My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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Breaking a Six Month Drought

How do you get your mojo back after a dry spell?

When it’s dry, it’s dry for ages. Often the only thing you need to get a good stiff run under your belt is a slightly less desirable initial run, just to break the drought and dust things off.

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How do you define a drought?

A drought is an extended period when a runner experiences a deficiency in his or her run supply. A drought can last for months or years, or may be declared after as few as 3 days depending on existing levels of hypochondria and addiction.  It can have a substantial impact on the fitness and mental state of the affected runner. The definition may depend on you, and what you class as a ‘normal’ number of times to be sneaking off for a quick run. Some of us do it twice or more a day, others once a week, and the odd few save it for special occasions like Christmas and New Years (those fitness resolutions are great!). I think we can all agree, that if you haven’t wet your end of your nose with sweat from a run in six months, you are experiencing a drought.

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What a run drought looks like on Strava

During a dry spell you can feel quite left out of the action, because you are. You wake up feeling squeaky-clean on a Sunday morning, and you’ve got no juicy stories for your workmates on Monday about the sweet route you conquered in the weekend. If it’s been a while since you’ve been out for an all-morning sweat fest you might be feeling like it’s never going to happen again.

This hot weather we’ve been having in Wellington gets everyone in the mood for it. Bronzed bare legs and a warm 120km/h breeze blowing through your hair like a Pantene commercial, the conditions are perfect for some carefree summer loving. I’m here to help you to get back in to the game, to end your drought, and regain your prowess on the streets, the track and the trails.

Let’s put another notch on your GPS watch and break the dry spell, let’s get you a RUN.

  1. Take stock of your appearance

What typically happens to your body during a six month drought?

You gain or lose weight, you wear things that aren’t made of spandex and regain a sense of style, your hair is clean, and you have all your toenails! You have had lots of spare time while you haven’t been chasing trails to work on things like flossing your teeth and getting hair cuts, there will have been some big changes. You need to reverse all of that.

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Consider changing your hair, making it more aero. If you have acquired a fringe since being out of action this just has to go, they are not good for running. Have you shaved off your beard trying to look clean and fancy? Grow that pube-face back, especially if you’re running off road, you need somewhere to keep mementos of your big running dates.

The boobs/moobs? I’m sorry but they need to go. Also not aero. Once you get back on the horse you will have plenty of time to run off your titties, but if you want to start the process now then get your bum on to a spin bike. I recommed the RPM classes at Les Mills to get your lungs cardio ready before launching back in to that first run.

2.Get ‘Interested’ again

If you find yourself home alone (again) eating pizza and watching the Susan Boyle X Factor audition (again) to make yourself believe that the Ugly Duckling story can come true, just stop right now and put away the pizza (keep the tissues out though).

If you have lost that burning desire that once had you at it twice a day, try to reignite that passion. The best quality ‘inspirational’ material is on the websites you can subscribe to, like Flotrack. Sign up to the site, grab a sock, some bodyglide, a strong shoelace, and any other running paraphernalia that might get you inspired (I like to wear my race medals when I watch running videos), and settle back for an evening with just you and the screen.

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Runboner material from Flotrack featuring Mary Cain

The more you watch, the more you will get inspired and want to get a slice of the action for yourself.

  1. Have realistic expectations

You’re not going to get that perfect run on the first go, so just stop with the idealism and focus on what is attainable for you right now to get this first run out of the way. Have an open minded approach when it comes to choosing your run.

What you are saying:

‘I need to get new shoes, it has to be a sunny day, I need perfect form, my favourite flavour energy gel, and the scenery has to be so good that I try to fumble a photo with my iPhone and run and eat my gel at the same time.’

What you’ll say if you really want a route. to run:

‘Stuff it, I’ll run in my chucks and skinny jeans on the damp grass after eating a turkish kebab at 2am’

Don’t wait for that perfect run to come along, you have to slay a few dragon runs to get back to prancing like a prince or princess.

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It won’t be pretty. Nice one on the ponytail hole Lululemon.

  1. Take every opportunity

Drought buster- A person you normally wouldn’t run with but whom you decide to bang. out a run with anyway because you haven’t been on one for too long i.e. The person who breaks the dry spell.

“I heard you had a run with Emily. That girl is suspect. What were you thinking?” 
“Yeah, she’s not quality. She runs 12 minute kms. I’m not proud, but what can I say? She was my drought buster.”

