Thursday, 2 June 2016

Global running day

Yesterday was global running day, an opportunity to encourage as many people as possible to get up, get out and get running all around the world.

While I was out on my global running day run, I got to thinking about how universal running is. In the modern world we think of running as being this competitive pursuit, winning and losing, times and distances. But in reality, running is something which the vast majority of us are, or should be capable of doing, an activity that to our ancestors was a daily necessity to survive.

Obviously we don't have the need to run to escape predators or to catch our dinner anymore, but running holds so many meanings and uses in the modern world. On yesterday's run I was thinking about what running gives me.

I realised that I use running to achieve a number of different things in my life. I know I'm never going to win any of the races that I enter, but this doesn't stop me fulfilling a competitive aspect of my personality. Whether the race is against myself or that person at parkrun who always seems to run the same sort of time as you.

I also use running because of the sense of well-being it evokes and internal sense of achievement. To run a marathon has been an ambition of mine since I first saw the London Marathon on TV when I was young. I remember thinking that the people who did it must be superhuman. What I realise now, is that most of those people weren't and aren't superhuman, they're people like me, who have put in the hours andmiles of training required to run such a long way. But there are also some that are superhuman.

The other and probably most important reason I run, is for my health. Both my mental and physical health are hugely improved thanks to running. Physically there are things that I used to struggle with, which I now complete with ease and mentally, running offers the opportunity to relax and contemplate issues going round my mind.

The great thing is, this is what running gives me, but it's an activity that gives each individual something different. Some get to enjoy the thrill of winning, some make new friends and see new places. But whatever your reasons are, just keep running!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Demotivated in May!

I haven't posted for a while, I've been struggling quite a bit with motivation this month.

Towards the end of April I went out on quite a few big runs and I think I may have burnt myself out slightly. Even though I'm still keeping up with the challenge, this month has been a real grind to get out the door and running.

I think I've stuck pretty tightly to just doing 5 km or just over this month, which has brought my monthly average down a little bit.

On the upside though, I think sticking to the shorter distances has meant my speed has improved a bit and I got my fastest parkrun time of the year last weekend.

I think part of the problem I face is I haven't really stuck to a routine. I'm self-employed and so I find it quite difficult to get up early, when I don't have to and that sometimes means I put off my run until the evening.

I definitely think my next aim is to work in some kind of routine and in turn I think that will aid with my motivation.

But for now I'm 146 days down, only 220 to go!

Friday, 29 April 2016

Lincoln 10 km

So a couple of weekends ago I took part in the Lincoln 10 km road race, which is my home city. I had a really great time, it's always great to see the city you live in embrace running, with about 9,000 people taking part and the whole route lined with people supporting the runners.

I was hoping to get a decent time and was aiming for sub-50 minutes. Unfortunately I was about a minute and a half over that! I always tend to struggle in hot weather and it was a warm day, I've also been carrying a few niggles, due to the fact I can't have a day off to rest, but that's enough excuses.

Even though I missed out on my target, I still had a great time and to be fair I know my time's are never going to set the world alight, it's more for my own satisfaction.

I'm going to be taking part in other 10 km races through the year and I'm fairly confident I will eventually break the 50 minute barrier.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Milestones

So, over the last couple of weeks I've achieved quite a few important milestones on my year long 5k a day journey.



The first big one, in my head at least was passing the 48 hours of running this year landmark. It's maybe a bit random, but just thinking about the fact that I've spent over two whole days of the year so far, on the road, running blew my mind slightly. It made me think about how much time I spend doing other less productive stuff too! One of the great things I've found with doing this challenge, is the fact that I realise that I do have time to do it. I think people always make the excuse of not having enough time to exercise, me included. Whereas, doing 5k a day has just forced me to make time.

 The other big point of celebration for me, is passing the quarter way mark, day number 94. This run also coincided with me going on probably my best run of the year so far. I went out for a 19km run with a friend out alongside the river Witham, which runs out from Lincoln. It was a nice change to run with someone and experience a bit of nature too.

I'm also well over the 100 days mark and clocked up well over 600 km now. I'm still aiming for 2,500km over the course of the year, which means I need to up my average distances a bit. I need to try and rack up over 200km a month, which I did last month for the first time. The first couple of months of not exceeding 5km means I've got a bit of catching up to do.

But all in all, I'm pretty happy with my progress and setting myself all of these different goals and landmarks is helping me stay focused.


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Silverstone half-marathon

A few days before the Silverstone half-marathon on the 13th May I was given the opportunity to take part. Although I've been running every day this year, the furthest I've run is about 15 km and I'd not done a half-marathon distance for about ten months.

But with a target of sub-2 hours in mind, I did it!!!

It wasn't easy and I got a pretty severe sun burn for my troubles, but it felt great and I had an official finishing time of 1:56, which is about five minutes off my pb, but a time I'm more than happy with.

It was great to run around the famous race track and there was loads of people there cheering us all on, including a group supporting me, which is always nice!

I'm looking at other races I can take part in throughout the year, just to keep the challenge a bit more interesting for me. My next race is on April 17th in Lincoln, my home city, but it's just a 10 km this time. I'm hoping to get a sub-50 minute time, something I've done in training, but never in a race.


Monday, 22 February 2016

50 days down!

