Why is it difficult to get out of the door and run? Some thoughts and my solutions I discovered under Lockdown

Helen Lane

I’ve run almost my whole life and always found it difficult to make that first step out the door and run. However over the last 2 years I’ve changed and found ways that help me step out the door and run by using routines, making challenges and rewarding myself.

Until the last couple of years I had no running routine at all, except running at parkruns on Saturday’s. Looking back most of the time I rarely initiated a run, I wasn’t particularly self motivated and became accustom to running when my husband ran. It took the decision away from me needing to decide to do a run which I liked. In fact, most of my training runs were done on the treadmill when my husband and I went to the gym and if I ran outside, then it was mostly with my husband and he designed a session that fitted in with both our levels. I loved doing that way.

Andy Lane & I running together

Routine and Goal Setting

Of course I did enter races and I can remember doing a few long run by myself when I was training for a marathon. I didn’t run if it was a little cold, hot, rain or windy I (except of course if it was a parkrun or race). I wouldn’t and still don’t run in the dark, so I certainly didn’t have a routine. But of course you can’t always rely on someone else to motive you. Eventually, my husband got injured and I needed to motivate myself. I seem now to love running more than ever before.

I stared to understand the importance of having a routine and challenging yourself early in Lockdown. I was reading an article by Tim Peake the astronaut about how important routine and goals were to help cope with isolation in space. I thought to myself, “I have no routine at all, no set time to wake up, no set time to eat, to vacuum, to make the bed, to do dishes, to exercise, not one thing!” In fact I hate cleaning and used to just wait until I couldn’t stand the mess any more and have to tidy up.

I also noticed in Lockdown many people were doing Challenges that inspired me e.g. Joe Wicks workouts, Captain Toms walking. I decided to start some of my own tiny challenges that were super achievable and based around routine, some have now formed into habits that I do on most days.

For my running challenge I decided I’d run everyday for a month before breakfast. My rule was “The run didn’t have to be far or fast and but I have to get out that door and run.” The run made me feel good and succeeding at achieving my goal made me feel even better. The running challenge was hard for me for the first 3 weeks. I struggled to get out the door but after about 5 weeks it was better. It definitely was difficult for longer than I expected. I ended up meeting a runner in my local Park who had been doing a Run Streak for almost a year. I thought that’s amazing, I wonder how long I could do it. I started my own running streak. I even brought a Cake to celebrate every 100 days. The Run Streak lasted 261 days which ended when I got injured 5 weeks before I ran the BostonUK Marathon, but everything worked out well. I rested for the 5 weeks from running and completed the marathon with a Personal Best, I learnt so many things from the Run Streak especially the last one…… “DON’T OVERTRAIN BECAUSE YOU MAY GET INJURED!”

As the Run Streak continued, I could feel myself becoming more empowered and confident and I loved the new identity I had. I was a ‘RUN STREAKER’. I was amazed at how happy I became just from something so small. It was something in my life that was good and made me happy whenever I thought about it. At that time it seems everyone and everything was so negative and running, exercising and challenges and succeeding at these things was a my coat of armor which protected me from negative things and it gave me control and a sense of accomplishment. I became fitter and even did the Virtual New York City Marathon and the Virtual Virgin London Marathon. I also enjoyed running outdoors and I felt I and no one else owned and controlled my running. I didn’t feel pressured to run fast, I remember when I was younger that I had to run as fast as I could because I wanted my parents to be proud of me. The feeling that I HAVE TO RUN FAST, seemed to have stayed with me as a adult.

I stopped worrying about the way I looked. I did exactly what I liked. I would listen to different podcast to make it more fun.

One of my favorite Podcast
….and another one of my favorite Podcast
….and another one of my favorite Podcasts

I’d vary sessions, sometimes I would do sprints at my favorite bit of my park, I created segments on Strava. I found more and more ways to make my run special. I saved the really good podcast for my long runs. I started to run in all weathers. In the past I never ran if the weather wasn’t good but I learned that the reason why I got too cold, too hot or too wet was that I didn’t dress appropriately for the weather. I learnt I didn’t have to feel too hot, too cold or even too wet. If I thought I might be cold I put on an extra layer and if I got too hot I slowed down. I invested in a new rain jacket so I didn’t get wet. I decided to when to run, the weather didn’t decide for me which was how it was previously. It felt like I had never been in control of my running until now.

More Rewards

I also start rewarding myself after every run. Most days I used to finish the run at either a bakery or supermarket buy a treat like a cake or just a cappuccino and walked home. Sometime when I really didn’t want to go running I just thought I’d run just to the Supermarket and that’s all, but after 10 minute of running I always felt good and continued running. I made it a habit to give lots of positive self-talk, saying things to myself “the first 10 minutes are the hardest, so you are doing well, you’re tough, you deserve a cake, you are looking good” I treated myself like I was the most important person on earth. On some days the thought of getting an ice cream was they only thing that could get me out. I also Posted my run on Twitter, this was not done to show off but for me, it was confirmation that I had done a run and it was nice that some people said well done. I didn’t mind if people saw it as silly as I was doing the run for myself not anyone else and I found it really did motivate me.

I started making other challenges, one was to do 10 press ups every hour between 9am and 5pm, ok sometimes I had to stop for a minute while out walking and do 10 press ups when everyone wasn’t looking, but I ticked off every hour that I did it and each time I felt good as I was ticking it off, I felt I’d achieved something and felt good, so that was 8 times a day that made me feel good. At the start I could only do about 3 full press up’s before the challenge and now I can do about 25 good full press ups each time.

This developed in to other things, e.g., 10 1 legged squats, 20 sit ups, one minute Planks. For the first time in my life I started to do strengthening exercises. I’ve been saying for over 20 years “I must do some strengthening exercise like sit ups,” but never do. People used to say to me all the time that my running would improve if I strengthened you core. Now I really do have a six pack and of course there were other bonuses, I lost about 10kg in weight over two years and my percentage of muscle mass has increased.

Of course doing something like sit up’s or press up’s every hour is not achievable long term so I decided I’d do them when I get up before I went for a run, so it turned into a mini workout…but then I discovered the world of YouTube workouts. I obviously must have lived in a hole most of my life because the world of YouTube was a revelation to me…you can really find something on everything nowadays. I started to do a YouTube workout every morning. My favorite is Carolina Given. I brought dumbbells, yoga blocks and resistance band and loved it. I was always far too self conscious and unfit to do exercise classes at the gym but now the gyms have opened again I have been to HIIT Classes and I am as good as anyone else. I changed the challenges all the time. I managed to stretch everyday for two weeks and now I do some stretching almost everyday. For over 20 year I used to also say “I should do more stretching, “ but never did.

My favorite YouTube Workout: Caroline Given

I then started looking for more and more challenges or new routines some lasted a little while and some I have kept, other challenges I did did were ‘ten chin ups by my birthday’, ‘vacuum every day between 3-5pm every day even when it’s not dirty (I brought a lovely cordless light vacuum cleaner so I now love Vacuuming), ‘do some Indoor Rowing everyday, again, it doesn’t have to far or fast’. I have a note book with all the things I need to do and the act of ticking them of after I have completed them gives me a boost. For a few days, I thought “I need to drink more, so every time I come into the kitchen I will have a bottle of water sitting there and take 3 gulps and put 1 tick/tally on the notepad beside the bottle”. It was all a bit of fun.

Indoor Rowing & Exercise Area, you can watch Netflix, YouTube etc, while you exercise

My mindset slowly changed for me in lockdown. I know myself very well, if I don’t run or exercise I start feeling down and a bit depressed and that if I do run or do some exercise. It was a difficult time, The more difficult the times the more I knew I needed to run or exercise. Running and exercise is my coping mechanism for life and I absolutely love it. I think I should also add that my improvement in my well being may also be due also to slowly coming off medication that I’d been on for over 30 years. There is an amazing difference, the world through my eyes seem like it was now in colour and I’m no long lethargic, I don’t need to sleep as much, I wake up early and I just wanted to get up and do stuff.

