Running Happy

This seems like such a simplistic title for a blog post, but it needs no zhooshing up (yes, that IS how you spell it, I saw it on Pointless). For the last few months I have been running happy and it is an absolute revelation.

I love running, and I hope this comes across in this blog. But on the odd occasion (ahem) I’ve sucked the joy out of the thing I love by constantly pushing myself to my physical limits, dreading races and putting so much pressure on myself that I wondered whether or not running was the best thing for my mental health.

What a mess.

So for the last few races, I’ve taken the foot off the gas and slowed down so that I can enjoy the process of running, and it has been nothing short of joyful. I’ve run chatty half marathons with friends, paced some of the juniors I coach at 10ks, run with kids at parkrun and have looked like a giddy idiot in all of the photos:

Grinning 1

Grinning 2

As well as making me happy, this also enables me to encourage others, and as PBs start to become a bit of a rarity for me, helping someone else to achieve theirs gives me the exact same high.

I’ve also been doing more casual longer runs. In the past I’ve always pushed hard on longer runs (despite knowing that you shouldn’t hit race pace in training), but I’m adding more run commutes and runs to parkrun in to my schedule (around 5.5 miles along the riverside from Ely to Littleport), and took part in a steady 8-mile Ely Runners Sunday trail run yesterday, which had to have been one of the most gorgeous runs I’ve ever done:

Easter Trail Run

Photo courtesy of trail runner extraordinaire Kyle Armstrong

At the beauty of it all is, when I do feel like pushing myself, my speed isn’t suffering for this new attitude. I paced a junior at a 5k last week, and we crossed the line in 20:52, and I felt like I had a decent amount still left in the tank after encouraging her the whole way round. Perhaps (gasp!) this new, more relaxed attitude will actually help me?

I originally started long distance running to try something new and after a few weeks I realised I had found my sport, the one that makes me feel strong, that helps me clear my mind and one that I actually happen to be pretty good at. But most of all I did it because it made me feel happy. Now, by actually slowing it down from time to time, I’m allowing myself to be in the moment and marvel and this bloody brilliant thing that my body allows me to do. There will come a time (hopefully in the far, far distant future) when I won’t be able to run any more, so I intend to be grateful for the here and now  and continue to focus on the pure joy of running.

Resolution Substitution

I hate new year’s resolutions, and only partly because I’m terrible at sticking to them. Past failures have included doing a sun salutation every morning (I lasted around 11 days), writing a novel (something of a work in progress), and getting at least 7 hours sleep a night (ooh cat videos you say? It’s 11:43pm but let’s watch 20 in a row!).

The fact is, why are we all setting ourselves up for failure at the very beginning of the year when we’re all full of chocolate fudge brownie Wensleydale cheese (yes, that is actually a thing) and missing Prosecco being a socially acceptable breakfast? We’re out of money, it’s cold, and the sparkle of Christmas has pretty much gone. That’s hardly a recipe for a good time to make successful life changes.

prosecco.gif

Apparently, you have to do something every day for 66 days before it becomes a habit. If you start on January 1st that’s March 7th people. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a really long time. And this is coming from someone who already has plans with Theemiddlesis for March 2017. In a nutshell, this is why I think new year resolutions suck. Why do you want to limit bettering yourself to just one day of the year, and a potentially hungover one at that?

It was on the 13th January 2015 that I signed up for my first ever triathlon. Back in April I decided to start taking my running more seriously by getting a coach in the form of Alan “Baldrick” Baldock and starting this blog. In August I joined Ely Runners. Around this time I also wanted to try adding more yoga and foam rolling into my regime. But rather than say “I will do this daily!” and feel crap when I failed, I decided to aim for two times a week. And sometimes I do it twice, sometimes five times, or sometimes not at all when life gets a bit busy. But the point is I didn’t set myself unrealistic targets, and by doing even a little bit it’s an improvement on what I was doing before. I’m now a whizz at doing crow pose to headstand and then back to crow pose, and I’m even managing a wobbly one legged wheel pose on a good day. By not setting myself a whole bunch of ridiculous (unreachable) targets all at once, I’m getting stronger and faster, bit by bit.

I guess the point I want to make is that we shouldn’t be so strict with ourselves. If you want to make a change, don’t wait until one day out of 365 to do it. Just do it when the time feels right for you. And don’t set yourself such rigid boundaries either – often it’s the small increments that matter in the longer term.

Wonderwoman

(But if you fancy taking up running and want a buddy to come with, give me a shout!).