My relationship with running is a bit like Jennifer Aniston’s love life.
Just when you think it’s going swimmingly it all comes crashing down and ends with another viewing of When Harry Met Sally on the couch, tub of Ben & Jerry’s in hand.
I started running a few years ago but looking back now, never really knew how to go about it. Putting on whatever shoes were lying around the house, I’d peg it out the door without an ounce of a warm up, I’d run until I lost all feeling in my legs. Being more concerned with speed, I would fatigue anywhere beyond 10K. Even at that, I would feel physically drained for days afterwards. There was no method to my madness.
It was music to my ears to hear Platinum Pilates were starting a Running Community back in December. If nothing else, I knew I would have no excuse not to get out of bed on a Saturday morning. Knowing there would be so many others in the same boat made it easier to commit to. Since then I have started to understand that running is as much about what you do before and after your run than it is about the run itself.
Run Down Of The Running Community.
We start every session with a full body warm up. This was a concept my old running self would have rolled her eyes at. We start simple by mobilising the feet. Often a part of the body that gets overlooked. The foot has so much responsibility on its ‘shoulders’. These simple exercises take about 4 minutes. They have literally changed the way I run. I used to get a sharp pain in the sole of my right foot after every run. I always assumed it was just a natural reaction to running. Surely you can’t run 5, 10 or even 15k without suffering some sort of painful consequence, Right? Wrong!
Now that I consistently do these stretches, I no longer have any pain in my feet. I also know how to avoid it ever happening again. We continue by opening up the hips, stretching out the legs and getting the body sufficiently warm before we start the run. Our Run takes us up to and around UCD. During the run, Will floats like a gazelle between everyone. I’m still not sure his feet even touch the ground. He reiterates the same point to each runner, regardless of experience. ‘Faster turnover, less bounce’ . This simple little sentiment has forced me to focus less on getting to the finish line quicker and more on the consistency of each step. As a result, I may now run at a slower pace but have been able to increase my distance and the quality of my movement with so much ease, knowing speed will follow with time.
Drills, Drills, Drills.
We then stop for a few mobility drills on the pitches of UCD. I would be lying if I said I actually enjoy these drills. They focus on getting the heart rate up, building endurance and mobilising the body as a whole to facilitate smoother movement. This concept of ‘Conditioning to run, not running to condition’ was completely new to me but has now become a regular part of my practice.
After many a ‘Jesus Christ’ uttered under my breath and allowing the heart rate to come back down, we run back to the studio for the cool down. This cool down is my favourite part. I’ve come to realise it is the most important thing I can do. It ensures I wake up completely pain free the next day. It also leaves you feeling smug, having completed all of this before 10am on a Saturday.
After attending the running community only a handful of times, I thought I was Usain Bolt and decided to sign myself up for one of the most challenging half marathons in Ireland, the Connemarathon, which now happens to be only three weeks away on the 22rd of April. I do tend to throw myself in the deep end sometimes but on this occasion, with the help of the running community and a truck load of my own dedication, I am actually feeling prepared. Apart from feeling the need to eat enough to feed a small village after every run (that’s a whole other blog) I now feel I’ve got the tools to show up on the day and smash this half marathon, however long it may take me.
Watch this space…