In the recent months, I have seemed to have found a new interest in running. Along with the majority of people, I have done the occasional quick 15 minute run outside or on the treadmill in the gym. I used to get bored really quickly so only ever set myself a target on running for a short period of time. But, since January I have started to build up my distance and confidence. Now this happened very slowly and gradually can I emphasise, so I didn't just wip out a quick 10km. When I moved to London in November, I found myself only really walking and visiting places that I had already been before. But more recently I have truly discovered and found a love for South London through running through its beautiful parks and roads, woods and nature reserves. I have used running as a mode of transport and way of seeing my new home, and I'm thankful for it. Here's to another year in South!!
To be honest, it has been since lockdown where I have really started to test my stamina and distance. One of the things that has allowed me to stay consistent with work and fitness is setting goals and to do lists for the day. These lists could consist of work related tasks, or simple things like 'do a white wash'... But I was able to hold myself liable to a list of things, short or long, that at the end of the day I felt like I could tick something off and feel accomplished. I don't know about anyone else but ticking something physically on paper is actually the best thing on the planet.
One of the tasks most days on my lists was 'do a run'. Now some days it would just say 'do a run', some days it would say 'run 5km', and one day, on Friday 17th April it said 'run 10km (weather pending)'. Before I was able to write this down on a piece of paper, and believe in myself to actually do it, I started with setting a goal of consistently running 5km every time I went out. I haven't been so fussed about the time that I do 5km in, I just wanted to feel good during the run and not feeling like I needed to stop to take a breath, and feel good afterwards (mind you sometimes I do have to crawl up the 3 flights of stairs to my flat no matter what). After about a month of consistently doing 5km minimum, I braved the idea of 10km. Now this genuinely scared me, and that is totally okay. I'm not sure why, as I had ran 7.5km several times prior to this, so whats an extra 2.5k aye? So, going back to my to do list on 17th April, I set myself my 'run 10km' goal. I wanted to do this in under an hour. This was the first time I set myself a time AND a distance goal, but I am really glad I did it. Throughout the run, I actually felt really good. I have discovered that after the first 25/30 minutes, I feel like I can keep going and feel really great. When I got to 7.5km I tried to skip a song on my watch, however I accidentally turned of my tracker. Now this was probably the most frustrating thing to happen, like ever. I had to stop/fast walk, and quickly figure out how much further I needed to go and in how much time. My maths skills are no good when I'm sat still with a calculator, let alone sweating my ass off running with a calculator. When I got back to my flat, I sat down (necessary) and set my calculations straight. I had run 10.16km in.. drum roll please, 59 minutes and 37 seconds. I was so happy. I felt so accomplished and pleased with myself. And, I tell you what. Ticking off 'run 10km' at the end of that day was the best feeling I'd felt in a long time.
So, the first 10km was run, and I instantly wanted another goal. When I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram (I try not to do this but it happened anyway) I saw that @thefoodmedic (I recommend the follow) had set herself the goal of running 100km through the month of May. Now, I saw this on the 1st of May and quickly had to make the decision. I had no time of ponder and um and ah about it which definitely helped, but I didn't feel particularly well that day which nearly put me off, and say "oh you know what I'll do it next month". This would have been ridiculous and I would have been totally annoyed at myself. I managed to get myself out the door for a very quick 3.5km around the park. It was a slow start to the goal, but nonetheless it was a start.
I am currently on week 3 of 100k in May and I feel fabulous for it. I have set a goal of running at least 1 long run a week, with a minimum of 10km, and the rest of the week just follows with what I fancy. Running 25km a week seemed so unrealistic to start with, but it averages at about 4 runs over 7 days. I have rest days where I don't move at all, and days where I do barre, yoga, or hiit. Training differently every day keeps me focused and motivated. Sometimes I will just do my own class, other days I need someone to follow, but this again gives me inspiration and its so important to be motivated and inspired by others.
