Sunday, 25 November 2012

Distance or Speed? Speed or Distance?

If I am not careful this will become a running blog!  But run I do, and so....

It is now 9 weeks since I started running.  I am running 6km with relative ease.  My frequency of runs has dropped off a bit, as I do not want to cause injury, although the time of year and weather conditions have not helped with this.

Had a few revelations in the last few weeks, since I last blogged - as a new runner things are changing so fast I cannot keep up! (Running away with me.... !!)

A few weekends ago I went running with a couple of local friends, Ang and Lucy.  Both are much more experienced runners than I, and used to longer distances.  I was a little daunted by the idea of running with people who I might hold up, and I worried about silly things, like 'Will my breathing sound loud and irregular? Will I be able to talk when I am running?  Will I be able to run whilst NOT concentrating on my footfall and my breathing and everything else because I will be with others (and not inside my own little bubble!)?'  Self-consciousness - take a running JUMP!

But my fears were unfounded.  We found we could run at a similar pace (though I guess I found it more difficult - it seems my natural pace is to push myself!) and for the most part I CAN talk when I am running which was a huge surprise!  My breathing (which I have not heard before, because I usually wear earphones!) was loud but regular and I did not feel self conscious and although I did not concentrate on what I was doing, it was actually quite liberating to just RUN and chat!  We also ran off-road on a beautiful local route around water, and across farmland.  It was muddy and there was a little jumping about, which I haven't done before.  I could really feel it in my foot muscles the next day and it made me realise I need to get off the road more.  It felt nice under-foot though and it prompted me to think about road running verses trail running.  But then I guess I am cross referencing with my cycling preferences (road)... who says you need to stick to one type of running anyway; we are lucky enough to have some decent off road routes near us, as well as road routes.

We covered just short of 6km that morning and there is so much more to running than I had thought.  Part of its appeal was the solitary nature and the music which I would otherwise be plugged into, but I CAN enjoyed a social run just as much.  It also made me realise how far I had come already.  I can go out there and run with more experienced runners and not feel like I was the newbie.  Although at the same time it was great to draw on their experience and I felt very well supported.  I hope Andy won't mine me stealing his picture... this is the beautiful place we ran that day:

Frosty Sunday morning at Allerton Bywater (thanks Andy!)

Me running (thanks Lucy!)

And so, distance?  Or speed? I completed the C25K a few weeks ago.  I would HUGELY recommend it to anyone who is new to running, or who would like to run but does not know how/thinks they cannot.  I wondered if I would feel a bit lost when I got to the end of the programme, but at the same time I was looking forward to running to my own music and setting my own goals.  I couldn't decide what to focus on now:  stick to 5km and work to improve my speed (there are few apps out there which focus on interval/speed training) or continue to plod on to increase my distance?  I did hope they might go hand in hand,but I needed a focus.  It has taken me a few weeks to make the decision, but I have decided distance is a more important focus at the moment, and perhaps my run(s) with other people have helped me decide this.  And perhaps this was the right decision as looking back my speed hasn't really increased in the last few weeks.  Maybe I will always be a plodder.  But as with cycling, I do like to amble; I like to take in the world around me as I pass through it and admire nature, passing cars, other runners, the clouds - anything really!

The furthest I have run so far is 6.5 km and I do feel I am a my limit for now.  My feet/calves are starting to feel fatigued by the end of the distance and the next day I feel stiff.  I don't want to push myself to an injury and I have read a lot about runners taking on too much too soon.  I can see this could be easy to do.

So I think my next goal is to gradually and slowly increase my distance to 7km by Christmas (just over 4 weeks away).  I plan to do one 5km run per week and one slightly longer one.  Depending on the weather conditions (or rather how saturated the ground is underfoot!), I am hoping to run once on road and once off road each week.  My shoes are the equivalent to 'slick' road tyres and have very little grip for muddy, slippery conditions, so I am at the mercy of weather conditions whilst choosing my routes. 

I also experienced a very wet run this week with Ang.  It really was torrential and there was a lot of ground water about.  We had arranged to meet at my house and I did wonder if Ang might cancel when I saw the weather, as I thought about calling it off myself.  But I didn't want to let her down and it turns out she didn't me.  Had we not committed to a run-date, I suspect neither of us would have run that morning... another advantage to running with friends!  We got soaked to the skin, but in fact it didn't feel too wet/cold uncomfortable (at least not until we got back into the house!) and so another FIRST on my running journey.  A complete soaking, it was great!

My feet are aching today and the muscles that run under the arches of my feet feel a little crampy.  I shall be taking a few days off, in the meantime I am checking my technique again and reading up Barefoot Ted's blog which is fabulous. 

Addicted to running.  Absolutely loving it.  Oh and if you haven't run to Faithless's 'God is a DJ' yet, you really must.