So! Fellow running bores (or Running Boars - we could start a band with that name!) Where shall I start?
Here's a quick little overview of the week I've had running-wise:
Mon - 4 miles (inc track session with Run 4 All)
Tues - CrossFit (hurrah!)
Wed - Rest
Thur - 3 miles
Fri - 3 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - Run Like A Ninja (explanation to follow) + 9 miles walk/running
Busy, busy week! Despite the fact that my ankle/calf issue flared up with a vengeance on Monday before track, and that my knee decided to join the pain party on Thursday because I dared to run down a hill, it's been a pretty successful week. Today was the icing on top of it.
By Run Like A Ninja, I didn't mean I've started donning a balaclava and jumping out of bushes to surprise people. I don't fancy being arrested. It's the name of a 6 week course that's being run by Outcast Swansea's biggest running enthusiast (and fastest man with a beard I've ever met - to hell with wind resistance!), Owen Pillai.
I jumped at the chance to attend. It hadn't occurred to me until very recently that, as with all other sports, there has to be a right and a wrong way to run, even though humans are built for the activity. In retrospect, it's bizarre how most, if not all runners will happily plod right into it without first being taught basic form. Like what I did. From just one hour-long session, I learned there are several things that I've been doing wrong:
- I smack my heels repeatedly on the floor as I go. I'm surprised my ankles made it this far before crying out for help. Poor, sad ankles!
- I slouch. In a bid to make running easier on myself, I try to "relax". Turns out my "relaxing" translates into hunching my shoulders and gritting my teeth until it's over. So relaxing!
- I swing my arms here, there and everywhere, like a crap Spiderman, flinging away webs of energy with my arms and torso; energy that could be used elsewhere. Like, I don't know...in helping my legs to run?
"Wow, that's not running! Hahaha, look how silly you are!"
Here's how much learnin' I got done in one hour. ONE puny hour!
1. Posture is the most important thing to remember. Shoulders should be back and down. Shoulders. Not knuckles.
2. Engage your core, otherwise running becomes a weird, energy-losing, floppitty motion.
3. Lean forwards slightly from the ankles. Running should feel like a controlled fall. Think Michael Jackson move, not choreography off of Stomp.
4. To stop losing energy by swinging your arms around like Phoebe off of Friends, keep them in a relaxed 90 degree angle, and keep your wrists loose by holding them skywards like you're being camp and offering someone two packs of Monster Munch (or other delicious crisp of choice. Mmm. Monster Munch).
The most important and mind-blowing bit of advice I absorbed like a sponge cake (Mmm. Sponge cake. I really need a snack) was...Tiny fanfare, please!
There is no such thing as jogging.
Whaaaaat?! What have I been doing this whole time?? It makes sense, though! There is only walking, or running. If you're being overtaken by pensioners taking their pooch for walkies (what? This doesn't happen to me all the time. Shut up! You're slow!), then you really need to rethink what you're doing.
By running that slowly, all you are doing is making walking really ruddy hard for yourself. As a passionate "jogger" (because I thought it sounded more recreational and less scary than "runner"), this information meant that, if true, I'd have to rethink entire way I train. I bimble along slowly so that I can get further, but what's been bugging me lately is that it still feels like a colossal effort when I do even that. I thought lack of fitness was to blame.
I was struggling with this concept, so I decided that the 9 miler I had scheduled after the course was a good time to test it out. I ran at the speed that my shiny new running posture comfortably allowed, walking whenever it got a bit too gritty, or when my posture started to collapse. There was a lot of walking. A metric fuck-ton of walking.
I covered that 9 miles at a slightly quicker pace than I'd have done if I jogged the whole damn thing. What the actual eff?! I'm not saying it was easy - I did struggle a lot. At one point, I had to bribe myself with the prospect of buying Fruit Pastilles at mile 7 to keep myself going. They were delicious, thanks.
Difference was, I was struggling from fatigue, as opposed to actual pain. It's a nice feeling when your muscles are tired in a totally painless kind of way, which is something I rarely get to experience. Especially recently. My heels, ankles and calves are crying today, but for once, it's with relief that they didn't get yet another nasty battering.
Starting to think that maybe walking sections of this marathon might not be a shabby idea....
See you next week!