I Ran For A Reason

I did it. I actually did it. I completed the 12km HBF Run for a Reason and lived to tell the tale. For someone who has never managed to run more than 3km without stopping before, I am so proud of my achievement. Not only did I cross the finish line, but I actually exceeded all of my expectations.

If you read my previous post, you’d know that I am in no way, shape or form a runner. I’m all about gym workouts and HIIT training. But long distance running? No thanks. I set myself a goal of finishing the course within 1 hour and 30 minutes, which seemed doable and realistic (plus I needed to get to work on time afterwards). Pairing my lack of running ability with sickness (did I mention that I threw up 30 minutes before the race?), I honestly feared I would not make it to the finish line in 90 minutes… if at all. But I was determined and nothing was going to stop me from at least trying.

Realistically, I intented to run as much as I could and power walk the rest. You know, something like a 30:70 run/walk ratio. However, thats not what happened at all. Still to my complete and utter surprise, I ran the entire thing! I managed to complete the entire 12km without stopping. Not even once! What the hell?! I am honestly still perplexed by this. Not only did I run the entire distance, I smashed my 1 hour 30 minute goal… by 25 minutes!!! How? Mind over matter.

Running really is a mental challenge. The mind is such a powerful thing. What the mind believes the body will achieve. Without a focused mind and sheer determination I would not have been able to do it. Of course I wanted to stop many times but with continuous words of encouragement and positive self talk I was able to push through the physical pain and keep moving.

The first 2-3km wasn’t actually too bad. With so many people surrounding me I became preoccupied by trying to dodge the obstacles (aka other runners). Then when people started to veer off, slow down and space opened up, it got a little tougher. With less distractions I started to feel every step and every wince of pain in my ankles, hamstrings and knees. I started to noticed my breathing more and how my sick little lungs were struggling to get air in. That’s when something kicked in and with the power of positive thinking and visualization, I mind over mattered my way to the finish line.

I started with positive self talk. ‘I am healthy’, ‘I am fit’, ‘I can do this’! I then began to give myself little milestones to work towards. I told myself ‘at the next water station you can slow to a walk’, ‘when you reach 5km you can have a break’, ‘6km is the half way point… have a little breather’. But with each mini milestone I reached, came more determination and more fight to just keep running. I became focused, fixated on the idea of running the entire distance. I started thinking ‘imagine being able to say I ran the entire 12km’. At about 8-9km I started to visualize the finish line. My words went from ‘I can do it’ to ‘I HAVE just done it. I ran 12km with no breaks’. I law of attracted the shiz out of it.

When the pain in my joints started to feel almost unbearable (I have recently recovered from an ankle injury and also suffer with inflammation and mild rheumatoid arthritis) that’s when I focused on my reason for running. That reason; to support and fundraiser for MS Society WA – a cause very close to my heart. Yes it was a physical and mental challenge but the thought that kept pulsing through my head was ‘this is nothing compared to what people with MS face each and every day’. Any pain I was feeling was mere pins and needles compared to pain and challenges experienced by those living with MS. For some, MS has left them completely immobile so for me to complain about sore joints or a pulled hamstring muscle is, in my opinion, heartless. Multiple sclerosis is a disease with no known cause and still no cure that can be so debilitating to those diagnosed. Having this snap of perspective, reminding me why I was running at that very moment, not only had me tearing up whilst I was on the move but pushed me to keep going.

So to every single person who completed the HBF Run for a Reason on the weekend, you are all amazing! A HUGE congratulations and well done for supporting your cause! Whether it was the 4km, 12km or 21.1km half marathon (you lot are particularly crazy) you all deserve to be proud of yourselves. Running ain’t easy and I certainly don’t know how or why people would ever choose to run… Ever! But you are all incredible!

Yes, my aching body is still recovering and my joints are hating on me but I am so glad I did it. I am so surprised and proud of my achievement. Would I do it again? I am not sure. Ask me again in 12 months. I am glad I challenged myself and it would be interesting to see how I could go if I wasn’t sick and if I had trained leading up to the event. But right now, three days later and still in pain, what I know for sure is that my body was not made for running. So it’s back to the gym for me!

Love Eloise xx

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Running Tips for Non Runners

Running. It’s not for everyone. Some love it. Some hate it. Me? I fall into the latter category.

I am not a runner. I never have been. Probably never will be. I am a gym junkie. I love my HIIT workouts, combat classes, group fitness and strength training. I love lifting weights, plyometrics and challenging my personal bests. But running? Nope not for me. It’s just not my exercise of choice. Yet for some crazy reason, I have signed myself up to for the 2015 HBF Run For a Reason* Not just the 4km run either, but the 12km!

Why? Well firstly, to challenge myself. I had intended to register for the HBF run in previous years but it just never happened. Mainly because I hate running and also because, I hate running. However, this year I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and give it a crack. More importantly though, I am running for a reason. To inspire the people of Perth to get active, to do something for their health and fitness as well as support a worthy charity if they wish. I have chosen to support the MS Society WA, for which I have started a fundraising page.

