How much can your mind help to push your body?

If you find it a battle in training, let alone on race day, the key to unlocking improvement may all be in the mind..

Enjoy the journey of improving yourself – the destination will then take care of itself

Don’t forget to join us for our Facebook Live Mental Strategies for the Female Runner, Friday 19th January, 7pm, £4.99. Secure your space via our booking page and join us in our special Run Like a Pro Facebook group wherever you live in the UK for our live event.

 

Whatever goal you set yourself, whether to achieve a promotion at work, build a business, gain a personal best at a race, lose weight or just get to the end of your first 5km, having a firm grasp of your why is key.

Why is this so important? Because when things get hard, such as weighing up whether to scoff a cream cake or resist, or when it comes to running, push your body to run faster in training when it hurts, your brain is constantly weighing up how hard it feels against WHY you’re doing it. If your perception of how hard it feels outweighs your motivation, you slow down or stop. If the opposite is true, you keep you going.

So, there are two ways to improve – train more so that you get used to the feeling and it feels easier OR, increase your motivation so the drive to do it will aways carry you through.

Easier said than done, you might be thinking. But there are some simple tips that will help you to define your motivations so they help carry you through.

 

 

Love what you’re doing

One of the world’s foremost experts on human behaviour, Edward L.Deci, psychologist at the University of Rochester argues that the strongest motivation comes not from some sort of external reward, like more money, increased social standing, losing weight etc, but ‘from the satisfaction that one experiences in doing an activity itself.” So learn to love your fast pace work, do it with people you enjoy training with and even turn it into a social occasion so that after your weekly ‘hard’ session, you go out for a drink together so it becomes associated with a fun pastime that you enjoy doing in and of itself, not just because you’re aiming for a PB.

 

In my own experience, the more I love the process of what I’m doing and embrace it as a way of improving rather than doing it for the end result, the more I enjoy it. Try to  frame whatever it is you are doing as a personal quest to get better—to improve and beat yourself—and focus on the satisfaction you gain from doing just that.

Think of others

Fear, discomfort and tiredness are the most common reasons why we slow down, walk or pull out of training or a race all together.  Yet, people achieve incredible feats of superhuman effort, such as lifting cars, when helping others in danger. So it stands to reason that thinking of others when you’re feeling in discomfort could help to pull you through.

In fact, when Shalane Flanagan, who became the first American woman in 40  years to win the New York City Marathon last November when asked how she’d pushed through the pain barrier, she said:  ‘I was thinking of other people when it started to hurt.’ So try that next time you’re on a hard training run and see if it works.

Turn on, tune in, drop out

Mindfulness and meditation are the big buzz words nowadays and for good reason – if you can meditate and learn to let go of distracting thoughts, you feel calmer, less anxious and gain better focus. It can work to improve all aspects of your life, and the same principles can apply to running. Like meditation where you learn to ‘watch’ thoughts pass through your mind without attaching to them, so too, you can try this method when running. It can help to disassociate from voice telling you to stop running if you’re just starting out, and help to keep you focused to that finish line.  This is one that worked for me in February 2017 last year dong the Seville marathon. And as you can see from the picture of me when I’d just finished, the pain was real but I managed to disassociate from it long enough to get my PB.

 

 

 

 

 

How to choose the right training plan for a marathon

For many of us with our sights set on a Spring marathon, we’re already twenty weeks away from our goal race but how do you find the right training plan for YOU?

If you’ve followed a great training plan , consistently marking off each session, this is how you should feel at the expo – excited and raring to hit the race start line!

Generic plans off the internet and magazines

There are thousands of them all over the internet, printed in magazines, handed out my charities that you may be raising money for but, which one is good? All training plans are generic and we hazard a guess that 85% of them will have been written by men, who don’t have to juggle multiple responsibilities such as work, family, kids and everything else. Regardless of gender, few take into account running history, how many miles you are currently running NOW (i..e your running base), your lifestyle, or work/life commitments.  Recognise this FIRST so that you can acknowledge in advance that it will feel like a clunky fit. It is.

