I have to admit it, my running has been a bit stagnant over the last year. I haven’t stopped running. I’ve done a few races, including some marathons, I’ve got a few PBs at different distances but something has been missing. I haven’t really known what.
I spend a lot of my time helping others to run and that has always been and continues to be incredible. It’s such a privilege and I have been enjoying that more than my own running. I think that’s where one issue lies. I’ve been cheering on others, helping them set goals and watching in awe as they smash them but I haven’t been my own best cheerleader. I think I’ve just been too gentle with myself. I haven’t set my bar high enough or dug deep enough. I can’t remember the last time I had what I would call a proper runner’s high, when I’ve felt truly euphoric and invincible. I’ve neglected my own running.
I’ve been running for 11 years now. Perhaps this is something that happens around that time? Don’t get me wrong, I know I couldn’t live without running, it keeps me physically and mentally well, but I know it has more to give me than I’m taking at the moment. My PBs have only been a few seconds off here and there and whilst it’s great to be getting older and yet still faster, I seem to be developing a hunger to find out what my body could really do. Maybe I’m greedy but I know how completely life changing running is and I want more! I realise that to get more out, you have to put more in and I think this is another of the reasons things have plateaued – improvement doesn’t just happen, you have to work for it and it hurts! Rather than push myself into discomfort, I’ve chosen the comfy seat and cruised along – you can’t blame me!
My last blog post was about the roller coaster ride that running is and I think I’ve become a bit too used to this roller coaster. It’s lost some of its exhilarating feeling. I’m either going to have to go for a bigger, longer loop or get on a faster one! I’m the first to say that running isn’t purely about speed and performance, it’s so much more than that but reflecting and considering why I feel a bit flat about my own running at the moment has reminded me that the self-improvement benefit of running is something that’s been hugely empowering for me in the past.
My last big event was the Manchester Marathon at the beginning of April. I was slower than I was the year before but faster than I was at the Malaga Marathon in December so, you know, I did ok. I didn’t deserve a PB as I hadn’t worked hard enough for one. I’d done enough to get round in my average time, I’d covered the long runs but not the hills, intervals and hard graft I know I’d have to do to get the PB. It’s entirely possible for me to get another marathon PB. I’ve just been lazy. Maybe I just haven’t wanted it enough. I know I can get round in a decent enough time with a reasonable amount of training, so that’s what I’ve been doing but that’s no longer enough.
After Manchester I’ve been doing some thinking and analysing what’s going on with my running, deciding what I need and want. Firstly, I’ll never stop running, that’s a given. I don’t want to do a different sport. Secondly, I want to improve my running. I want that buzz from working for and smashing a goal. I want to feel that sense of power that running surges through your veins.
To do this I’ve realised I need to:
- Run more. I’m not putting the pressure of a run streak on myself but the default is that I run. Even if it’s only two miles with the dog
- Enter more races. I need these to keep me motivated to train and also to make me run at race pace which I wouldn’t do otherwise
- Train harder. No settling for easy run after easy run. Time to drop in some hill repeats and some faster paced work. I hope the dog is ready for this!
- Work on my technique. I know my weaknesses and I know what I need to do. It’s nothing that some good old strength and conditioning and practice can’t sort out. The improved running efficiency will be worth it
- Find new routes. On and off road it helps me if I don’t know every step, twist and turn; it’s too easy to make excuses
- Run with people that are faster than me. Speedy friends, you can expect a phone call! I know from the past this is a great way to push myself
- Be more committed. Prioritise my own running more and be bold and brave in my targets
So far so good! A week after Manchester I felt fine (another sign that I didn’t push hard enough) so I entered a 10k race. I then got a new parkrun and 5k PB. I ran another 10k race with my son. I’ve run nearly every day which has included some short, fast runs, a ten mile run (just because I wanted to) and I’ve been off road as well. Then at the weekend I really stepped outside of my comfort zone and entered a 6 mile fell race with 1000ft of climbing in the first 3 miles. And … I loved it. I’ve got a trail half marathon coming up at the Women Can challenges in a couple of weeks. I already feel stronger, ready to push myself more and excited about each run.
Have you had a plateau in your running? How did you move on? What worked for you? I’d love to hear …
Photos credits: All photos drjulietmcgrattan.com