The journey so far – what I’ve learnt from running and more importantly what I’m doing about it

The last 18 months has been a very steep learning curve for me. I have changed so much, and learnt so much, that I think it’s time to look back at the journey so far. And it really is a journey, passing milestones and learning new things all the time.

I’ve learnt lots of things about myself I didn’t know before; I love to run, I’m committed to getting faster and stronger, being vegan means everything to me, it’s OK to ask for help if you need it and that you have to run your own race, nobody else’s. A great metaphor for life.

With these revelations came some big changes, so read on to learn more.

1. The early bird catches the worm

The first, and probably the most significant  thing I’ve changed in terms of seeing results, which has made a huge difference, is running in the morning instead of in the evening. To see success with something, it helps to form a habit around it. When I was running in the evening, it was all too easy to get home late from work, decide I was too tired and either not run at all or run for a little while and then go home for my dinner. Now, I’ve formed a habit where I get up at 6am and go for a run. Monday to Friday, that’s what I do.  And it’s working. I’d recommend it to anyone as it means the rest of your day can unroll however it needs to and you know your run is already in the bag.

2. Tunes to chat – a life hack

Add to that the next change, I’ve moved from music to podcasts and it has revolutionised my runs! I used to think I needed the beat of the music in order to keep my focus and run longer distances, but it turns out that listening to something interesting and inspiring is way better. My favourite is No Meat Athlete (shocking!) but I’m also very interested in history, so I sometimes listen to history podcasts too and when I just want to laugh, then The Ricky Gervais Show is brilliant. It’s also a great life hack as well, using the time I’m running to multi-task and do some learning at the same time.

3. All about me

For the longest time I used to complain that I had no ‘me’ time – I was always moaning that I was either working, commuting, making dinner, cleaning etc etc, all the things that you ‘have’ to do and don’t ‘want’ to do. But using the time to listen to something interesting whilst running made me see that my runs are my ‘me’ time and so it is important to me to get the most out of them. Yes, as soon as I get home I have to shower and get to work and the majority of the rest of the day is dedicated to work, so that hour or so in the morning is precious and I enjoy it even more now I get even more from it. I don’t watch much tv or veg out on the couch anymore, and this is what I used to think of as me time so I suppose my perceptions have changed here, too.

4. Plan and execute

To see the best results and to stay on track and focused, I have found that having a plan and sticking to it works wonders. It echoes again the sentiment that making a commitment to something is liberating, it takes away the deliberations over ‘should I go for a run? How far should I go? Is this far enough, I’m tired now?’ Instead by following a plan, all those questions and uncertainties are taken away and you are liberated and free to just follow the plan and run. I want to discuss my training in a separate post and the things surrounding that, but I have definitely learnt that having a plan, no matter which type, if very important!

5. Strong to the core

Another thing I have learnt is the importance of core work. I attended a free class at Run and Become and learnt key core moves for runners ranging from pretty easy planks to difficult core strengthening moves, and I have been incorporating these three times a week after a run. I’m seeing a difference in my core strength and ab definition and would advise all runners to do some core work (and foam roll, of course!)

6. Go back to basics

A very important lesson learnt! When I first made the switch from treadmill to road running, I was struck with a mysterious pain in the outside of my left foot. After a while, it hurt to walk and my foot was swollen so I gave in and went to a physio. I realised it is OK to ask for help from a professional if you need it – you don’t have to figure everything our yourself. The physio said I had slightly damaged my peroneal tendons in my left foot and this was because I am right leg dominant so my left leg wasn’t behaving properly and was just along for the ride. She had me run up and down outside the physio practice for ages until I self-corrected my gait (basically turning my left foot out with each step, even though it went against everything my body wanted to do naturally.) I then had to work on correcting my gait on each run and trying to improve my step count, more or less learning how to run again. Can’t get much more basic than that! So definitely get the fundamentals right before you try anything else.

Remain curious: Keep learning

One area I am still learning about and don’t think I’ve got 100% right yet (and maybe never will) is the nutrition side of things. I’m part way through writing a completely separate post on that topic as I’ve now transitioned to a whole food plant-based diet, so I will save that juicy topic for another day.

And if you are still reading this then you, like me, must be pretty dedicated to seeing painful and arduous things through to the end! So remain curious and always keep learning.

 

 

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