So I got signed off to run! Well, “Jog… lightly” were the Surgeon’s exact words. Lucky that’s what I’m currently capable of, so we seem to be on the same page. I won’t be doing any strengthening exercises on the shoulder until Christmas, so I’ll continue to be uncomfortable at least till then. Time stops for no man so getting ready starts all the same.
Smashing a race like The Hillary, even the shortest option, is tough so planning is on the utmost of my mind at the moment. I’m lacking a few essential things when it comes to my goal… fitness, strength and good form. Oh gosh this is slightly awkward. If you are in the same boat, it can seem fairly overwhelming! But, at least we know what we are missing, right. Self-awareness is apparently a good thing.
I’ve got a few things under my belt that I have found crucial in developing as a runner, and I’ll draw on those in the next few weeks as I build.
One thing that inspired and helped me more than all others. It has kept me motivated and dreaming even when I could not run. Most have read or heard of Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run book which was a catalyst for the minimalist movement in the running world about 6 years ago when he overcame injury to run an ultra marathon after changing everything about how he ran. Not many people remember his coach, Eric Orton, who developed him in nine months to complete this race. Eric’s book “The Cool Impossible” made so much sense and has inspired me to dream big and work on the little things well to get there.
The book incorporates a 12 week plan to build, wait for it… fitness, strength and good form. This will be my guide in my journey. It is not focused on a certain length race, it is based on current fitness levels and works your way up slowly, reducing risk of fatigue, injury and feeling discouraged. I have completed parts of this training before in between injuries and it has blown my mind at how easily things can come together when training slow.
I’m not a fast runner, I struggle with breathing a lot, my muscles complain and my mind is the greatest of quitter’s. I used to think to run you go as fast as you can before you feel you can’t and then walk or stop until the body comes right. It was an awful experience, constantly hitting a wall, feeling disappointed in not being able to run a certain distance in a certain time. Each time I thought about a run I’d have to think, do I want to put myself through the humiliation of my body not doing what I think it should be doing.
By using a running plan starting with Heart Rate Zones, you run what your body is doing in the moment. Although it can be painfully slow, you are not putting yourself under so much strain so each day you can bang out a run without too much effort. Through this process you are building a base on which your body becomes an awesome machine that you don’t recognise and suddenly become in awe of. It’s amazing when you run further than you have before. It’s great when your times drop, but it’s even better knowing that tonight, I can run and enjoy it.
You’ll need to invest in some gadgets to train in this way, but I fully suggest you do if you want to improve your running. Save some pennies and throw them at a watch with an HR function; they are so invaluable. I’m using a Suunto Ambit3 with HR chest strap which is everything I could ever need.
If you don’t want to fork out an arm and leg, I was excited to see James Kuegler sign on to The Hillary event by sharing some training plans. He happens to be another person that has inspired me on my running journey. I attended a workshop of his on how to run. Sounds so basic but running form is so diverse and although I picked up so much on how my technique was a bit rugged in Eric’s book, it is amazing having someone walk you through what good technique looks like. James picked up (in a group of forty odd people) that my left ankle was tense while running, something I was not aware of. What I learned over two hours has completely made me change the way I think about how I’m running in the moment. Relax, pelvic tilt, keep light, use your hamstrings, stand tall, don’t forget to breathe, you idiot. To tell you the truth it is awful. Running properly takes strength… and now I fatigue a lot quicker than I use to shuffling along in my ignorance. I look a lot cooler now though, even if I’m slower. I’ve put my legs to werk werk werk…
I’ve been out for a few runs over the last couple of weeks and mostly felt like death, and will start my program oh so soon, running and strengthening what I need to most days over the next 12 weeks. I’ll be doing most of my running on flat surfaces in the next while to avoid possible shoulder injuries and building strength on flat surfaces with HR zones is easier to control without the ups and down. The hills will come, I can hear them calling, maybe threatening…
Lets’s get this started!