This month I have made real efforts to ramp up my running progress. I want to at some point soon, hit the half marathon distance. I probably won’t do it in a formal race – simply because there aren’t any coming up that I can, realistically, get to, so I plan to hit the distance on one of my Sunday long runs. At the moment the furthest I’ve run is around 15.5km (21km is the half marathon) so I’m not too far off. I just need to get over the mental block and I’m sure I’ll achieve it.
There’s been a couple of things that have really helped me to push on this month. First and foremost is the Race at Your Pace challenge that I have been doing each month since January. This is where you choose a distance that you’ll run and you have a month to complete the challenge. For May I chose 75 miles, and I am tantalisingly close to hitting it now – just seven miles to go. I’m aiming to cover off at least two miles tomorrow at the gym and then the last 5 I’ll most probably do Thursday morning or Friday. Being accountable in this way really had helped me to get up and out and push for those extra miles.
Secondly, I’ve joined the ‘Lonely Goat Running Club’ which is essentially an online group to share running related achievements with like-minded people. I’ve managed to beat my 5km personal best in recent weeks and the congratulations and support from other lonely goats was fantastic. I am minded to get a shirt for my upcoming runs in June but will wait and see.
So… I definitely feel the benefit of running, and conversely despite the miles I’m putting in, I feel energised and my mind is much clearer. I’d hit a bit of a fog in March and I really wasn’t looking after myself how I ought to be. I have, in the past, had issues with my health and I am careful to make sure my body is behaving as I am keen to ward off medicating any conditions for as long as possible. What that means, in reality, is cutting down on sugary items, not taking on too much caffeine and generally eating better and looking after myself. When I run I get really hungry the next day or two but I am getting better at eating proper meals and not snacking on bits and pieces here and there as I go through the day. I certainly feel much clearer in my mind since I’ve committed to running at least three times a week. I’m fotunate that I have a good group of friends (and of course Damian) that I can chat to when things get a bit on top of me, but seeking out someone to talk to to help keep your mind healthy is no bad thing.
I’ve also buckled and made use of some toe protectors. After a particularly long run last month the nail on one of my toes was hurting. Back before I was pregnant with H and was running a lot I was certain I was going to lose a toe nail – one of the less delightful aspects of running! but as I stopped when I was pregnant it never happened. I’d noticed a little pain last month and so got a set of Ultimate Performance Toe Protectors. These are actually amazing and are probably a bit of kit I should have bought ages ago. The pack has two toe protectors in and they’re made of silicone so easily stretch to fit any toes. I now always wear one over the toe with the dodgy nail and then occasionally on my big toe on the other foot if I’m going on a particularly long run in a bid to ward off blisters. Since wearing these I’ve not had any pain in my toenail and there doesn’t appear to be any danger of my nail loosening further! I do find that wearing a slightly more cushioned sock has helped too. I’ve been trying out these run anklets from 1000 mile and have been impressed so far. I am a big fan of the 1000 mile socks (I included them in my must haves here) and these cushioned ones are perfect and are a little roomier than my old ones so work well for me at the moment.
The other thing that I am starting to work on is my speed – I am an average speed runner – my 5km fastest is just under 28 minutes, so I’m not setting any records. I’ve taken to adding a couple of sprints onto the end of my runs at least once a week and plan to try and do a faster 5km run once every ten days or so. I also need to get back into my strength training work – as this will undoubtedly have a huge benefit to my running so I think for June I will do less mileage but more overall work if I include the gym work too.