The oak tree @ One Tree Hill, Honor Oak
I would highly recommend that you set some goals when you start running. If you haven't really run before, keep them small, keep them practical. 2.5k, a run around your local park. Also, BE. CONSISTENT. This is one thing that has really supported me in the build up to running longer distances. Knowing that I have the training and endurance under my belt has really support my body and my mind. Oh and also, get yourself some good running socks to start with, otherwise the blisters are real I'm telling you... I've just invested in some good running trainers, so lets see if they make me fly.. not.
In a recent post on Instagram of me and a lovely foam roller, I touched upon how I recover post run and prevent injury. Obviously, being a yoga teacher and movement practitioner, I have learnt how to take good care of my bod. I know how to read my body and give it what it needs and when. After every run, I will always stretch. Always. I know the feeling of getting back from a run and all you want to do is just sit/lie down. But I promise you that taking 10 minutes to properly cool yourself down and stretch will make the world of difference to the recovery time post run. I always suggest finishing your run around 5 minutes before you get home, so you have some distance to just walk and slow down your heart rate, as well as keep the muscles warm before you start stretching. My stretching is very yoga based, and I would be happy to do a IGTV with my flow post run if people are interested? I always always, always stretch my: hip flexors (a must), hamstrings, quads, glutes, and calves. I then give my feet a little massage by rolling a squash ball around on the sole of my feet while standing. The plantar facia is the flat band of tissue (ligaments) that connects your heel to your toes. This can often get tight just through daily activity, but can be irritated or tightened when running. Just taking a moment to release any tension from running on concrete or other surfaces can prevent any irritation or pain. I then spend some time on my foam roller. Sometimes I do this at the end of the day or straight after my run (sweat scale dependant). I roll out any knots or tight bits in my legs just to prevent them getting overly tight and reduce the possibly of a strain or tear in the muscles (especially my calves).
Recovery is such a important part of a running routine. I really believe that this time I take out of my day to look after my body post run has supported me in increasing the number of runs I do, and the distance I can go. ALSO have a bath if you have one a few times a week. Baths salts will forever be your best friend.
I always, always run with music. To be honest I haven't even tried running without, but it doesn't seem in the slightest appealing. I find that running to music, slow or upbeat keeps me going, and distracts from what is actually happening in my body, even if my body feels good. It helps me find a rhythm, a means to go on and complete a goal. Anything will do, I suggest putting on songs that you know and love to start with to motivate you. But the more you improve on your running, the more it just becomes background noise. I love the feeling of knowing that I can keep going, knowing that I am in control of my body. Music is the soundtrack to my consistency, and effort, and interests.
I want to try listening to podcasts too, I think it would be interesting to see how they help me run. Maybe they would help me with long distances, if I'm fully focused on words rather than rhythm. However, like I said music becomes background noise for my thoughts now, so maybe I would get distracted? I don't know, need to give it a go.
Over isolation I have created what I would say a very long, eclectic playlist of everything I have been listening too. Give it a listen and let me know what you think! I've been running to it recently too.
Username on spotify: darciewebb
I recently read 'Jog On: How Running Saved My Life' by Isabella Rusbridger. I loved it, and it really made me want to make running a big part of my week and daily (ish) routine. The book touches on mental illness, physical exercise and how Isabella found that the two hugely worked hand in hand. I found there was so many pointers and things that take from this book, and it was really lovely to hear her story. I would highly recommend reading this book if you would like some inspiration for running and a little teeny tiny, kick up the ass and a push into something you might find daunting and scary. This doesn't have to be running, it could be something that you've wanted to try for ages but just haven't had the guts or the motivation. This will do the trick, and bring a smile to your face too!
I honestly think that running has supported me hugely recently in terms of my mind/mental health during lockdown, my physical health and goals, and just all round interest to keep moving and keep going. The post run feeling carries me through the day, or if I run in the evening, I genuinely look forward to going out and feeling that sweat and fresh air combination (oooo lovely). I think that this is something that I am going to carry along with me for a long time.
I hope that this post has given you some inspiration, whether it is to get out on a run (you can do it!!), or a walk. Whether it's given you some ideas to set yourself some daily goals and to-do lists, or a good book recommendation and a playlist to listen to. Let me know what you get up to, and if you take any images or videos and post them, remember to take me and #toflowandco
All the love,