My crazy legs

I need to get this off my chest.  It’s been brewing a while & for goodness sake …. I need to get sewing!  But.  There are quite a few words to follow.  Hopefully a few chuckles too.  You may not be interested in reading through this & no worries –  I won’t know!  However, as I am in a continual battle with myself around running, maybe this can help someone else out there.  By writing it, I think it’s also clarifying things for me too.  Before I start, I need to say now that this post will not be a guilt ridden pitiful excuse for lack of commitment but a song of joy, having finally pieced together my own personal jigsaw for enjoying (yes I did say enjoying) going for (longer) runs.  Hurrah!

Trainers with lovely blue laces

This is written the day after running in the Birmingham Half Marathon which I also enjoyed more than any other 13.1 + mile race in the whole history of my not-that-long running career.  I came a stunning 9,825th!  I think I ran my slowest (or near slowest) half marathon (ever).  But somehow that didn’t matter as it was such a great race.  I need to say that the Birmingham Half was an awesome run, through the city centre (past the Rag Market in the first mile – closed thankfully as I might have veered off!).  The crowds were electric.  I was running with my sister-in-law & we LOVED all the cheering just for us  (really!) as the last pair left behind by the rest of the green starters who had headed off more quickly than us (we overtook many later on – tortoise & the hare).  The crowds at the beginning were just so excitable that I was in near hysterical laughter , almost relieved when we ran through a more subdued cheering mass as I think the hysterics would have worn me out (or I’d have wet myself! )  Some funny guy also said “Come on ladies, stop the window shopping”.   We laughed again!  The route was interesting through the city centre and out to the chocolate factory (Cadbury’s –  was Bournville).  We then caught Edgbaston cricket ground and came around Canon Hill Park.  The last three miles were hardest as they usually are, made more so by being uphill.  Gosh, when I finished I was even emotional enough to shed a tear or two!  The crowds though were awesome, thank you everyone for turning out to encourage us all.  There was a good sprinkling of music & some great live bands & other competitors had such great spirit.  The organisation of the race was the best yet & your name was printed on your number in your race pack.  You could if you wanted to fill in a pre-printed label for your back “I’m running for” …. Part of me wished I’d worn mine ….but I would have felt irreverent when there were so many people being remembered or good causes being collected for…

Race label with "I'm Running For....." I've written "My Nose" on it

However some people had the courage to wear theirs.  I saw the following:

  • “At least 3 hours”
  • Two ladies, one with “Ever” the other with “More”
  • “Justice in Gotham City”

So, can I share my eureka ingredients for enjoying running?  I’d love to help someone else desperate to ramp up their enjoyment percentages (remember I said mine was only 20% of the time out running!)

Now the secret is that everyone will have their own secret.  You just have to find out what works best for you.  Remember that everyone comes up against a fiendish & very clever opponent trying to thwart your runs.  I’d say in my case that this caused ( & still causes) the biggest barriers to me even getting my shoes on.  My biggest enemy is myself.  I can create such a great barrage of excuses, delay tactics & reasons for not going out for a run.  I can be SO weak willed.  But it’s important to prepare yourself for this powerful & canny foe that knows you better than you seem to know yourself.  I take a multi-pronged attack, this is my arsenal:

