7 things I learnt from 7 months running

I’m walking 640km across Jordan, and the days are counting down remarkably fast. The point of the trek is not only to challenge myself but to raise funds for @MSF_UK as I’ve written about extensively, start at number one and work on through to ten. If you believe in MSF’s work around the world or simply like my blog please head over to my just giving page and donate a few Pounds, Euro, Shillings or dollars to the cause.

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1. Goal setting  – often and achievable.

My goals started small, run the 1km between home and work, run there and back (2km), add a little on for a 2.5km loop, do it twice. When I started even the 1km goal was too tough and I mixed in some walking, but the first time I ran the 2.5km loop and felt like I could do more I started to feel like I was achieving something so instead of being frustrated that I couldn’t run 5km I felt awesome that I could run my own loop. Today I completed my “big” goal, 20km, I can’t believe it myself.

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2. Nobody is watching

When I started I literally got up before daylight to run my loops on the backstreets so nobody would see me. I hate my legs, I wasn’t happy with the extra weight I had put on, I couldn’t run far without stopping, I had the wrong gear… all these things that made me uncomfy and want to hide. It’s a small thing but I went for an afternoon run recently and to get home I had to walk through a busy street dusty and sweaty and I realized I didn’t care, obviously nobody else did, they never did, it was always in my own head.

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3. It’s not a race

As I upped the distance it became clear that I couldn’t go for distance and speed at the same time, and for me this isn’t a big deal. I’m happy that I can run a km under 6mins, I can run 5km under 30 mins and 10km under an hour… but I don’t have to go out and break myself every time to prove it. internalizing this means I started to relax more and enjoy running even when I was being slow and crap.

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4. Find a trail

I can go further and I enjoy running more when it’s beautiful. 14km doesnt feel like torture when route finding, with a great view and fields of cows keep me occupied. It’s not everyday I can get out on trails and tracks, but I am making more effort to do it.

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5. It’s ok to stop

what do you do when a run just is not working today? I used to push through telling myself not to be so weak and useless. But as I’ve accepted that I am actually a runner, I’ve put in some distance, I know I can do 10km or even 20km if I have to it’s easier to admit when it just is not working and not to beat myself up – tomorrow will be better. One weekend I went out for a 10km run but after just 2km I was struggling, my stomach hurt and I was running nearer to 7:30mins per km than 6mins/km. Everything sucked. This is where I used to feel I was failing and would continue to push but instead I stopped. I walked home and I went back to sleep! The next day I ran 12km without any drama.

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6. Walk the hills

The trails I tend to run are on the side of the famous Table Mountain, it’s not flat, today’s trail had over 700m of ascent, KM 6 was basically all uphill and even walking full of pain. Maybe the professionals can run this, but for me a fast, unstopping walk is enough to leave me breathless, but I have to accept that is what I can do and it is indeed ok to walk some of the ups as long as i keep trying and don’t let it become an excuse

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7. treadmills are necessary evils

Crazy travels means sometimes it’s not safe to get outside and run the streets and trails and I have to hit the gym if I want to run. The first time I went to a gym to run I saw a guy crash of the treadmill. I had thought that was a gym myth, but no, so I was super nervous about giving it a go myself! Treadmills are dull, but you can help yourself by setting a program for intervals or a hill run where the gradient and speed changes so you don’t just plod along same same for the entire time.

I’ll have to set a new goal now, it seems I’ve started to enjoy this running thing somewhere along this journey. So tomorrow I’ll go out to stretch the legs, but being kind to myself!

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