All new Workout Wednesday brought to you in collaboration with Anne-Marie from the Health and Wellbeing Group Ltd.
This week 5 key glute strengthening exercises for runners.
Any questions please contact email@example.com.
All new Workout Wednesday brought to you in collaboration with Anne-Marie from the Health and Wellbeing Group Ltd.
This week 5 key glute strengthening exercises for runners.
Any questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
All new Workout Wednesday brought to you in collaboration with Anne-Marie from the Health and Wellbeing Group Ltd.
Every week we will be bringing you a 30 second video focusing on key exercises to help runners strong, fit and injury free.
First up is 5 key foam rolling exercises for runners.
Any questions please contact email@example.com.
If you run you will already have your reason why you continue to run. As a runner maybe your looking to increase your distance, maybe it’s a personal goal, maybe it’s getting back into running after a break, the social side of running with like minded ladies, to bring some health and fitness into your weekly routine or just to get ourside!
You’ve probably heard this time and time again from us ‘runners’ , ‘I run because I can but what does that actually mean to you?
Running has in some shape or form been part of my life since I was young and joined Reading A.C. at the age of 13 and I ran marathon’s to lose the baby weight after 2 of my children. It then became a challenge, how much faster can I go, how much further, how can I push the limits but this all translated into pressure on me, me putting pressure on me.
Following my torn calf and now achillies issues this year I wanted to find that fun for running again, I love running and always will but wanted to race and make racing fun again so I went back to my routes and headed back to the track.
With very no track training but keeping my fitness levels up I competed this weekend in the National Masters Athletics Championships – it was scary! On the start line being called out next to World and European medalists I re-thought whether this was the pathway to ‘finding the fun’ in running again.
Between my 100m race and my 400m race I watched the other age groups compete on the track – Then there I had it, that magic light blub moment. As the oldest man, at aged 97, raced round the 400m I realised that this wasn’t about positions, times or anything other than ‘getting out there’, running, doing your best and having fun.
I got 6th place in the 100m, Silver in the 400m and just missed out on a bronze by .15 of a second in the 200m but overall I met some lovely ladies, had some great laughs and really loved every minute including the line up call out in the 200 m against those Champions again.
Don’t get me wrong I still and have always loved running, but always put pressure on myself which isn’t necessary. I will always keep on running for all the reasons I did before my new #1 reason on my list now has to be because I can and because I can for FUN…. and will do so for many years to come yet.
My new challenge? To be running into my 90’s … if I can. 😉
Think about why you started to run and what it is you love about running and try and keep that in mind whenever you start to wonder why … think about that 97 year old man and remember that sometime running has no real rhyme or reason but ‘because you can’ .
So it’s that time of year … the time when your half marathon and marathon dreams were set and achieved. Now what? The obvious choice is to focus on speed and build in 5 or 10k race whilst this season is upon us but how many of you have done this? It’s very common after a ‘big’ acheivement to take down time, but most of us lose focus, lose motivation and actually stop running altogether until the next big event is booked.
We then wonder why Personal best’s aren’t smashed the next time – the key here is in consistent running, keeping momentum and using the 3 week and 1 week recovery programmes to build on this race fitness from the spring and gain from the accumulative effect.
I should be realistic
I am too old to do that
I will get injured
It’s too much time to commit out of ‘life’
I am happy in my comfort zone and running differently scares me
Is this YOU? Your not alone. Most runners just … run. That’s what we do isn’t it. The same route. The same pace. The same roads.
To get better results you need the following :
Consistency: To run faster, further, staying healthy and feeling good about your running you will need to be a consistent runner. If you take a few weeks off because life gets in the way or a few months off because you have no goal you won’t make improvements you could. Try to always run at least three – four days per week to increase your running efficiency and make running feel come to you as easy as a walk in the park.
Aerobic Development: This is all about consistently increasing your stamina through long runs, tempo runs and speed training. Focusing on the aerobic development you will need to be consistent, no consistency will mean you won’t be hitting new fitness levels and running will always feel hard.
Variety: You can’t expect to get different results by doing the same thing over and over again. If you averaged 20 km a week last year try and average 25 km this year. Mix it up, change your:
All these will help your body adapt to different workloads but it also stops injuries from the stressed caused on the body by repetition.
