13.1 Miles, Can She Do It?

OK, don’t get me wrong I’ve always been the active type ever since I was young. But running, particularly long distance running. No, never been a fan of that.

I always remember dreading having to complete the 800m in heptathlon county competitions, from the bang of the gun I just accepted my fate and committed to a ungraceful plod.

But as we said goodbye to Winter and hello to Spring I dusted off those trainers and started running again. To begin I struggled to jog 2 miles without having to rely on my inhaler and stop for breathe. Roll forward 6 months & I just smashed 13.1 miles!

My outlook on running months ago is nothing to what it is now.

I hated that feeling as though I couldn’t breathe properly.

I hated carrying such a big weight and knowing it’s slowing me down.

I hated that it made me feel weak and got the better of me.

I hated how boring it was.

When I started running again in March I had no plans to enter into any sort of running event. It all came about simply because my bestie, Katie, motivated me to get out, get some fresh air, explore where I live & find a new challenge.

At first, going for a run felt like a chore. I would have to mentally prepare myself throughout the day and convince myself to go. Once home, I’d slowly get changed and try and work my way out of it, thinking of all the other ‘productive’ things I could be doing in that time. But then, once I’d got my headphones in and tracker on I found myself in a completely different headspace and obviously, when I got back home I felt SO good.

Whilst I don’t think there’s any specific way to train for a run, we all have to start somewhere. Now I can promise, I didn’t train every day and I certainly didn’t train every week. Did it have it’s affects? Yes. Some weeks I felt much stronger than others when I’d kept up a solid routine and others I struggled, and it showed in my pace and mindset. But I also didn’t just stick to running. I went to different gym classes (Pilates & Legs, Bums & Tums and Metafit) also continued playing netball to help with strengthening and stretching.

Whether your an avid runner who regularly runs long distances or whether you are a novice and are preparing to tackle your first 5k the best tips I can give you are:

Set goals. And small goals are OK

Having something to focus on, build on and achieve is the best feeling. Don’t be discouraged if your first few runs are simply around the block. I was still running around the block on the lead up to my half. But the bonus is it all adds up and overtime you shall feel yourself getting stronger.

Starting small is good and revel in the victories as you progress. Just like yours will, my journey started out small. I knew I could manage 5k so Katie and I signed up to complete a 7k in April at Blenheim Palace. After that I was super keen to challenge myself again and set the bar a little higher, so I entered a Race for Life 10k in June. Getting a little ahead of myself I started researching for half marathons in my area. Originally I entered Dale Half, which consists of a lot more inclines, but decided to transfer my place to someone else looking to enter & luckily I managed to grab myself a spot for Cardiff Half.

Get good gear

Now I don’t mean go splashing your cash on several branded tops or top of the range trainers. Find clothing and trainers which meet your needs and which you feel comfortable in. I bought a new set of trainers with 4 weeks to go before my half marathon and it was the best purchase I think I’ve made this year.

Be consistent

We all have those days where we wake up and feel super tired, unmotivated and the last thing we want to do is go running. You’ll experience super highs when you feel like you smashed a session and you will feel very low lows where you feel like you’ve made no progress at all and you’ll hate running. Over time I learnt how important it was to keep it up and to stick with it. I found a marathon plan which seemed to suit me really well and I tried my best to stick with my running days and rest days and push through those hard days. It was so worth it and feels so rewarding!

Feed your body

The saying ‘you are what you eat’ became so apparent to me whilst I’ve been running the past few months. I could feel the affects a bad diet over the weekend had on my performance during the week. As your burning so many calories it’s important to fuel your body with the right ingredients so you have the energy to push a little further. I think I consumed way too many eggs though, but I can say I have perfected a poached egg!

And now look at me, 6 months on, a sweaty, aching mess, but on an ultimate high!

It’s a low cost activity & every year thousands of people take to the roads and local trail routes to run. Starting is the easy part, sticking to it, baring the aching muscles, slight boredom & being committed to improving is the hard part. But anything is possible.

Love, AR