The best running decision I ever made…joining a running club.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, and now that it is beginners month with @ukrunchat, it seemed very apt to finally finish and publish it.

If you are thinking of taking up running, or you want to take your running to the next level, join a club. It seems like the scariest thing in the world; How can you join when you are not a proper runner? Will you be too slow? What if no-one speaks to you? The negative thoughts go on and on. But seriously it is the best thing that I ever did. I’m not saying joining a run club works for everyone, but finding the right running club for you will increase your enjoyment of running x 100.

Training session with TB

I had tried a running club when I lived in Surrey, and even though I enjoyed it at the time, I got injured as I was trying to keep up with a very fast paced group and had to stop going after the third week. When I had recovered I didn’t go back, I just preferred plodding on my own, at my own pace.

Now that I have joined Team Balancise, it is awesome. Definitely, the best decision I have made for my running. From day one, I have enjoyed every session. I have met a wonderful group of people and I look forward to training every week.

YMCA??? Anyone? Photo Credit @AndyBrayford

So, what are the benefits of joining a club? Here are just a few I can think of:

  1. You meet like-minded people. Runners are a special type, and at a running club, everyone is that same ‘type’ as you! There is no such thing as TMI when it comes to runners, we share all sorts of information with each other, that any Muggles (non-runners) just wouldn’t understand!
  2. You can talk about running until your heart’s content, and your club mates will join in too! They actually like your running status on social media, and are really pleased for you when your run goes well! They understand when you are excited about the PB you got, and they are often just as excited for you.
  3. Training runs are always so much more fun as you have people to run with. My training cycle for London this year was so much more enjoyable as I chatted my way around most of my long runs, and then was pushed to work harder through all of my speed sessions.
  4. My club mates are so supportive. If I ever had a wobble during the lead up to London, they always gave sensible advice and gave me the belief that I could do it. Seeing them on the sideline at London gave me a huge boost.
  5. Being part of a club also helps you to find out about local races. I know most races are advertised all over the internet, but I have found out about so many local races through my club. I would have never competed in the Peterborough Half Marathon had it not been for TB, but I loved it and will be doing it again!
  6. The coaches push you harder than you would push yourself on your own, but they also are able to adapt the session for all abilities, so you never feel out of your depth.
  7. The sessions are always varied. Running the same route, the same pace and at the same time, each week can quickly become boring. Being part of a club means you run a variety of routes, lots of different types of sessions and quite often all the sessions you try to avoid when on your own!
  8. In the correct club, your running improves. I have definitely become a better runner since joining a club. I am better at pacing, I am better at training, and I love my running SO much more.
  9. On the days you really don’t feel like running, but you have made arrangements to meet a club mate, you go and you always feel better afterwards.
  10. Clubs are full of so much experience. For most people, there will always be people faster than you, runs longer than you and vice versa. You can learn from all of them!
Team Balancise 2019

I am sure that there are many, many more reasons to join a club, so feel free to add your reasons below. If you are not part of a club, and you are thinking about it, my advice; do it! If it’s not the right club for you, find another because when you find the right club, you’ll love running just that little bit more.

Sunday Summary

Monday – Rest. Should have been a club run, but I had a meal with work for someone’s leaving do instead.

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – 5.30 am C25k with my sister. 2 x 8 minutes running with 5 minutes walk in between (she smashed it!) I followed this with a yoga cool down. A video(Click here) on YouTube was recommended to me via #UkRunChat a while back, and I use it as much as I can now.

LOTS of filters needed on this photo!

Thursday – Run club – 10 minutes warm up, 30 sec run at 90%, 1 min recovery, 45 sec run at 90%, 1 min recovery, 60 sec run at 90%, 1 min recovery, 45 sec run at 90%, 1 min recovery, 30 sec run at 90%, 2 min recovery. 10 minutes at 5k pace. 30 sec run at 90%, 1 min recovery, 45 sec run at 90%, 1 min recovery, 60 sec run at 90%, 1 min recovery.

