I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating the last three weeks have been. I went from being on a massive high from completing the Oxford Half, to being completely depressed because my knee wasn’t allowing me to run any more. Three weeks on and I’ve still only managed to reach 5km distance. 5km by changing my running form from my normal plod to something that resembles a dressage horse, every few hundred meters to release my ITB (Iliotibial band). I couldn’t run the Candleford Trot 10 km last weekend, I’ve had the worst month mileage wise since I began running and in all honesty, I’ve thought of giving it all up.
Luckily I had already booked to run with Mo Farah in December 🙂
Two days after Oxford Half and still on a high, I booked the Silverstone Half in March 2016.
Last Sunday, depressed from pulling out of the Candleford Trot, I booked a place on the Great South Run.
All epic races. All with amazing bling. All within my capabilities…. I hope!
I’ve had too much time to think these last few weeks. Too much time to think about all the things I wish someone had told me when I first decided to begin running. Never being one to keep pearls of wisdom a secret, I thought I would share them with you.
Ten things I wish I knew when I started running
- Trainers – you can’t just run in the trainers in your cupboard. If you try, the chances are you will have shin splints, sore hips and a twisted ankle. Take the time to go to a running shop and have your gait (the way you move) analysed. Buy some trainers which will provide you with support & comfort. Tell the sales assistant how far you are expecting to run – believe me there are shoes better designed for long distance, short distance and the speed in which you run. Don’t expect to only spend £30 – my first pair were £110. Also don’t expect them to last long either. My first pair didn’t even reach 300 miles before they caused me problems. And before you ask, yes it is well worth keeping a track of the mileage of your trainers.
- Orthoptics (shoe insoles) – another great investment. Every person’s feet are different. It is well worth spending £35-40 on having orthoptics fitted to your feet. I went to a little shop called Solutions for Feet, where the guy shrink wrapped the orthoptics to my feet. Now I have a level platform to run on without any gaps for my feet to roll.
- Stretches – It wasn’t long ago I thought stretches were a complete waste of time and only done to a) show off after exercise & b) have a little brag to the person next to you about how fabulous your workout was. How wrong was I? If you want to continue running, stretching is an essential – hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, ITB, calves, shins, spine – yes until 2 weeks ago I never even thought of stretching my spine – now I know how important it is. My post-run routine is based on yoga. I find it much more productive than box standard stretches – you can move seamlessly from one pose/stretch and it somehow feels more relaxing.
- Foam roller – pain will become your friend. I can guarantee if you are not feeling any pain on the foam roller, then you are not doing it right. Again another one of my costly mistakes. One of the most important things to foam roller is your ITB. It runs from your hip to your knee on the outside of your thigh. To reach this ligament, your hips need to be stacked at a 90 degree angle. Any less of an angle and you will probably be rollering you quads. If your ITB gets tight and knotty, you are likely to develop pain and movement restriction in your knee.
- Find a brilliant physio & sports massage therapist – I owe so much to Ben & Lisa at Pea Green near Bicester. Lisa is one of the most supportive people I know. Her sports massage is not the most comfortable of experiences, but my goodness does it help keep you on the road. Ben is one of the most knowledgeable physiotherapists. For the last three weeks, he has listened to me drone on in my pity party. I think he had had enough on Thursday. He didn’t hold back. For the majority of my treatment, I wished they had an anaesthetist on site too.
- RockTape is amazing – I’m not really sure what it does, but I know it allows me to move when ordinarily I would be in too much pain to do so.
- Community – The running community is one of the friendliest, supportive places (especially RMR). Runners understand each other. They understand the pain, determination, the lows, the highs – they get it. There are many communities either online, a Parkrun or in a running club. Join one or more of these and prepare to learn something new every day.
- Strength training – another of my big mistakes. To be able to run you need a moderate degree of strength in your butt, hips and core. Without this strength, injuries are inevitable. Start doing the plank. Invest in a resistance band to strengthen your butt and kettlebells are amazing too. There are lots of videos on the internet. James Dunne is a good one to follow. He knows his stuff.
- Races are good fun – There are hundreds, if not thousands of races taking place every week up and down the country. Your running community will probably have a multitude of good race fixture advice, or racebook.com is said to be a good resource. Virtual races are cheaper to enter, as you do them in your own time. They raise money for charity and have fantastic bling.
- It’s addictive – My goodness me it’s addictive. The sense of achievement I feel when I’ve completed my goal distance is unbeatable. Build up your mileage up slowly – the slower the better – let your body adapt and strengthen. If you increase your mileage too quickly without the basics in place, you will get injured. In fact, it’s not just running which is addictive, it is buying “activewear”, finding better techniques, entering races. It’s all addictive!
The most important thing is to enjoy it. Don’t get hung up on times. You will improve if you run at an enjoyable pace for you. Turn off your alarms. Unless you are performing intervals or hill training, relax. I wish someone would have said it to me.
If you have any other tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments.