If you told my younger self that I’d be running today, I would have frowned at you and said “Whatever”. If you told her that she’d be loving running, going for longer distances and faster paces, there would have been a lot of laughter, maybe even tears.
A few years ago I was diagnosed with adult onset asthma due to environmental factors in the neighborhood we live in. With an oil refinery close by and a diesel turbine for electricity within a km of our home, the damage was done and relocating was not an option. I am now used to taking 2 puffs of my pump every morning and every evening, and I’m used to training with my trusty emergency pump within my reach during every workout session.
And all I could do now, is try to strengthen my lung capacity. I hated running and when we got our Weimaraner, my hubby initially ran him as I could not manage 1km without my lungs burning. This was 4 years ago. The year after, I decided to try again, and with doing BBG that consisted of a lot of Plyometrics, I got fit enough to run for longer and managed to run 5km, twice a week. This meant I could finally start running with Max. AND THAT WAS A GAME CHANGER.
The joy on Max’s face while running beside was a magnificent sight. His excitement was infectious and I started looking forward to our runs as it gave me quality time with him after working and studying most of my days. The joy it brought him and later myself is truly priceless.
And just as I was getting into it in August 2017 I ended up having a scooter accident and had to have my meniscus in my right knee repaired. The operation took place in January 2018 and my average pace on a 5km just before my op was 5:50/km. The surgeon also cleaned up the cartilage in my knee as well while repairing the meniscal tear.
Five months of rehab followed while I strength trained the bulk of the time. I started to run again towards the end of June 2018 but took it really easy. I wanted to get outside again as I missed the fresh air, even though it was in the middle of winter at that stage. A run twice a week was a must for me and this continued for 2 months.
In August 2018, I saw an immense improvement in my running as I started running under 6:00/km consistently and even managed to run for longer distances at a time. I upped my runs to 3 times a week and balanced it with strength programs by Natacha Ocean and Kelsey Wells. It is the perfect combination for my body which I am maintaining at this stage.
I hit my Personal Best for a short distance mid-November, clocking 4:56/km on a 6km run, and my personal best on a longer distance currently sits at 5:06/km on a 10km. I’ve also managed to run 15km on a challenging route with hills, and did my first month of more than 100km in November. These are achievements I never truly thought I’d ever be able to accomplish.
Now more than ever, decreasing my pace and increasing my distances, is motivating me to run, to improve my lung capacity, as I can noticeably see the improvement when while climbing stairs and doing other types of exercise.
Running gives me the opportunity to be outside, which is something I do not get to do often as I am stuck behind a desk whole day and most evenings. I learnt to love running by embracing the struggle and to be proud of my wins. Immersing myself in my surroundings as helped me to cope with the mental challenge that can come with running (and to be honest, it taught me the perseverance I needed to get through this year of studying).
I am now aiming to do my first half marathon in the latter part of 2019, a goal that is both a huge climb for me physically and mentally. But knowing my personality type, I will be gunning for that goal in no time.
Important Goodies that’s helped me
Using the Nike Running Club App to track my runs and for guidance.
This app is fantastic and it’s free. It syncs with my Polar watch so it automatically pulls through all my run details so I don’t have to run with my phone. It motivates you to join challenges and highlights your achievements. The app also have training plans and I am planning to use it as guide to train for my half marathon in 2019. They’ve also covered the Language of Running on their website which really helps you to understand the technical aspects of running.
Investing in proper running shoes
It took me a good while to realize that a great quality running shoe can make the world’s difference. Your pair of shoes should be durable, comfortable and most importantly fit correctly. My current pair is the Adidas Adizero Prime Parley shoes.
Knowing that recovery sessions are important.
When starting your running journey, I cannot stress enough how important stretching before and after a run is. I tend to have better running posture if I warmed up properly before my run. Once again, the Nike Training Club App has a perfect 7 minute warm up workout I often use before longer runs. I’ve also incorporate a weekly foam rolling session and even though it hurts like hell, the loosening of those glutes and hamstrings feels like heaven on earth.
Fueling properly, before and after your runs
I tend not to have meals before running as I am used to do all my workout sessions fasted but I do make sure that I at least have half a banana or a serving of preworkout or coffee before my runs, especially over longer distances. You have to fuel your body properly as running is high intensity and your body needs a kick to keep going. Post run, there is nothing better than a chocolate smoothie with banana, cocoa powder, spinach, a teaspoon of nut butter and 2 scoops whey protein. Basically a chocolate milkshake with the perfect balance of carbs, fat and protein.