Why running is 83.6% psychological

I’M STARTING TO believe – believe in being able to complete my first half marathon in a time at least closely resembling the initially totally crazy-sounding target times from our coach. I think my first reaction to my predicted time was nervous laughter, then horror. Training has been going well; our long slow runs have been feeling relatively easy and enjoyable, and the speed sessions tough but entirely doable. But I have been really struggling to see how those two things would translate into being fast over a long distance, and so I have doubted myself on and off for weeks now. Continue reading

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Why the frustration of injury may revitalise your running

I HAVEN’T WRITTEN much recently. Admittedly there was the run-up to Christmas, then Christmas, then the post-Christmas whatever-it-was… Ok, I’m making excuses. I haven’t written much, because for about a month, I was able to only run very little. And as much as I think of this as a half-running, half-massage blog, it’s running that inspires me to write. So no running = no writing. But I’m back! And as much as I hated not being able to run, I’m now finding that a break can be incredibly good for motivation. Continue reading

Running and the pursuit of perfection

RACING WAS a great experience. I felt anxious about getting there on time, nervous just before the start, unsure about where I should position myself at the start line (as it turned out, I ended up a bit too far back), and annoyed I didn’t get my GPS signal sorted in time, but as soon as we were off it was enjoyable and fun. Yes, fun. The route was hilly (“gently undulating” is a big, fat lie) and it got a little too hot for anyone’s liking, but I enjoyed every minute. Sure, some of the hills felt tough and I put everything I had left into a sprint finish, but it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. I did run very cautiously for the first half, but picked up the pace and started overtaking runner after runner, finishing in a fairly respectable time too. But it was after the race when my competitive spirit really kicked in. By the following day I was kicking myself for not running the first half of the race a little bit faster, wondering how much quicker my time could have been. And the day after that, I signed up for another 10k in just a few weeks’ time to test my fitness and a better race strategy on a flatter course, hopefully on a cooler day. Next time, I want to be faster. Continue reading

The first race – am I ready?

THE BIG RACE is in two days’ time. Not that it’s a particularly big or significant one, for many others, but for me it’s my very first one and therefore deserving of the use of CAPITAL LETTERS.

Physically, preparing to race is fairly straightforward when it’s really just your first 10k and you don’t want to get too scientific about it all. I’m trying to stay well-hydrated, do enough but not too much exercise (tennis on Tuesday, a little run today, lots of stretching tomorrow) and plan on eating porridge for breakfast and pasta for dinner for the last couple of days. Psychologically, it’s much harder. Continue reading

Why ‘no pain, no gain’ may apply in sport but not in massage

I WAS PLANNING on writing about the concept of “good pain” today, seeing as it fits in quite well with both sports and massage – certainly most of my clients are familiar with the notion. (More from their sport than my massages usually, I hasten to add!) But after this morning’s training session, I wonder if I should just write about pain…

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Accidental runner

I’M A RUNNER. I’m still quite new to running, but boy, have I been bitten by the bug. I’m a runner. Saying that makes me feel a little bit proud of myself.

I haven’t always been a runner. In fact, for the vast majority of my life I have wanted nothing to do with running. My sister has run for years, but while I have admired her guts, commitment and toned legs, I have written this running malarkey off as total lunacy. Craziness. Sure, I’ve run a fair bit, but it has been mainly on the basketball court or the hockey pitch, i.e. while having actual fun, and therefore doesn’t count. I have done massage at running events – the state of those poor people at the end of a marathon…! – and I have had a lot of clients who run. But I never really got it.

But now, I have joined a running group and am preparing for my first race in a couple of weeks’ time. I’m an actual, bona fide runner.

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The ‘other’ New Year

SEPTEMBER IS a bit like the New Year, except with less pressure and fewer expectations. But it always brings a new season and a new school year, quite possibly a new pair of boots and for me anyway, a feeling of new beginnings.

WITH A NEW year of sorts in mind, I decided to do ‘healthy September’. Nothing too crazy, just no sugar (of the obvious kind) or alcohol, less bread and more fish-and-veg-and-brown rice-type meals for a month. I wasn’t even going to stop drinking coffee. Of course I failed promptly on the 1st of September (burger) and again on the 2nd (ice cream – it was a hot day!) and 3rd (a friend popped in with a scrumptious cake – would have been rude not to). I vowed to start again the following Monday, but didn’t do any better. That night, I felt ecstatically happy tucking into a custard cream – after deciding to give up trying to give up – and didn’t even feel particularly guilty. (If there’s one thing running gives you, it’s sugar cravings. More on that later.)

LATER THAT WEEK, after the first session with my running club, I had an epiphany. I wanted to write. More specifically, the high I got from a hard run made me want to write about how it felt. I’ve always enjoyed writing, so here we are. This blog is my ‘healthy September’ (though hopefully not just for September).

I HAVE NO idea where this will take me, but I hope you’ll join me on my journey. Expect posts about running; my work as a sports and clinical massage therapist; tips and thoughts about health and wellbeing; and other topics that probably don’t have very much to do with any of the above.