Friday, 27 April 2012

The Running Game

So I believe I can officially call myself a runner.  No more, “yeah, I do a bit of running, you know.” Rather I can now stand up and be counted.  I run.  I am a runner.  I run close to a 5k circuit at least three times a week.  Holy Jesus, when I see that written down, I’m pretty impressed myself.  This time last year, 1st April 2011, I was still pregnant with Screecher Creature No. 4.  He would arrive into the world exactly 8 days later.  I was still pregnant big but I remember being delighted with myself in the hospital because I could get through a door without turning sideways.  I was big.  Oh, I was big!  I didn’t let myself go to seed; instead I took off and flowered only it wasn’t the kind of flower anyone would want in their garden.  I ate what I wanted, when I wanted and this was usually chocolate.  Lots of it.  Heaps of it.  Brendan was born at 8.40pm and I’d been fasting since 11am that morning.  I didn’t hesitate to ask the midwife for a double helping of toast and while I was waiting for it I inhaled the biggest bar of Turkish Delight you can buy.  Followed by three Mars bars.  Another night I ate a whole box of Thornton’s chocolates in one sitting as I fed Brendan.  The large box.  I was unstoppable.  I have heard that chocolate cravings can indicate low magnesium levels but mine must have been non-existent!  I was in dire need of Chocoholics Anonymous.  But in true addiction style, I neither cared nor admitted it to myself.  My milk was yellow, butter yellow and I still believe it was because the fat content in it was so high.  It was always nicely milky coloured with the others.  I don’t know how it wasn’t a rich, chocolate brown this time.  It was only when I stood up on a scales to weigh Brendan one day that I decided something had to be done.  Cutting down drastically on the chocolate intake alone saw me loose a couple of pounds each and every week.  Then I started to walk in the evenings and losing weight became even easier.  Pretty soon I was over a half stone down but the days were closing in.  I invested in a work-out DVD and continued to regularly loose anything from a pound to two pounds a week and I reached my first stone.  I continued to walk at the weekends. I was really enjoying it and started to push myself to knock a few more seconds off my time every other day.  Running never entered my head though.  It wasn’t on my radar at all.  In fact, I still cannot remember the first time I decided to “run a little bit” just to see how I got on.  I have absolutely no recollection of it.  But I did and, according to my calendar, I ran without stopping for the first time in January of this year, covering just under 4k.  Strictly speaking, I have only been running for four months now.  I am also close to being two and a half stone lighter than I was last June.  If I can do this running lark, anyone can.  I found a book called Run Fat B!tch Run by Ruth Field to be really inspiring, helpful and just dam funny in places.  I still pull it out to flick through it.  I am finding that running is a funny business in that it can be quite personal.  I have spoken to people who will only run with someone else.  I am a solo runner.  Others like their own thoughts whereas I’m a big fan of a stonkin’ radio station to push me onwards. Some people run for weight loss and I think it helps keep me sane sometimes!  I like to outrun the frustration and trivialities of everyday life.  It’s also a great way to think.  I heard a lady on the radio talking about how she took up running after having to make a horrific decision about her pregnancy.  I salute the runners who are running through such pain and heartache when it appears that I am just running for shits and giggles; to see if “I can do it.”      If you’re thinking about it, even just a little bit, here are my top tips to get you started.  In the beginning just get out there and do it.  Leaving the house is the first step.  Even if you’re just walking, walk it quicker. One step at a time.  Literally.
A good tip is to run a lamp post, walk a lamp post etc.  That is if there are lamp posts on your route.  I used to try and run half a song and then walk until I caught my breath.
For a while, don’t tell anyone what you’re up to.  You can if you feel you need the extra pressure to keep running but otherwise, keep quiet about it.  When you’re able to run for 15 – 20 minutes without stopping, then tell the world.
Find a couple of routes that you like.  Make sure they are safe, that you are not running on terrain that will cause you an injury or in an area that could compromise your personal safety.  Use common sense.  Be sensible if you run in or near traffic.  You’re a lot softer than any vehicle despite how hard you may look! Wear high visibility clothing.  I’m in search of a vest with reflective stripes for the good weather. 
Don’t run every day.  Give yourself a rest in between sessions.  Try not to take two consecutive days off. 
On the days that you couldn’t be arsed, go for the shorter run or walk.  Trust me, you will feel great that you did it and it removes the guilt that you will feel if you don’t bother going at all. 
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.  It’s all well and good to have a goal in mind but make it a small one.  Start by trying to knock a couple of seconds off your time each time you go out. 
Do this for you and you alone.  Make it your “thing.” 
Make sure you warm up before heading out and cool down when you return.  Even for just two minutes. 
Eat well!  You will be pleasantly surprised, as was I, to discover that even though your appetite will increase, you can eat more and still loose/maintain weight.
And don’t fear looking silly or stupid.  Think how you’ll feel (and look!) in a month’s time when you’ve mastered your art!
When you get into your rhythm, don’t break it. Never stop.  Don’t break your momentum.  Slow to a fast walk but keep moving briskly. 
Another thing I was very sceptical about was signing up for a run somewhere.  I was enjoying myself, going at my own pace and then I was gently bullied into the 5k in The Phoenix Park.  It really did give me something to aim towards.  But give yourself a good 6 weeks to train.  
Some runs will be glorious and some will be shite!  Funnily enough, when you know the end is close, it gets harder.  I am practically on all fours at this point sometimes.  Thoughts of what I’m going to eat when I get home usually propel me forwards then!
We all have our reasons for running and whatever they are, may they stand to us and fuel our drive.  Go on.  You know you want to.  You never know.  You might surprise yourself.  I know I did!   


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