If you go down this route here’s what we recommend

  • Choose one that includes at least four runs per week and starts NO LESS than 16 weeks away from your race goal. Only if you’re very fit, and regularly run marathons should you look at a 12 week plan.
  • Write out your plan – and add your own sessions  print out your plan, or re-write it and plan in other sessions that are ESSENTIAL to help you avoid injury during your marathon training. This should include yoga/foam rolling/basic strength and continuing and sports massage at least every three weeks. Whoever said running is cheap had never run a marathon!

Training Apps

There are numerous training apps on the market, including Runner’s World’s MyRunPlan, and  Training Peaks where you can pay for a plan, which again is generic, but it loads to a calendar as an app on your phone. It’s easy to log in, see what the run is, do it, and mark it off as done. The calendar will reward you by turning green once you’ve completed. Fail to do the session and you get a red square. Training Peak plans are good because you can see clearly what you’ve got to do but suffers the same problems of any of the generic plans that you get anywhere else – except you’ve paid for it.

Personalised training plans

Many running coaches, ourselves included, will write training plans specifically for you. We tend to send you an in-depth questionnaire, followed by a chat on the phone and then we deliver a training plan, specific to your goals, your current fitness, life-work balance. The advantage is that it’s exactly for you. The cons are that if you get injured, fall ill, etc, the plan does not change to accommodate this in the same way as anything generic doesn’t. However, with it being written specifically for you in the first place, the likelihood of injury occurring due to a plan that does not reflect your specific running history is minimal.

 

Mentoring & Coaching

If you can afford it, and you want to run a marathon and enjoy it, race mentoring is the gold service for any runner. It doesn’t matter whether you’re interested in achieving a certain goal time or simply want to achieve a sense of satisfaction with each training session you do, not just the final ‘race’ goal. We charge £100 per month (some companies charge more, some less) but it means you have a personalised plan that can adapt and change week by week, according to how your training is going or the unforeseeable life events that can derail your training for a week or so, leaving you unsure how to proceed.

Plus, wherever you live in the world, your training is tracked via Strava or Garmin so we know what you’re doing – or not doing. It helps to hold you accountable and to help you feel like you’re achieving something with each session, because this method if training is so closely matched to helping to challenge and progress you as an individual; if you’ve ever struggled with a generic plan, you’ll appreciate how frustrating or disappointing it can be when you’re following something too easy or too hard. Where we differ with our plans is that we have a holistic approach, recognising the many elements must be balanced when you’re a woman training for a marathon juggling multiple tasks.

 

THE most important thing, no matter which option you choose is to start thinking about it from about 20-24 weeks away from your marathon goal. And follow a 16 week plan as an absolute minimum.

 

You can read more about our marathon mentoring service here.  Read about one woman’s experience of mentoring here.

 

Girls Run the World – Rosie Swale Pope

We all know how amazing morning runs can be for how they make you feel, the sights you see, the people you pass…yet our morning run-meet today beat them all as our path crossed the amazing Rosie Swale-Pope, who spent five years running across the world…

If you live in Brighton and Hove and run regularly, you may have noticed a little red cart on the seafront of late. Look a little bit closer, and you may be aware that there is often someone sleeping in there, cooking, reading or just generally keeping warm. That woman is the inspirational Rosie Swale Pope, MBE, the only person in history, man or woman, to have undertaken an epic solo, unsupported run around our world.

It took five years and 20,000 miles and as she told me this morning on Hove seafront, she slept in conditions of minus 46 degrees in some places and faced extreme dangers – but through it all, she learned lots and met so many amazing people.

She’s currently staying on the seafront in Brighton and  Hove, where she spends her time writing a new book – and training for her next adventure, running solo from Brighton to Berlin. Of course, we asked if she’d like some company on the run ….

In the day and age of Instagram and YouTube runners, Rosie Swale is a true original – and is a role model for all us Girls who Run the World.

Her tip for getting your feet warm if you’re about to go out running and are on an adventure? ‘Boil some water, fill up a small plastic bottle and put them in your trainers and socks to warm them up before you go out running.’

Remember, look around you when you run, say hi to other female runners, explore not just your location but the people within it – you never know who you might meet.

For more information about Rosie visit http://rosieswalepope.co.uk. Her book, Just a Little Run Around the World, £7.48, Amazon.co.uk.

Next  year, we’ll be bringing you podcasts from ordinary female runners who have done extraordinary things – along with online workshops which will help you learn new techniques from heart rate training to mastering mental techniques to improve your running and your racing.