My pacing was all over the place (just for a change!) The 10 minute at 5k pace was sold to us a 5 minutes and I set off way too fast – around 8.20mm! I think I ended at around 9.10 mm, so all too fast, which made the session VERY hard.

I WISH this was for a continuous mile!

Friday – 5:30am C25K with my sister. 20 minute run, no walking. She nailed it, ran the entire 20 minutes at the first attempt.

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 8am C25K with my sister. 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 8 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running. After this work out, I tried to complete a ‘long run’.

When I look back I haven’t really run anything continuously over 3 miles since London. I haven’t actually run on my own in a very long time either. So I set off on a familiar route, hoping to run a relaxed pace and see how far I could go. I managed 4.33 miles in 43:36! I learnt a few things on this run!

This hurt far more than I thought it would.

 

  1. I don’t really know what a relaxed pace is! I feel myself pushing most of the time.
  2. I have neglected ‘Long Runs’ and I shouldn’t have. I wanted to give up after 1.5 miles. It felt much tougher than I had hoped for!
  3. I almost found it a little boring running on my own. I didn’t take music either.
  4. I am in desperate need of a sports massage – everything hurts!

Hope everyone has had a good week. What have you been up too? Anyone race?

 

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What do I know about Marathon Training???

So, I am now nearing the end of my second marathon training cycle, so obviously, I am no expert in this, but I thought I’d jot down (26 to be precise) things I have learnt/discovered about marathons and marathon training.

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  1. Find a PLAN – There are so many generic plans on the web that you can use. BUT these are generic, so don’t be afraid to adjust them to suit you. There is no point following a plan which requires you to run 4 times a week, if you can only fit in 3!
  2. Put your PLAN in your diary – I find that if I write things down, or add them to the diary on my phone, then they become a priority. Or, if I have something on that day, then I will change my run day, or run at a different time of the day, so to fit in both.
  3. Develop a routine – Use the early part of your plan to establish a routine. Are you a morning runner? Do you go out at the end of the day? What works for you? When you know, stick to it.
  4. Training is the hardest part – That may seem silly as 26.2 miles is a long way, but if you complete a spring marathon, most of your training take places through the winter, when its dark and cold. Pounding the streets week after week in the dark and cold is much harder than keeping going on marathon day.1349456363521_7678072
  5. Vary your routes – you have a lot of miles to run in the training and the same route will be boring. Find as many different routes as possible. Use Walk Run Jog, Map My Run etc.
  6. Pretend you’ll walk – On the days when you really don’t want to run (usually tempo or threshold (see No.7) days) convince yourself that you’ll go for a ‘little’ run, and walk when you want too. Very rarely will you actually do that, but it would have helped you get out the door!
  7. Vary your sessions – When you first start running, going out and running at whatever pace suits is good, but doing that for weeks on end, increasing distance will be boring and you will get tired. Slow down on recovery runs, get quality speed sessions in and then go long. There is A LOT of information on the internet about different types of session. Take it all in and use it to work for you. Martin Yelling taught me the postcode test. If you can say your whole postcode you are recovery running or long running. If you can say the first part, but have to take a breath in between, you are probably tempo running. If you struggle to finish the first part, your likely to be running threshold.
  8. Find Run Buddy – I used to run a lot of my training runs with my friend Kate aka Chicken. It was great as we are similar pace and we can gossip non-stop! Since moving I have found this difficult, but running and chatting will ensure that you are not running too fast on your long runs, and it makes the runs far more enjoyable.
  9. Use races as training for long runs – If you are going to log the miles, why not get the bling! It also helps that they have drinks stations, so you don’t have to carry drinks, and there are often supporters or other runners to help you along if you have a tough patch. The only thing that I found tough about this, was the slowing down and using it as training. You have to learn quickly that races aren’t all about chasing PB’s!IMG_5321IMG_3702
  10. Run Commute – If you can run to or from work, make this part of you training. I could do this last year, although it did mean that I had to be super organised, but if you run to work, you have that smug feeling most of the day. If you run home, there is a great satisfaction in reaching home and knowing the evening is yours!
  11. Remember breakfast – I have a young daughter, and I used to think that I would get up early and complete my runs before she even woke up. First time I tried this, I thought out by 5.30am that will be fine. But then I realised I would have to eat breakfast before I go. Setting the alarm for 3.30am didn’t seem so appealing. Last year, I did try breakfast at 4.30 and then headed back to bed – it wasn’t pleasant!
  12. Stretch – This should be easy, but it always goes to bottom of the list when time is tight. A huge number of runners do not even make the start line, due to injury, so take care of yourself.
  13. Strength Train – I wish I did this more. A strong core and glutes are important to a runner. This again is not one of my strong points. I remember commenting on a post, suggesting someone uses the Nike Training Club App. It has great workouts. Yes it did remind me, and I used it a few times, but….!! I need to put strength training in the diary in future!