For me, I use routines and challenges and now look forward to positive things. We can’t sit passively and think “life’s shit” and talk all day about how unfair life is, and wait for someone else to fix it or you can take control and improve it yourself.

Running the BostonUK Marathon 31 May 2021 – the flattest marathon in the UK.

I couldn’t believe I actually completed this marathon and got a PB of 3 hours 54 minutes, enough to get ‘Good for Age’ in the Virgin London Marathon for 2022.

This marathon was very important to me because I’m 57 years old and if I didn’t manage to complete it then, it could of been I would never get another opportunity as I always seem to pick up running injuries when I train for longer runs. I’ve run all my life but I love running more now than ever.

It would come up 0.05 short on Strava!

I had got into a good routine over lockdown and had decided to do a Run Streak for a month I got hooked and carried on my Run Streak which eventually lasted 261 days. I had a cake when I’d done 200 days. It stopped because I picked up an injury 5 weeks before this marathon. Doing a Run Streak made running easier for me as it was not a question of “shall I go for a run, or shall I leave it for today?” It was “I’m a run streaker, of course I run today,” I only need to do 2-3km slowly”. It became like having a shower, something I just did everyday.

Boston

I was finding things tough in the last couple of years and running is the one thing that improves my mood, so its my coping mechanism for when times are hard.

Before Lockdown I always struggled to go running outside, I didn’t go if it was wet, windy, too cold, too hot unless it was a race or a parkrun. Previously, I did most of my running on the treadmill at my gym.I never did strength training and for years always would say “I should start doing sit ups, press ups etc.”, but never ended up doing them. I couldn’t even do one full press up! But, under lockdown when the gyms closed I started doing YouTube workouts and Indoor Rowing everyday. I finally had a stronger core and should have done it years ago. I also lost a lot of weight so that made running easier.

Ready in a bed that could sleep about 5 people but there was only me.

Anyway, I was so excited coming to Boston, I had been very stressed at home and didn’t have very high self-esteem so I needed something to make me feel good about myself and feel accomplished. This was also one of the few times I had come to a running event on my own. Over the years I had come to rely on my husband but this time I would do the marathon by myself.

I was a little bit anxious at the start only because I hadn’t really run properly for the past 5 weeks but I was fit and I had done all my long runs. I was just hoping my injury wouldn’t stop me. In the end, my leg hurt more and more the further I when but I was able to finish it although I was running very slowly for the last 6-8 miles but really those miles signs seem to just fly by. I’m a little bit injured again because I ran it but I’m taking care to rest a bit from running.

View while running….very flat!

Book Review: Run Through Barriers by Clint Adam Lovell

This is a book that will inspire you to run and it’s such easy reading. Any runner or even someone who is thinking of giving running a try would enjoy reading it. I know I need all the inspiration on offer because running isn’t alway easy for me. I’ve been running for years, BUT even though running makes me feel good, gives me a sense of achievement, keeps my body strong and lean enough to eat cake and ice cream without any guilt I still really, really have a battle with myself to get out the door for EVERY RUN, not just some runs. I don’t ever really feel like going for a run, but based on thousands of previous experiences I know it will be fine, I just have to get through the initial 5 minutes of discomfort. That is how it is for me and it probably will always be like that, but after every run I feel I have achieve something no matter how far or fast I’ve run. I loved reading about inspiring people in this book, they are people who have obstacles like all of us and have overcome them.

The first part of book will fill you with inspiration to get started and continue running. It is full of inspirational stories from people who overcome their own barriers to run and who are achieving some amazing challenges. Among them are Ais North who despite being in her 70’s hasn’t let Heart Attack’s or Cancer get in the way of doing Ultra marathons; Eileen Noble one of Britain’s oldest marathon runners, who took up running at the age of 50; Roger Wright who has battled obesity and run over 66 marathons in 11 years. The book shows that most barriers can be overcome, by exploring simple methods to challenge, remove and replace common barriers with positive actions and make running a sustainable part of everyone’s everyday lives.

