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.

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).

Interesting Person of the Week: Mike Edwards

We all meet so many interesting people through our running and other activities and sometimes don’t share their stories, so in this section there will be stories and an an “Interesting Person of the Week”. Mike Edwards is the first, with many more to come.

Mike is now in the 70-74 age group. Mike has been a good club runner for over 30 years. He has a fast P.B., for a marathon of 3.01 which also must be frustrating as it’s so close to sub 3 hours. It did make me laugh as I read this because he is another runner with dodgy knee’s who took up cycling. It seems that most cyclists are ex runners with running injuries. Anyway here’s his story,

“I gave up running for a while about twelve years ago because of a dodgy knee and after an arthroscopy got into mountain biking which strengthened my leg muscles supporting the knee thus enabled me to start running again. I actually suffered a heart attack in 2011 whilst mountain biking, but had a procedure called angioplasty(stents fitted) at Liverpool Heart & Chest Hospital. The consultant who carried out the angioplasty, Nick Palmer cleared me to return to whatever I was doing previously. I got fit again at Lion Quays Leisure Club under the guidance of Michelle Bowen who was cardio rehab trained which involved gym work and swimming. In 2012 I went to watch my eldest son complete a Sprint Triathlon in Nantwich, became inspired and the following year took part myself.

I found triathlon very satisfying doing the three disciplines, although I am not the best of swimmers(self taught front crawl or freestyle as they now call it). I have completed about a dozen Sprints since then, the last on the 24th September 2017 at Ludlow. I swim at Chirk Leisure Centre two or three times a week and also ride road, cycle-cross and mountain bike and have recently introduced a gym programme to strengthen my upper body and core which has improved my running, although I am a great deal slower than I used to be. What I find is that entering a Triathlon gives me incentive to train and I am already entered for Chirk Sprint Tri next April.

Over the last eighteen months or so I have been going to the Park Run at Erddig Hall, Wrexham(NT) and am enjoying running one week and volunteering the alternate week. I also run on a Thursday morning with my long time running buddy, Les Leech and have been to Park Runs at Delamere, Congeleton and Braunstone Leicester as a PR tourist.

I completed my second Braunstone, Leicester Park Run on Saturday and recorded a PB of 29:41 and was third in my age group 70-74. I run, cycle(road, cyclo-cross and mountain bike) and swim. Entered Chirk Sprint Triathlon 2018 last night to motivate myself to train across the winter.”

Tribute to parkrunner who died on Saturday 21 October 2017

Tributes have been paid to a runner who collapsed and died while taking part in a 5km (3 mile) race in Edinburgh.

Ron Connelly collapsed after becoming ill at the Edinburgh Parkrun on Saturday. He later died.

His brother Mike Connolly said he would be “sadly missed”.

An Edinburgh Parkrun spokesman said: “On behalf of the parkrun community, we have expressed our sincere condolences to Ron’s family.” A minute’s silence will be held at Saturday’s event.

Mr Connolly said: “It’s with deep sadness and regret to report that my brother Ron Connelly who fell ill at yesterday’s parkrun unfortunately passed away later that day.

“On behalf of the family I’d like to thank everyone who cared for him including the medics, parkrun volunteers, cafe personnel and fellow runners who acted immediately and provided great care for him in what must have been incredibly difficult circumstances for all concerned.

“The family would like to pass on their sincere gratitude to everyone. Ron was a seasoned runner and loved parkrun, he will be sadly missed.”

Race Report: Hardmoors 26.2 Series – Osmotherley Half Marathon Sunday 22 October 2017.

By Sam Blease.

I originally signed up for this race during the spring – the weather was warming up, I had started to develop a passion for trail running, and someone had told me that the Yorkshire Moors was a beautiful place to run. Fast-forward to a wet, windy, wild and chilly October weekend and suddenly an off road run in a rather exposed and hilly environment didn’t seem quite so appealing!

After an incredibly early start to get to the event, and having passed the kit inspection (waterproofs, hat, gloves, route description, 500ml minimum fluid, emergency food – check…) and picked up our race numbers, we saw the hardy marathoners set off & awaited our starting time of 10am with a little trepidation. At least storm Brian had mostly disappeared overnight and the winds and rain had abated a little bit. The half marathon race briefing gleefully announced to us that it was a little bit breezy at the trig point just before half way, the stones on parts of the course were wet and slippery, there was quite a bit of mud on the course due to the recent rainfall, and oh… we did mention that the half marathon route is about 16.5 miles long, right?

Just before our starting time we trekked up the hill from Osmotherley village hall and assembled in the start area. At exactly 10am on the dot, the race commenced! It was everything I thought it would be – challenging terrain, difficult weather – being blown sideways at the top of a mountain is certainly interesting – but absolutely stunning views (“I can see the sea from here!”), wonderful friendly marshals, the checkpoints were well stocked with jaffa cakes, sweets, salted nuts, water & pepsi, and the other runners were chatty, supportive and thoroughly enjoying themselves – this was an adventure, not a race!

At just after 11 miles, I started suffering quite badly with a foot injury that had been niggling away for a couple of weeks beforehand and had somewhat hampered my training. I struggled on for a couple more miles (I had actually run a half marathon by this point) but the pain was just getting worse. I thought I would get to the next checkpoint and maybe that would be race over for me. However, a group of ladies caught up with me and stopped to check I was ok. After offering me painkillers, to get a marshal for me, or to walk with me the last mile or two with me – less than a parkrun to go now!! – I managed to pull myself together, grit my teeth and plough on. Fortunately the last part of the race was not too technical or overly hilly so I did manage to hobble my way to the end where my hard earned t-shirt, medal and a veritable banquet of food awaited.

So in summary, this is an excellently organised race in a stunning location & I would recommend anyone who enjoys trail running to give it a go, but… don’t try this with an injury – it’s tough, that’s why it’s called “Hardmoors”, don’t expect the weather to be perfect, enjoy the scenery on the way round and, most importantly, relish the bonus free mileage that a Hardmoors race invariably gives you. Oh, and don’t worry about how long it takes you, the cut off for the half marathon was 5 hours & I managed to do it in 3 hours and 50 minutes – which apparently is perfectly acceptable and I was a long way from being last. A really memorable experience and I’m sure I’ll be back next year!