I’m stuck in a bit of a downward spiral. It’s been going on for a while now, and I think I can pinpoint where it all started. A few years ago I bought in to the hype of changing your gait, and switched from a heel strike to a fore/mid foot strike. I wanted to be faster and more efficient and so, after attending a couple of group sessions tackling technique, I spent months putting those lessons in to practise on my own.
Despite those many months practising, I’ve got to admit that I don’t think I ever really nailed it.
During my ‘transition period’ I lost a lot of speed, spending my sessions running slowly and focussing on technique. I may have taught myself to land on my midfoot, but I never learnt how to do so quickly, or with my grace. Before changing my technique I was running sub-8 minute miles pretty regularly. As someone who is not a natural runner, this is a pretty good level for me. Now I can barely manage sub-9 minute miles. My calf muscles hate me. I don’t get my feet underneath me properly and run more like a dainty deer than a human.
This ‘transition period’ also coincided with the start of my career. I work as a lawyer in the City and, as you can imagine, the hours can be pretty demanding. I’ve been working as a lawyer for three years now and I still haven’t managed to figure out how to balance work, training, nutrition, blog and social life. My running has suffered as a result of the constraints on my time and sometimes I am just so busy I can’t manage anything but work/eat/sleep/repeat.
Somewhere along the way my passion for running died and it’s never fully recovered. I consider this a downward spiral because the less I run the less I want to run and the worse my running gets. When I convince myself to go running my running isn’t as good as it used to be, which is demoralising. In turn, this makes me less likely to go running and I run less.
I think the problem is partly that I put too much pressure on myself, and partly that I’ve been burying my head in the sand. Rather than acknowledge and admit that my running has deteriorated and I could have done something about it, I’ve carried on and thought “I’ll go later” or “I’ll sort that out tomorrow” or “Starting next week I’ll start looking for technique coaching”. By doing this, I have wasted three years. If I’d have spent those three years being proactive, reacting to my changing lifestyle and training accordingly, who knows where I could be now?
Well, enough is enough. Writing this post is pretty embarrassing, but also pretty necessary. Today is the day I get my running well and truly back on track and, to give me some level of accountability, here’s what I’ll be doing about it:
- Getting running coaching. Just before the new year I bought a bundle of technique classes from The Running School. So far I’ve had three (including my biomechanical assessment) and I can already feel the benefits. I can feel the strain coming out of my calf muscles and my hamstrings and glutes are definitely “firing”! I’ve been making sure I take the time to do all the homework set for me, and I am determined to sort out my running style once and for all.
- Getting earlier nights. I’m a night owl, but realistically I know that my best chance to exercise is first thing before I get bogged down with anything at work. To give myself a fighting chance at getting up on time, I’ll be trying to be in bed much earlier (aware of the irony of writing this up at gone midnight).
- Shorter distances. Before I start training for the Hackney Half in May I’ll be sticking to much shorter distances. If I only have smaller distances to run I am more likely to get out there to train on dark winter morning and cold winter nights. I’m going to take away the pressure of distance and speed and I’m just going to focus on getting back in to the routine of running. I feel like this is half the battle.
- Sorting my nutrition. Realistically I know that I don’t have time to prep all of my food. While I’ll try to make sure I do prep food at the weekend, a mid-week session is harder to find time for. This is fine as there are plenty of places selling delicious, nutritious meals (I practically live in Pod) but I need to make sure I don’t get caught out by late nights or random hungry days. I’ve placed a bulk order with MyProtein (using their 25% off everything offer they were running last week) and will keep protein snacks at work to make sure I always have a backup.
I’d also love to find someone to run with, so if you fancy running (kind of slowly) in London any time soon then I’d love to join you.
I’m going to make 2016 the year I finally kick my butt back in to gear and sort my running out. 2016 is the year I start running properly again, and hopefully setting a few new PBs along the way!
Do you have any other tips? x