What was I thinking? Actually, I know what I was thinking: “it’s winter, I’ve had way too much comfort food and chocolate, I just ran a 13K and hey, 14K…I can do that…” Now I know I can’t be the only hapless runner who is freaking out that there are only 5 weeks until Sydney’s City to Surf (it’s on August 12 people).
Yes I am kind of concerned that I may have my heart broken on that hill and instead of a casual canter up I may at some point be reduced to more of a fast walk than a run. Yep pride. That’s what at stake, personal pride.
So what to do? Well my fellow fun run tragics, there is nothing else to do but train. Now that doesn’t mean I’m out pounding the pavement every night for the next five weeks. Sorry I just don’t have the time and physically, I have my limits. However, I do have a few training tips and tricks which I’ve found to be effective in the run-up to the odd fun run…and hopefully you will too:
1. Start slow, let the distance grow – Ok so you’ve never run a 14K – in fact you never run more than say 4K ever in your life. How in the world are you going to run 14K? Believe it or not if you have already run a 4K, are in good health and reasonable physical condition (so no major injuries) I have no doubt what-so-ever you can get to 14K.
Remember running is mostly mental so if you can get your head around the distance, you can get your heart around it too. I know this because only a few short months ago, after a very long absence from running (at least 2 years), I managed to train myself to run a 13K in only 6 weeks. It wasn’t a gold medal winning time, but it didn’t matter I did it.
My tactic was to start with a running target of 4K and to build the distance from there. The first two weeks were woeful. I couldn’t get past 2K, but then suddenly one night, I just did it. I felt good and I eked out 4K.
After that run I just kept bumping up the training by 1 or 2K. On occasions when I was unsure about whether I could make the distance, I would avoid hills. I would stick to areas where I knew it was flat, pump up the music on my headphones and get through it. The key for me was getting to 10K. Once I hit that magic number, I knew I could make 13K.
2. When in doubt, just get out – I know there are days when you think, I don’t want to train, it’s too cold, I’m too tired…. I’ve been there. The key is getting back that energy and discarding those negative thoughts. It may surprise you but having a glass of water, or a light snack (banana is my favourite) may actually help you lift your energy levels and your spirits.
If you still feel sluggish, just get yourself out there – don’t run if you don’t feel like it, just fast walk if it doesn’t feel right. You may find after a few minutes you feel good enough to canter and the next thing you know you’re running. Don’t worry if that last bit doesn’t happen – just give yourself credit for getting out there
3. Weight up – Strength training exercises are an excellent way to maintain momentum and metabolism on your non-running days. Now I’m talking here about moderate to low weights and high reps. Your focus should be on leg presses and extensions or squats and lunges. Anything that helps build strength in your core area – so Swiss ball sit ups, static push ups etc. The idea is not to wear yourself out – I never do more than 30 to 40 minutes of strength training on my off days.
4. Get some gear – I don’t know about you, but when I buy an outfit I love, I just hang out for the right opportunity to wear it. The great thing about sports clothes these days is the range is wide and technology advances mean you don’t need to pay $$$ for gear that offers both form and function.
I personally am a big fan of compression leggings that keep the muscles warm and the sweat off the skin. The theory behind compression gear is that it can reduce muscle strain and improve performance. Skins (www.skins.net) have the leaders in this space for some time now – but others have entered the market with more stylish alternatives.
Australian sports and nutrition brand Body Science have recently launched their own line of Active Compression gear (www.bscompression.com.au) which combines science and style. My pair of black Body Science Capris with green fluro piping and a rolled waistline were just the thing to get me moving. Just as technologically engineered as the Skins, but with a little bit of design magic, you will be looking for any excuse to slip them on.
5. Music to move it – A great track can do wonders for your training. There are a few great one’s out at the moment – no doubt well timed with the Olympics. So songs like Gym Class Hero’s Fighter, FoRida’s Good feeling, Labrinth’s Earthquake and if you aren’t into the latest hits what about classics like Michael Buble’s I’m feeling good or the re-mixed version of Elvis Presley’s A little less conversation….a little more action… and on that note, I should probably stop my procastination, time to get those trainers on!