The second part of the book gives you the knowledge to continue running and achieve your goals. It focuses on training the body, ad includes running plans that will take you from a beginner to achieving your goals to a 5, 10, half and further. The book sets out 7 rules or guidelines which help create a lasting running training program so you place into a routine which will fit into your lifestyle with a flexible structure that can move and adapt. I’ve integrated all these rules/guidelines into my training and they have helped me maintain a run streak. I’ve run 240+days plus at the moment and I’m still going. I have never found it easier to enjoy running than at the moment.

I brought the Kindle version of the book which cost less than a coffee and cake. Well worth it.

Clint Adam Lovell: Author of Run Through Barriers

Hayley Carruthers Amazed at her Success at the British Athletic Championships

Hayley said “Watching yesterday’s race back, it doesn’t seem real to be given the opportunity to run with the best British 5,000 metre runners on home turf but THEN to come in the top 10 (and laughing with you, see above).”

After coming 9th modest Hayley joked by saying “not bad for a marathon runner.”

She is a local athlete who runs for Birchfield Harriers and is coached by Dan Robinson and takes Sports Psychology advice from Prof. Andy Lane at Wolverhampton University where she works full-time.

Hayley was supported yesterday by family (below is her sister) and friends

Hayley has a very balanced approach to running. She runs and has volunteered at parkruns and said “I’ve even roped my Dad into volunteering. Hayley has also inspired her sister to start running.

Hayley has been very active in supporting several charities including a Children’s Hospice and PROUD.

Hayley has been running for only around 3 years. You may remember Hayley from the Virgin London Marathon in April. Good Luck Hayley for your future races.

Runs are more enjoyable with Aeropex Headphones.

I can only say these headphones are amazing. They are easy to charge, download must so easy, fantastic sound quality. This is the second pair of wireless headphones I’ve owned but these ones are such an improve from my last ones. They have a 8 hour playing time which is great. I also found it funny in the gym when I left my phone on the treadmill and went to do my sit ups about 20 metres away and the sound was still perfect.

All the colours look great but I like black, so mine is black.

I was excited when these came through the post and couldn’t wait to use them. I’m not good with anything technical so I was also thinking this is going to take a while to learn to charge the headphones, download music, sync headphones etc., but it couldn’t of been easier to set up, charging the battery was quick, turning it on off was easy and working the Bluetooth was fine. They are 100% waterproof but are designed for the outdoors. I’ve found it does make running and exercise more enjoyable with these.

The Prudential Ride 100 & Ride 46

Saturday after Chasewater parkrun we quickly showered and rode our cycles to Lichfield Trent Valley Railway Station. We managed to get seats the whole way to London and in under 2 hours we were at Euston Railway Station. The next section of the journey was to cycle 800 metres to Kings Cross and one change to get to the Excel Centre to pick up our numbers. It would of been easier without a cycle but it actually went quite well.

It was nice to get our numbers and a free water bottle. There were lots of stalls selling cycle equipment for the serious cyclists. I had entered for the 100 mile but due to my poor fitness I did the 46 mile.

We then got on the train again and finally got to our accommodation in Bow. We had booked it with Air BnB. I was tired at that point and got a bit worried that there was every number in the crescent except our number…..number 1 and the host of the property wasn’t there. Anyway to our relieve he came and was friendly, the accommodation wasn’t the Ritz, it was an ex-local authority flat, but we didn’t pay much so we were happy. After a small rest we were off for Food & Pub.

The next day we both had fairly late starts so it was an easy cycle to the Start. Everything seem to go fine other than in the short 2 miles there my husband got a puncture.

I saw lots of people on side of the road and apparently there were quite a few crashes but I got to end o.k., where my husband had finish earlier, even though he started later. There was only one hill in the 46 which was at Wimbledon so a perfect event for a beginner.

We had a great day. It was such a good choice to do the 46 miler as we weren’t too tired to cycle back to Euston and then catch our train back to the Midlands.

