‘I’m a runner!’ I had reached a point in my journey where I thought I could class myself as a runner. Now, what I had also found out is that I am also very critical of my performance. I am quick to judge what I do, and quick to be disappointed. In the earlier parts of my story I described that feeling when I realised a good first run had been a fluke and I had needed to go back before going forward. I soon experienced that feeling again.
“I HADN’T REALLY CONSIDERED MYSELF COMPETITIVE”
Once I felt comfortable in my ability to run around in a circle for 2Km or so I soon started looking at the tracking apps and realised that I can compare my performance to others. BIG MISTAKE!!!! I hadn’t realised how much seeing other peoples performances would affect me. I hadn’t really considered myself competitive. But there I was looking at course times and segment speeds of people I have never and probably will never know or meet, and feeling disappointed that my time was twice as long as theirs, or my speed was so far from theirs that surely I was doing something wrong.
Having spent time now connected to various groups on Facebook and reading other peoples updates, I can see I’m not the only one. Lots of us compare ourselves and judge our abilities against others. I think it’s human nature, its natural. We do it with many aspects of our lives. That didn’t make it any less impactful, I didn’t initially just shrug it off and think Meh!
“MUST DO BETTER”, “MUST TRY HARDER”
There was a period where my running was too affected by this idea of ‘must do better’, ‘must try harder’. I would spend runs just trying to get faster splits around my local course on MapMyRun. Or trying to top the leader board in any way I could – the most number of repeats was the easy one to achieve! In reflection, this was not the best use of my energy and running time. My runs weren’t adding value, they weren’t helping me improve as a budding new runner. I got stuck in this for a few weeks. not really seeing my runs improve, having the odd niggle, and generally flogging myself and thinking this was the way to become a better runner.
“EVOLUTION NOT REVOLUTION”
So what changed me, what made me realise I needed to evolve. What led me to the idea of ‘evolution not revolution’?
Sad to say it was an injury. Nothing major, but I had been doing one of my normal Km loop runs (as ever trying harder than was sensible for such a newbie) and I felt a tweak in my right knee. Just something little, nothing crippling and I finished the lap (another 0.5Km) and wrapped up my run at that.
The next morning I felt as if my leg was going to fall off. Now I live in a three story townhouse and waking up to a very sore knee was a shock when I realised how many stairs I needed to move up and down simply to get out the door to work!! That day every time I put weight on my right leg and moved I was in pain. Yet again my enthusiasm for running meant I was gutted. ‘How was I going to run tonight with my knee hurting?’ The one thing that looking back on this moment seems stupid is I tried. I was embarrassed to say I had injured my knee, even to my wife!
Im expecting that most of us realise that usually if there is a pain in a joint or limb, running is probably not a good idea – of course that should be the default thought, but no, not in this case. That run was a short one! 1Km, gave in and hobbled in thinking I hope it’s just a small thing and I’ll sleep it off.
3 days later I was at the doctor, with him trying to pull my leg off!
My doctor diagnosed a bruised ACL. Which I thought might be a disaster and in reality it was a couple of weekd away from running.
So what can you do when you can’t run?
It seemed as though my life was suddenly full of a massive void. Only a few weeks ago the idea of finding time to run would have been laughable, now I was thinking ‘What can I do with all this time?’ so I hit the internet and started reading about running.
What did I learn? Well a lot and a lot of stuff that I didn’t understand and a lot of advice that was:
Hey you can try this or this or this and that, but you need to find out what works for you.
What does that mean? Should I do what the writer is saying, or should I ‘find my own thing’? how do I find my own thing? And yes there is the idea of getting advice 1-2-1, speak to a personal trainer. Nope, not enough confidence to do that, I’ll have to work this out.
When I felt OK to run again I started with 2 weeks of very gentle 2Km circles locally. After which I thought, right time to move this on a level.
I found a route that had some decent incline and ran that down, turn and return back up. I also started running where I broke out in a faster pace for some of it, then slower, then fast etc etc. Still only 2Km most of the time. I held back on the urge to push distance and speed, just doing mixtures of hills, and these pace intervals. I then had read about long easy paced runs. So tried once a week to do a run that little bit longer, not worrying about speed, but just running for longer.
I was running about 4 times a week, 3 short but varied runs and 1 long run on a Sunday or Saturday morning.
I’m not sure if that made the difference, I guess people would say it did, but over time my times improved, my distance increased and I started to really feel I was improving, I was making progress. Changing from just running around in circle after circle outside my house seemed to be the start of the next phase, I had evolved as a runner.
So I was back running after a short lay-off, I had used the time to identify I should mix things up, and I was getting the benefit.
Where do you go from here? Time to book a race? The idea was ridiculous, why would I put myself in front of the public to do something that I doubted I was very good at?
An hour later I was signed up for my first run!
Part – 1 The best version of me
Part – 2 Learning to Walk
Part -3 Evolution not Revolution
Part 4: First Run
Part – 5 Me and Mo Farah