As runners, we love to run… A LOTt. But in order to achieve more than we have already we need to include variety, makes changes and be consistent to promote health and more adaptation to our running.
Accountability: Us runners need help in achieving our goals –combine group runs with a good training plan and the motivation that comes with real accountability, your results are going to improve to new levels.By putting these principles into a system you’ll start running easier. Aches and pains won’t be as common. You’ll just feel better. Plus, you’ll actually be running more and faster!
Elite Conditioning is based on the premise that we can and will get you achieving running goals you never thought you could but you need to take action to achieve these goals.
I want to help those of you passionate runners who care about their running. Not just fast runners, everyone from achieving their first 5k to those sub 4 hour marathon chasers.
Let the rest of 2016 be about consistency. aerobic development, variety and accountability so together we can smash those goals of 2017.
So how often do we find it hard to ask for help?
It’s seen as a weakness isn’t it ?
I hate asking for help, it’s one of my ‘things’ I just don’t do but after 2 DNS at my ultra marathon attempts last year I knew that if I was going to make the start line on my 3rd attempt I needed that ‘something’ else to help me break a mental barrier of illness before a ‘big’ race attempt. It’s something I am use to falling ill before I race and when I look back it’s been part of my race process now for many years, the pressure maybe? The expectations from friends and clients? Or just the lack of a taper before a race (as a running instructor there is often no opportunity for tapering).
I approached and ask for the help of Geeta Negroni, Pranic Heeler and complementary therapist in the lead up to my 3rd attempt at an Ultra Marathon in February this year.
Geeta broke down those mental barriers, negative mind set and helped me focus. All things we feel when we lead into a big event whether it’s for the first time or those of your chasing a time.
Even on race day one message to her and minutes later my mind set was changed and I found an ‘inner’ strength to power through the last 10 miles at sub 10 minute miles.
Geeta has extensive experience working with runners including ultra marathon runner Karen Hathaway (see the blog here)https://
Following my experience we are now running two workshop’s between now and the Reading Half Marathon, Brighton Marathon and London Marathon with individual 1-2-1 ten minute taster sessions included:
Tuesday 22nd March 9.30-12.00
Thursday 31st March 7.00pm – 9.30pm
To book your spot on this sought after workshop please click here:http://elite-
Sometimes we need a little help and in doing so we reach those goals 🙂
Its been a while since you last heard from me but I have finally been taking things slower, having a little downtime from any focused training and home life has taken a priority. For a runner when you put all your efforts into training for a race you want to compete and finish and have that after glow and runners high of that new achievement. Not reaching the start line for my planned ultra marathon in March was a massive disappointment for me so I decided to take a good few months off any ‘real’ training for ‘me’.
It’s been hard, putting my training on hold counter-productive after all the hard work I had put into training for the Green Man Ultra. I wanted to capitalize on my fitness levels and continue running, set a new goal, chase a new personal best. The last thing I really wanted to do after my disappointment is rest, I wanted to get back out there and prove I could do it, I wanted to race !
Most of us ‘runners’ hate missing one session, we ponder how much that missed session will affect us, we have thoughts such as ‘we’ve blown it’ , we think and honestly believe that by missing that one session the months of hard work will vanish into thin air and we will be back to where we were a few months back. This is obviously NOT the case and we do know that deep down.
The most common mistake runners make is not resting ENOUGH, especially after a big race or long training segment. This can lead to a plateaux in training and in terms of racing seeing our personal best slip out of our reach.
Resting for 7-10 days has little impact on current fitness and actually long term goals become more achievable.
Likewise having some downtime out from racing and in a heavy ‘training’ cycle can lead to massive benefits in future training and races.
The key point here is to allow some time to rest and recover properly after a big race, then keep some running in your legs during downtime (without increasing distance or any focus on speed). This will creative a cumulative training affect without causing stress to the body.
The result ? When you next start training for another ‘big’ event you will be stronger at the start, more focused and will build on all the goodness you had in your body at the end of the last race.
I have just started my training for my next series of challenges, I have to say I currently feel fresh, focused and ready to smash it, my challenge is keeping my body fat % at healthy levels, my immune in check and nailing my nutrition strategy.
Now here’s a big thumbs up to rest and recovery and reaching new goals!
So think back to when you were young, I mean really young, your ill and you don’t feel like eating anything but then good old Mum, who knows everything, comes and says you MUST eat something. You force yourself to eat the dried toast or the cereal she has served but you don’t really want anything.