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    Nike Training App

  14. Connect with run communities – Being part of the Run Mummy Run community is invaluable to me. Reading inspirational posts on Facebook from other ladies, feeling their support if you ever have a down day, and gaining advice from some amazing people. Also connecting with like-minded people on twitter via #UkRunChat allows you to talk running until your heart is content. Family and friends that do not run, will soon get bored with you talking about running, and they will just not get how excited you are when you have gained your fastest mile or longest run.IMG_5484
  15. You will become a stats freak – I use a Garmin to track my runs, pace, distance etc and I love downloading all the data and analysing it. Comparing each run, totalling weekly mileage, checking pace…the lists could go on and on and on and on…….
  16. You will never have enough kit – well you will, but it will not stop you from trawling through the internet looking (and often ordering) new kit.
  17. Marathon training DOES NOT make you skinny. I remember when I found out I had a ballot place in 2014, I was so excited to run, but also as I thought it finally meant that I would get the fit body I always dream about! I am sure that there are lots of people who do lose weight when training for a marathon, but it is not a given.
  18. Pretty Feet in summer – They are a no-no! If you do a spring marathon, flip-flop season follows – this isn’t always ideal as you can often lose toenails! Not attractive!
  19. Runger – this is a new term I learnt. Running causes you to constantly be hungry. Running + hunger = RUNGER (especially the day after a long run!)
  20. Hydrate – You need to keep yourself hydrated. Sometimes just having water can be boring. I add Nuun tablets to my water to give it some flavour, but it also contains electrolytes too.IMG_5329
  21. Charity – If you are lucky enough to get a ballot place, find a charity to support. It doesn’t have to be through sponsorship, just wearing their vests is good awareness. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I run wearing the MNDA vest and try to raise money for them. My father died of MND back in 2010, and it is a devastating disease, which still has no cure. If you want to read more about why I support MND, you can here and here, but running for a charity gives you an added purpose and reason to get out and log the miles.Logo-Hi-Res
  22. Marathon cost MORE money than you think – Everyone tells you running is cheap, and in principle it is. But with kit, and race entry fees, sports massage, etc it soon adds up. Leah on Naturally Leah did a great blog on this, take a look here.
  23.  Have a mantra– At last years London Marathon, I was starting to flag a little around Mile 19. I was thinking of taking a walk break when I saw lady in front of me. On the back of her t-shirt, it read ‘She believed that she could, so she did.’ I loved this, it really inspired me.

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    The key ring that I got from RunBling after the marathon

  24. Taper panic – You will always worry at the end of training, that you haven’t done enough, you are not fast enough, that the 1 run that you missed will mess up your whole marathon.
  25. 26.2 Miles is a LONG way – Ok, so I know this is obvious, but when you are training for it and you complete your 20 mile run, you stop and think ‘Wow, how am I going to run another 6.2 miles? A marathon is such a long way!
  26. It’s all worth it – All the doubts of wondering if you can do it, you live the rest of you life knowing you have!IMG_3821

I know there are lots of things I have missed, so please comment below and let me know what you have discovered!

If you could spare some pennies, please donate to MNDA here.