Sunday, 29 January 2012

Up and running

Yesterday was a big day for me as I finally took the plunge and went for a run. My goodness it felt good. Despite taking it slow, a bit of a struggle once I got the wind in my sails, but I heeded good advice not to let rip just yet in case my calf muscle followed suit. I pootled up hills being overtaken by weekend joggers, I held my fire on the flat and kept my pace slow and even.

The result? I went for 40 minutes and 4 miles pain free. I would have dearly loved to go on for further and longer, but I decided to stop while the going was good rather than risk aggravating my calf any further.

I am not sure what the key to this minor success was but I credit it to a much more through warm up routine than usual and keeping myself slow. These are two things that are so frequently overlooked once you become even slightly proficient as a runner. I know that I am guilty of pushing off on a run from cold and absolutely caning it up hill and down dale (well in so much as you have hills and dales in North London).

For over a year I got away with my bad habits, but training for the marathon tripped me up with my first injury. But perhaps I should be grateful as I have learned some useful lessons that I hope will stand me in good stead as I go forward in my running career:

1. Always warm up properly. Taking 10 minutes or so to get the blood flowing to your muscles could be the difference between injuring yourself and enjoying a great run.
2. If you feel a serious twinge STOP. Don't run through the pain or you might find yourself not running at all.
3. Keep it slow to build it up. If you want to increase miles then do it slowly, don't like I did, leap from being a 6-7 mile runner to a 14-mile run in the space of two weeks. You might cope OK, but as I found to my cost you probably won't have built up the strength to withstand the extra milage.

My husband would probably add a number 4, which is don't enter marathons, but I am withholding judgement on that one for the next few months.

I hope that my own painful experience might help keep another novice runner on the road. As ever with any sage advice I claim to be my own, thanks must go to the wonderful Mark at Up and Running in Watford, my running guru whether he likes it or not!

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