Category Archives: Training

To run or not to run?

My Dad has always told me, ‘pain is just a weakness leaving the body.’

As a runner, this statement is both encouraging and confusing. I understand that to see improvements, one must push through the difficult times. However, if you’re injured, surely you need to take some time off?

I currently have a bruised big toe. It went from being tender, to agony, now tender again. I can run when it is tender, but I know that running on ‘agony’ is never a smart move as this will delay the recovery process and make matters worse. 

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For the records, my Dad also told me: ‘You can’t come second in a war.’ I now know to take everything that he tells me with a pinch of salt. However, you can only imagine my distressing childhood – thrilled with my six-year-old self for coming second in the Egg & Spoon race, only to soon be told that coming second is basically being the first loser.

But, I’m not ruined. My Mum has enough sympathy to go around every man and his dog – so between the two of them, I had a good balance. Also, Dad’s attitude to life taught me to have a sense of humour from a young age – thinking about it, his influence is a brilliant combination of hard work ethic and determination, but also, not taking yourself too seriously. You see, deep down he is joking. (But deep, deep down, he is deadly serious. Dig a bit deeper and life is a joke again. But not really. Because you must win). Confused? Welcome to my life.

Back to my big toe. It is currently tender, but not hardcore pain, therefore, I am able to train. There is no manual or guidebook as to when you should rest, and when you should lace up your shoes. The trick is, to listen to your body.

Yesterday, my body said yes. Boy, am I glad it did. By saying ‘yes’ to running, meant that I got the chance to run with Deena Kastor! Deena is America’s best woman marathoner. She is a successful Olympian and holds the American women’s record for the marathon in an inspirational time of 2:19:36.

Here is the breakdown of the session that she took me on. (In Mammoth Lakes, California. Altitude: 8,000ft)

 

1.5mile warm up

400m hill, maximum effort x5 (recovery is jog down)

1.5mile cool down

Stretching with foam rollers

Drinks and pretzels and chats!

 

I am going to join the Mammoth Track Club so that I can run with Deena and others again. My next session with her will be on Tuesday at 7am!

Hope y’all have a good week. Now to bathe my toe in warm water and Epsom salts!

Please check out and follow my main site, for all the latest travel adventures: https://livwithadventure.com 

Run to get faster, run to get fitter, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv

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Yorkshire lass goes stateside

I’m now in California for 3 months. The mountains were calling and I have now arrived in Mammoth Lakes, California (8,000ft above sea level).

If you have ever experienced high altitude before, you’ll know that all physical activity is more demanding when you’re closer to the clouds. Even walking up the stairs, I’m wheezing, feeling like an asthmatic 90-year-old.

In terms of running: I have been advised to cut back my mileage by at least 25% for the first week and should expect to be at least 15% slower. One of my goals is to join the Mammoth Track Club. The Mission of the Mammoth Track Club is to support athletic and academic achievement, develop professional athleticism and promote lifelong health and fitness through running in a high altitude environment.

I’m looking forward to joining the Track Club and I’ll let you know what kind of sessions they do and I will share with you the things that I learn.

I visited here last summer. It is, hands down, my favourite place in the world. The appeal is a combination of breath-taking scenery, challenging running routes and the community’s support of athletic endeavors. It’s also a place where snow-capped mountains, peaceful forests and bald eagles are often the runner’s only companion. I remember getting the plane home and thinking, ‘I’ll be back. I don’t know when, but I know that I’ll be back.’ I certainly didn’t expect it could be so soon!

If you’re intrigued to find out more, please check out my travel blog:

https://livwithadventure.com

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Run to get faster, run to get fitter, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv

Back in Blighty!

No, I didn’t die.
No, I’m not in prison.
No, I haven’t married into an Amish family, therefore no longer have a computer.

SO WHY HAVE I NOT POSTED ON HERE SINCE JANUARY?

I actually turned my attention to my travelling page for the last 5 months. If you’re intrigued to find out more, please check it out: https://livwithadventure.wordpress.com

But today we’re not on Koh Tao island in the 36 degree heat, thinking, “sod the sweat, sod the humidity, I’m going for a run” – but then failing miserably because you get chased by aggressive, wild dogs. https://livwithadventure.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/fire-dancing-dog-attack-and-intense-emotions/ Today, we’re in Dishforth village, North Yorkshire. It’s 16 degrees. Although I’m really feeling the cold (wearing a jumper and wouldn’t dream of going out without a jacket on…) it is perfect RUNNING weather.