Think to when was the last time you were really hungry, not just ‘ooo I fancy ….’, when you were REALLY hungry, I bet you can’t remember can you?
Over time you have ‘learned’ that even when your body doesn’t feel like eating you should at least try and eat something, combine that with all the mixed messages you get about eating 3 meals a day, eating 5 smaller meals, breakfast being the most important meal of the day and before you know it your body is no longer in control – your mind is. That’s exactly why I believe any fat loss is all a mind game, we need to unlearn all these things we have learned over the years and go back to the basics or our ‘inner child’ as I like to call it.
I have been there, I am ‘normal’, like you, I am no different, I have tried weight watchers in my teens, done the whole 5:2 diet, slimming world, those diets that are unsustainable on any long term level – all of them teach you something though, different things and each have a place. Charlotte, a Lady bug turned Lady Bird lost 9lbs in 6 weeks just by taking out wheat from her diet. Gill a Lady Bug from January and now Lady Bird has lost 16lbs since January using the Fitness Pal app after reaching a plateau with Slimming world – my point? Everyone is unique, every ‘body’ has different needs depending on activity, allergies, metabolism and therefore different methods work for different people.
At the beginning of this year, with training for my first Ultra Marathon in mind, I chose to listen to my body and my body only, at times I have only eaten one meal, after the Wokingham Half Marathon it was a celebratory glass of wine and a bowl of olives, that’s all I wanted, in the run up to some of my longer runs it’s been mozzarella, avocado, kippers, hot cross buns with butter, pesto – all good fats, all needed after long runs to replenish those lost stores and fuel the next run. I even had a massive chocolate frenzy following my half marathon suggesting a drop in my magnesium levels and then last week an uncontrollable desire for orange juice, pure orange juice, every day!!! (perhaps my body telling me it was fighting a virus – the virus won by the way).
My body has transformed over the last 6 months, have I lose weight ? I have no idea – I don’t weigh myself but my shape has definitely changed and I have run ALL my training runs with very little water and little food intake and felt great – good preparation, perfect pre-run fuelling and hydration.
My lesson from this ? Become more in tune with YOUR body, it does tell you what it needs but you need to listen, all the years of reading, being told this and told that will cloud your judgement. Clear them. Go back to your inner, innocent child self and start again – re-train yourself to listen and just maybe the ‘inner child’ will win !
It’s been a while since since I last wrote , life has been incredibly busy to report on any major events I’ve had in my schedule but here I am.
Following what I felt was a huge fail at the start of the year when I was continually plagued with illness and after months of hard training and long long runs I had to pull out of both The Green Man Ultra Marathon and the Bracknell Half Marathon. This was something new to me, I had my body fat % measured back in March and in came in at 12.9 %, way lower than what it should be in order for my body to function properly (hence the trail of illnesses that followed).
Since then I have really focused on listen to my body and ensuring that I eat enough to fuel my body and keep my immune system in check. Fingers crossed so far I haven’t fallen ill and completed Man Vs Mountain on 5th September with no illnesses and the whole event on 1000ml of fluids (water and ribena), a cookie and 5 jelly babies.
I have never been a great advocate for processed gels during training or a race situation, have you ever tried to read out loud the ingredients inside them ???, neither have I tried protein shakes or extra intake of vitamins because i am a great believer in getting everything you need from your diet.
However, after being approached today by Karen Fowler, a local Arbonne Consultant I will be trialling their range of Phytosport products which claim to ‘help prepare you for action, improve performance and endurance and speed recovery’.
With a new challenge just 3 weeks away I felt this was the perfect time to test these out.
These products initially appeal as I can firstly read every single ingredient on the list and they are both vegan and gluten free certified products – so I feel I really have nothing to lose by giving them a go.
I will be using the complete set of products for before, during and after my workouts over the next few weeks:
Prepare and endure
Be your best from start to finish. Maintaining endurance and energy is essential to supporting peak physical performance. Prepare & Endure delivers vitamins B12, C and E and key amino acids like L-arginine and L-citrulline. Arbonne PhytoSport Blend delivers botanical ingredients, ginseng, turmeric and cayenne
Drink up. Hydration is important before, during and after a workout for performance and recovery. Complete Hydration delivers electrolytes to support hydration. Vitamin C contributes to maintaining the normal function of theimmune system during and after intense physical exercise (when consuming 200 mg in addition to the recommended daily intake of 80 mg vitamin C) along with the Arbonne PhytoSport Blend of 3 botanicals to carry you beyond the finish line.
