Running is more than just pounding the streets! It is the road to freedom, friendship, focus and fulfilment!

Like most novice runners you immediately think about taking up running as part of a fitness regime, a weight loss goal or setting yourself a new challenge.  However, since the beginning of my running journey I have discovered that it is much more than that.

When I started running back in 2012 it was to complete my first 10K and in the process I wanted to raise awareness of my mum’s health condition (Alpha one) .

Running for Alpha one
Mum

After achieving that initial 10K I built on the sense of fulfilment that I got from fundraising and making a difference to those that struggle with long term illness on a daily basis.  I therefore, started searching for my next challenge.

I have always naturally been quite competitive and enjoyed challenging myself.   Therefore, rather than aim for the next, most obvious, distance of a half marathon, I decided to go for the big one….  Running the 2013, London Marathon!  As you can imagine this was not easy but I thankfully achieved it.

After this I did another couple of half marathons: Bath in 2014 and the Great North Run in 2016.

Great North Run
Great North Run

Now I am not going to lie, training for these distances was part of an overall lifestyle change. I did not run for short periods to conquer these running challenges; it was a constant in my life.  It was part of my daily, weekly and monthly routine.

I truly believe that if you embrace running as part of your lifestyle it truly helps you to grow both physically and mentally.

Not only, do I feel incredibly proud and satisfied to have achieved half and full marathon distances.  I also feel proud because I helped support my mum and other friends with Alpha One and Cancer illnesses.

During the process I have learned a lot about myself and that running, for me, has been an enabler to other things.

Firstly friendship, running with other people either socially or at running club, sharing training tips and life’s challenges on a personal level.

Secondly freedom,  getting out there on the open road sucking in the fresh air. Feeling like a free spirit as you either pound the streets, off road trails or sand dunes,  it does wonders for the soul.  The feeling of peace you get as you release and let go of life’s daily frustrations.

Thirdly, it gives you focus, a desire to want to catch up and go for a run with your friends. Even challenge yourself on a solo route, thinking about how you will feel at the end of it.  The sense of achievement from the physical endurance you have undertaken and a sense of emotional empowerment at having completed it.

Finally, running gives you a sense of fulfilment and an opportunity to learn more about yourself and try other things.

Because of running, I have started coaching a couple of my friends in pursuit of their first half marathon challenge.  Seeing their progression, determination and their evolvement as individuals has been incredibly rewarding.

Running Buddies
Suzi, Lisa and Heidi

Running has enabled me to push my own physical boundaries and try other activities such as cross fit, surfing, swimming, yoga, coastal walking and hard-core gym training.  It has empowered me as an individual.

Through the increase in my fitness levels, I have sought to further improve the delivery of my business,  Ship Shape aerobics class .  It has given me the desire to deliver fitness provision to more specialist clients.  In the longer term it has motivated me to work towards obtaining my personal training qualification.

So whatever level of running you are at and whatever your reasons are in the pursuit of pounding those streets…. Stop! Take a minute to reflect on your experiences and ask yourself this question: is it a short term goal or subconsciously are you on the road to embracing running as a longer term lifestyle? A platform to bigger and better things for your mind, body and soul!

Whichever you decide happy running!

 

About totalrunningnut.com

I have been a runner for about a year and would still class myself as a beginner.   Like countless others, running has not come easily and has required a lot of hard work and gritted determination.  In truth I was never in love with the idea of running but an opportunity presented itself, the stars aligned and all came together to turn me into a total running nut, (see ‘my running journey so far’ to find out more).  Needless to say running has now become an obsession and I am forever trying to get better at it!

So being the geek I am, I have read, researched and discussed all things running. Sometimes out of interest and sometimes because I am struggling and I am looking for ways to overcome the issues that I am experiencing.  Along the way I have found out some pretty interesting stuff which has helped me and could potentially help other new running nuts.

Therefore, the purpose of this blog is for you to find a catalogue of information that I have found useful.  More specifically,  it will detail how I have used and interpreted it to try and overcome my issues.  This blog will also cover my running journey including all the highs and lows and some of my ‘inner chat’ so that it may help some of you guys to see your not the only ones going through it.

Equally, what you guys are reading, discussing and finding useful is relevant to me and other running nuts and so I am keen for you to share what you are learning and any hints and tips that may be of use.

