Reflecting On My Recent Running Progress On The Eve Of My 100th Run Of 2013.
This morning I ventured on my longest ever pre-work run at 4:34 in the morning, managing 14 miles in 2:12. After arriving back, I checked Garmin Connect and noticed that my next run will be my 100th of the year.
So since I’m feeling all sentimental and reflective on the eve of my 100th run of 2013 on Friday, I thought I’d try and pinpoint the reasons why I’ve found running easier and more enjoyable in the last 3-6 months.
- I’m running less often but for further each time – As of August 2013, I run between 3 to 4 times week. In 2012 this was closer to 6 or 7 per week with each run lasting on average 10K. Training like that would have been fine if I’d been preparing for some 10K races, but that wasn’t the case. I wanted to run marathons and half marathons and foolishly thought that weekly mileage mattered more than the individual length of runs. I’m training with certain races in mind and it makes it much easier.
- I always push myself on each run for at least five minutes – Even on easy days I try to push for a little bit even if it’s a minute of sprints per mile. It doesn’t have to be about speed either. If I want to run 10 miles then I’ll get to the 10 and try to push onwards to 10.1. I want to keep moving on and keep getting better and even putting 1% effort more into a run will show results over time.
- I have broken down in a marathon, given up and emerged from the other side stronger – The Paris Marathon kicked my ass and it was solely through a lack of preparation. When I hit the wall in that race it seemed obvious that I just hadn’t been covering enough distance on my long runs. I learned from it and came back and ran 2 close back to back 18 milers in training for Belfast next month, and it was a really positive experience in the end.
- I give more in training on my own so that running in races is easier – It’s much better for me to sweat, curse, weep and kick street lights on my own than to do it in the full gaze of the public eye. Having to stop in a race is fucking humiliating, whereas nothing beats the joy of running well towards the finishing line of a race. Putting in a bit of extra work means I can worry less about finishing a race and more about my pace and finishing time.
- I no longer ‘reward myself’ with food after a good run – I made little to no progress in 2012 as I was too busy feeding my face with ‘good boy!’ truffles after hard runs. It was such a fucking waste! I mean back then I was really struggling on every single fucking run and there I was, eating back every single pound of fat I shed. It was pointless. Now I focus on the bigger picture and reward myself with A HARD FUCKING WANK. Or failing that, a Pot Noodle.
And then a wank.
- I ride out the bad weeks and refuse to capitulate – I’ve had a couple of weeks where I didn’t want to run at all but at the last moment decided to go out and record at least one run. Those decisions have helped me maintain much needed momentum. It’s that consistency that allows for me to build on my progress and to keep my morale up. A good example is last weekend. I wasn’t gonna run on Saturday or Sunday at all because of a fucking dreadful hangover, but went out anyway and managed 14 miles over 2 runs.
- I‘ve learned to enjoy hill running and speed running – For the first 18 months as a runner I was afraid to test my boundaries by running on hills or shifting my pace at all. I thought that if I ever got out of breath then I’d somehow failed myself. This is a ridiculous attitude to have, as you’re always gonna be tested in races and in life itself. There is nothing wrong with stepping up to a challenge, failing and taking a lesson away from it. It’s much better than never having the balls to try something different.
- I have capitalised on my positive momentum – If I’ve learned one thing from running in the last 30 months, it’s that the more you put into running and eating right the easier it gets. The easier running gets the more you wanna do it and push yourself. Don’t get complacent. If you backslide and stop for a while then it can become a lot harder again. Push home whilst you have the advantage. Refuse to be pushed onto the back foot. Positive momentum stops quickly if you stop pedalling. It won’t last unless you make it last.
- I have made achievable short term goals with definite deadlines – My goals in June were to record a sub 2 hour half marathon, a sub 4:30 marathon and to weigh 200lbs by the end of the year. I’ve completed the first and I’m well on track to meet the last two. Achieving my first goal has given me a lot of confidence in my ability to hit the next two targets!
- I have simplified my training – I try to run as close to the distance I want to run in the race as often as I can. I don’t give a shit about tapering, stretching, masturbating in forests as a peace offering to Mohammed Farah or any other voodoo, hoodoo, yuppie hippy bollocks. If I want to run a sub 2 hour marathon, I train at 9:09 and run 9:09 as much as possible.
Wanna win races? Tie 18 Black-Tipped Chickadees to your head and pray to Mo before you run/fly.
- I am not scared to take rest days – The reason why I was previously frightened of rest days is that I would spend them eating lots of junk food and not performing any sort of exercise. Now on easy days I try to walk between 5-7 miles and count calories aiming for a maximum total of 3,000 per day. Walking is such an excellent way to maintain your weight and to keep fit.
- I’ve accepted that ‘cheat’ days are normal – There will be weekends where you drink too much beer and eat too much cake. The key is to draw a line under your bad days and get back on track quickly. Don’t make a cheat day become a cheat week (unless it’s a scheduled break or you’re genuinely fucking tired of everything in life). You might think that you’ve failed on your ‘diet’ by giving in once, but it’s up to you to make it through this one hurdle on your way to success. Keep going and enjoy yourself once in a while.