I finally feel like I've started to make a dent in the 366 days of 2016, completing the first 50 days without any major issues.

I've also completed my first run over 10 km, after I ran nearly 13 km on the 17th Feb. My previous longest run this year was about 7 km. But for whatever reason I went out with the intention of just running a quick 5 km and just through enjoyment decided to do a longer a route.

It's strange and completely counter-intuitive, but I often find the longer I run for, the more comfortable I feel and the more enjoyable the run. I don't if your body just starts to relax or you get in a zone, who knows. But I just had one of those runs that made me remember why I love running so much and had a genuine buzz afterwards.

Over the course of the last 50 days, I've also written a blog article for Rethink, the mental health charity who I'm raising money for. You can find my blog piece here.

Overall I'm feeling strong and confident and it's great to see my times coming down and the distances going up.

Bring on the next 316 days!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

One month down

So I've managed to complete the first month without many dramas!

I think the biggest challenge so far has definitely been the psychological struggle to motivate myself to get out and run everyday.

Whenever I've trained for other events which have been more physically demanding, like my first marathon I ran last May, I've had rest days and if you don't feel like training one day, you have a day off and run the next.

But there's been days in the first month where I've felt under the weather or had a long day at work and it's hard to gee yourself up to go and put the work in. But I knew this was going to be the case and that's why it's a challenge.

The good news is, with each run I'm starting to feel a bit stronger now and I'm having fewer and fewer aches and pains too!

Bring on the next 11 months!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Why I run

When I first started running a couple of years ago, I'm not sure what my motivation for starting was. I think I'd come to a realisation that I wasn't as physically active as I should be and running is a (almost) free and accessible activity.

Around this time, I had also discovered the running and cycling app, Strava through friends and this helped add an extra incentive, as I could track progress and compete against other runners.

But over time, my philosophy and relationship with running has changed quite a lot. I read a profile of a fellow runner from Sweden last week, which I think sums up my current feelings, it said: "I don't train, I don't race, I run!".

I know this probably doesn't sound like a particularly dramatic declaration for motivation, but I found this simple message really powerful and relatable.

I'm not a natural distance runner, I never have been. At school I excelled at athletics, but my limit was 400 metres and rather than being tall and slim, I'm short and broad. Basically, I'm fully aware that at the age of 32, I'm not going to be winning any races, my Pb for 5 km is just over 22 minutes. But, this is okay, I'm not running to race.

In the past, I've taken part in organised events, I took part in my first ever half and full marathons last year and the purpose of going running was to train for these. But training for these events took the joy out of running for me, as I felt obliged to run certain distances, in the knowledge this was needed to cope on the day of the runs.

So the reason I love running, is because of the experience of the act itself. On a good run you have the opportunity to get lost in the moment, to explore what's going on in your head, in your environment and push yourself to your physical, mental and emotional limits.

As a runner, I've also seen parts of my own and other cities that I wouldn't normally see. I've seen times of day and experienced extremes of weather that you'd normally try to protect yourself from. Whatever your level of ability the battle is ultimately against yourself, how hard you want to push yourself is up to you.

At it's worst, running can be painful, exhausting and demoralising. But, at its best running can be an exhilarating, uplifting, an almost spiritual experience and this is my experience the vast majority of the time. This is why I run.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Getting back in to the rhythm

For anyone who's ever studied sports science you'll know that there is an acronym, S.P.O.R.T which lays out the principles of fitness training.

Over the first week and a half of my 5k a day challenge, one of these principles has caused me a great deal of pain and frustration.

The letters of the acronym stand for specificity, progression, overload, reversibility and tedium and the one that's been troubling me is reversibility.

If you've ever reached a level of fitness and then stopped training for any reason, whether it be injury or laziness, you'll be fully aware that when you start training again your body plays a bit of a cruel trick on you. Painfully quickly you'll come to the realisation that what you were once able to do, you no longer can.

Last year I ran my first half and full marathons, to do this I was running 3 or 4 times a week, between 10 and 40 km. So when I set myself this challenge to run 5 km every day in 2016, I thought physically it would be fairly straight forward.

However, after a couple of months without running regularly, running 5 km again has felt like a massive test on my stamina. As well as the physical effects, this has a big mental impact too. It's hard for you to accept that what used to be a pretty standard run,
is now absolute agony.

But along with trying to raise money for Rethink, getting back on the road and pushing myself mentally and physically over the course of the this year was part of my motivation and this is the first hurdle I've got to overcome.


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The 5k a day challenge has started!

So I've completed the first four runs of my challenge, it's been a tough start but at least I've only got 362 to go!

The reason I've decided to take on this year long fundraising effort, is to try and raise a bit of money and awareness about a charity called Rethink. They do really important work, tackling the stigma that's attached to mental health issues.

It's a really sad fact, that in 2016 mental illness is still so misunderstood and ignored. There is a real reluctance to discuss mental health openly and honestly in our society, which only perpetuates the problem.

But the sad truth is, at any one time one in four of us is suffering from mental health problems. That basically means you, a family member, a work colleague, a friend or a number of these people are likely to be suffering, right now.

That's why this cause is so important, because we are all affected. So over the coming months, I hope my running efforts and this blog will help stimulate a discussion and make a positive difference.