All your friends have continued training and you’ve been left in the dust. They are all married to their training programs, and can’t just do casual runs any more. You need to meet new people, ones who are going to have an attainable pace that you can see yourself conquering without too much effort.

Be wary of the running virgin. It may be tempting to pick up someone who hasn’t run before to help you break your drought. You might fluke it and have an amazing run with one of these people, but it’s never good having to comfort them the next day when they are in pain and walking with a swagger because of you. On the plus side, your technique can’t look bad to them, because they don’t know any better!

Other potential drought-busters

Online meetups. These are often in a group though, so if you’ve been flying solo for a few months, going straight in to a group situation can be intimidating. Some people don’t like group runs, but if you’re serious about breaking the dry spell then doing it in a group means you have not just one but up to ten new potential future running buddies! From these ten you may find the one that you can go steady with on long run Sundays. I recommend our local group Wellington Running Meetup, they are fantastic.

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Wellington Running Meetup. It gets weird.

THE ONE

When the golden opportunity finally presents itself, try to remain calm. Take it slowly or it will be over within a couple of minutes. Start off at an easy pace to get in to the rhythm, if it feels uncomfortable then slow it right down. Listen to some Lionel Ritchie if it will help to set the pace.

Expect the unexpected, it may feel like you have never done it before if it’s been a while but practice makes perfect right? The shock of that initial run is over, now it’s time for you to get in to training!

Describe using as many multi-syllabled adjectives as possible, what your first time (or first time in a long time) was like. Share with the group, go on.

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How to break up (gracefully) with running

We’ve all been there.

You think things are going really well in your relationship. You’re happy, you’re shouting at the top of your lungs about how in love you are. You’ve built up a tight knit circle of friends around your relationship, and you can imagine yourself growing old and still being just as much in love as you are now.

Then it’s sprung on you. Things aren’t quite as perfect as you thought.

If I could pick one way to be dumped by running, I guess it would be a majestic, meaty, long run with spectacular views, hills, and slightly overcast to add a bit of moodiness. It would most definitely just the two of you alone, just you and running.

I felt it in my heart that Sunday that things might be over. Things felt strained, something didn’t feel quite right and we parted ways earlier than planned. The next day at the physio things were bad, but salvageable. A groin strain, it would just be a few days. A few days apart and then everything will be back to normal.

My life is ooooverrrr

My life is ooooverrrr

I am finding this breakup really hard, much harder than any break ups with human boyfriends. Running and I were quite steady for almost two years, it was intense! I would get out of bed for running at 4am, I’d stand in icy water reciting the alphabet, I’d go out at 6pm in the rain while everyone else is at Friday drinks, I’d do anything for running.

I know that others will have to go through this at some stage, so I’m offering my advice on how you can survive a break up.


1.Go on the rebound

Rebound with more pew pew than the 10c bouncy balls that you use to get at Paper Plus. Put your fingers and toes in every pie you can find and try any sport that your injury will allow you to do.

Do three sports in a day, do two at once, dabble in things you had never dared to do before because you didn’t understand them. Work out those body parts that you never knew existed, and embrace the things you ‘hated’ because you sucked at them.

I have discovered swimming, and although I can’t use my legs yet, three sessions a week over the past month has meant I have improved a lot and I’m really starting to enjoy it. The first few sessions were painful because I had terrible technique, no goggles, a bikini that liked to untie itself mid-length and I thought I could breathe underwater, but I am getting there! Pool etiquette is quite different to gym etiquette, I’ll elaborate more on that another time.

I find it hard not to be active, so swimming has been fantastic. If you are wondering why I try to keep going despite being injured, have a look at the person who half of my genes come from;

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MUST. KEEP. CHOPPING.

2.Make a playlist

It’s been nine weeks and four days
Since you took my running away *cue single tear*

You will need a lot of Jeff Buckley and James Blunt to begin with, that will get the self pity going and make you feel as down and as desolate as possible. If that doesn’t make you cry in to your Weetbix, follow up with a few of these gems.

  1. Cry me a River– Justin Timberlake
  2. Everybody Hurts– REM
  3. Nothing Compares 2 U– Sinead O’Connor
  4. Hurt– Johnny Cash
  5. Swear it again– Westlife
  6. All by myself– Celine Dion
  7. Iris– The Goo Goo Dolls
  8. Never had a dream come true – S Club 7
  9. Someone like you-Adele
  10. Landslide– Dixie Chicks

 

3.Vent wisely

If you need to rant, do it to a close friend and keep it short; treat any rants like a speed session. They are necessary once a week to keep you sharp, bang it out and it’s done. Nobody wants to hear about how horrible your life is on Facebook or otherwise, because when you really think about it, it isn’t.