Therefore, I am hoping this blog will provide a common platform and develop a community of running nuts to share information, hints and tips.  In the process we may be able to develop our running abilities, motivate and inspire ourselves and other running nuts everywhere.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I sincerely hope this blog works and is of use to you all. If you have any feedback, it would be really welcomed after all this site is for all of you total running nuts not just me!

If you would like me to research a topic on your behalf and feed back to you and others please let me know.

Finally, if you would like to publish a post on this site credited to you then please feel free to get in touch and I would be happy to chat through with you.

From
Lisa a ‘Total Running Nut’

Vitality 10,000, 10K May 29th 2017

Best played plans….

So here I am, looking forward to running Vitality 10,000 with my running buddy Suzie and for reasons beyond her control, she is no longer able to go.  Therefore, before we even get off the starter blocks, we are both equally devastated, as this was meant to be us conquering not only the 10K but the world of large-scale races too!!

So after much deliberation on my part and cajoling on Suzie’s part I find myself in London the evening before the event minus my running buddy.  Thankfully, though I have another couple of friends running it, so I am fortunate not to be completely alone on the day.

Catching up with friends ….

Since I used to live in London I was quite excited to be back and had arranged to catch up with a friend the evening before the race.  Despite planning to meet in a pub I had promised myself I would not drink alcohol before the race and would get to bed at a reasonable hour.  After all I really did not want anything preventing me from completing this event.

The excitement of seeing my old friend was too much to bear and foolishly my good intentions went by the way side.   One bottle of wine later I stumbled back to my hotel room and bed.  The room was really hot, it was humid and there was no drinking water available.  I struggled to get to sleep but once I finally did, I then struggled to wake!!  When I do manage to wake up I am late, seriously dehydrated and hung over.  Not a great start to say the least!

Dehydration…

This is where things begin to go down hill rapidly.  I rush to the station to meet my friend Nicola who will be running with me.   Nic then guides me to the bag drop and we start to look for some means for me to rehydrate.  We could not find any stalls to buy Lucozade to help get me round despite the run being sponsored by them!!  I managed to find enough water to fill my 500ml water bottle.  The choice was I either drank it all now or drank it during the first 2k as after that there were water stations where I could top up.  I chose to have a few sips now and save the rest for the run.

To exacerbate my situation further the weather was hot with 70% humidity, which would only add to my level of dehydration.  At this point I was seriously regretting the decision to drink the previous evening and the urge to self flagellate was ever-growing!!

Nerves

By the time I got to the start line my nerves had really kicked in.  My stomach was churning, my mouth was even dryer than before and I had the headache from hell.  Why, oh why, oh why, had I been so stupid?

Luckily I had Nic running with me who understood that this was my first 10K race and seemed determined to help me complete it.  Nic was sure going to have her work cut out to achieve that!

And so the run begins..

The start gun sounded and we were off.  OMG I was running the vitality 10K; OMG I was running the vitality 10K;  OMG I WAS RUNNING THE VITALITY 10K!!!!!   What the hell was I thinking,  what if I can’t do this?  I had no choice I was going to do this for Suzie and Heidi (fellow runner and my coach) if it killed me.  Which it very nearly did….

I started well, although my pace was constantly interrupted by people over taking and then some of those that overtook me, tired and slowed and I ended up passing them again.  To add to this the route would narrow at certain points and this caused a bottleneck which almost bought everyone to a standstill.  I found  it quite frustrating as it really did mess with my ability to get a rhythm going and pace myself.  In order to overcome my frustration, I decided to run on the pavement so I could get out of the way of the other runners and keep a rhythm and pace myself better.

First 1k down – checked myself – thirsty, hot and sweaty but managing,  I might be OK after all.  I ran past people playing bongo’s, along with banners reading you can do it, keep going!  It was lovely to feel so supported and at that point, It made me feel incredibly proud of what I was doing.

Photo Opportunity

On route to reaching my 2k I came across the courts of justice which I promised I would photograph for a friend who works as a court clerk.  I can safely say it was not the best photo I have ever taken as you can only see the bottom of the building.  I am not the best photographer anyway but when your running and taking a photo……  But at least I took it!

Getting hotter….

The Kilometres seemed further apart now and so the 3K felt like it was taking forever.  I was hot dehydrated and growing ever more tired.

By the time I got to 4K  I started to struggle to keep my temperature under control.    I was sweating profusely and becoming increasingly more dehydrated and tired.  Nic, was helping me to keep my temperature down by handing me discarded bottles of water so that I could pour it over my head to cool down.  This certainly helped but only for brief periods as no sooner I poured it over me, my body was on fire again.

