Wednesday 30 October 2013

Overcoming the 'run funk'

After the excitement and exhilaration of getting a place in London marathon I descended into what can only be described as a ‘run funk’. My morning runs and solo evening runs were becoming a real slog and, while running usually lifts me out of any work- or life-related ‘funk’, it was no longer taking me to my happy place. 

I began to get a bit panicked about whether I’d be able to commit to training in this state and wondered if I could even complete a full marathon. But I’m not one for self pity and am a firm believer that if something isn’t right then swift action is needed. So, here’s my action plan to get out of the run funk: 

Action 1: Mix it up 

There’s still 24 weeks to go until London marathon. If I only focus on running for 24 weeks I am sure that when (if?!) I cross the finish line, I'll throw off my running shoes and be happy never to see them again for the rest of my days! So, ok, the drama queen rears her ugly head again – but you catch my drift: if I only run up until April then I will go mad. Oh, alright. Mad-er. 

Full-body/strength training 

On Monday night I headed down to Niketown London to take part in one of the Nike Training Club (NTC) classes. If you’ve not tried this out yet then I suggest you get on board – ladies only (sorry boys!) FREE fitness classes, run by world-class Nike trainers. I’ve been to the outdoor classes in Regents Park with the amazing Gil and Clapham Common with the ab-tastic Crossfit machine that is Gemma, but this was my first experience of Niketown NTC and I was in for a few shocks. 

First shock: the class took place on the shop floor while the shop was still OPEN. Cue bemused shoppers watching as I sweat my ass off! Second shock: it’s really hot on the shop floor – Niketown is certainly no air-conditioned, temperature-regulated gym (I think I’ve only sweated more at bikram yoga). Third shock: although we worked bloody hard through high-intensity style training, I loved it! Disclaimer: as the class is in the store it’s hard to leave without making a purchase. It took ALL my willpower not to treat myself to these purple beauties: 
Hot Nike kit. Want, want, want!
The NTC trainers really push you to your limits, but that’s what we’re there for, right? I’m definitely the kind of person who works harder under supervision. For those of you with self-motivation there’s also the NTC App, which contains loads of workouts tailored to your goals and fitness level:


The NTC App is available on iTunes and you can sign up to the NTC classes for FREE (did I mention that already?!) through the Facebook page – they take place in parks across London and Nike stores UK wide, and they also have the odd sessions that come with the chance to win free kit or receive goody bags :) 

Track sessions 

The dreaded sprints. I know that they are a necessary evil in marathon training if you want to do yourself justice, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. As mentioned above, I am unlikely to push myself hard enough if working alone, so I am planning to head down to Battersea Track with run-coach Karen. If you’re interested in joining the sessions then check out the details here. I’ll let you know how it goes once I’ve faced up to the inevitability of having to run so fast you can taste blood. And then repeat. I know, sounds fun, right...


The Twitteratti of running have been telling me that I need to crosstrain – that is, do some other form of aerobic exercise other than running. As marathon-running supremo Hal Higdon posted on Twitter today:

Does strength training qualify as ? I endorse lifting but crosstraining needs to be aerobic. Nevertheless, lift away!

I’m a big fan of the pool and so I’m planning to make swimming my crosstrain event, and hope to get at least one swim in a week on my training plan. I recently discovered the new(ish) Clapham Leisure Centre just off Clapham High Street, which has a lovely clean pool (hard to find!) and opens at 6.30am – plenty of time for me to get a swim in before heading to work. I can currently do about half a mile fairly hard out, non-stop, so I’m going to try to gradually increase that distance as time goes on. 


Another approach to mixing up my training is to incorporate yoga into my plan at least once a week. I’m not one for too much of the ‘om’-ing and spiritual side, so I’m yet to find a yoga class that is more about flexibility and fitness and is also accessible to me in the south of London. I’m going to try out flow yoga at FRAME Shoreditch this week – the hunt for my marathon-training yoga class begins! 

Action 2: Run with Friends 

A few weekends ago I got up at ridiculous o’clock in the morning to run 8 miles around Kingston in the wettest conditions known to man (note: not an actual fact). Sounds grim, right? Well, if you look at this picture of me (in the pink top) at the finish line you will see I am sporting not a grimace but a big cheesy grin! 

Wanna know why? To the left of me, also cheesing it out, is my blogger and runner friend Leah. This race taught me that nothing whiles away the hours spent pounding the tarmac and can distract you from negative thoughts like running and chatting with friends. This, dear readers, IS an actual FACT! 

Continuing my ‘friends + run = happy days’ approach, last Sunday I made the most of an extra hour in the day and met up with my friend Josie for a morning run. We first met at a track-training session back in August and are both running London, so thought a little run date was in order. I took her on a 4.7 mile loop from Clapham Common to Battersea Park in the pre-storm sunshine – a beautiful morning, nice steady run (with a tiny, but sort of not so tiny, hill at the end – sorry Jose!), although I think we both overdressed and suffered from the heat! Our plan was to run and then catch up some more over coffee and cake, which leads me on to my next action... 

Action 3: Rewards! 

If can drag my ass out of bed in the cold and dark at 5.45am or pull on my trainers even when the heavens have opened then I’m damn well going to reward myself for it. I know there’s folk out there who decry food-based post-workout rewards as ‘it defeats the purpose of exercise’ but let’s face it – I’m not here because I want to shift a few pounds. I’m here because I’m training for a marathon. And this is MY plan. So I WILL have my cake AND eat it, thankyouverymuch! 

Do run, get cake. Simple!
If you don’t fancy cake-based rewards (do such people exist?!) then perhaps have your eye on a nice new piece of running kit and set a goal distance to hit in training to reward yourself. Or you could take my lead and use both reward strategies in tandem :) 

From the twitter response it sounds like a lot of runners out there love a bit of post-run cake. #RunCakeClub? Watch this space... 

So that’s it! Action ‘out-of-run-funk’ is in progress. Josie’s pearls of wisdom rung true with me – I’m not yet in to the 20-week training programme for the marathon so I’m probably struggling as I can’t yet visualise my end goal. Once full training mode kicks in I’m sure I’ll switch on. Perhaps I need to pick me up one of these fab vests from Fierce Fizique to show others that my fierce mode is well and truly ON!
Have you ever hit a run funk? What do you do to keep training interesting?

Katy | City Girl Fit


  1. Great post! I'm a bit like that, as soon as I have something to work towards I end up really defeatist about it?
    I took a week off though and had a fantastic run yesterday so back on track :)
    One of my favourite treats after a evening run is a good bath with a luxury bath product and a facemask, I feel like I've really worked for it and the bath will help soothe my aching muscles.

    1. Ooh yes, a nice long soak in the tub - perfect :) I usually have a running magazine in there with me too. Seems I can switch off from run mode even for 20 minutes!

  2. Great post, I'm up for joining you on a long run sometime if you fancy it, and you know I am ALL about the cake! xx

  3. I'm so glad to have read this post. I'm running Edinburgh in May, and completed my first half in October, since then I've been in a funk with training and haven't really known what to do with myself. On Tuesday everything just slotted back into place and I had a great run, I'm hoping this will now stick with me until May (fingers crossed). Oh and good luck :) x

    1. Hi Rebecca - glad you like the post! It seems that everyone goes through the funk at some point in training: we're not alone :) Edinburgh will be fantastic - definitely one on my to-do list! Hope training keeps going well. I think the key is to remember that we are choosing to run so we should try to enjoy it. I've started doing one 'fun' class a week to remind myself that keeping fit can be a laugh too!