With my heavy general running schedule with groups and clients I am looking forward to not only seeing improvements in my race capabilities but also my day to day ability to cope with the mileage I cover week to week.
And as they say – you never know till you try ! See you in a few weeks.
So she said “You can write. Write about how to get into running!” And just ‘away you go’ then. How to get into running… How to get INTO running…? Why is she asking me? I’m not a runner. Well, I run, I do now anyway, but it’s only a fairly recent thing and, oh my God, running with a number pinned to your shirt? Forget it! Ugh, the gym? Running? Back to bed and under the duvet, I think. But that was part of how it started, my impetus. I was caught, as many are in their 30s and 40s, in a state of lethargy, an almost permanent state of morose finding just getting out of bed to face opening the front door an every day struggle. The Stress Diet had worked it’s magic and my weight had plummeted, but now I looked and felt like a dogs breakfast. The thing was, I didn’t want it to keep happening. I didn’t want it to be my every day. I had to get out and break it. I felt that I was staring up at a huge wall that I had no way of ever getting over. But it was either hit the wall or go down without complaint, and I wasn’t ready to go down. I had to let the fighter out. So I looked out a pair of paint splattered hill walking trainers, a pair of football shorts from the 90s and an old t shirt. But there was surely something on tv. Bargain Hunt, Homes Under the Hammer… Oh, then Wanted Down Under. Oh, and you can’t miss Jeremy Kyle when you flick on and see some tattoo covered delight shouting into someone’s face “At the end of the day Jeremy…!” Nauseating, but somehow compelling. Lunchtime. Can’t run now, even if I’d wanted to. Afternoon movie with Charlton Heston about him as as a Union officer fighting the indians, or a black and white 1950s movie about the Americans fighting the Japanese. SO many adverts! Flicking through channels, Michael Parkinson telling me I could get a free pen just for enquiring. Or getting the compensation that I apparently deserved! Ah, Nazis on Discovery. And tea time. Did I go running? No, I didn’t have time… So, the NEXT day. Brown hill walking trainers, shorts and t shirt on, I sat down to Bargain Hunt. NO! Only *I* was going to make this happen. I could go there and then and still be back in time for Loose Women! So I dragged myself off the sofa, reluctantly switched off the tv and stepped into the outdoors… It was sunny. No excuse. Through town, around the church up the hill thingy, back through town and home. Easy. So off I went. I got to the end of the street and wasn’t sure that I’d make it. I was surely going to go down into a ditch by the side of the road and I’d be buried where I lay. My legs were stiff and ached and I was breathing heavily. Shorts were too tight and long sleeves on my t shirt were irritating my arms. I wanted to stop. But people in their cars would see my abject failure. Sports injury! As convincing as “the dog ate it” or “my alarm didn’t go off”. No option. Keep going. And I did, one foot plodding after the next. Then you find that those little bumps you drive in your car become mountain like trails, they’re so very long and so very up. Then relief with a little down before another lengthy up. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but surely it took a thousand years at this rate! Yet one foot in front of another got me home again. And with it, the first sense of accomplishment.
