‘I’m so unfit, look at me gasping and sweating’
‘I’m running at snail’s pace… look that old fat dude just overtook me!’
‘I’ve only run 3 miles and I’m near collapse, how the hell am I ever going to run 26.2 ever again?’
‘Urgh I could just turn around and go back home...I probably should, I may keel over, die and never be found, or be eating by wild animals...’
Sound familiar? Maybe you’re just starting out or maybe you’re returning to running after a period of injury or maybe you run ALL the time but still hear those voices regularly. What do we do to make them stop?? Here’s what I try to do…
- Do not panic about how slow or unfit you feel. A run is always better than no run.
- Fitness does come back, and quicker than you might think. Make sure you mentally tune into your run and congratulate yourself continually. Remind yourself that every mile is an achievement, and every mile is getting you fitter, stronger and faster. You’ve got to start kicking back at those mean voices because the moment you give in to them you will give up and slope off home for a cuppa!
- It is very easy to convince yourself you’ve had enough if you do a multi-loop route. Try to head out in different directions if you want to boost your distance, because a little intrigue (or getting lost!) helps to make the miles go quicker, plus you will find you ALWAYS get tired at the same point and make little progress if you always run the same route…
- Focus on your gait. No run is wasted. If you set out, feel totally boxed and genuinely think you can’t carry on (i.e. you are physically exhausted, and not mentally signing yourself off before you should...) then make sure you use your short runs to focus on HOW you’re running. Focus on using your glutes and hamstrings by full leg cycling, check you’re not thumping your heels down or coming up too high on your toes. Focus on your breathing, on relaxing your shoulders, lifting your chest and really using your arms.
- COUNT! Paula Radcliffe counts from 1-100 in time with every step she takes (non-stop throughout a marathon!), and it helps distract her from those voices and keep her on pace. I prefer to do 1-12 (I get a bit lost otherwise) whenever I find my mind is telling me to stop and it just gives me something else to focus on. Before I know it I’m back in the groove.
- Run OFF the beat. I’ve found that running without music enables me to be a much better runner. I’ve learnt to tune into how I’m feeling on the runs and mentally counsel myself. This sort of thing is so helpful on race day when you think you can’t do it. Without the distraction of music you can concentrate on your gait and give yourself pep talks. You can also drift off into some awesome daydreams!
- Run without your pacing watch. If you've lost your rojo (running mojo) and are deeply depressed by how slow you are then leave your running watch at home and re-find the joy or running for running's sake. Look up and around and not constantly at your watch. Take in some new routes, let yourself walk a bit if you need to, or head out with a pal and have a great chat.
- Feel proud on your run. You’re out there when you could be at home on the sofa. You’re making a positive life choice that will strengthen, condition and prepare you for your next challenge, or just simply keep you trim and toned.
- Finally, if it helps spur you on then think of the calories! For every mile you will burn around 100-110 kcals, or about 10 kcals per minute. Running uses the whole body in motion therefore is one of the best ways of burning kcals and losing weight. Plus, the fitter you become the better the body becomes at burning fat for fuel.
- Never underestimate the power of the Christmas Run. My Christmas eve/day run is a firm favourite. You can then shovel in 20 thousand calories knowing you’ve burnt off at least 500 😉