After the first two weeks of indoor running, training for our upcoming 10k run, we finally made the transition to start running outside, and I have to say I couldn’t quite believe how different the two felt. Running in the gym, I’d felt in control, steady and reasonably progressing, but after just 5 minutes of running in the real world, I felt like my lungs were going to collapse and I was going to have to roll all the way home. I’m told it feels harder because technically it is - unlike the uniform pattern of running indoors, when outside your faced with uneven, bumpy surfaces, strong winds and the difficulty of setting your own pace.
There was one thing in particular we were all struggling with when running outside, our breathing. Something so inherently natural suddenly felt arduous, clumsy and tiring. So, we caught up with breathing specialist and GTG expert, Caroline Kremer , to get some tips on how to tackle our wheezing worries.
“Do some breathing exercises for 10 mins before you go out to help keep your shoulders relaxed and to allow you to breathe more deeply and steadily. If you start to gasp for air do a long exhale which should help to re-calibrate the breathing.”
The second obstacle we were increasingly encountering was finding the right balances - both in fitting the exercise into our busy schedules and also discovering how hard to push ourselves when we did train. By weeks 3 and 4 our timetable consisted of 3 runs, which we could attempt at whatever pace and length we felt up to, a fitness class and a yoga session. Trying to squeeze all this around a hectic work schedule, eating, sleeping and breathing was almost harder than doing the exercise itself. That said, we were managing - it’s meant a few painfully early mornings and long late nights but guilt and the threat of underperforming on race day can be an extremely powerful motivator.
The knowledge that we’ve only ever had a few weeks to train has also meant we’ve had a tendency to overdo it on a number of occasions - most notably it was Kirans attempt at a 9.2k run by Wednesday of week 3 that highlighted our need to keep calm. It’s good to go hard, but too hard and you’ll get an injury, as her following week of knee pain demonstrated. It was round about here that we fully understood why taking it slowly and including rest days are necessary.
In these past few weeks we’ve also been hit by an all encompassing tiredness. The adrenaline and excitement of the first 2 weeks had subsequently worn off and we were suddenly exhausted by all the physical activity we’d thrust ourselves into. It’s these down days that are arguably the hardest leg of the journey - when you’re past the first hurdles but not quite at the finish line and just one bad run can make you feel utterly useless and as unfit as when you first began. When feeling flat we turned to our Editor-in-Chief and fitness fanatic, Susannah Taylor, for her pearls of wisdom and encouraging words. She informed us that ‘our brains give up much quicker than our bodies do’, so even when it feels like you physically can’t go another step, you can - it’s mind over matter.
Ultimately though, were we improving? Yes. As Andy had stated during our first meeting, the fitness gains a beginner achieves are similar to when an overweight person begins a diet - they’re fast and noticeable. By no means were we budding superstars but even just being able to run for that ten minutes more feels immensely encouraging. It’s also interesting to note that with every step of improvement we’ve made our goals have changed. No longer was this just a race to be run, it was fast becoming a race to be run well. We may have had a few slump days of late, but our eyes are still firmly on the finish line (if only so we can jack in these early mornings).
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