Today, a couple of years later, Fat Pete at work always complains that he’s too fat. And he eats loads of fruit! And fried chicken and lasagne and corned beef and sausage rolls and pasties and biscuits and doughnuts… My boss has been fat, got thin and is now happily getting fatter again. Dan is lean and fit and hardly touches food. I’m getting a little sick of shredded wheat and protein shakes, even if I do mix them up with berries and bananas. But now my mind has changed. We have the weight loss talks where Fat Pete tells us he wants to lose weight, but nothing changes. He just eats fruit now, on top of his lard diet. The plump office ‘do gooder’ defends him, “leave him alone, everyone’s different”. But that’s just it. In THAT respect, we’re NOT different, we’re all the same. We all face that fight of losing weight and getting fit, and it’s the same for ALL of us. It HAS to start in our heart and mind. We must have the WANT to change our lifestyles. Diets don’t work, ok… DIETS… DO. NOT. WORK! Lifestyle changes, however, DO! But this is where the mind is a brilliant thing. Because from when I looked up meekly at that high, impossible wall, I’ve now hit it, I’m on it and thoroughly enjoying the difficulties it throws at me. Sometimes you fall back down, but you can always climb back up. Your mind adapts to what it’s being given. If you want to live like a slob, your mind lives like a slob. If you want to live bitter and angry, then your mind will stay bitter and angry. But from that first twenty minute struggle around my town, I’ve bought decent trainers, decent shorts, music to run to, and an app for my phone, Endomondo, which times, measures and maps my routes. I planned my routes, drove them in my car and ran them. I measure my kilometres against distance and try to keep every one under six minutes. I was running every second day, I was finding the longest, steepest hills to run because I was CRAVING it and before the days got dark too early I was doing 10 miles in under two hours. Then, when it got too dark too early, I joined a gym. I’d beast myself on the cross trainer, the rowing machine, bike and runner and I’d go twice round. But now the days are longer, I’m back out and beating the country roads. Beautiful spring smells, crisp clean air, new leaves on the trees. I’m looking forward to the summer when I’ll have my shirt off in the country lanes and singing US Marine running cadences, so I forget the monotony and love the run. The sun is lovely, but the rain is great. All weathers. You achieve, you’re fit, you’re sharp, you look good and nothing is insurmountable. You enjoy the stiffness on your legs after a long one the day before and you feel great for it. Better still, you enjoy shopping for clothes. Gone are all your old sack cloths, now you love buying medium sized shirts, even small and you feel GREAT! You know that point that you had when you’ve done enough and want to give up? You’ll look forward to that now just so you can enjoy the feeling of punching right through it. And if you go somewhere for a few days where you can’t run, you get itchy feet. Take your trainers when you go on holiday! I don’t eat chocolate, biscuits, burgers or crap now because my body craves getting fitter and stronger. It’s not like I have to fight temptation because my mind has totally tuned to it too. I enjoy NOT eating rubbish, I WANT to eat Shredded Wheat and protein shakes, I WANT to run. And then you feel your upper body is missing out. So you go to the gym and the same thing happens there. I haven’t watched Jeremy Kyle or Wanted Down Under for about two years. I don’t have time or the inclination. I’m loving losing weight, I’m loving taking shape, I’m loving what I’m becoming. I want to do half marathons and I want to do Tough Mudders now, I want the cold, muddy water, the exhaustion and the elation. I look back on Endomondo at the runs I did in Brazil and Poland, on the beaches near Salvador or around Stalag Luft III. Now I want to run the Great Wall of China, do the Inca Trail and the foothills of the Himalayas so I can feel another lever of chest bursting achievement. The feelings of lethargy and morose are long gone. Dead. I stepped up to that wall and now I hit it like a rodeo rider on a bull, with everything I have, no matter what it throws at me. It’s POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE. If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re probably right. And today I can. Because now, because yesterday, today and tomorrow, I AM a runner.
All credited to Nick, a wonderful writer and whom put my poor attempt to shame
Where are you in the five stages of a runner ?
So all has been quiet since my sub-4 hour marathon blog last May, i have to admit i was exhausted, my 20 mile ‘Rat race Dirty Weekend’ race finished me off! I took some well earned time off my own training but continued to enjoy training others and helping ladies achieve various goals.
I started back training in September for my winter series of Half Marathon goals, broke several course personal bests and gained a new Personal Best at the fleet 10k, with a high level of stress and anxiety in my personal life though leading into Christmas I choose to reduce my individual training back and focused on my running groups, bugs, birds, bees and butterflies.
Where is this leading you ask? I am currently set to run the Wokingham Half Marathon this Sunday and it has made me reflect on where I am as a runner? There are 5 stages of running as set out by Jeff Galloway *From Galloway‘s Book on Running by Jeff Galloway (Shelter Publications, 2002):
1) The Beginner: Stage One: Making the Break
2) The Jogger: Stage Two – Entering the New World
3) The Competitor: Stage Three – When competition is the Main Driving Force
4) The Athlete – Stage Four – Being the Best you can be
5) The Runner: Stage Five – The best of all stages
I have been there through all these stages, from the nervous beginner who doesn’t believe they can run, the jogger who needs that little bit of extra motivation, the competitor where it is all about beating my personal best, finding the fastest, flatest course to run on, the Athlete whereby is all about expecting bad races and good races about pushing the extremes, finding events that you excel in and now I am ready to move into the realms of stage stage ‘A runner’
A year ago I would have never have contemplated running the Wokingham Half with no individual training, without targeting my Personal Best but today, right here, right now I WILL be running the Wokingham Half Marathon… yes I have been running, I run 5 times a week with my Elite Conditioning Ladies, have run upto 12 miles with my Lady Butterflies half marathon group, am I fit enough to run 13.1 miles? Yes of course, will I beat my personal best with no specific training for me? Unlikely.