So let’s talk running. I’m excited to be training with my North Yorkshire running buddies. THIRSK & SOWERBY HARRIERS. http://www.thirskandsowerbyharriers.co.uk These guys are inspirational and I’m so proud to be a part of it all. They cater for all abilities. Whether you’re aiming to enter your first 5K, or maybe you’ve got a marathon in mind? T&S Harriers can and WILL help. Or perhaps races aren’t your scene? Maybe you just want to live a healthier and fitter lifestyle? Whatever the incentive, a bonus is that you will make lots of new friends too. For, me, running with Thirsk was a great way to do sessions whilst at home from University (2012 – 2015). They have a brilliant atmosphere where you can do as much or as little as you like. As Rob (Coach) says: ‘this is YOUR session.’

‘MY session.’ Being the sort of person that I am, that means ‘give it your all or you’re wasting your time.’ Unless, of course, I’m injured. But that’s another story… (see my shin splints advice here: https://livforrunning.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/shin-splints/ )

Thanks to Rob’s sessions and the super-duper, friendly atmosphere from other members, I managed to achieve sub 40mins for 10K.

Writing that makes me feel a little bit sick. Since my travels I have lost muscle, therefore lost quite a lot of speed and power. I’d be collapsed on the floor trying to keep up with my sub 40, 2015 self. But I must stay positive. I’ll get it back, I just have to give it time and ‘train smart.’ (I was about to post a link on ‘training smart’ then realised I don’t have one yet). So, my running friends, that will be the next post that I write.

My point for this post though, is JOIN A RUNNING CLUB, because a running club is for everybody. A couple of days ago at the Monday session, there was a group of girls going for a jog on the road. “Hi there! We’re about to do a group session. Come and join us!” we said.

Their reply: “No way! We’re not good enough!”

Incorrect.

The reason people assume they’re not up to scratch is because club runners have got a bad name for being tall, skinny beings, race-obesessed, all elbows out, snotty nosed, fighting to the death through mud, up hills. (Ha, it amuses me that apart from ‘tall’ this is definitely me). BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT. Clubs really are so inclusive, they help you achieve your goals and you’ll make friends for life.

You can usually go along to a few sessions for free to see if you like it. Just find your nearest club online, maybe pop them an email to show your interest / express any concerns? But if you can’t be bothered with all that, they honestly won’t mind. You’ll instantly be welcomed like a new family member.

To be an official member of Thirsk & Sowerby, it’s only £35 a year. WHAT A STEAL. That’s for all the amazing sessions, options to go to socials, race discounts…

If you’re already a Club member, why not help spread the word? Share the page on Facebook, tell your friends how great it is. Even better, bring a friend along to let them see if they like it. The running community is the best community.

Ah, I’m glad to be back.

Run to get faster, run to get fitter, run to feel healthier.

All the best,

Liv

 

New Year’s Resolutions for runners

‘New year, new me.’

Yes, it’s good to be positive, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Often we get a little too optimistic on January 1st and boast to everyone, runners and non-runners about this year’s ‘personal goals.’

“I’m going to shave 3 minutes off my 10k time.”

“I’m going to run an ultra marathon.”

“I’m going to run 10 ultra marathons in 1 month.”

 

Easy tiger.

Although, setting the bar high can be a good thing. And hey, you might even be a real super-star and not only shave 3 minutes off your 10k time, but shave FOUR minutes off your 10k time. If this is the case, WELL DONE! GOOD JOB. AMAZING. But for most, these goals are a little out of reach.

Set yourself realistic goals – you’re more likely to stick to them.

For example, if you drink every night and feel it would be beneficial to cut down on alcohol, try limit yourself to having a glass of vino every other day, rather than attempting to cut it out completely. Being teetotal probably won’t last forever – therefore even though you meant well, you’re likely to be unsuccessful at your NY resolution. You’ll then feel down about your failure. But it just wasn’t realistic.

Rather than saying I want to have a 10k time that is 3 minutes faster… why not just have the goal to beat it, no matter how large or small the improvement?

