The Diary of a Running Mum: A Case of the Bad Runs
At the beginning of 2016, Tanya Taylor, 43 and mum of four took up the challenge to run every day of 2016 as part of the Fitbitch Challenge Community. This month, she finally reached the half way point…
Miles run since January 1st: 788
Feet Climbed: 42,963ft which would mean she could have almost summited Mount Everest. Twice.
You only have to glance once at Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to witness it. Friends posting self congratulatory updates on their current running achievements. It could be a smug sunrise picture of their morning run (#blessed), or a new PB announcement, it might well be a jubilant race picture with a medal included to boot. Meet any runner and you will find we are nearly all guilty of it. But how many of us post updates of our bad runs or confess to those times when we feel rubbish compared to someone else?
I am now 6 months in to my Fitbitch Runnual Challenge, where I am taking the challenge to run run every day for the year, and it’s starting to feel tough. Runs that felt new and fun 6 months ago, are now feeling too familiar. I’m like a (marginally) less hairy Forrest Gump without the entourage, running through the streets of Brighton, friends beeping their cars when they see me or waving manically across the street at my red, sweaty face.
On Strava (join the Fitbitch Run Club on Strava here), my trophies are getting less frequent where my efforts have plateaued, and I’m finding distance a struggle now I don’t have a marathon to train for. But…running daily is giving me some insight into understanding my body and the reasons why I can have a bad run.
So next time you give up and go home thinking, ‘Oh I’m just rubbish,’ think about the factors that could be contributing to a bad run and just keep on running through it.
This month I took part in the Mizuno Endure 24 race, a 24 hour relay race where the Fitbitch team of 8 took turns to run a 5 mile loop run continually over 24 hours. During the event, my endorphins kicked in, and the excitement of running through the night and talking to new people on route meant I felt amazing. But, oh, the following week I felt like an old lady running through treacle. (I had another tough tired run this month in Paris, following a 3am start and miles of walking through beautiful streets and schmoozing with celebrities, but something tells me I won’t getting sympathy for this one!)
Temporary sleep deprivation gives runners the perceived notion that their efforts are higher because the brain and nervous system are sluggish, even though your heart, legs and lungs should be working okay. In this situation, coffee is your friend, as are little mind games – Sending “breath to my legs” while running in an attempt to ‘lighten’ them, the promise of a 3 minute post shower lie down at the end of my run, or a cold drink helps me to keep my focus positive. Understanding that my feelings of exhaustion will soon pass once my sleep patterns have regulated helped me to keep going, and not give up.
OMG, If I had attempted to take up running the week before my period was due, there is a good chance I wouldn’t be writing this blog and I’d be an entirely different person – maybe a slightly chubbier one with less smug Facebook updates. When I’m hormonal, it appears to make me breathless and it occurs in the second half of my cycle. For around 4 days, you could be mistaken for thinking I smoke 40 Marlboro a day.
Running hills feels totally unachievable & I scare the living daylights out of anyone that I happen to be running past with my heavy breathing. Throw in sore boobs, achy abdomen, back ache, hot flushes, tears and dehydration and you would be forgiven for thinking I’m a sneeze away from a full week’s bedrest. If I wasn’t so in tune with my cycle and how it affects my runs, I would assume my body was unable to sustain a run and give up altogether!
Mental strength is my friend on these days, and if I have to walk a hill, so be it. Positive visualisations, mantras, listening to music, distracting myself thinking of my ‘To Do’ list, or what the hell I’m going to do with those three dirty beetroot and the two cabbages I got in my veg box – ANYTHING. I know its just my hormones playing unkind games, and that the act of running actually helps with most PMT symptoms. It’s worth downloading an app – such as Clue – to monitor your cycle so you are aware of your symptoms as and when they happen.
Running on empty
There are a lot of things that I have to juggle with four (very social and active) children and a cycling mad husband who also works 60 hours a week. My children eat well planned, nutritious and beautifully presented meals, my husband eats a protein based diet, and I eat a Vegan based diet. Yeah, I know right, rod for my own back.Often, my needs come last and my vegan dinner can sometimes be some hummus on rye crackers and some (unpeeled) raw carrots. When I try running the day after after a dismal dinner, the effects are noticeable, no energy and running feels impossible.
The key, I’ve learned, is to plan meals with your runs in mind, I cannot afford to conk out halfway through a long run simply because I haven’t fuelled my body properly the day before. I have started making dinners in batches and freezing them for last minute panic meals. I use a Vegan protein shake by Sunwarrior, which I blend with almond milk and a banana for post run fuelling and I try to drink two litres of water a day.
Before you roll your eyes,and assume I’ve gone bonkers, I really think the days leading up to a full moon make my legs heavy, as if they have a magnetic force pulling them down to the ground…I’d be interested to hear if anyone else ever gets this?
EVERYONE has bad runs. I have run with enough people over the last six years to be able to assure you of this. It doesn’t mean you are necessarily unfit, or useless, or ‘can’t run’, It might just mean you need to analyse WHY you are having a tough day running, accept it, carry on and think of ways to counteract it for next time. Let go of your ego, and try not to compare your run to anyone else’s. Everyone is different, everyone is going through different things. Everyone’s body copes in different ways. One thing I can promise you though, is any run is better than no run. Cross my heart. Anyway, I’m off to plan some new running route and maybe enter a few races and book onto Fitbitch Trackstars, to basically shake things up a bit. “A change is as good as a rest” after all, and I’ve still got another 6 months of running to go!
Tanya’s Top Tracks for Running Uplift
- ‘Pump it Up’ – Elvis Costello
- ‘I Feel Love’ (12”) – Donna Summer
- ‘Can I Get A…’ – Jay Z (feat Amil)
- ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ – Depeche Mode
- ‘Working on the Highway’ – Bruce Sprinsteen