For the FIRST time ever I am running because I can, I am running for the sheer enjoyment of being part of a local race, I am running to support my ladies whom have never run a half marathon before, if they can do it why can’t I??? I am running for the social aspect and for those whom have supported me over the last few months and will be there cheering me on Sunday, those who will be proud of me for achieving what others only dream off. I am officially into the final stage , I am ‘A runner’, I will probably run my slowest half marathon ever (1.44 seems worlds away from where I am right now) but I am ok with that, I am in a good place and I am happy with soaking up the atmosphere, cheering others through, and being part of the biggest local running event to me.
I will see you all on the other side 🙂
For those that are interested here is the full article on the five stages of a runner:
The Five Stages of a Runner – From Galloway‘s Book on Running by Jeff Galloway (Shelter Publications, 2002).
I started running when I was 13. I was immediately intoxicated with a beginner’s enthusiasm: the very special thrill of exertion, and a feeling that my body had vast capabilities. Of course, I tried to use all my youthful untrained muscle energy on that first run and then had to hobble around for a week, almost too sore to move.
But once back the soreness diminished I was back out there, running again. I was hooked. As in any skill or craft, there were various stages of involvement, competence and enjoyment. Now that I’ve been running for over 40 years, and have spent a great deal of time helping others weave running into their lives, I see a similar pattern of evolution in just about all runners.
Progress is a process in which you balance learning and maturing, as you gain knowledge of yourself. When your running goes smoothly, one stage leads logically to the next. But real growth in running occurs when you pull yourself out of the motivational slumps; learn from your mistakes, try a few new things, and suddenly you find yourself looking at running in a different way.
Only a few runners seek Olympic gold but anyone can finish every run feeling like a champion. While you may not go through all five stages, understanding the experiences that are possible along the way will help you to minimize the pitfalls and maximize the gains of your running future.
The Beginner: Stage One: Making the Break
Every beginning is precarious. There you are, perched on the edge of starting something entirely new, yet there are distractions, even criticisms that cause detours and dead ends. You want to be healthier and fit, but you may not realize how secure you’ve become in an inactive world. Each time you go out for a run you encounter a new side of yourself – one that must somehow be integrated into your daily life.
There is usually a struggle within and without. The old lifestyle is there and offers security. When the energy of “beginning” wears off, it’s harder to motivate yourself to go out for that daily run. You’ll face a lot of obstacles at first. It’s all too easy to stop when the weather turns cold, when it rains or snows, or when you feel the aches and pains of starting. You haven’t had to deal with these things before and the temptation to quit is strong.
Your running may also be threatening to your less active friends. Eventually you – the beginner – and your non-running friends work it out. The transition period, however, can be unstable and uncomfortable for both. If you falter, the old world – comfortable in many ways – is waiting for you to slip back in. If you’re lucky enough to make new friends who share similar fitness goals, you’ll probably find refuge in the “fit” world while you gain your “running security.”
Social reinforcement makes it easier to establish the fitness habit. One good approach is to find a group that meets regularly. Or you can make a pact with a friend who drags you out on bad days and vice versa. Races and fun runs are great opportunities to meet people.
At times you may not progress as fast as you expected. When we plant a seed, we not only want it to grow, we want it to become a tree by next week. We want results. When you start, you want to see physical and psychological benefits. But if you push too hard, you can tire yourself out and end up quitting in frustration.
