July 8, 2016 at 4:05
Posted by Rachael Woolston
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…
Three minute post shower lie down as running reward
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.
Star jumps in Paris
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.
Focusing on cooking – or eating – to get me through my run
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!
Taking part in a 24 hour relay – easier than running on my own!
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
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June 9, 2016 at 12:11
Posted by Rachael Woolston
Juggling four kids and a workaholic husband, Tanya Taylor, 43, also decided to take on the challenge of running every day of 2016. Here’s the first of her despatches about life on the run…
Tanya at the London Marathon
I’ve just completed my 156th run in 156 days. Sometimes they are long and ploddingly slow and other times they are fast and challenging, leaving me bright red and dripping with sweat. I’ve run in the sun, rain, wind and even in snow when forecasters were warning people not to go outdoors. From New York to Paris, Berlin to London and all over East Sussex, my feet have taken me a long way this year. And I have got another 210 days to go in my bid to run every day of 2016.
Runnual, is part of the Fitbitch challenge community, a list of challenges throughout the year which anyone can follow to help you have goals and keep you motivated. Some are easy, a park run, others are about adventure, such as a the 24 hour Endure Relay Race and then there are those about consistency, such as swimming every day in July. But other than the Fitbitch founder, Rachael, I am the only one who committed to RUNNUAL, running every day throughout 2016.
So, why am I doing it, everyone asks? I liked the idea of having a focus and commitment to my training that was simple to follow. Not that I didn’t have my doubts about doing it; what if I got injured, could I fit it in every day? But most of all, I was worried about failing. What if I started and couldn’t actually do it?
I knew the only way I was going to be able to commit and make this work was to make some rules.
Tanya’s Five Run Commandments
- No matter what the weather, I have to run outside. I wanted to get the benefit of fresh air and observe the changing seasons not a gym changing room.
- I have to wear proper running kit and trainers. No dash to the car with my handbag allowed to be classed as a run.
- I have to be kind to myself. If I had a crappy run, I was determined not to beat myself up about it but to just let it go.
- I had to run at least one mile, no less, for it count.
- I had to record it on Strava. For me, this was a way to keep track of my runs like a virtual diary.
Run number 1 of 366 on New Year’s Day didn’t feel so unusual. For the last 4 years I have run on New Years with my friend E. We run along Brighton & Hove seafront, past the all-night revellers, and discuss our hopes for the forthcoming year. There is something cleansing and empowering about our ritual and it’s always one of my favourite runs of the year.
Fast forward to now and I’m almost six months through my runnual year. It has been both amazing and at times very hard. There have been runs where I’ve seen the sun rise above the sea or set over the Sussex hills. Some have been in pouring rain, into 70mph winds or under baking hot sun. I’ve enjoyed runs where I’ve laughed listening to stories from some of my fellow runners, and others where I have run alone, tears pouring down my face as I’ve worked things through in my head. Running is cathartic, eventually everything comes to the surface as surely as putting one foot in front of the other.
But have there been times when I’ve felt like giving up? Yes, on those runs were my legs felt like lead and my mind is telling me I’m useless. But just as frequently, I’ve been rewarded with runs where I have felt invincible.
Stand out runs have to be running at sunrise alone through Paris, or in Central Park, New York in a -22 degree windchill, clapping my hands above my head in an attempt to keep warm, then returning to the hotel with cheers (and relief that I survived, I suspect) from the hotel doormen. I have run on the track in Berlin’s Olympic stadium having a panic attack following a particularly gruelling 15 mile race, and had my lovely running buddy J grab my hand and tell me I was going to be okay.
Along the Seine, Paris
New York’s Central Park
Recent runs have included running at night in the woods with some of the Fitbitch running club, with just head torches and giggling for guidance through the dark while training for a 24 hour team endurance race. But the best run of the year (and maybe my life so far) was the London Marathon in April 2016. It was my first marathon and I’d trained hard, but had spent months feeling anxious, self doubt gnawing away at me. But it was amazing, a total high from beginning to end; the crowds, the atmosphere, the views, it was brilliant. I made new friends en-route (shout out to N and L from Sheffield) who I chatted to for almost 20 miles. Both my mind and body felt strong that day, and I managed to keep a consistent pace throughout. At mile 21, there was a moment when a young woman locked eyes with me and shouted in a thick East End cockney accent; “Go on Tanya, you’ve got this, you’ve got this girl”, and that was when I knew, I had.
If you had told me eight months ago that I’d run every day, I would have said no way. I would have said, ‘I don’t have the time, I’m not fit or strong enough.’ It’s not like running comes naturally to me; my body is not a classic ‘runners body’…I’m more Fatima Whitbread than Paula Radcliffe. But if there is one thing this challenge has taught me, it is that you an achieve anything with the right focus.
Tanya’s top tips on how to incorporate regular running into you life
- Use your run as part of your social life. It is more fun to run with company, and you can always have a cup of tea at the end.
- Fit it into your daily tasks/routine: I run from the supermarket carpark after I’ve done my shopping or I leave half an hour earlier to pick the kids up from their friends house/clubs and do a quick run before they finish.
- Utilise your local running group. At Fitbitch, we have a community run on Tuesday’s, a pace session on a weekday evening and usually a long run on a Sunday. That means I only have 4 runs left to plan myself.
- Think outside of the box. I recently had a boxing lesson, then washed in the sea, applied my moisturiser and make-up on the beach and headed straight to Charleston literary festival (You can roll your eyes here…) When the talk had finished, I changed in the carpark (there was a boob flash, but hey!) and did a quick run through the countryside stumbling across an amazing teahouse in the middle of the country as I did.
- Download the free App Strava onto your phone. It’s ridiculously addictive. Strava allows you to monitor your speed and distance, and keeps you posted on any improvements. You can also follow your friends’ training and allow them to follow yours. I recently got approached by a (friendly) guy in a carpark who follows me on Strava and congratulated me on my achievements to date. I’d never met him before.
- S-T-R-E-T-C-H and have massages. It may seem indulgent, but it literally is the oil to your wheels.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. There is nothing worse than someone having a meltdown because they’ve missed getting a PB at a local Parkrun when there are people fighting much bigger personal battles.
- If I’m having a bad run, I shift my focus. I think about my form, keeping my torso upright, my feet light, making sure my arms are not crossing in front of my body…and if things are really bad, I imagine I’m Rocky running through Philadelphia.
With any luck, I hope this post and my monthly updates will encourage a few of you to try running regularly. The beauty of running everyday is that it removes the pressure about running to mileage and shorter, consistent runs have been as equally beneficial to my fitness levels and endurance. But the main thing I’ve learnt is no matter how tired/ill/sad I feel, I always feel better after running. Always.
I look forward to keeping you posted over the year with my progress, and will also introduce music for your running playlist, let you know of any new kit I’ve sampled and new races I’ve loved. In the meantime, happy running!
Training for Endure 24 Relay
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