Love, Hate, Running and Me

I hate running.

And yet for someone who hates running I sign up to a lot of runs.

So it’s a lie to say I hate running really I suppose.

I like running. I’m just slow.

I can run for long periods of time at a steady pace.  I’m never going to get a sub 2 hour half marathon time but I’ve completed a number of half marathons, a number of 5 and 10k runs and one marathon.

What I really mean when I say I hate running is I hate training for runs.

I like going out for a road run- but for 15- 20 minutes, perhaps half an hour.

I like being in the fresh air, feeling the sun on my face on a nice day or the fresh feeling on a cold or wet day.

For me this type of running is less about keeping fit and more like therapy.  A time to either think, or to clear my thoughts, to stick on some cheesy music and just be present and take in my surroundings.  I tend to run down a cycle route close to my flat and like to people watch and look at the graffiti in the tunnels as I run.  If I stay in a hotel I always try and go for a morning run because I like running in different surroundings – sometimes pretty, other times less so.

So when I try and add training for an event into my schedule I struggle.  In part this is because my teaching schedule makes long regular runs hard to fit in without overtraining.  But it’s also because adding in set distances and set aims detracts from the enjoyment I get from running and I start to put it off.

So inevitably I go into every race I sign up to bemoaning my own lack of preparation and knowing it’s going to be a tough slog.

Normally once I get started I’m good.

This is because I also enjoy organised races. It’s  a mixture of the different to normal route, support from the crowd, the atmosphere, getting a goodie bag at the end.

Whilst short training runs fulfil my need for a mental break from life, organised runs leave me with a sense of achievement and push me to do the longer distances I know I’m capable of but rarely push myself to do in training (as someone once said to me I’m a bit of a match day player- I need that pressure to make me perform).

Yesterday I took part in the Great Manchester Run – I did the half marathon distance. The last four years I’ve done the 10K but last year they added in a longer distance so I decided to step up for my fifth year at this event.

My longest run in the run up to the event had been a 10K the week before. I taught five classes the day before so had definitely not rested my legs.  My diet had not been top notch during the week and I hadn’t hydrated well.  On the day it was HOT!

I ran at a steady pace and completed the course in 2 hours 21 minutes.  Given the heat I was really pleased with this time and felt pretty good throughout the run – even managing to run through a stich at around 5 miles.  At times I hated it, at other times it felt good.  The sprint across the finish line felt brilliant and although my immediate reaction at finishing was never again I know deep down that these type of events provide value to my life and I get something out of them.

I also know however that my training is never likely to be more than the odd 20 minutes run when I feel like running.  But I have decided that this is probably OK.  I know I can run up to 13 miles at a steady pace when I choose to, my general level of fitness allows this, and as long as I accept that I’m not about to set a world record my preferred training runs and my enjoyment of structured running events can coincide quite happily together.

Whatever training you enjoy doing – find a way to fit it into your life so it suits you.  That may mean readjusting your outlook on it or changing your goals, but if this means you enjoy it when you do it then it will add so much more to your training regime and make sure you continue to enjoy what you do.

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