Non-runner no more!
Halfway to the Run Melbourne 21km half marathon
If you read the first instalment of my training diary for Nike’s Go More Get More Challenge, you may have had a chuckle at “the complete meltdown I generally experience at the thought of anything over a hundred meters and faster than a brisk powerwalk”. I wouldn’t blame you if you had an even bigger, disbelieving chuckle hearing that the end game of the challenge is to run the half marathon at Run Melbourne later this year… Even I was sure I’d ultimately fall back on the shorter options available for the “non-runners” like us, so we can still be involved but without inducing a coronary – there are 5km and 10km options on the day so you can pound the pavement with everyone on the day and get involved in the amazing buzz of the event (both distances of which still seemed VERY long in my books when I wrote my last diary). BUT, just a few months on and I can safely say that even a “non-runner” can be converted and I might even go so far as to say I’m truly loving it.
I’m one of those all-or-nothing people who doesn’t like doing things gradually, so I’d say I was a bit premature in calling myself a non-runner simply because I couldn’t run a marathon straight away. Let’s be honest, I really hadn’t given running a chance at ALL to show me why it’s such a global phenomenon. But the past few months have really shown me that some things are best built up to slowly. We’ve been so lucky to have a structured training program from Nike coach, Dave Ridley, but have also been relying heavily on the NRC App that has set us different distance challenges each month along the way. Starting off at 20km, then 30km, then 42km last month, this month I’m aiming to get in at least 60km over the four weeks of May. Once upon a time that would have seemed impossible, but I’m already well on my way and ready for more! Who am I!??
Rather than my former method of increasing my distance dramatically one day adopting the “wing-it-then-be-unable-to-walk-for-a-few-days-afterwards” model, the past few months have involved very slowly increasing each run and also combining straight runs for a certain amount of “time on feet” with lactic threshold tolerance interval sessions that are shorter (and more deathly), but which have produced noticeable results in speed and comfort in the longer runs afterwards. My biggest learning has been to trust the (slower) process and give your body time to adapt to a new form of physical activity. If you’re like me and haven’t run much before, you won’t have muscle memory to fall back onto, so of course a new distance (or any distance) will feel quite uncomfortable when you first start just like ANYTHING does in life. Before you say you “hate running” or aren’t a runner, I so encourage you to dedicate at least a few weeks to it first.
I never really understood what the “runner’s high” was because I’d never pushed through those first few less comfortable runs to actually get there. Now that I have, I am TOTALLY hooked and find nothing quite so refreshing and releasing than a good, sweaty run. I started off with 3km runs a few months ago, which felt like a marathon at the time but slowly found my body adapted to that distance but without any nasty shin splints or stress pains that come from doing it too fast. I then increased to 5km and went through that same process of adaptation. Seeing how good it feels when you do finally start to adapt to a new distance, I recently gave the 10km a crack a few weeks ago and honestly enjoyed it so much! I find my body takes about a kilometre to find its rhythm but then that rhythm takes over and I start to thoroughly enjoy the surroundings and environment. I’ve done a few 10km runs since then and am just about ready for the next one!
21km still feels A LIFETIME away, but if I have any advice at this point, it’s that things necessarily take time so give yourself enough of it. Also learn what you need at each stage and do it until you’re ready for what’s next. I really needed distraction for the first little while and listened to heavy crime podcasts so I could distract myself from how long I’d been running. Now I can do it without any audio at all and simply enjoy the world around me. I’ve also learnt to pull back if my body isn’t feeling it or to push further when I’m feeling particularly good on a run. Massages and stretching have also been really helpful to help my body along as it gets used to this new world. I cannot WAIT to see what happens over the next little while, who knew what the body is capable of when you give it a chance!!!! There’s still plenty of time to join us if you’re keen!!!!! Let’s DO this!!!!