It’s been 15 months now since I started running and in that time I’ve tried to run at least twice a week. To start with I did 3 or 4 miles at a time as I built up towards the Burnley 10k in June last year. Since then the mileage has gradually increased to the point where I’m now running 20-30 miles a week and that will be upped again as I really get into training for my first ever marathon in York in October.
At first running for me was part of a means to an end, do some exercise, eat better, get fit, lose weight but it has become so much more than that. I now can’t wait to get out and run, I blog about it, I am part of a whole online community of runners of all levels and abilities who support, encourage and inspire each other and I’ve even asked my wife if I can take my running gear on holiday with us in a couple of week’s time!! She said yes!
Until recently though I have been very fixed in my mindset about running and training and how I should approach it, my training has been very much about distance covered and time taken as for me these are tangible, measurable elements which help me to mark my progress. As a person I like structure, order and clarity and knowing that I have run x miles in y minutes ticks lots of boxes for me.
I made a conscious decision a couple of weeks ago though to start to mix up my training and to inject some variety and to my surprise I’ve actually enjoyed doing things a bit differently.
The first attempt I made was to run a near two mile circuit round where I live rather than one of my usual routes, I decided to do five laps. The circuit is a good mix of uphill at the start then downhill and flat to recover and it also gave me the opportunity to try a few fartleks for the first time as well. As this was a tentative initial step out of my comfort zone I still clocked the distance and time but it felt good to be pushing myself beyond what I’m accustomed to. Since then I’ve done some sprint intervals around the local cycle track too, I was a bit apprehensive to start with but it was really interesting to just turn the tap on for a minute or so and see what my legs would give me. I’ve still been doing some of my usual routes too but haven’t been such a slave to the clock and to be honest I’ve found that enjoyable.
And it’s not just the running that I’ve played around with. Encouraged by some of the gym work my wife does and some suggestions from online friends I’ve also started to build in some core and strength work to my training routine. Who knew I could hold a plank for two minutes or that spending a few quid on a kettlebell and doing some squats and lunges would be so beneficial. I’ve really felt myself getting stronger in just a few weeks and slowly building up a bit of muscle should serve me well.
If you feel like you are stuck in a training rut or you want to try something different I can most definitely recommend all of the above, try out a few things, watch a few videos on YouTube and find what works for you, small changes can really help with motivation and also give your training a real boost, mix it up and see what happens!
Follow Stuart on Twitter: @stu6wright or using the hashtag #marathonbore
Or his blog: www.marathonbore.wordpress.com