SOPHIE LEARNS TO RUN: PART 2

This week has been a big week for my running you’ll be pleased to hear. After my first session at The Running School I spent the week trying everything I could to fire up my lazy glutes on a regular basis so if you saw me walking like John Wayne last week that would be why.

I had some serious glute DOMS after hiking Scafell Pike in the Lake District over the weekend and then I followed it up a few days later with a bodyweight glute workout that burned for days afterwards. The timing wasn’t great because the following day I was back at The Running School for my second session and more glute work.

Having warmed up with some glute activation exercises it was time to learn my new running technique that I was promised would make running feel like much less effort. I can’t wait…

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I was given a check list to keep running through in my mind for each short 30 second burst on the treadmill and I’ve never concentrated so hard in my life. Heels up; check, engage glutes; check, body upright; check, relax shoulders; check, move arms from the shoulders; check, the list went on.

During the session that I shared with another person we took turns on the treadmill practicing our technique at quite a fast speed, watching our bodies in the mirrors in front and to the side of us. It was so interesting seeing the other guy’s technique and also how he can run a sub 2:45 marathon and still comes in for sessions.

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The session ended with some glute strengthening exercises and I was sent off with instructions to practice my new technique and practice I did.

I’ve done 2 30 minute runs based around 20-30 second sprints with 30-40 seconds of walking in between to recover and appraise how it felt. The first run was outside and I did the second on the treadmill so that I could focus a bit more.

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Without the mirror I found it tricky to identify my upper body position but I kept thinking through my check list and found myself running considerably faster than I normally do. I struggle to run at 10kmh on the treadmill but yesterday I was setting it between 12kmh and 13kmh for my sprints and it felt pretty comfortable (and extremely sweaty, check out those sweaty thighs and knees)!

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My legs feel a bit hungover this morning but I’m excited to go back tomorrow for my next session and see what’s next.

SOPHIE LEARNS TO RUN: PART 1

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll have seen that my relationship with running is very on/off. Sometimes I only hate it a bit and other times I’d rather stick forks in my eyes than run.

At the moment, I’m edging towards the forks but I’m bullying myself into doing parkrun whenever I can on a Saturday morning and today I started a series of sessions at The Running School.

Today’s session was just to video my running form at 3 different speeds, a jog, a run and a sprint. While I was warming up the lovely Nick chatted through my goals, any niggles and what races I had coming up while completely putting me at ease. Once the videos had been taken Nick sat me down to analyse what was going on.

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Surprisingly for me he said that my basic form wasn’t too bad but that there were a couple of things we could simply fix. I’m a heel-striker which I always thought was an issue but apparently it isn’t! The real issues are that I’m hitting the ground in front of my centre of gravity rather than touching down under my body and that my quads and hip flexors are over-working. These both mean that my glutes are being lazy and not firing up.

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I’ve been given some balance and glute exercises to start to eliminate some of the instability that I feel when I run so I’ll be doing at least 10 of them on each leg every day before my next session at the end of the week.

Watch this space to see how I improve!

GLADIATORS ASSEMBLE

You might remember a little race that I did last year called The Gauntlet Games, an entry level obstacle race that I did with a group of friends. We basically laughed our way round the 10k and across all of the obstacles but one of the things that really made it for us were the gladiators so this year we decided to give back and be gladiators ourselves.

A very early start saw us arriving at Trent Park in deepest, darkest North London where we changed into our gladiator costumes (I kept my hoody and leggings on underneath because it was bloody freezing) and we shivered our way over to our obstacle

 

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Kate and I were on the Zig Zag Walls where we had to direct people to traverse the walls using the harder or easier side. Both sides were of course made harder by the fact that we were armed with super soakers filled with paint water… Claire and Carly were stationed on Life’s A Beach where they had to face people charging through a load of beach balls

 

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We didn’t have to wait too long until the first runners came through in dribs and drabs and then all of a sudden we were inundated with runners. The time absolutely flew by as we challenged, encouraged, cajoled and soaked the runners. We were met with screams, scolding and a bit of soaking in return as everyone took on the Zig Zag Walls.

It was so much fun knowing that we were helping people to love their first experience of an obstacle race and helping them get round the distance. The time flew by and then before we knew it the last group had gone through (big shout out to the mum and dad running the race with their awesome kids) and we were tidying up and heading back to the finish.

 

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I still think the Gauntlet Games is a brilliant obstacle race for entry-level runners, even with the inclusion this year of some tougher obstacles including monkey bars over water and the rope swing through the finish line. And if you don’t think you’re quite up for running the event, try volunteering as a gladiator so you can get the feeling of the race before you do it. Particularly as a gladiator you get to pick a race at another location to run for free!