Don’t publicly announce your hatred for your ex-sport, because you’ll regret it later. Saying these things publicly means they can’t be taken back, and people who bear witness will remind you long after the feelings have gone, what you said. If you say bad things about running you will get bad running juju and never run another PB.

I am good at internalising the bad thoughts and only letting out the good ones. I might be smiling on the outside, but inside I’ve been running through a list of my FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFavourite expletives for the past nine weeks.

4. Set some new goals

I cried every day for a month when I was first injured. I was really embarrassed about being so upset at ‘nothing’, and the goal I had was to get through the day without any tears. That was a stupid goal! So I set myself some better goals and stuck a large calendar to my wall, this is how they are progressing so far…

  • Cycling – in four weeks  No way Jose, sitting on the fracture is not happening quite yet
  • Aqua jogging – four weeks  It looks like a crap time anyway, freestyle even sounds cooler than ‘Aqua jogging’
  • Losing the crutches – 2  weeks  It’s been 7 weeks and we aren’t looking too good…
  • Being completely healed! 11  weeks (Holding on to hope…)
  • 22″ arms – almost there! Really, I am so close.
  • 3minute long side planks, oh hell yeah. – I’m up to 1 minute 20!
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Ten inches to go!

5.Hold a funeral

Invite all your running friends. Write a eulogy. Make terrible bland sandwiches on dry white bread and serve them with lukewarm milky tea from an ugly urn. Put all your running shoes in a pile and burn them, use stinky old gym gear to fuel the flames. Make sure you get the running friends to remove their shoes at the door, ‘as a mark of respect’. Secretly burn all of their shoes too. Spread the ashes from the shoes around your favourite running routes, at the gym, and at the track. Make sure you loudly refer to the ashes as your old boyfriend when you are doing this. It’s ok to let yourself grieve, you have lost mobility, independence, time with friends, and you have nothing to brag about on Facebook any more.

6.Meditate, don’t medicate

It’s very easy when you no longer have to get up at 5am to fit in a run, to sleep in until lunch time. It’s very easy to have another wine, when you think ‘Oh, I really don’t have a reason to be vertical before 10am’, and then as if by magic, you start reverting to your student days. It starts with one beer and quickly escalates to ladling cheap vodka and apple sours from a bucket. Lying in bed is helpful if you need to rest, but doing it hungover isn’t much fun. Do something more relaxing, like watching re-runs of Full House, reading a book or have staring competitions with your cat. Retail Therapy is also nice.

Amanda is modelling a new swimming cap and togs, what did cripples do before online shopping?

Amanda is modelling a new swimming cap and togs, what did cripples do before online shopping?

7. Reclaim your pre-running habits

As above, hello vino! Remember those people you use to stay in touch with before you started putting running first? Family I think I use to call them, and there was another one called Boyfriend. Get re-acquainted with them. Read a book.

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8. Stop telling the story

If I had a pre-2006 NZ 50 cent piece for every time someone asked me what happened, I’d sit on Oriental Parade with the sack of coins and throw them at the heads of the people running past.

‘What happened to your foot?’

‘I have a stress fracture in my pelvis

‘How did you do that?’

‘Running’

‘What? Did you run in to a pole or off a cliff?’

“Did little Benny Terry do that to ya?’- (followed by an exaggerated wink and a dopey laugh haw haw haw)

I then launch in to the reasons one can get a stress fracture, recovery time, getting stuck in door frames with my crutches and how nice the weather is outside, oh you just got back from running in it? WELL THAT’S FANTASTIC! GOOD FOR YOU! TELL ME MORE!

9.Learn a new skill

I have been doing, of all things, tutorials on how to paint my nails on Youtube. It never occurred to me that people have nice hands and nails because they spend time looking after them. I think running themed nails will have to be next…

10. Be patient

The feelings of hopelessness will fade, and one day you’ll wake up and realise that you haven’t even thought about running for a week. That week might not be the week that you were supposed to be at National Road relays, or any of the weeks you are working inside a gym, but that week will come. It might only come when you’re 89 and suffereing from memory loss, but it will come.

Have you ever had an injury? What helped you get through it? How many people did you murder?