  • Vision – Have a personal vision for the kind of runner you want to be.   Mine is being a lean leggy long distance runner, gracefully gliding across the miles, so fit that she can wear those skimpy shorts that look like knickers (don’t worry I would never)
  • Try to reinforce your vision in every way possible.    It is not enough on its own.  It needs looking after & feeding.  I subscribe to  Womens Running magazine to give me a monthly dose of information, motivation & inspiration  to help me believe in my identity as a runner.  Maybe I’ll even do some of the exercises one day.
  • Attitude to life -I actually needed to change my attitude for doing all sorts of things – not just running.  I took on a “just do it now” approach for all things that were not necessarily pleasurable: emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the bathroom, doing the bins.  None of them are fun, but snapping into a different way of dealing with those type of chores helped me translate that into going out for a run.  Don’t wait for someone else to do it.  No negotiation with myself.  It’s a fact.  Just do it now, otherwise your chief foe will stop you.
  • More reading – I also read, on recommendation from Ali, “What do I talk about when I talk about running” by Haruki Murakami.   This was a great motivational read, not a huge tome.  Guess what, this author & marathon runner also suffers from not wanting to run sometimes.  This guy runs every day.  He describes why he runs, what he has run, the marathons & how they feel to him.  It’s not just me, crap runner, who struggles.  Even great keen fast runners find it tough, sometimes don’t want to go out, even have hard races.  I took a huge amount of solace in this & recognised more about my own personal motivation.
  • Personal motivation – Be clear about your personal motivation- it can change.  I had thought I would aim for a faster time at the next half marathon, but didn’t follow that up with commitment.   Was beating my time more important to me than enjoyment?  No – otherwise my actions would have been those related to getting stronger & faster but all I was doing was making excuses & slacking off.   I now know what I like – it’s being out in the country, running through woods & over footpaths (slowly!).  I need to enjoy it & it is possible even on an 11 mile run, honest! And surprisingly in a 13.1 mile race.  I went out last Sunday morning, on my own, unusually for me.  This was the first run over 8 miles that I have run without a group to carry my spirits along & I can honestly say that I enjoyed 95% of it.  It was such a beautiful morning: autumn light amongst the leaves, some fallen underfoot.  If I hadn’t been running I would have taken lots of photos, but had to post them to my memory instead.  Had I not run I would have missed out on:
    • 7 squirrels all with loot to hoard
    • 3 steam trains in operation for a local steam festival.  Running through steam was a strange experience – it was clean & damp, no smell at all.
    • The light through the leaves
    • Blackberries on the tops of bushes out of reach & hawthorn berries
    • The amazing chocolate factory, lit like a beacon by the low autumn sun, rising proud from the surrounding flat sheep filled fields
    • Church bells across the fields.
  • Inspiration – Twitter – I also found a running quotes @runningquotes on Twitter.  Daily doses of motivation in case I was forgetting who I am…..(why, I’m a runner of course?!)
  • Company – Find a group or running buddy to run with.  It’s even more guilt inducing to let other people down, plus chatting & gaining training tips & more chatting make the miles pass quicker.  Plus how great it is to talk about running (& loving/ hating it with someone in the same boat!  We are all human)
  • Races– Are amazing to be part of, especially when roads are closed & there are huge numbers of pounding feet, fancy dress & people running for charity.  The first few miles drift away as you get carried away by the excitement.  Then there is the bling – a nice collection of medals & t-shirts.  Having a forward plan of races that you have entered maintains commitment levels (as long as a combination of the other weapons are applied)
  • Speed– get to know what speed you’ll be able to endure according to the distance you are running.  My classic form of running hate is when I am too tired due to early burn out but am stuck with getting home, only able to concentrate on the person’s bum in front of me, missing whatever lovelies there are to be seen around me (not saying that the bum isn’t lovely, that would be rude).
  • Music– guess what?  You don’t have to be motivated by “Running songs” with a pumping beat!  OK it works for some people.  Even though I’d made myself up a playlist with some good tracks on it, there were some awful ones that I would never listen to were it not for their rythmns that are apparently conducive to running (the kind of music they play in gyms).  OK, some make me laugh inwardly (Rocky theme), but what I found I enjoy the most is listening to “Radio Badger”, ie shuffling my whole iPod library & listening to music I enjoy, randomly, whilst in an environment I am enjoying.  There is something awesome about running along a cycle track with some minimalist piano music, or giving yourself the opportunity to listen more intently to an old favorite.
  • And finally, equipment.  I suppose get the best you can afford.  That goes for proper running shoes (check out my new ones above with those adorable blue laces!).  I treat myself to a new pair of runners every 6 months, & usually do it after a big race, as a reward.  I’ve also tried to kit myself out for all sorts of weather & practicality.  I hate being too hot/ cold or uncomfortable.  I wear glasses when I run & had been struggling to wear those hang-over-ear bud type headphones with the arms of my glasses.  I’d have to keep pushing them in as they slipped out.  The final straw came when the comfy bits got lost & I was still pushing them in, scratchy horrible things.  So I invested in a better quality pair both for sound, as well as with narrower flexible hangers to share the backs of my ears with.   Magic.  No more problems.  Once they’re on, they stay put for the whole run feeding me musical ambrosia.