I was seriously struggling and the 5k felt flaming hideous.  By this point in the race I was not only hot, dehydrated and tired but I was beginning to panic.  None of these emotions were going to help me reach the 10K in fact the panic and the ever-growing negativity  were setting me up to fail.

All time low…

I made 5K but it had been the hardest 5k I had ever run and I knew I simply did not have the physical capacity or mental strength to carry on.   I knew I was finding it harder and harder to control my temperature and before long would be headed for heat stroke.  I was not going to make the 10K so at 5.5 K, I threw the towel in and started to walk.

Crowd support…

Then I heard a yell from the crowd ‘don’t stop, keep going you can do this’.  I began to feel pathetic and knew I needed to complete this somehow.   I did not have the ability to run constantly so I decided to adopt a run walk strategy.  At the 800 meter mark a friend of mine who had already completed the race was waiting to cheer me on.  It was really great to see him and that support along with Nic finding water for me to pour over my head and feet, I did manage to complete the 10K in 1 hour 20 minutes.

The finish line…

At the end I was given my goodie bag with my medal in it but I felt so undeserving of the medal that I felt ashamed I had it.  The race had been much worse than I had ever expected due to my own lack of self-control.  I had basically let myself down.

Rationalising…

Yes, I had let myself down but 1 year ago I could not run for a minute, 5 months ago I had only just completed 5k.  I had just run 5.5k of Vitality 10,000 non-stop with the worse hangover ever and seriously dehydrated.  I did in fact complete 10K with a few walk breaks, so I really did earn that medal because I could have just as easily walked off the course and not complete it at all.

Lessons Learned

  1.  Don’t get drunk the night before a race!

  2.  Drink plenty of water and ensure hydrated before and during race.

  3. Don’t start too fast

  4. Train for all weathers

  5. You always deserve a medal if you reach the finish line

Although running Vitality 10,000 was hell this year I do intend to repeat this race next year.   Next year there will be no drinking the night before and so no hangover and I will prove to myself that I can complete this race and I will do it under 1 hr 20 mins.  I know it sounds like hell but I cannot recommend this race enough it was really exciting and would have been amazing if I had not set myself up to fail.

My Running Journey so Far

The Trigger to Run

It’s hard to believe that in June 2016 I was seriously unfit, overweight and most definitely exercise adverse.

I was unwell in Jan of 2016 which forced me to re-evaluate my life. Leading with the question “what can I do to help myself?”.   I looked at the usual suspects, diet, stress levels,  and work/life balance.  The very last thing I wanted to think  about was exercise!!  However, I did and started with increasing  my steps to 10,000 a day.  Most days I managed 2000, which I had to admit was pretty poor.  My (not so uncommon) excuse was that I work in an office and obviously, could not find the time to fit any exercise in.  So instead I tried to make up for it by going for walks along the beautiful cliff tops of Cornwall at the weekends.  Although nice, socialising with friends soon got in the way and so another excuse was found not to go for that walk.  So then I thought rather than take up my precious weekends I tried Zumba during the week, but soon found out that classes are really not my thing.  Basically no matter what I tried, none of it  enthused me enough to make exercise a habit!

Then I met up with my lovely neighbour Suzie one night for a “glass of fizz” and all that changed.  Suzie told me that some of her friends were starting an after work running club.  Apart from the two running coaches none of the group were runners.  This seemed perfect as we would all be starting at the same point, so I asked to join and my running journey began.

Can I Run?

I would love to say I was a natural runner and that it was easy but I would most definitely be lying!  For an overweight,  exercise adverse person like me it was never going to be easy and trust me it wasn’t and isn’t!

Initially I only had to run 1 minute and walk 1.5 for a total 30 mins which equated to 10 mins of running overall. After the first minute I felt like my lungs were about to explode and I was struggling to find any breath whatsoever.  Quite simply I was shocked and mortified in equal measure, how had I ever got to this level of unfitness.  However, with lots of support I continued to come to the classes each week and slowly worked up to 3 minutes of continuous running.

Pain and Trainers

Then,  came the painful shin splints and muscle cramps that would try to sabotage any attempts I made to try and complete a full 4mins of running.  The coaches suggested my footwear may need upgrading and recommended a running shop called “at your pace”.