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Having registered 8-weeks out from the event, I thought that would be plenty of time to get run ready. That was until I ended up with an ankle injury that left me out of action for almost 5 weeks. Not ideal. Once I finally start training, I very quickly learnt a lot about running. The good, the bad and the ugly. As a result I have come up with the following 

9 Running Tips for Non-runners

1. Start Small

Set small goals. Just like no one expects you to bust out 20 reps of 20kg biceps curls the first time you set foot in a gym, no one is expecting you to complete a half-marathon distance the first time you head out for a run either. Set yourself small achievable goals – goals you can build on. You might start by running to a street sign, then move on to running 1km on, 1km off. The next time you go out aim for 2km without having a break and keep building on that. Aim for progress not perfection.

2. Invest In Decent Running Gear

Comfort is key. Wear exercise clothes that fit you well. The last thing you want is to be pulling your pants up or tugging on your shirt every two minutes. Even if it’s your oldest, daggiest clothing – comfort comes first! Most importantly, get yourself a decent pair of running shoes. Without good quality and supportive running shoes, you are setting yourself up for pain and injury. Get your shoes fitted by a specialist and ask for advice on the best shoes for your feet and running style.

3. Distract Yourself

Distractions are a blessing in disguise, making the time go faster and keeping your mind off the task at hand. Run with music, run scenic routes, zone out, let your mind wander – all these things will keep your focus off the sounds of your breathing, puffing and the distance ahead of you.

4. Mix It Up

Some people like to run on the treadmill. Others like to run outdoors. Some have to know the exact route and distance, while others prefer to wing it. Personally, I find mixing things up keeps things interesting and stops me from getting bored on a run.  Changing up your running route also conditions the body to all different types of terrains including, hills, slopes and stairs, which will build up your stamina and endurance.

5. Buddy Up

Running with a friend or partner is not for everyone but for others, having a running buddy can provide that extra little boost of motivation they need to get them out the door. Whether it is just having someone there by your side as moral support or you need someone to push you (maybe even literally), training with a friend can make all the difference. As running etiquette goes, always run at the pace of the slowest runner and if one person stops the other stops. Just be sure not to let each other down. Still encourage and challenge one another.

6. It’s All In Your Head

Running, like with all exercise, is very much a mental thing. Your mind will give up long before your body does, so the key is to train your brain. A strong mindset will result in a strong result. Delete the words ‘I can’t’ from your vocabulary and focus on telling yourself ‘I can’. What your mind believes, your body achieves. When I start to feel my body giving up I speak words of strength to myself. For example ‘I am strong’, ‘I am fit’, ‘I am full of energy’, ‘this is easy’ and ‘I can do it’. It really works!

7. Stretch, Warm-up and Cool Down

As one of the top techniques for injury prevention, stretching pre and post run is so important. Never sprint straight out the front door. In order to signal to your body and muscles that they are about to start working, warm up with a brisk walk, then increase the pace into a jog. This will also minimise the stress on your heart. Rather than coming to an abrupt stop, follow your run with a 5 minute cool down. If you feel your muscles cramping during a run, don’t be afraid to stop along the way to stretch. If you have a foam roller, I suggest rolling out post run too.

8. Listen to Your Body

Some days you just can’t do it. Your body is aching, your joints are sore, you’re feeling foggy and your energy is low. You may have set your alarm, put on your shoes and stepped out the front door but your running mojo is just not there. That’s ok. It’s important to listen to your body on these days. Don’t push yourself to the point of breaking. Have a day off. Go for a walk, do some yoga or hit the gym instead. Listen to your body and respond accordingly. Rest days are important for recovery!

9. Get The App

This year HBF developed an amazing Fitness App to help participants get the most out of their training in the lead up to the event. I found this app, which guides users through a exercise program and keeps track of progress, an extra little bit of motivation. It was so helpful, for a beginner runner like me, who had absolutely no idea where to start. It even notifies you the night before, what your training schedule is for the next day. Genius!

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If training for the HBF run has taught me anything, it’s that running just isn’t for everyone. Our bodies are all made differently and conditioned to different types of exercise. I’m a gym girl through and through. My joints, in particular just don’t cope well with the impact of running. That being said, I’m no longer a hater. I actually don’t mind the whole running thing now and will probably continue to run once or twice a week. Even if it is just a half walk half run (or as me and my friend like to call it, a ‘ralk’).

So now with less than 2 weeks to go until the event, I am admittedly starting to feel a little nervous. But I have also accepted that I will not be running the entire 12km. Whether I run, jog, walk, crawl or a mixture of them all, my goal is just to finish the race. When I do I will be proud of that achievement.

See you all at the starting line!! Good luck Perth!

Love Eloise xx

*For those who are not familiar, the Perth HBF Run for A Reason is an annual charity run, encouraging West Aussies to participate for charity, health and fitness, to support a loved one or just for fun. With the option to register for the 4km, 12km and (new this year) 21km half marathon, the event is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. For more information or to register for the run visit the HBF Run website.

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