Grand Union Canal Race: a 145 mile Ultra Run by Akgun Ozsoy

Grand Union Canal Race

Two years ago, I was standing near to Catherine-de-Barnes bridge, watching GUCR runners who are passing through the 1st checkpoint along the way to London. It looked impossible for me at that time but when I looked for 100+ miles to run after completing a few 100 miles races, I’ve put this epic event into the top of my list. A couple of my ultra-friends including Rodrigo Freeman, Özgür Güleç, Iain Stewart and Stephen Braithwaite finished this race and their effort impressed me as well.

GUCR is the oldest ultra in this country and the event still keeps its traditions despite the modern era races. The race starts in Gas Street Basin in Birmingham and you should follow the canal path up to Little Venice in London. There are only 10 Checkpoints and the distance between them may vary from 10 to 20 miles!

My goal was to complete this around 40 hours but of course, it was my first attempt and any result within cut-off (45 hours) was OK. One of the points that I have learnt from my ultra-running experience was not to think about the remaining distance. Just focus on next CP and try to increase the buffer as much as you can.

You should not kill yourself in any case and preserve energy for the rest of this long journey. The first day was too warm and I could not keep running after 22 miles.

By the evening, I have increased my pace and arrived 70 miles CP (Navigation Inn) at 22:15. Night section was very good for me and managed to leave 99 miles CP around 08:00 (4 hours before the cut-off) I was at 45th position at that point. Luckily, the second day was not warm as the first one and despite the tiredness; I kept run-walk strategy until the end.

My last goal was arriving Little Venice before dark and I guess I managed this by finishing the race at 21:25. (39:24 race time) Finished 31st where there were 97 starters and 52 finishers.

Although I prefer hilly races, this relatively flat race has its own challenges. Using the same muscles kills your knees and ankles. However, this is another beauty of ultra-running. Variety of difficulties make them impossible to compare with any other race.

Even the same course offers different challenges at a different time of the day or year.

Thanks all for your support. Special thanks to Sean Lynch for his support at the 10th mile and my lovely wife Reside Ozsoy for her invaluable support at (and after) the finish.

Results

https://canalrace.org.uk/grand-union-canal-race/results/2019/

Strava:

https://www.strava.com/activities/2402029471

#gucr2019 #gucr145 #uknetrunner #grandunioncanalrace #birmingham #littlevenice #gucr @ Little Venice, London

Good parkrun blogs.

Good parkrun reviewers. I’ve taken this list of really good blogs off ‘The parkrun journey’ Facebook site.

Robert Skedgell the moderator wrote:

“There are quite a few excellent blogs by parkrun tourists. As there are so many that it’s hard to keep track of them, I’ll keep a list in this post. Where the author is a member of this group, I’ll tag them next to the entry.”

I’ll try to update this site as well.

parkruns by Steve Stockwell

http://www.blog7t.com/

Get Down, Shep! by Ali Sheppard

https://getdownshep.com/

Monday running by Gail Seal

https://mondayrunning.com/

Paul-Jeffrey.com by Paul Jeffrey

http://paul-jeffrey.com/

parkrun reviews by Chis Jeanes

https://crajeanes.wixsite.com/parkrun/home

Running to stand still by Toria Richards

https://mrsbridgewater.blogspot.com/

Running Scared by Lucy Marris.

https://runningscaredsite.wordpress.com/

The buggy runners diary by Jessica Sanderson

https://www.facebook.com/thebuggyrunnersdiary/

allscottishparkruns (allba) by Scott MacMichael

https://allscottishparkruns.wordpress.com/

Parkrun Poet by Tim Gardiner https://twitter.com/parkrunpoetry

@parkrunpoetry

Using Sport Psychology Self-Help Interventions

Athletes crave interventions that improve performance. Finding an intervention that works could involve working with a professional sports scientist or following a self-help package. Recent years has seen a rapid growth in the popularity in self-help interventions. Andy Lane offers guidance on how to use self-help interventions to improve performance. (Photo above: Andy Lane finishing Virgin Money London Marathon).

The nature of sport is that individuals strive to find methods to improve performance. Commercial activity to meet this demand has led to increased availability of products such as sports drinks, supplements, equipment modification and numerous self-help books.

