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Welcome to Week 5

“Mind is everything. Muscle - just pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind” – Paavo Nurmi


Running is so much more than physical fitness and the more I coach and talk to people, to me it becomes quite clear that you need mental toughness and strength to succeed, and by succeeding I mean keeping running.

There is a lot of research out there that suggests our minds can actually change reality, I’m not being all New Age but what I find really interesting about this is how our mindset can influence our health and well-being.  Generally, unless you have had an illness/injury, accident or given blood or a body part away, you can be the same physical person from one day to the next but your mindset can have a dramatic effect on your run and your performance.

Fascinating isn’t it, let’s just pause and think about this statement for a bit, what does it mean?  We can turn do a run on a Monday evening, being the same person the following Wednesday, not different in any way physically, we haven’t put 7 stone on in a few dasy but our mind can “talk” to us and influence how we run that evening.  Brilliant isn’t it (you can see why I studied Psychology!).

We focus so much on posture, cadence, heart rate, lactate threshold etc and whilst the RunVerity beginner’s course focus’s on these as we know that these are so important, we don’t spend as much time training our grey matter to ensure that our mindset is just as finely tuned as our bodies.

We often focus too much on the end goal and spend a lot of time stressing about how to get there; we forget to enjoy the process, to live in the moment, realise as we are running in our group that we are actually running, we are doing it, we are runners! We were amazing last night, what a formidable team we were, taking back the streets and running as a group together, I loved it.

I’ve long since known that there are many factors as to what makes a person/group successful in keeping up running and I still don’t know all the answers; below are just a few factors that I’ve found that you need (you may notice that few of them are physical)

  • Personal motivation – you want to succeed

  • Personal ability – learning and developing new skills and knowledge to succeed

  • Social pressure – group support, friends encouragement helps keep you focused on track

  • Coach - to help you develop skills, give you feedback and keep you motivated

  • Rewards and incentives

  • Resilience – successful runners are able to bounce back from injury, setbacks or disappointment

  • Positive outlook – have positive thoughts to replace the negative ones

  • Confident – be confident that you will succeed 

It all sounds good on paper but how do we learn the above to help improve and strengthen our mental toughness when our lives are so busy, sometimes we can use being busy as an excuse not to run, but to be honest if I used that excuse I’d never run again.

If you’ve missed a couple sessions, in my experience, it isn’t whether you can physically do the run, it’s whether mentally you can actually get to the car park, physically, again unless you’ve had some dramatic transformation or you are injured, your body will be able to do it.  It’s having the mental toughness to put your trainers on.

I haven’t got all the answers but I thought this was a good place to start, acknowledging the importance of our mindset and to accept that you may only have a few reasons to keep running and a bucket load of reasons not to but it’s learning to give our mental training as much effort as our physical training. What makes being part of RunVerity different to other clubs is that we focus a lot on our mindset and help break down these barriers to that goals can be achieved and you never have to run alone again.

My aim is to help you learn how to run, help you improve, to give you advice and show you where you may be going wrong. Running correctly enables you to run more efficiently and therefore the idea is that it becomes easier and less of a chore.

A little bit extra

Having run with women for a number of years, I get to hear about all sorts of problems that a lot of people don’t talk about, as you know I am a very open book and I’m happy to talk about things that other people may be a little bit embarrassed about. So I’m putting it out there…..leaking wee when exercising! Yep loosing control of your bladder when taking part in high impact exercise, this can be running, jumping or lifting heavy weights, all of these are considered high impact on the pelvic floor. Most of us may not have heard of our pelvic floor until we had children and sure enough we know about it now.

High impact sports lead to increased intra-abdominal pressure and this can lead to the symptoms of pelvic floor disorders, so basically any time a person engages in such high impact activity, the pelvic floor muscles are activated as part of the core muscle group. So vigorous training puts the pelvic floor muscles at risk of fatigue, making them weaker and vulnerable to involuntary leakage of urine when running or jumping. And even though it is quite common it isn’t normal as the symptoms are unpleasant to experience much less discus so therefore women tend not to seek help and just put it down to having children or getting older.

There is help though, you can seek medical help so that you can be fully assessed on the weakness of your pelvic floor but you can also help yourself.

Tiny moves make a big difference

There is a debate on how effective Kegel exercises are but I think they are worth a go as this small movement may make a big difference. This movement is the repetitive contracting and relaxing of your pelvic floor muscles, in other words the muscles responsible for controlling your bladder. To do them, squeeze your pelvic muscles like you’re stopping the flow of urning and try not to tense up your abs or glues at the same time. Hold for a few seconds, release and work up to a set of 10….you can do these anywhere, anytime.

Start Pilates

This will help you activate and strengthen your pelvic floor, movements like bridges, squats and planks all engage the core muscles, which is very different from just sucking your tummy in, and these in turn will strengthen your pelvic floor.

Cut out Caffeine

Caffeine is a diuretic, stimulant and a bladder’s worst enemy, stick to water or herbal tea and forget the Costa’s for a while.

Pelvic floor disorders are easily treatable as any other muscle weakness so see what works for you and don’t be embarrassed about seeking medical help.

Homework Week 5

It is important to make sure you adapt to the last 5 weeks training so just take it steady this week for homework so that you can build upon what you have already achieved.

Warm up walk briskly then go out for 35 mins, warm up with a 2 min run to help you ease into the run then aim for running 15 continuously.  Recover for 1 min and go again and aim for another 15 mins.