Train to Run not Run to Train
Running after a 4 month break can be hard enough let alone a 15 year break.
3 years ago I decided at 40 to get back into running. I remember trying to run 3k on one of the lanes around Clifton with memories of running in my 20s. Difference was this time that I had various moments of thinking I was going a good pace (I wasn’t) and I must have eaten something that caused me to produce a gut-wrenching amount of lactic acid.
Reality is I was super unfit and my body had completely forgotten how to run.
"Now I look at STRAVA and see it's been a long journey of ups and downs and trying to mix that with drinking beer and eating what I want. "
So you want to do the Four Farms Challenge?
General rules of thumb that I tend to go by:
Not run for 3 months or more? Then pretty much start from scratch on a training plan!
Have a goal! Be realistic about this goal...
Forget the past, seriously just forget about it. It will drive you nuts.
Remember strength takes longer to recover.
Keep positive! Its bloody hard at times at the start.
Start with brisk 20 min walks if you have to.
Don’t over train: Guilty, I have definitely overtrained and wondered why my legs felt like lumps of lead and why my knee injury from many years ago would flare up to the point of being uncomfortable. I now only actually run twice a week as a. It’s not boring (and I get really bored) and b. Your body doesn't feel in a constant cycle of being beaten.
Use the gym: I find rowing helps my cardio but most people use the exercise bike or cross trainer. Yoga is popular with runners although no one has actually got me to a yoga class yet. Building core muscles is important. I remember a couple of years ago being super fit but by 8k had this terrible back pain, due to me just not sorting my core out.
Take rest days: Yep, guilty of this one as well. People really differ on this but my personal preference is to have at least 2-3 rest days a week. When I do train, especially in a gym, I tend to almost do my equivalent of a triathlon and some weights, which makes the drive home interesting but then it's done and that's coming from someone who finds going to the gym hard work and yes, boring.
Good shoes - Invest in some good trainers, it's so so so important. Even training for a 10k you can end up doing 200k of training. It took me years to find a pair i liked. Picture me in a store in Chelsea, in a suit, running up and down the street in various trainers so the girl could see how I ran. She was extremely helpful (or she had a bizarre sense of humour) and finally matched me and my dream shoes. Apparently running on treadmills is not the same. Remember four farms run is a mix of terrain. When it's hot, like it was in 2017 the ground was really hard. I wasn’t the only runner that commented on this.
Patience: If you are like me and have basically zero patience then you may struggle with this. Seriously you need patience. Lack of it will just either end up making injuries worse or creating new ones, or you feeling disappointed every time you run.
Diet: As much as I hate to admit this one, there is a certain amount of diet stuff that affects running performance. Last year I had a pretty busy social life in London which involved quite a lot of beer, lots of very rich food, some bad snacks and I would do some running in between, not even making it to the gym. Result, I over ran, really showed up injuries and generally lacked pace. I think it's important you find something that works for you.
Training plans, Pace and Strava (and other well-known apps)
There are lots of training plans out there and lots for different levels of fitness. It's so confusing but find one you are comfortable with. We will be posting a few on the Facebook page.
Join STRAVA. We have a community group on strava with local runners. Here is what I like about strava.
It tells me other people have off days like I do, which means we are human.
You can get a bit competitive if you want.
Actually quite satisfying on what you think is a poor run but history shows you are actually improving.
Some really good local runners are on there and interesting to see how they train.
It's great for showing pace, etc
Then there is just pace. I went for a run the other day where I wasn't even listening to my split times via STRAVA (actually think about switching it off sometimes). Instead I enjoyed the sunshine and music. I actually enjoyed my run, ran at a pace that was relaxed and comfortable. That's the key, being relaxed is important, you will be amazed what the brain does to our muscles if we are tense.
Hydrate but don’t over-hydrate
Oh and don’t drink to much water. I often make this mistake and again wonder why I get aches in my calf muscles after 5-6k
However I once went to do a 8k training run and ended up doing 22k without the right hydration and damaged my stomach for three months, so always hydrate.
Some people also have a shot of espresso before they run, it actually does seem to work.
Guilty of this one as well. I don’t stretch. I am the guy when they do warm up at races that just looks on and wonders. Stretching doesn't work for me, hence I don’t do it, however, before I do the Four Farms 10k, I generally run from Clifton to Deddington (about 2k and a small hill) before I do the race. Blenheim 10k last year I did a similar thing. However you need to do something so find what works for you and remember that might change.
Seriously I cannot say this enough. 90% of the time, I enjoy running whatever the weather. But some people really do not enjoy running or just its not there thing. My wife, for example, is not a runner in so many ways and that's fine. Stick her on a bike and she will do 50k without a worry in the world or in the pool and she will happily swim for hours. She’ll be handing out your race numbers on the day.
You have to enjoy it. Be comfortable. Trainers is one thing but so is the rest of the kit. People wear running vests etc, I don’t, I just wear a t-shirt, usually black. I also wear a baseball cap in all year round, a to keep my head warm but also to deal with sweat, sun and flies especially on the Four Farms run. Plus it's a bit of a comfort blanket. Some people listen to music and others don’t. Do what is right for you and helps you enjoy it
Ask for advice
We have all been there more than once. Its ok to ask people. STRAVA is great for that I have to say, so feel free to reach out. There are no stupid questions.