In this article, Andy Lane focuses upon the use of self-help materials designed to give an athlete a psychological edge. However, it’s worth noting that physiological, biomechanical, technical and nutritional factors tend to work in tandem with psychological ones. Thus, anyone considering using a self-help intervention should remember that changing one aspect of performance could influence another. For example, in my experience with endurance athletes, interventions that bring about improvements in physiological indices that athletes see as important (lactic threshold, Vo2) are coupled with improvements in psychological ones. (below a runner taking a VO2 max test).

What is a self-help intervention?

An intervention occurs in a number of different ways. In other contexts, e.g., if you are feeling ill you could book an appointment at your GP.  Alternatively, if you have had the illness before, and believe you have correctly identified it, you could take an over-the-counter medication. The following stages lead to improved performance in sport:

1. Identify the problem

2. Implement the intervention and establish the criteria for judging effectiveness

3. Assessment its effectiveness

In sport psychology, the problem can be difficult to identify; an athlete might want to perform better but knowing which parts to work on is complex also assessing the effectiveness can be difficult, especially as psychological data tend to be subjective, an issue exacerbated by the fact that following a self-help intervention, you are both the client and consultant.

Self-help interventions and sport psychology: do they work?

There is an extensive literature that describes how to use self-help sport psychology interventions (1). I have contributed to this literature including authoring 17 Peak Performance articles (see www.pponline.com), each one offering self-help advice.

How do I know if this is good advice? How do I know if the interventions I propose work?

The intervention should be supported by theory and tested scientifically.

The evidence supporting the use of self-help psychological interventions is strong and not restricted to sport (2).

In clinical psychology, patients that followed an online self-help intervention for the treatment of anxiety and depression recovered as effectively (3). 

In health psychology, self-help interventions have helped people manage cravings when following diets (4).

In sport psychology, self-help interventions successfully led to runners not only experiencing more pleasant emotions but also performing better (5).

So how do I develop an effective self-help package?

The question an individual following a self-help intervention should ask her or himself is; “how do I identify where gains can be made”? With self-help interventions, the individual is also a consultant, and therefore, it is important to establish monitoring systems to enable identification of factors that appear to influence performance.  

Your training diary as a way of assessing whether an intervention is needed?

A training diary can be a very effective way of identifying which variables to target for intervention work. However, at least three factors influence the relative success of using a training diary to help guide interventions. First, the diary needs to capture important variables that influence performance and be open to the possibility that you are not assessing the right information. An individual following a self-help intervention needs to be open to new ideas and continue reading widely. The individual is both the client and the consultant, and we expect consultants to be professionals who keep up with the latest research.

With the data sitting in front of you, the key question is “how do I make sense of it so that I know how my performance can be improved”? When deciding what data to record, you should also consider what you will do with it. If you record time spent training then presumably you will use this information to gauge whether it was useful in helping you achieve your goal? If you believe that running long periods of time, or completing certain distances, will help you achieve your marathon goal, then seeing that you are running for longer is likely to improve your confidence. However, if confidence is also influenced by the relative intensity of each run, and you realise that you are running for longer but at a lower intensity your confidence to be able to run at the high intensity on race day may not necessarily be increased. In the example above, the athlete should reflect on whether distance covered is truly a marker of progress with a suggestion that speed needs to be considered and recorded. The key point here is to have a strategy on how you will analyse data and how this will relate to the relative achievement of your goals.

 A third factor to consider is that the act of keeping a training diary could be an intervention itself, particularly for helping manage unwanted emotions. Keeping a diary where you detail intense emotional experiences has been found to be an effective self-help strategy. Expressive writing is proposed to help process information better, and help restructure information from these experiences in a way that if such a situation arises next time, then they are better coped to deal with it (7).

Putting into practice

Training diaries for endurance athletes are aided by the use of modern technology. You can get satellite navigation technology on your mobile phone with numerous free apps available to help record and collate training. In this regard technology has provided a huge advantage in that it takes away potential biases deriving from inaccurate measurement. Further, all you need to do is put on the device, and press start and stop to record training. You do not need to write down what was done which brings in issues to do with the accuracy of recall especially if you do not record what was done shortly after the session.

