I was 25 years old. I was powered by youth and the enthusiasm of being in New York. 2012 was a little different, it was the Olympic year and I had entered to be part of history. My training lacked focus, I rocked up to London assuming I would perform better than in New York (where I broke my foot). I did knock some time off my best but came away disappointed.
In April 2016 whilst watching the London Marathon on TV, I decided that I would enter the 2017 London Marathon. It was a few weeks until the ballot opened, but I started training right away. You don’t find out if you have been successful until October and by this time I was already running a good distance and feeling strong. It felt like the beginning of a solid training plan for the marathon and so it proved, last year I knocked a further 30 minutes off my previous best time for 26.2 miles. Check out my vlog of the day below.
Learn how to run – simple tips
If you are about to embark on the running journey and want to learn how to run from scratch, here a few tips that I feel are worth considering to help you on your way.
- “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”. “Slow and steady wins the race”. Both of these phrases are appropriate – at the beginning, take it easy. Learn how your body will react to what can be a bit of a shock.
- Plan your route. A quick look at Google Maps will allow you to scope a sensible and safe route near your house. Have a goal of getting home again without walking, even if your run becomes a slow jog.
- Hydrate. Never underestimate your need for water when running. You should sweat a lot, that’s water leaving your body. It needs replacing.
- Eat! This will come down to preference but ultimately food provides fuel and that fuel powers your body for a run. Refueling post run can be almost as important as eating ahead of a run.
- Stretch. I know, stretching is boring and how do you know that you are doing it right? Again, it’s down to preference as to how you do this, but warming up and cooling down will help prevent injury.
- Distraction. I used to listen to music whilst I ran, after a while, I found that it washed over me a little and so I moved to audiobooks and podcasts. They keep my mind engaged in something other than running.
Hit the road!
It’s about now where if you are inspired to go for a run, then that’s exactly what you should do. You should know that it won’t be easy. I saw this quote when running once, it stuck with me and I live by it. Go out there and pound those pavements, you might even enjoy it! Until next time…