Or say – “I will make sure I do one hill session a week.” That, you can do.

“I will set aside time at the end of the cool down to work on strengthening my hips.”

“I will stretch my calves before and after every run.”

These resolutions, although small, are achievable, and will inevitably result in further rewards and benefits to your running and your health.

If on the other hand, you set the goal too high, remember that not only is failure likely, but injury too.

Small goals are still goals. They will nurture your running and encourage positive improvement.

Run to get faster, run to get fitter, run to feel healthier.

All the best,

Liv

 

 

 

 

 

Compression sleeves

Do compression sleeves work? 

Yes.

No.

Maybe?

Unfortunately I can’t give a definitive answer. But I can share with you my own experience with them.

I was recommended them when suffering from shin splints (often caused by weak calves) https://livforrunning.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/shin-splints/

Compression socks are used by runners in attempt to recover from hard workouts and races as quickly as possible. The snug-fitting, knee-high socks are meant to increase circulation and reduce lactic acid build-up.

They’re made from a blend of breathable materials—including nylon, polyester, wool, CoolMax, Lycra, and Spandex—that help keep your legs dry and comfortable.

I now chop and change between wearing my bright pink compression sleeves by Zensah http://www.zensah.com and my trusty blue ones by CompressionSport http://www.compressport.uk.com

A few weeks into training with them…all lower leg problems disappeared. I now wear them for EVERY hard session / race / long run.

Maybe it’s just psychological? Even if it is, I’m not complaining. Heathy legs are healthy legs so, compression sleeves — I thank you.

They’re a little bit pricy though…

Paying about £30 seems a little steep for something that might not even work for you. My top tip would be to search the brands on Amazon. I paid no more than £15 for my amazing Zensah sleeves. Yes, the only offer at the time was the blinding fluorescent pink (I thought this was a little embarrassing and too ‘showy offy’) But I’ve grown to love them. They get lots of compliments at races and such.

Top tip

The magic doesn’t just happen when you run in them. It is advised that all the good is actually done by wearing them for about 3 hours after your run. Not ideal when you’ve just showered and then, mmmm sweaty leg sleeves. But like I said, healthy legs are healthy legs. Sometimes I just delay showering for a bit…. (sorry Housemates).

So if you haven’t tried them before and you’re curious, I think you should give them a go.

 

Run to get fitter, run to get faster, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv

 

Shin splints

This time last year I was suffering from the dreaded shin splints. December 2014 consisted of dragging myself to the local swimming pool for some aqua-jogging and forcing myself to go for a bike ride on my bike more suited for my 9-year old self. I remember moping around the Christmas season thinking “All I want for Christmas is healthy-working-pain-free shins. All I want for Christmas is to be able to run again.”

If you think you’re suffering from shin splints. You probably are. ‘Shin splints’ is a very broad term given to painful shins when running / walking. For some it’s a dull ache, for some it’s more of a sharp, shooting pain.

What has caused the problem? Shin splints unfortunately, are very common amongst runners.

  1. SHOES: Perhaps your trainers aren’t right for you. Or perhaps you have thrashed out too many miles in your trusty Mizunos and you are due some more. (Please note, other fab brands are available). I’d recommend getting the best shoes for you by having your running style / gait / landing / strike off analysed. This is free in some great running shops such as http://www.sweatshop.co.uk and http://www.upandrunning.co.uk  This will ensure that you are wearing the right trainers for you – the right cushioning and support will be in the right place. This, in turn, will give your shins the best chance at surviving all of those glorious miles.
  2. TOO MUCH TOO SOON: I think this is the most likely cause. Shin splints usually occur in new runners or experienced runners who have increased their training load / mileage too quickly. All changes to your training need to be done gradually – otherwise your body (in this case, shins) won’t be able to handle it. Whether it be more miles / more speed sessions / running on the road and you’re used to muddy footpaths…be sure to make very subtle changes to avoid injury.
  3. WEAK CALVES: Shin splints often occur as a result of tight/weak calves. Even if you’re not suffering from calf pain – they may be tight or weak without you even realising. If your calves are tired (potentially from ‘too much too soon’) the impact will shift from your calves onto your shins. Thud, thud, thud on your poor little shins will result in tiny tears causing the pain and BAM – shin splints.