So there it is.  My huge long list of my running must haves that at the moment are quashing my inner foe.  I can now drink & eat what I like & feel fit- woo hoo!!  Does anyone else have any secrets to share?   How persuasive is your enemy?  Am I a complete running-phobe to need so many different weapons to conquer my own worst enemy?

24 thoughts on “My crazy legs

  1. Debi

    Great list! I’m just now getting back into running and it’s a struggle! It’s funny because I think the list above could be about sewing too! 🙂 Congrats on the half-marathon!

  2. Kate @ M is for make

    What a fantastic post, congratulations on the half marathon! My max is 10k but have been toying with the idea of a half marathon, but I am soooo slow, it would take forever.

    Nice kit definitely helps, I hate being the wrong temperature. Have been toying with the idea of getting a GPS running watch for Christmas as I think it might be fun and motivate me – do you have one? Also lurve Sweaty Betty for kit.

    I am beginning to get to know my enemy a bit better, sometimes my body just isn’t up to a run and if I still go it’s awful and I wish I hadn’t wasted the time. Now both kids are at school I have more chances to go and when I am in the right mood it’s great. I must read that book though, you are the second to mention it in a week!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Kate, thank you for joining in too! I’d say that if you can run 10k you are already half way there. There are plenty of training plans for all sorts of runners to get you up to a half marathon distance. Sometimes you can also find a local running group for training with (I belong to a running group for ladies, so no speed pressure there!)
      Don’t worry about being slow – there will always be people slower than you, some people walk a lot even – just want to get around.
      I should have mentioned my Garmin – it’s key to keeping me on track – telling me either “oooo – that’s a bit fast!” or “hey, look how far you’ve run already…lookin’ good”. Then there is the website that’s great for tracking progress, keeping goals & weekly totals – best of all a map of your run. I had the Nike+ sportband originally – that’s got a fantastic support website – even better – but the technology & accuracy was limited.
      LOVE Sweaty Betty …. but can only justify it in the sale ….I have an amazing running skirt too which always brings comments.. it’s important to look & feel comfy I think.

  3. Jane

    Oh Winnie, the timing of this post couldn’t be better. I only started running for the first time in my life about 6 or 8 weeks ago. After the first fortnight of thinking I was about to die every second I was out there, I finally turned a tiny corner last week. I didn’t stop the entire time I was running, I paced myself and felt like I could go on for ages. It felt great and was totally unexpected, as I’d really hated it up until that point.
    My motivation is all about health and keeping fit, both of which have been zero until recently. Your post has inspired me to sit down and really think about why I’m doing it, as, like you, I try to come up with any excuse to put it off.
    Karen has been mentoring me and kindly said she’d do a 5K race with me next year when I’ve gained a bit of stamina, that’s definitely my goal to aim towards for now. You’ve now spurred me on even more! Fab post, with lots to think about. Thanks. xx

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Jane!!!!! You’re brilliant!!! Starting running is so admirable & it’s great that you have got over & around the corner – well done!! It’s great that you have a mentor also – that is great idea – well done Karen – a new vocation?! Keep in touch & we’ll keep motivating each other 🙂 You’re already achieving so much, it will only feel more so!

  4. karen

    This rings so many bells with me. The Birmingham half marathon sounds absolutely brilliant! If you’re ever looking for another one, I can REALLY recommend the Cardiff half marathon. SO many sights and such an interesting city – looking at the buildings really kept my mind off things and the run out onto a finger of Cardiff bay is something to be experienced. No crowds, just acres of water and the silence of runners. Extraordinary. Yes, I listen to some dire music when running, but it keeps me running! I am at a stage of hate with my running and have almost totally stopped going out, replacing it with cycling and the gym. I hope to at some point rediscover my enjoyment of running by taking a break for now. I don’t want to lose my running fitness entirely – it is the king of exercises, plus it has given me such great sights. As you say, those things you’d never see. Particularly, for some reason, in the winter. It’s a very transportable form of exercise too. My favourite part of my last trip to New York was going out for early morning runs and experiencing the city when most New Yorkers were tucked up in bed. Central Park in the snow – unforgettable. Getting lost in Central Park in the snow – unforgettable! Emerging in Harlem, a place I would otherwise never have seen – unforgettable!!! Getting a cab back to the hotel in my running gear – hilarious! Hope you’re not too stiff this week.

