I ran 6k this morning. Before breakfast!
I’m currently reading Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run. Not only is it fantastically well written, I’m finding it super educational and inspiring. I’ve long wanted to be a runner but struggled with fitness, stamina and motivation. I’ve started the Zombies, Run! 5k training programme a couple of times but dropped it a few sessions in. Despite these struggles, I keep coming back to running – even though I despise exercise!
I want to be a runner.
I can see myself loping through the woods like a deer, flitting between trees and skipping over roots. I aspire to long distance hill-runs, completing the West Highland Way in a few days (or – whisper it – maybe even in just hours!). And the thing is, I don’t see any reason why I can’t do those things. I only need to apply myself.
So, fired up by Mr McDougall and various running films on Netflix, I headed out first thing for a run. It did not go well.
I tried following Caballo Blanco’s advice:
“Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a shit how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one – you get those three, and you’ll be fast.”
– McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
I wasn’t doing any of that. My footfalls were so heavy I could have had my whole camping kit on my back. I was peching away and my breathing felt tight and constricted. I couldn’t have been further from “smooth” if I’d tried. I did a 25 minute run/walk session like that then went home.
Oddly, I was not disheartened but realised I needed to go back and really apply myself to some ‘couch to 5k’ type training. I looked at a couple of apps but decided to stick with the zombies (I do love those guys – and, rubbish though I may be, I’ve improved enormously under their scary tutelage). I loaded the 5k app and headed out again.
Firstly, I turned off the music player. I don’t listen to music as I go about my usual day and I find it hard to get into my stride with ever changing beats in my ear. Just the Zombie story intercut with silence (so I can hear the wind in the trees) is a big improvement. The session started with a brisk walk then a series of run/walk drills. As I worked through those I spotted a path I’d never noticed before, snaking through the trees beside the river. When the time came for the final 10 minute free-run I dropped down to that path and started running. Really running, just like I imagined!
My stride shortened to accommodate the narrowness of the trail and to adjust for bends and tree roots in the way. My posture was upright and solid, and I was just as light and easy as a person could be. I know I had a huge grin on my face the whole time and may even have giggled. I believe I finally found my groove.
I know that was just one session but it gave me a glimpse of what could be. I feel even more inspired than when I woke up. Wish me luck for another good session on Sunday!