Tuesday 30 November 2010

Ben Does Life...and inspires me to do too!

I just wanted to share this really inspirational blog written by a guy called Ben Davis who, a couple of years ago, made a decision to change his life and transform himself from being a computer gaming couch potato into an incredibly fit athlete who now trains all the time, competes in Marathons & Iron Mans, and who inspires thousands of people to "Do Life" through his blog and his facebook page.  He also writes really well, is well worth following and you can buy t-shirts or stickers (like below) with his Do Life logos.  I have one of the stickers stuck to my fridge and it does encourage me!

Ben says:
If you want to do something with your life, if you really want to do it, just do it. I promise that you can. You just have to do it. And when you do, you’ll be happier for it.

I think he's an incredible inspiration - and I truly believe in what he says.  I made a decision I wanted to run a marathon, and from doing no exercise at all, ran a marathon 9 months later...that was three years ago and I'm still going.... I haven't quite managed his weight loss success, but I'm, determined that it will come.

Hope you enjoy his blog too :D

What happens when your long run...isn't...

After a pretty lazy week, I was very impressed when I dragged myself out of bed on Sunday morning and headed out in the freezing cold weather for my 14m long run.

I was less impressed with myself though when at 3.5 miles in, I decided it was just too cold, I wasn't enjoying myself and there's no way that it was good for me to run in such cold conditions and turned round to head home, so only completed a 7 miler in the end, which really doesn't count as a long run any more.  By the time I got home and the weather had got a degree or two warmer, I was really feeling very disappointed with myself for having given up.  It's something I always try not to do...if I have aches and minor pains I always try to run through it, and keep going - always keep going - but for some reason I just couldn't do it this time.  It was very cold, admittedly, but I passed a couple of other runners who were just in shorts and a sweatshirt who were managing to go along at a decent pace, so why I couldn't manage it, I just don't know.

Anyway, I didn't want to let it ruin my training for the week, so the next day (Monday) I tried again - only this time it was minus 5oC when I stepped out of the door.  Even colder.  But it was beautiful.  I very rarely run on a Monday, and if I hadn't had such a disaster on my long run the day before, I probably wouldn't have gone out, but I'm so glad I did.  There hadn't been snow, but there was a thick frost and the countryside looked absolutely amazing.  I didn't pass another soul while I was out, and there were only a few cars, and it really was one of those amazing runs that I think I'll remember.  I didn't go far at all, just 4 miles, but it was enough to really inspire me.

So, my long run was in actual fact a short, uninspiring, disappointment which, as it turned out, meant I had a really enjoyable run yesterday, and now I feel like I'm back on track and remotivated after a couple of weeks of struggling to train.

Friday 26 November 2010

Can you help me find my running mojo??

Another day, another hour and a half lie-in...oh dear, oh dear - really must try harder!

For some inexplicable reason, this last couple of weeks I've got really bad at actually getting up when the alarm goes off and going out for a run or to the gym.  After "restarting" my blog yesterday, I was determined that I would get up early this morning and go for a run with a renewed vigour and enthusiasm, enjoy the thrill of being the only one out on the streets, and relish that feeling of being warm from the effort, despite it being so freezing cold (was probably about -3oC this morning).

But no.  Again.  The alarm went off and I rolled over and went promptly back to sleep, not getting up until I absolutely had to, to get to work on time.

If this carries on, my PB attempt at my next race (12th December, Bedford Half Marathon) is going to be a disaster.  But I really have no idea why I'm feeling like this - usually I'm up 5 minutes after the alarm, and although I don't enjoy that at 5.30am, I do enjoy the run and the temptation of getting out there is enough to get me out of bed.

Can you help me find my running mojo?? Any advice/suggestions would be much appreciated.....

Thursday 25 November 2010

Barefoot running - is it the answer??

Blisters, heavy feet, slapping strides as I'm running down the road - my new trainers really haven't been working for me :(

I've always run in Asics Kayano trainers, and have lost toenails, had appalling blisters from long runs, tendinitis in my ankle, and various other issues, but have generally just got on with things. When the fabric on my trainers starting fraying though, I thought it was probably time for some new ones....so I just bought the most recent version of the Kayano and went out in them. But they really weren't right. Something about the new design on this old style doesn't work with my feet at all and I didn't need a long run to feel like my shoes were hurting - worse than that, after 200 yards, I felt that they were impeding me.

In the couple of days after my first run in my disappointing new shoes, I discovered (through a recommendation on Amazon) Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I couldn't put it down. It's amazing and if you haven't read it and you love running (or you're even a bit interested in it!) you should read this book.

This is the precis from Wiki: McDougall tracks down members of the reclusive Tarahumara Indian tribe in the Mexican Copper Canyons. After being repeatedly injured as a runner himself, McDougall marvels at the tribe's ability to run ultra distances (over 100 miles) at incredible speeds, without getting the routine injuries of most American runners. The book has received attention in the sporting world for McDougall's description of how he overcame injuries by modeling his running after the Tarahumara. He asserts that modern cushioned running shoes are a major cause of running injury, pointing to the thin sandals worn by Tarahumara runners, and the explosion of running-related injuries since the introduction of modern running shoes in 1972.

The key thing that I took away from the book and that has stayed with me (other than an insight into the lives and attitudes of some of the craziest ultra runners there are) is that running is something that people have evolved to do...barefoot...without needing to wear over engineered, expensive, gait changing trainers.

We are "born to run" and we're just spoiling the experience by persevering with what Nike, Asics and all the other manufacturers tell us we should be putting on our feet. There are many differing opinions among the various professionals who specialise in this type of thing, but from the many articles I've read about it, I believe that the numbers of people who are still injured every year running (and yep, I'm always one of them) shows that the injury preventing shoes just don't work!

All of these ideas coming at the time when I was having such trouble with my own trainers, has been very exciting for me. I'm convinced that (a simulated) barefoot running method is the answer to my problems with my trainers. I've spent my life, as most of us have, in shoes and I know for a fact that if I decided to go and run barefoot down the street tomorrow I'd be hobbling in a minute, not only because of the massive change to my running style that my body and muscles wouldn't be used to, but also because of the broken glass, snails and general detritus that I'm convinced would be waiting for my feet! However, I do believe that, with the right preparation, many runners could benefit from running in (feet protecting) basic shoes that don't offer the cushioning and fake support that alter the way the body naturally moves and the way the foot supports us.

So...I'm changing my stride from heel to mid-strike (which has immediately increased my pace and helped keep my shoulders relaxed when running) and am very soon going to be looking at some of the new shoes on the market that seem to be designed for this new barefoot running trend...or maybe I'll just buy some cheap white plimsoles that I used to run in at school!

In need of inspiration

Over the last few months, I've been really pleased with my running progress, getting up early, running decent long runs on a Sunday, and I've amassed a fair few medals for the races I've taken part in. I'm really looking forward to my 3rd marathon in the Spring and my next race, in a couple of weeks, will be my sixth half marathon. I read running books, am very interested in the idea of trying barefoot running, and spend half my time reading running articles online.

But...the problem is that this week I seem to have completely lost my motivation - all of a sudden, it's gone, I'm losing interest, am eating so unhealthily and just want to sleep!

I can't get up in the morning and am sleeping until 7.15am and then getting the latest train I can to scrape getting into work on time. I've barely seen the inside of the gym for the last three weeks, and have only run once this week, and only managed 3 miles 'cause I got bored and went home.

So...to try and pull myself back, I've going to start blogging every day. Maybe just a couple of lines, maybe a whole piece about how things are going, but I'm going to focus this blog on my running and hopefully get myself out of this slump!