Finding Speed, Postpartum Running, Uncategorized

What next?

What do you do when you reach a goal? Or when something you have been working towards has been accomplished, or in the current climate, cancelled? At the beginning of the year, I, like many of you, thought I had my goals for this year mapped out. This goal, that race, these PBs. Bish bash bosh, job is, as they say, a good un.

I’ve been pretty lucky during the whole lockdown period. It coincided with my ‘postpartum comeback’ and by comeback, I mean building up my fitness again, in a strong and safe way. That was always in my plan, so I found it really easy to maintain my focus and continue building the miles each week to the point of pre-baby running fitness. Of course there were smaller, shorter races cancelled that I wanted to include in said return, and no parkrun meant I had to use another scale to judge how I was progressing each week, but these were minor things in the grand scheme of that part of my journey. What I was very vocal about, was wanting to smash out a PB at Amsterdam Marathon this autumn. That was the big goal. the A Goal. Now Autumn marathons have been cancelled or changed pretty much worldwide, I have no A race. No big goal. So what to do? For the record, even if there were an autumn marathon available to run in, I probably wouldn’t do it. More than likely these will be on a time trail basis, or even virtual. I thrive for race day atmosphere, the encouragement, the spectators, the post run beers, doughnuts and sweaty hugs, and of course the camaraderie of fellow runners. Marathons come as a package to me, not something I necessarily want to go and battle out in that quiet place in your head. Although, during ultra training, that’s acceptable. Enjoyable even. Anyway, I digress.

So the postpartum has been checked off, I built up to a solid, consistent weekly mileage by 6 months postpartum and probably as fit as I have ever been during any previous marathon training block. Working hard during lockdown has given me focus. It’s been my escape. Of course I want to continue with my ‘base’ but I found I went a little stale. I need something to aim for and I found myself dwindling in motivation with continued base building, with no race in sight. The virtual Race To The Stones Ultra marathon was a great week, and gave me a little pick me up for that week. I loved getting stuck in to completing the 100km over the week, and running my highest ever weekly mileage. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. I felt proud of myself. yes, I’m that type of person who responds well to a little pat on the back, even if it is myself giving it. Fatigue kicked in the week following VRTTS (last week) and I found my mojo dwindled again. But here’s the thing. Races and challenges doesn’t define you as a runner. I had a long hard think about it, and realised there is so much I want to achieve with running, that doesn’t have to be specifically race orientated. I have an absolute bucket list of little, medium and big goals (goal life) all sat on the master list, begging to be embraced by the priority list. (Yes lists are also now life) But also on a much simpler level, I run for enjoyment, for me, for the benefits it provides physically and mentally. For the places it can still take me to even whilst we are in these strange times. There’s a whole host of trails on my radar I’m wanting to experience.

So I’m back to what I’ve always done. Setting goals for some motivation. Short term I’m going back to what I have never really tackled. Although the last time I blogged about this I ended up pregnant, so kind of had a good excuse as to why it wasn’t accomplished. Speed. I am not a naturally fast runner. More of a ‘plug her in and see how far she goes’ kind of runner, hence my love of all things trail and long distance! But I would love to see if I can sharpen up and tackle the 5k and 10k distances with more specific training geared to these. Just to see what I can do. My 5k and 10k PBs both stand from a half marathon race back in 2018. Firstly I have done a lot of running since then for it not to have come down, and secondly, you know something is slightly out of whack when your short PBs have been set in a half marathon race! So yes, short stuff over the summer. I have entered a couple of time trial races, firstly to experience the new format going forward, but also as they *should* help with the goals. The first one is this week, a four mile trail race, mainly for fun I should add (although the nerves feel very real right now) the next will be the Severn Bridge 10k in August. I have also entered a trail marathon in October. But this is for fun, something for me to look forward to. It is not the flat road type of marathon you need for setting PBs, so it will be included and used for training/fun, but mostly, food for my soul! So there it is, my immediate goals that made it over to priority list. Why not. Hopefully I will keep up with the weekly round up of training as I used to do during marathon training, to keep you all updated as to what specific training I am doing to do to get maybe, possibly, a bit faster (not fast really) over the summer.

In the meantime, if you are finding yourself in a place where running motivation has taken a bit of a dive, please do check out my top 12 tips for finding some mojo again over at YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ztchKRhThQ) hopefully there will be something of use to you there. And if you are in the position of having no goal thanks to a cancelled race, or just simply not knowing what to do next, find yourself something that gets you excited, it will keep you going. Here are just a few ideas that you might like to try.

  • Improve Speed. Aim for improving speed over a shorter distance. It’s much easier to find a 5k or 10k route close to you to try and improve on, and also a distance that you can have a go at much more frequently than the longer distances. Do a time trail on a route, then try and beat that time once a fortnight or once a month.
  • Speed isn’t everything. Maybe try and up your distance. If you currently go for shorter distances, aim to build up to a 10k, or half marathon distance.
  • Sign up to a virtual race or challenge. There are SO many options out there now for this, with most big races offering a virtual option. Something to aim for and you still get bling. Win, win.
  • You don’t have to be too structured. Perhaps a goal could be to run somewhere new once a week. take a new trail, or try alternative routes. Coincide with a trip to somewhere new.
  • Strava Segments. Perhaps try and improve your Strava segment times. I’m not saying you have to go full on and try and take crowns (although they are nice. I had one once, for about ten minutes) but go and see if you can beat your own time on them.
  • Fix your weaknesses/issues. This is a great time to really work on yourself. If you want to become a stronger runner, learn about strength training, or start practising something that will benefit your running (for me during lockdown, that was yoga/Pilates).

Just a few thoughts, It’s very hard to come up with goals, because lets face it. Unless they are personal to you and what you want from your running, they probably won’t stick around long. Your why, is different to another person’s why, but whatever it is, run safe, run happy, and run for you!

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