Thursday 30 January 2014

Why I won't cheat on running. Yet...

Last week my lovely friend Lesley, who I met and lived with during our undergraduate science degrees at Glasgow Uni, sent me a picture. Despite being mostly lovely, Lesley lives in Dubai and often likes to rub my face in all the sunny outdoor activities she gets involved in! This time, however, the picture wasn’t of the Dubai sunshine...

This scrawling is, in fact, an attempted scientific correlation between Lesley’s weekly workout schedules and her 10K PBs for the years 2011-2014. Now, the scientist in me feels that I should point out the flaws of this study design but, scientist or not, I’m sure you can fathom that this research is entirely lacking in statistical power and there are numerous variables that have not been controlled for... HOWEVER, I believe the moral that Lesley was trying to show me this: 

Less running = Faster running

Although she is a highly intelligent and gifted being (I hope that tenner is in the post, Lesley), my friend did not invent this concept. BUT – despite some questionable stats – the results are quite striking: going from running 3-4 times per week in 2011 to just one running session a week plus one of, bootcamp, weights and rowing in 2013-2014, Lesley’s 10K time decreased by a whopping 7 minutes! More interesting to me is that the bad hip and knee that she suffered from back while running loads in 2011 is no more: she runs 10K pain free and – as her Picasso-of-a-picture suggests – with a smile on her face.

On top of this bombshell dropped from Dubai, my London-based and equally delightful blogger friend Charlie put up a post on the notes she took while at a talk at Runners Need on Monday on avoiding injury while marathon training. I was supposed to be there but work had other plans for me. Unhappy face.

Fortunately, Charlie’s post captures what was said nicely:

‘Running is not bad for your knees, running on weak muscles is bad for your knees.’

And the advice? combat muscle weaknesses and strengthen the muscles in your legs [you should] perform single-leg weights, including squats, lunges, hopping, as well as using the weights machines, and perform these lower body weights at least twice a week (although not on consecutive days)."

Weights twice a week!? WHILE marathon training?! This got me thinking...

Back in October I wrote a post about ‘mixing up my training’ – keeping the variety to prevent myself from getting bored. And back then I was doing that. Now, at the end of January, I have to admit that it’s sort of fallen by the wayside. 

As my marathon deadline creeps ever nearer (10 weeks to go!) I’ll openly admit that the fear has gripped me: can I actually run 26.2 miles? Will my legs stop working at 18 miles in? Am I nuts??! 

My way to combat this fear and to give myself the confidence that I CAN run - that I can run lots AND far - has been to run. Lots (not always far) but also far (which takes lots of time, so still counts as ‘lots’). On reading this back I realise that, essentially, I’m attempting to prove to myself that I’m not nuts by being entirely more nuts!

Anyway – back to my point! Between working an 8.30-5.30 job (or should I say ‘5.30 most of the time, unless I have something I want to be at’, like marathon talks...) with an hour commute each side, plus the boy and friends to enjoy time with, that leaves not very much time for this running malarkey never mind anything else! My weekends are pretty much given over to running for hours then eating and vegetating. I’m often shattered at the times I’m supposed to be socialising. But I soldier on with a beer in hand because, y’know. I’m a trooper.

Lately I find that I miss my (sport-related only, ofcourse!) ‘bits on the side’. I used to go to kickboxing – loved it! – to spin, to NTC classes and to more yoga classes. I’d also like to get more involved in weight training, but I just can’t find the time. And even when I do try to do something else I feel like I’m ‘cheating’ on running. And – all the more scary –- that running will come along like a deranged, wronged lover and punish me at some point on my 26.2 mile jaunt around London in April (I find that denial is also a great way to get through the fear: this thing I’m running? Pah, it’s just a ‘jaunt’!). 

I’ve seen some posts from those who follow Julia Buckley’s ‘Fat Burn Revolution’ plan, particularly a blogger friend Becca who has had a pretty amazing transformation. Julia is a big advocate that marathon training or any running training can be fit in around other activities and that you will see the benefits. I think that once I get the marathon thingy (oh, hello again there denial!) out of the way I might try to give it a go. 

Until then you can say what you like - get Paula Radcliffe to tell me that I don’t need to be faithful to running! - it doesn’t matter: the fear of 26.2 miles will keep me channelling my inner Forrest Gump and keep on running (minus the trucker hat... And the chinos. And check shirt. But I've got the Nikes!) 

I wonder if it’s because this is my first marathon. Maybe more experienced marathon runners don’t sweat the time spent courting activities outside of running... Is it just me? Do you have illicit affairs with cross fit or a yoga mat behind the back of running? Go on, tell me. I can keep a secret ;)

Katy | City Girl Fit

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