The seed of exercise – if you don’t crush it – will survive periods of moisture and drought. Just when it seems to be drying up, it will spring to life, rejuvenated, and propels you further down the road. Don’t be discouraged, even if you’ve stopped. Tomorrow’s another day. Many beginners stop and start again 10 or 15 times before they get the habit established. Beginners who don’t put pressure on themselves seem to have an easier time staying with it. If you simply walk/jog 30-40 minutes every other day, you’ll find yourself gently swept along in a pattern of relaxation and good feeling. Your workout starts to become a special time for you. As you make progress you find within yourself the strength and security to keep going. At first you’re “just visiting” that special world when you go out for a run. But gradually you begin to change. You get used to the positive relaxed feeling. Your body starts cleaning itself up, establishing muscle tone, circulating blood and oxygen more vigorously. One day you find you’re addicted, and the beginner becomes a jogger.
The Jogger: Stage Two – Entering the New World
The jogger feels secure with running. It may be hard to start each day’s run but, unlike the beginner, you can identify with those who are addicted. You may be intimidated by the “high achievers” – competitors and marathoners – but you have begun to understand the benefits of fitness and made a significant break with the old, non-fit world. The jogger’s runs are satisfying in themselves. There is almost always a “glow” at the end of the run, a reward for the effort. If you miss a run you may feel guilty – a rare experience for the beginner. Beginners often complain that they’re bored while running, but joggers find this problem decreases and then disappears as their distances increase.
Rarely does a jogger have a plan or goal. Most run as a healthy diversion and don’t feel the need to get anything more out of it. They just get out there when they can and do what they can. Those who do feel they need a plan often think they don’t know enough to prepare one. They may pick up a few tips from a more experienced running friend or ideas from a running magazine. Unfortunately this often ends in frustration or injury because such plans are not based upon the jogger’s own individual abilities and goals, but upon someone else’s.
At first you probably needed a group or at least another person for motivation and direction. As a jogger you are a bit more independent. You’ll prefer company to running alone, but you’ll pick and choose your group with care. Most beginners seek anonymity within a group while joggers often enjoy identification with a group.
As a beginner you may have attended a few fun runs or an occasional race. Joggers, however, mark the local 10ks on their calendars. These are motivational stepping stones to keep the daily runs on track. There will often be one major race in the joggers’ schedule, like the Bay to Breakers, Peachtree Road Race or the Corporate Challenge. Although you’re not running competitively or for time improvement, a sense of competition may begin to develop. By piecing together a growing series of successful and non-threatening running experiences, you begin the transition into a fit lifestyle.
There are always conditions – injury, a long stretch of bad weather, a partner dropping out – that may stop your running and force you to start over again as a beginner. When the year’s big race is over, you may lose the motivation to keep going. A jogger will sometimes give up running completely, but usually will start again after an extended layoff.
The Competitor: Stage Three – When competition is the Main Driving Force
There is a competitive streak, sometime hidden, in all of us. Among those who continue to run for two years or more, about 30% feel some of these urges. If kept under control, the competitive push can be a great motivator, stimulating you to train well and to push yourself further than you might have otherwise. Unfortunately, many competitors give a higher priority to the times, the age group awards, and the bragging rights, losing sight of the many other benefits of running.
You become a competitor when you start to plan your running around racing goals. It all starts innocently enough. After a few races you begin to wonder how fast you might run if you really trained. Before you know it you’re caught in a compulsive drive to run faster at the expense of running enjoyment.
Not all joggers enter this stage. Many simply remain joggers, while a very few pass directly onto the stage of ‘runner’. If you do find yourself becoming obsessed with competition, however, here are some things you might expect:
Initially the competitive spirit is exciting and rewarding. You’re running faster because of increased training. You read everything you can on training, stretching, nutrition etc. and become somewhat an expert on each. There are always new training techniques to try out and you give them all a whirl.
But as the competitive drive grows, you start feeling insecure. You no longer value your daily runs for their own worth, but think only how well there prepare you for races and better times. Missing a run seems to spell doom. You can almost feel the fat being deposited on your body and see the seconds you fought hard to erase ticking back on the clock. When you hear of a workout a friend has performed before achieving a personal record, you have to match it or die trying.
Occasionally you run alone but often you’ll seek out small groups of better runners to train with and find you’re making every workout a race; you’ll push the pace to ‘victory’ or make others earn theirs. In the same way, every race becomes a challenge to a new personal record. You may begin to choose races for the ease of terrain and lack of quality competition. At some point, you’re training so hard during the week that there is no bounce in your muscles or will power to go faster in the races. Your times slow and your motivation begins to ebb.