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Karen, you’re not the only one that has said good things about the Cardiff Half. And I love your descriptions of your running whilst travelling- that’s special. My trainers usually get packed but only see the inside of the case!! Yes, it is the king of exercise, and so flexible, but also the hardest when it’s just you to make it happen. Finding something that’s right for you & that you half way enjoy is what matters I think. You’re having a running holiday – maybe it’ll be a long break, maybe it’s just short haul …great that you are a running mentor though – that is awesome!!

  5. Ali

    I’m so glad you liked Haruki Murakami’s book! I think of it often, when I’m reaching for motivation. I always recall what he says about finished a novel, that it begins with inspiration but finishing it is much more like manual labor. You just need to put in the hours. How many things in our life can be applied to that premise? I also love how incredibly humble he is about what he does, his body, and his ability.

    I also love your “attitude to life” bullet point — how wonderful, and how much could we all learn from that! I’m such a procrastinator with housework, but a get ‘er done attitude would make everything better.

    One thing I’ve learned through sewing is the importance of doing things slowly and well. I cut corners in everything but it’s provided me with a window of change. Thanks for sharing all your insights, and happy running!

  6. Melizza

    I used to be a runner and dang it, I want to be a runner again. I really miss the thrill of crossing the finish line. And dare I say it, I miss the achy post-run feeling in your body, muscles screaming “Yes, yes, you did it!” This post was really inspirational. I really need to decide on a race, book it and just train for it. No over-thinking.

    Congrats on your half!

  7. Tanit-Isis

    Wow, that’s fascinating! I can’t quite imagine enjoying running. Sprints, sure, I loved sprinting, but never distance running.

    Why yes, my cardiovascular fitness is terrible, why do you ask?

    My dream is to own my very own elliptical machine. Someday.

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Wowee. Those elliptical machines are incredible. They are big though. Is the ” one day” when you have separate sewing and exercise rooms? That would be cool!
      I have never been and never will be a sprinter. I used to hate it. But in the odd ” tempo training” session we run fast in short bursts and it makes me stretch my legs and feel like a gazelle. As long as it is short bursts though! And I know I don’t look like a gazelle, more like a Pygmy hippo.

  8. Marie

    I only just stumbled on this post and I’m so glad that I did! Your tips are so helpful and really inspiring. To also see so many comments from bloggers/sewers I admire, is also strangely inspiring.

    Anyway, I’ve always hated running (probably because I’ve never given it enough time for me to get fitter and better at it), but today I completed session two of a new regime, in the pouring rain no less. The regime involves jogging two mornings a week, to complement the bootcamp I do three times a week.

    So although I’m not exactly running, more like interval jogging, I actually don’t feel it’s going badly at all. You have to start from somewhere and the fact that I don’t exactly hate it is a bonus. I think maybe before I tried to achieve too much too early, so building up to ‘it’ is key for me.

    Anyway, thanks again so much for sharing. Oh and I love your vision of what kind of runner you’d like to be…I think I’d like the same if you don’t mind ;o)

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Thank youMarie, I’m in admiration of bootcamp! And running in the mornings during the week too- wish I could make myself…but warm bed… It’s good that you are enjoying it, in the rain too ( i love running in the rain!) and any kind of exercise, no matter how long or short is a good thing. Our bodies tell us afterwards! Thank you for commenting!

  9. Larissa

    Fab read! I’ve just started running and completed a 5k mud run last weekend with 3 friends. I was so proud of myself as the night before I was so nervous of all the obstacles I’d have to climb over – I wanted to back out the morning of the race so thank goodness I didn’t – it was so much fun and we’re going back next year 🙂 Now I’m training for a baby (sprint!) triathlon in November – I think this could be addictive! Love your blog by the way, for the running stories and being a fellow sewster, all the creative goodness!


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