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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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

Accidental Runner

I’M A RUNNER. I’m still relatively 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 off all things running as total lunacy. Craziness. Sure, I’ve run a fair bit, but it has been mainly on the basketball court or other sports field, i.e. while having actual fun. 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 club and am preparing for my first race. I’m an actual, bona fide runner.

Continue reading

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 (accidental burger)… and on the 2nd (ice cream – it was a hot day)… and 3rd (a friend stopped by with a delicious cake – what’s a girl to do?!). I vowed to start again the following Monday, but didn’t do any better. That night, I felt ecstatically happy tucking into a chocolate chip cookie – 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.)

Later that week, after the first session with my new running club, I had an epiphany. I was already doing a lot to improve my health and fitness, but I came to realize I should put my spare time to good use and get back into writing. More specifically, it was the high that I got from a hard run that made me want to write about how it felt and what running was doing for me – without risking a spoiler here, what it’s doing for me is something pretty amazing. 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.