Once the competitive spirit has taken over, you tend to lose sight of your limitations and mistake fatigue for loss of motivation. Deciding to ‘break’ through mental weakness, a warped logic emerges. If small mileage increases brought a small improvement, you’ll try large increases to gain large improvement. Although you have read many times about the need for rest, you feel that yours is a special case – you don’t need recovery time. For weeks you may feel tried all the time yet have trouble sleeping at night. Finally you push to far and break down with injury, sickness or fatigue, and you either can’t run or don’t want to run.
Once the frustration has passed (and the pounds have settled back on) you’ll probably start running again. Hopefully you’ll have learned a lesson. You’ll recycle and work your way up the ladder again. When you’ve put competition into perspective you pass into the stage of ‘athlete’ or even ‘runner’. Competitors that move directly to the enjoyment of runner category often realize that time goals, trophies, and age group awards are rewards for the ego. It’s ok to enjoy these, in their place. But don’t let the ego ruin the satisfaction and positive attitude gained from a run at any pace – even a very slow one!
The Athlete – Stage Four – Being the Best you can be
As an athlete, you find more meaning in the drive to fulfil your potential than in compulsively collecting times and trophies. You’ve finally got a handle on competition, and it’s not the only motivation. Being an athlete is a state of mind which is not bound by age, performance, or place in the running pack.
For a competitor, victory and defeat are tied to performance, Times, flat courses, ideal conditions are all important. For the athlete, victory lies in the quality of effort. When you run close to your potential on a given day, it’s a victory. You internalize competition and transcend it, knowing your limits and capabilities. You understand what’s important and what you must do to accomplish it. AS you compete, you breathe in a race, vaporize it, absorb what you need, and exhale the rest. Running becomes your own work of art and you produce the best expression you can, on that day.
Competitors search for races they can win. Athletes look for competition which can bring out the best in them, win or lose. Not intent on a higher ranking or better performance in itself, they thrive on a challenging race that is run in the best possible way – from the inside out – and they are, not incidentally, rewarded in the long run by faster times at all levels of performance. Yes, athletes are scattered throughout the spectrum of runners, including the back of the pack. They often choose smaller races over the big media events because they don’t want to feel lost in the sea of humanity.
Gradual progress is more important to the athlete than a fast time in a given race. You now have an internal concept of what you can do. When progress in slow or is blocked you revise. With every run, your internal training computer is fed with good data that processes several possibilities. You know when to disregards a bad run and not get depressed.
Though you once may have been a competitor you read everything and tried most of it, as an athlete you now only read what a practical value. When problems arise you look for literature on subject by authors you trust. You’re reading ties into an overall plan.
Planning is important. Although you’re flexible, you plot goals and races 6-9 in advance. The athlete is capable of continuous re-evaluation, and may change goals from week to week. Plans are not always written.
Great athletes at any level realize that ‘success’ is in the eye of performer. Some athletes reach a level of achievement or satisfaction and retire from competition, a few even quit running entirely. Most choose a reduced level of racing. Many continue to grow and move into the final and most rewarding stage, the runner.
The Runner: Stage Five – The best of all stages
The final stage of the running journey blends the best elements of all the previous stages. The runner balances the elements of fitness, competition, training and social life and blends running with the rest of his or her life. There may be times when the runner reverts to earlier stages – mature people in any field have this problem – but these are only passing bouts that are assimilated into the overall harmony. The runner is a happy person.
As a runner, the primary focus of your life is not running. It may be family, friends, work, and is often a blend of many things, running is now a natural part of your daily routine. When you miss a run you are not in agony. In fact, you don’t miss many days over the span of a year, because you just feel better during and after every run.
You know the positive effects of exercise, but that alone doesn’t get you out on the roads. You get so much satisfaction from the experience itself that running becomes a necessary and stable part of your active lifestyle.
As a runner, you’ll enjoy the companionship of running with other. You appreciate the peace and inner reflection provided by the solitary run more than you did in the earlier stages.
As a runner you experience the enjoyment of each stage and retain the best of each of them. You can relive the beginner’s excitement in discovery, appreciate the jogger’s balance of fitness and enthusiasm, share the competitor’s ambition, and internalize the athlete’s quest. Having consolidated and balanced all these stages, you enjoy the creative and positive aspects of each and let them enrich your running life.