I HEART LONDON – THE BRITISH 10K

Aaaaaaaaannnnnddddd I’m back!

There’s been a brief hiatus on this poor old blog of mine thanks to a super busy period of work and a little something called wedding planning (which is nearly complete thank goodness). Less than 8 weeks to go. Eek.

I thought I’d return though with a blog about how I’m planning a gloriously sunny (hopefully) run through my home town, London, on July 10th in the British 10k.

I’ll have returned from a gluttonous 3 weeks in France for my wedding and honeymoon a few days previous to the race so my plan is mostly just to trot round and soak up the atmosphere of London in the summer, especially as the roads will be closed.

Vitality British 10K London run  Copyright image 2015© For photographic enquiries please call Anthony Upton 07973 830 517 or email info@anthonyupton.com  This image is copyright  the photographer2015©. This image has been supplied by Anthony Upton and must be credited Jason Bye/Anthony Upton. The author is asserting his full Moral rights in relation to the publication of this image. All rights reserved. Rights for onward transmission of any image or file is not granted or implied. Changing or deleting Copyright information is illegal as specified in the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. If you are in any way unsure of your right to publish this image please contact Anthony Upton on +44(0)7973 830 517 or email:

Vitality British 10K London run
Copyright image 2015©
For photographic enquiries please call Anthony Upton 07973 830 517 or email info@anthonyupton.com

The route goes through all of my favourite parts of London including Hyde Park Corner, Big Ben, the Thames and Westminster Bridge before a big finish with a lap of Parliament Square and crossing the finish line on Whitehall. With 15,000 runners there’s bound to plenty of excited spectators which for me is always the best part of a race.

I also love running with friends so sign up here and come and run with me!

 

DISCLAIMER: I’ve kindly been given a place in this race so I can review it afterwards

REDISCOVERING THE JOY OF RUNNING

You know the feeling when you try something that you really don’t like, have a horrible experience and never want to try it again? Well I have that with fruitcake and more recently running.

I know, another post about my battle with running. However, this post is a confession and gauntlet being laid down all in one.

Following my triumph at the London triathlon in August and skimming over of the pain and desperation that I felt during the run I haven’t actually been for a run since that race. That’s nearly 4 months that I haven’t laced up my running trainers and gone for a trot.

The reason is that I felt like I left myself down on the running leg of the triathlon having had my strongest open-water swim ever and a solid bike performance. The 10km run took me over 30 minutes longer than my PB and I spent most of it walk-jogging trying not to cry. Mentally it hurt so much that I’ve ignored running since and semi-consciously replaced it with other forms of cardio such as swimming, cycling, boxing, spinning and circuit-training.

However, on my recent holiday I decided that it was time to break the cycle of denial. How could I go to New York and not run?! My plan was to head up to Central Park and join the hordes of other runners but as we were staying way downtown in the East Village I just couldn’t fit it in.

Instead on our last morning I laced up the old trainers and headed out into the early-morning chill with my fiancé and sister-in-law. We decided to attack the Williamsburg Bridge as it was practically on our doorstep and seemed like a good way to get some great views of Manhattan.

The first 1.5km were hell as always. My ankles were grumbling, my breath was ragged and my legs felt heavy. On I plodded up to the apex of the bridge where the views were indeed breathtaking. When I set off again after some photos I suddenly remembered what this is all about.

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Charlie Dark’s mantra of ‘right foot, left foot, smile, repeat’ popped into my head and I started repeating it to myself. Running is simple when you break it down. It’s not about going as fast as you can or about as far as you can, it’s about putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where you get to mentally and physically.

I ran without headphones, one of the best habits that Run Dem Crew has got me into, and soon enough we were at the other side of the bridge. As we approached the turning point I suggested some sprints and so off we all went, recovering between manhole covers and racing back up the slope to the bridge.

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Coming down the other side my mind started drifting back to that triathlon run and I felt sad that I had let one bad run get the better of me.

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That brings me on to that gauntlet that needs to be laid down… Next year I will be taking on the Hackney half marathon. It’s more than double the furthest distance that I’ve run and even the thought of signing up makes me feel anxious. I know however that by signing up with friends and with the support of Run Dem Crew I will be smashing that half that is right on my doorstep. Also, it is 6 weeks before my wedding so the thought of that will be keeping both feet moving.

Watch this space for training reports and more musings on running as I get back into it.