FEMALES: HOW TO HOLD ONTO THE RUNNING BUG
“It is an exhilarating experience to catch the running bug but greater satisfaction comes from keeping it. Sometimes the challenge is not in starting a new activity but in sustaining the routine.”
I have had the pleasure of pulling on a fresh pair of runners with a new goal, an energised body and an unstoppable attitude… it’s like the “honey moon period” of running. As the weekly mileage and monotony steadily builds, as tiredness creeps in and as you find yourself optimistically committing to more activities than there are hours in a day, motivation to pull the runners on AGAIN can dip. I love running and I believe I always will but it is only natural that training can seem like the last thing your body wants at times. On some occasions a rest day may be the best prescription but on other occasions the outlet that running provides can be the ultimate cure. Here are some pearls that I have picked up along the way to help maintain a positive and sustainable relationship with running. LOCATION, LOCATION: FIND ONE THAT APPEALS TO YOU: Training location is a major consideration for not only training effect and injury prevention/management but also motivation. When reflecting on my most enjoyable Marathon preparations it became evident that the highest volume and most consistent blocks I have achieved were when living near running routes that I enjoy. I love exercising outdoors and amongst nature with plenty of fresh air, foliage and wildlife (the non-threating variety). Running along Adelaide’s river Torrens, the Grange to Glenelg coastal stretch, Westerfolds Park in Melbourne, the beautiful Belair National Park, Ferntree Gully, the trails of Flagstaff (US) and the famous Falls Creek runs in Victoria are some examples. During heavy sessions I like familiarity and draw confidence from knowing what to expect in terms of surface, wind, traffic, turns, camber and lighting as well as having comparable measures from previous sessions. On relaxed runs I like to explore. My sense of direction is terrible but as long as I plan to return to my starting point early to allow for getting lost, I’m usually okay. So in summary I believe that for a solid prep, location is the key. THE TEAMWORK PERKS: I do enjoy and embrace the odd solo run throughout the week as it provides an opportunity to soak up my surroundings and let my mind wander. Sometimes talking or feeling awkward that you’re not talking is an effort but on most occasions I thrive on having people to chat with on a run. Team work has played a very powerful and positive role in my career so far and I believe it is the key to getting the most out of one’s self as an athlete. There is incredible value in having: - reliable people to meet up with for training and to keep you accountable - building a working relationship with health practitioners whom you trust and can learn from - sharing the process with family, friends, coach and others you meet along the way - having a mentor who inspires you to set meaningful dreams, to work towards them positively and to be the best version of yourself For me, being able to share the challenges, the successes and the special moments with your team is one of sport’s greatest appeals. RUN WITH PURPOSE: Having a goal in the near future is the key to maintaining my running mojo. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a lofty goal but one that gives every training session purpose and keeps me consistently in check. I love the satisfaction drawn from accomplishing something that I had set out to achieve, reflecting on the processes and celebrating with the people involved. Having a tangible checkpoint also allows me to measure my progress and shift the bar as necessary. A goal may involve a particular placing in an upcoming race, a specific time for a session or distance, a fundraising amount, a distance you would like to complete or a target perceived rate of exertion for a given run. Whatever it is, put it in your memory bank and chase it with confidence. PUT IT IN THE DIARY: In late 2014 I found the ultimate training diary; Believe Training Journals. US runner Lauren Fleshman and her “Believe I am” colleagues are not only highly experienced athletes but also very successful women outside of sport. They have crafted a journal that provides regular and refreshing inspiration, insights and guidance for female athletes. I love my Garmin GPS watch and use this technology to monitor my training online but still always look forward to opening my diary throughout the week with a pen in one hand a cappuccino in the other. It is the perfect opportunity to form, reflect and record goals as well as plans to achieve them. ENERGY ON THE GO: A busy woman needs regular energy. A busy woman in training needs more! It is important to fuel your body prior to exercise and it is equally important to provide your body with the necessary nutrients to facilitate recovery after training. When juggling multiple commitments and travelling between work and training you may miss the opportunity to grab a snack for pre or post exercise. I recommend carrying some good quality snacks on you at all times. A few that feature regularly in my handbag / training bag include roasted almonds, dried fruit and nut mix, Carman’s muesli bars, rice crackers and good quality protein bars. Hydration is also essential and filling up your water bottle at every opportunity can be a saviour. I have never been one to drink a lot of water and therefore have to make a conscious effort to hydrate. Last year I discovered Mojo Kombucha (a refreshing probiotic drink) and have found that adding this to soda water has encouraged me to drink more throughout the day and particularly after key sessions. PRIORITISE COMFORT: Chafing, bouncing, blisters and restricted breathing are hassles that we best avoid to facilitate a longstanding relationship with running. Everyone’s needs are slightly different which means there is no ‘best’ product for all runners. Ask friends with similar needs to your own, pick up a few running-related magazines or jump online to find appropriate undergarments to support you in training. Bras, crop tops, underwear and socks are the key players here and you want them to aid comfort rather than be your biggest distraction. Whilst on the topic of comfort; post-run sunburn, sore eyes and cracked lips are unpleasant and unhealthy experiences. Along with snacks and a full water bottle, it is worth adding sun-protective lip gloss, sunscreen or a sun-protective moisturiser and a comfortable pair of UV protection sunnies to your training bag or handbag. We know the health benefits of physical activity and whilst running adds a lot of satisfaction to many lives, mental and physical challenges are also part of the game (run). There is a lot we can do to minimise these to make the perks perkier and the relationship sturdier. Let’s enjoy this sport at its full capacity and carry that running bug well into the future.