In addition to this type of data, It’s suggested to record daily mood. Mood is a useful way of recording how well you are coping with training demands. Mood can be used to help balance your training so that you are recovered sufficiently so to maintain quality.

As indicated previously, expressive writing has been found to be an effective intervention strategy. By exploring the likely cause of unwanted emotions, you also begin to develop a blueprint that helps you recognisesituations which bring these and therefore provide opportunities through which to choose a different path to act in the future. For example, if speaking to competitors on the start line gets you particularly nervous, or their banter evokes anger which in turn affects your race strategy, then recognising this to be the case might help change your decision on where to warm-up. You could warm-up alone or rather than warming up near your competitors, and if situational factors prevent this, then listening to music via headphone can serve to block out their conversations. 

References

1. Inside sport psychology, Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2010

2. Clinical Psychological Review 2006; 13, 169-186

3. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 2011; 79: 123-128

4. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 2008; 34: 381-393

5. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 2011; 10: 400-407. www.jssm.org/vol10/n2/22/v10n2-22pdf.pdf

6. Psychological Science 1997; 8: 162-166

Sport Psychology Consultant: Dr Andy Lane

Website @winninglane.com

Consultancy either by Skype £50 per 30 minutes or in person at CHHP (Harley Street, London, call for costs).

Vitality Big Half: Hayley Carruthers 4th Female 1.11 minutes! Hayley explains she is still in shock. Next race……London Marathon.

Hayley Carruthers must surely be one of England’s most promising athlete’s. She has only been running seriously for less than 3 years, yet she has achieved some amazing success. She was the first English Female finisher in the 2018 Great North Run and competed for her first time as an International English athlete in the 2018 Toronto Waterfront Marathon. With her new coach Dan Robinson her running has continued to improve and the Vitality Big Half was Hayley next challenge. She explained her experience;

“The big half in London was one of the best learning experiences of my running career so far. My goal for the Big Half was to beat some of the fastest women’s half marathon runners in the UK. To even attempt this was a huge honour. I would have never even considered this 1 year ago. Even though I ran a 3 minute PB (that I am extremely happy with), the euphoria of completing this race is deeper than that.”

“From mile 1 I felt I was running a pace that was far too fast for me to hold for 13.1 miles. Mile 2 I considered my first DNF. This was going to be really tough. When we hit the first headwind the pack of lead women/men separated quickly and I found myself running alone a few meters behind them unable to inject some pace to catch them back up. This was when my coach decided to sacrifice his race in order to run with me. He could see the panic stricken look in my face as I signalled to him I was in trouble.”

“I then reached into mental toughness toolkit. I began to use other’s legs to power my legs and switch off the focus of how much mine were hurting because I was not going to stop. When this stopped working I focused on lampposts/signs. Just get to the next one. Also, by concentrating on the fierce headwind that would come at regular intervals during the race allowed a longer term focus to split the race up quite well by distracting myself from what was to come and running in the moment. By switching through these mental strategies I allowed myself to run strong and relax regardless of how much I was hurting by separating the physical and mental cues. I was so focused within the last mile I ran straight into the back of Dan (my coach)! I felt so mentally strong I knew I could do it. This race taught me that I am a lot mentally tougher that I though I was.”

Above: Hayley and Dan (her coach and friend) finishing.

Above: Hayley and Dan (Coach And friend).

It is clear from everyone who has met Hayley she is modest and supportive of all runners no matter what speed they are. She is a regular park runner especially at her local Walsall parkrun.

Below: Hayley at Walsall parkrun (white top & black shorts).

Below: Hayley and her coach Dan Robinson at Walsall parkrun

You can follow Hayley on Twitter at @mileswithhayley and her coach Dan at @rungrylikeawolf Hayley also had Psychological Support with Dr. Andy Lane , of Winning Lane (website winninglane.com). You can follow him on Twitter at @AndyLane27 & partner Helen at @RunHelenLane