So off to “At Your Pace” running shop I went.  I walked up to the front door and thought,  oh no no no no,  “I cannot go in there – it’s for “serious runners”.  I panicked for a bit and then braved it and walked in.  This otherworld that I was being thrown into was initially intimidating.  That is until I introduced myself to the guy behind the counter.  I explained to him I was doing the couch to 5K and was not a proper runner but had been advised to come and get some shoes to overcome shinsplints etc.  He told me firstly he hated the term Couch to 5K– it is beginner to 5K and secondly welcome to running which immediately put me at ease.

He then started to talk about ‘Gait analysis‘ this is where you run on a treadmill and video your foot placement to see whether you land on the outside (overpronation) inside (supination) or in a neutral position.  This helps to guide what trainers you require.

The thought of being video’d running on a treadmill by a fit runner was not filling me with delight!   Initially I had to run barefoot and then in the trainers I usually run in, which was not too bad lasted about 30-60 seconds each.  I manage to do this without too much embarrassment thankfully and he stated that I had an over-pronation and would require stabilising shoes. Fine I thought until he came down with 6 pairs of trainers and told me I had to run in every pair, i was horrified.   ” I have to run for a minute in each pair?” ” Yes so that we can find a shoe that puts your foot in the best alignment to correct your overpronation”.  I nearly ran out the shop, heck I could only run for 3 minutes and I was going to have to run in all 6.  It’s not like I could ask for a timed break between each pair.  I did not want to embarrass myself further,  I swallowed hard and puffed and panted my way through the 6 pairs of trainers.  I chose the Brooks ravenna 8’s – he asked me whether  I wanted to run in them one last time to be sure that I was comfortable in them.  My brain screamed “HELL NO” but what actually came out was “no thanks I am happy with my choice”.

My first pair of proper running shoes and they are still my most favourite treasured possession.

I took them out for a spin and it was like night and day!  Shin splints and cramp had vanished and I managed 4 whole minutes non-stop.  To say I was ecstatic was an understatement.

Couch to Race Line-Up.

In between the weekly running club as I downloaded the app ‘ couch to 5k in 8 weeks!’  I would like to point out that 8 weeks is false advertising as it took me 7 months to get my first 5k under my belt.  But boy was I chuffed when I did.

Once I had reached my 5k I decided to enter myself and my neighbour into a “proper race” that was run by freedom racing.  The run was advertised as flat and suitable for beginners but was also a mile longer than the 5K I was used to. Despite this I felt optimistic,  after my friend Heidi had manage to get me to the 5k milestone afterall how bad could it be?

Well the big day came – Suzie and I lined up and we were a mix of terrified and excited.  What the hell were we doing with these “proper runners”.  We both felt like imposters.  But again how bad could it be?  We made sure we were at the back  so as not to hold anyone up and off we went.

Hills, Dreaded Hills

We starting off well – it was flat…… that was until we rounded the corner and found this sloping muddy field.  They said no hills…..!  Both Suzie and I fell into a blind panic but quickly got a grip and through gritted teeth ran onwards and most definitely upwards!

It was two circuits so we knew we would face this hill again which did not inspire confidence.  Once we climbed the hill and I fell into the brook at the top Suzie was ecstatic and smiling I was focusing on just making it through without killing myself.

Suzie smiling after the first lap.

Me focused and grimacing – thinking how the hell am I going to make it around another lap,  without killing myself – someone please help me!

Finish Line

I did make it around, not in one hit like Suzie but with multiple stops.  Whilst really relieved and happy I made it around, a little later, I felt disappointed and demoralised that I had not done it without stopping.

Determination and obsession

I nearly ended my running journey there,  but with a lot of moral support I continued.  I looked at how far I had come and thought to give up now would take me back to the couch potato I once was and I did not want that.

This is where my running obsession truly started, I did not want to revert back so I immersed myself in it determined to become a proper runner”.   I read up on anything and everything I could and still do in the aid of being the best I can.  Some of the topics I have read up on are overcoming shin splints, breathing techniques,  psychology of running and how to overcome the negative voices in your head that sabotage your running goals.

All of this reading has helped as I have now reached 10K and I am about to mark this formally by running Vitality 10,000 in London.  If you want to know how I get on look out for my post!

It seems that I have finally become what I never thought I would ” A total running nut”.  I have become one of those lycra clad people I had secretly envied.  Now I spend most of my time reading running magazines, searching the web and watching you tube clips!  I get so excited about new running gear and the latest tech.  Who knew this person was waiting to come out.

So if you think you can’t do it – read this story again as I am living proof that you can.