How do I get rid of them? Firstly, rest. I’d advice two weeks just putting your feet up. You can also try icing your shins in the evening. Pop your feet up and do 3 lots of ten-minute frozen-pea sessions. After the 2-week rest period, try a very gentle jog and re-assess the situation.

Should I see a physio? You’ve got to judge your own body. If it feels really bad then, yes. Or if it’s been over 6 weeks with no improvement, I’d also advise it.

How serious is it? Like I said, shin splints are very common and aren’t usually serious and should go away with a couple of weeks rest. But if you can really pin-point an exact point where the pain is coming from AND it hurts when you touch it, I would advise getting an x-ray. I don’t want to scare you but it may (worst case scenario) be a stress-fracture.

Have they gone? When you’re trying to get back into running after the time off, I’d recommend following my ‘Strong Shins’ routine every time before you go out. The general rule is, if you can complete the routine pain-free: go for a gentle run. BUT, if there is any discomfort in this routine, DON’T RUN.

20 calf raises (up and down on your tip-toes)

20 single-leg calf raises on each side

10 single-leg squats on each side

10 jumping squats

10 single-leg hops on each side

10 jumping squats moving forward

 Tips to PREVENT shin splints

  1. Always stretch your calves before and after running. A really good stretch can be done on the stairs – holding onto the banister, put your toes on the stairs with your heels hanging off. Raise up and down on your toes. Repeat x20.
  2. Eat lots of calcium rich foods for strong bones – full fat milk, yogurt, cheese. I also take a Vitamin D+ Calcium (recommended by doctor) once a day. Warning: if you take iron supplements too, be sure to take the vitamin D and iron at different times (morning / night) otherwise they will counteract each other.
  3. Don’t run every day. Your body needs recovery days too.
  4. Get the right shoes! (See above info for testing). Ask in store how often they recommend you change your shoes (this will depend on your weekly mileage).
  5. Try out compression socks https://livforrunning.wordpress.com/2015/12/28/compression-sleeves/ 

I hope this information has helped. The ‘Strong-Shins’ routine is a great indicator as to whether you should run or not.

Christmas 2015 has been wonderful. I feel very grateful for great health, family & friends.

Run to get fitter, run to get faster, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv

 

 

Take it easy

Loss of energy? Unusually stiff muscles? It’s probably time to take a few days off…

If you’re anything like me, taking more than one day off running at a time can actually be really hard. I like running too much and don’t like to be away from it for too long. Plus, I feel guilty if I have a few days off…

But we’ve got to realise that rest days are actually the most important. And if your body is feeling sluggish, you probably need some extra time to recover.

I read an interesting article in Runner’s World recently. It was speaking about why the Kenyans are so awesome. A factor contributing to their awesomeness (one that is often over-looked) is how much they value rest. YES they run a crazy amount of miles, but boy, those guys also know how to put their feet up.

What good is a hard training session if you don’t have sufficient rest?

Let me break it down. If on Sunday I had a really hard session – Monday ought to be my rest day. I shouldn’t do another solid session on Monday as my muscles won’t have had sufficient time to recover – they’ll be weak, fragile, at risk of damage.
A smart runner would do the next heavy session on Wednesday. The few days steering clear of a hard work out will have allowed the tired muscles to adjust back to peak form – ready to smash some PBs.

These last few months I have learnt to appreciate the importance of good rest more than ever. The result? — BETTER RESULTS.

Monday is my rest day. Every Monday I aim to do NOTHING. (Except go to work). Every runner should have AT LEAST one day off a week. You need it. You will become faster for it, I promise. If I have had some particularly hard sessions that week I’ll take two days off. Or if I’m not feeling well in myself – you’ll find me on the sofa. I also always take the day off before a big race so I’m nice and fresh, raring to go. I don’t often have a complete day off the day after a race though – 20 E.P helps to get rid of the lactic acid.

As you become fitter, you’ll find that you will recover more quickly from workouts – but pile on the miles too quickly and you could push your body too far. If you’re feeling especially tired or suffering niggling injuries that seem to hang around, TAKE A DAY OFF. OR TWO. OR EVEN THREE. It’s better to turn up to your race slightly undertrained than not to make it to the start line at all.

STAY SAFE KIDS.

Run to get faster, run to get fitter, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv