Thursday, 27 November 2014

Why I really hate running (and how I try to do it anyway).

There are two things I really dislike in terms of exercise - walking and running.

Walking - unless you have amazing company and a purpose, I just hate it. No reason why, though part of this probably relates to walking being my only mode of transport as a teenager. Also, I have a car, who wants to walk when it's hot, cold, dark, bright, raining or too far to go?

Running - I hate running because I suck at it.

All the reasons I hate running:

1. I don't have a runner's body.
Being on the short side means I have short strides while walking and even shorter strides while running. For me, running seems to be an inefficient way of travelling. I also have wide hips. Yay for belly dancing, nay for running. One of my trainers has told me that no matter how much I practice, I'm just not built to be a runner. On the upside he did tell me that extra weight = extra strength in your legs. which is why my legs can lack the running, just the rest of me can't.

2. I can't get in the zone when I'm running.
People I know who like running seem to be able to get in the zone, or a dream like trance where their mind is free while they pound pavement. This is what I want to achieve in running, and I have done it once, four years ago, when I was running four times a week.

When I'm doing other cardio, I go find my trance state pretty easily, and it's a very happy place. So I can see the point of running clearing the mind, it just doesn't do it for me because I'm too busy trying to breathe and thinking about sore feet.

3. High impact + sore feet = cup of cement please.
I get really sore feet when I run, jump or do a Step class.

Much of this seemed to happen due to a terrible and stupid incident in 2007. I was at work and managed to drop a table tennis table on my foot. I iced it for half an hour, drove home in agony and did nothing to treat the pain, other than Panadol and occasional ice. Then, three days later I dropped a suitcase on the same foot. I couldn't walk very well for a few days, which was a great way to kick off my first massive roadtrip to the Gold Coast. The roastrip mean I had no access to ice, or the thought to get anything to treat it. I also had the biggest bruise in the world. This was the stupidest mistake I have ever made in terms of my health - yes, really. I have had x-rays and stuff, but as soon as I start running or jumping too often or for an extended period (say beyond five minutes), I will get pain. Scientifically this doesn't seem to hold up, but I know it's true.

4. I just don't like it AND I'm not good at it.
It's one thing to like something and not be good at it, it's another to hate it and suck at it. And for me, that's my relationship with running. It is totally hate/hate. I didn't like running as a child, I didn't even really like it when I've done City to Bay and other fun runs. For me, the thrill is always knowing that I've endured something I hate and have always struggled with. It's totally a mental game.

That aside, you must know this is going somewhere. How and why do I run anyway?

I mostly blame Bec and Julie who invited me aaaages ago to do their weekly beach runs. And I liked both of those ladies, so I said yes. If I hadn't, well I'd probably be sitting here bitching about why I hate walking. I'll leave that for another time. I also run because I like to be part of things. I loved doing City to Bay with Viva and I hope I make it next year too, though maybe with Guides, I don't know.

I run because it's good for me and it gets my heart rate soaring. The best way I can tackle the mental issues and physical pain is to do intervals.

Explain intervals!
For me, intervals mean running for anywhere from thirty seconds to two minutes, then having the same amount of time as rest, then running again. You can increase or decrease the intervals at your leisure. This seems to be the best way for me to start building up to run for longer amounts of time. I also really like shuttle runs - one end of the backyard to the other is good for me. I'll often do twenty runs, do some squats, do twenty more, do some lunges... and so on.

Getting over pain
Distraction - I crank my music or go to my happy place. It also really helps if you have a friend, and the best type of running friend to have is totally someone who understands how you think and feel about running and isn't trying to thrust their own agenda onto you. What do I hate while running? People who barely know you, or aren't trained in fitness telling you to push harder, run faster and so on. Seriously, give them a good 'fuck you' and find someone else. Or maybe don't do that if you actually like them. As one of those curvy girls I hear things like 'you can do better/move faster/run as fast as/higher knees/you can eat that cheesecake tonight' a lot and it is actually often untrue and hurtful... and more to the point, distracts me from running.

Buy awesome shoes - I wear the dorkest running shoes ever, They are Duomax and they are the only shoe which really support my feet. I highly recommend The Athlete's Foot (the West Lakes store especially) - those guys and gals really know what they're on about. Also, choose appropriate socks. I lose all concentration when my socks are uncomfortable and that means I need to choose better next time. Outside of running, which I don't do heaps of, but enough to write a blog about it, I kick around in Fit Flops most of the time. They are the best casual shoe I have ever owned and incredibly supportive.

Look after your tootsies - So obviously I have been in situations when I can't do intervals or shuttles. I trained for City to Bay for eight weeks with hour and a half long training sessions. It was hell. For the first few weeks I was soaking my feet in warm water, but then my right foot started swelling often so I was spending a few hours every Saturday with my foot up and iced. Sometimes I have strapped my right foot as well, but I had a very bad incident last year (it turns out mud + strapping tape is not ideal) and have been scared off doing so since then. I've rolled tennis balls under my feet and tried doing the walk in barefeet whenever possibly, followed by Always Wear Shoes... you get the idea. I have tried a lot of things do do with looking after my feet, and some work with limited success.

Choose where you run - I love love love the track between Henley and Grange because that's where I used to run with the Viva girls. What's awesome about this is that most of the track is paved with sand sprinkled in different parts. It also has very very small inclines in a few parts. For me, the sand breaks up the trip. I hate running on flat pavement, on concrete floors (unless they are sprung floors like at Viva) and on treadmills. Grass I like a little bit better.

Refusing pain
At the end of the day, you have to know your own body and what you are capable of, and capable of dealing with afterwards. This still means you need to be tough on yourself, but know your options too.

For high impact issues, here are some substitutes I like to use.

Running on treadmill: replacing this with walking on a treadmill on a very steep incline seems to keep me in line. Also, it gives you an awesome bum, and who doesn't want one of those?

Jump squats: using just the squats with better technique is a better option than jumping with poor technique. Jumping = increasing your heart rate etc... but it's squats. You want to have good technique, otherwise why bother with a jump squat?!

Jump jacks/star jumps: jacks are faster than jumps, but everyone knows what these are. The best option is a step tap while stretching out your arms as you would a star jump.

Step classes: There are so many loyal Steppers out there who would kill me for saying this, but Step isn't for everyone. I really like Step BUT it does my poor feet harm. The best option for this is to try to go to a class that uses the step within it for some things (like Body Pump) or a taste tester class. I have only ever walked out of one class before - a Body Step class. This was a month after injuring my foot and I struggled my way through half an hour when I realised I was aggravating my injury. Most classes you can take options to avoid this - say if you are struggling in Spin, you can turn down your resistance, but in Step you need to stay on the step most of the time.

Running in general: A different type of cardio. I love Body Attack which is aerobics. I'm not great at it, but it's a class which allows you lots of options.

Tellin' everybody
When you have someone like I do - achy foot syndrome (yes, I just made that up), it really pays to tell people who train or instruct you in any fitness activity. Not only do you avoid the 'come on, you should be running' lectures, you'll be shown different options or ways of doing things. This is an awesome thing to do, especially if you don't really know what you're doing. This also allows for people to make suggestions of how to best recover and treat your feet! Yay!

Despite all these things - I still really hate running. But, it's good for you. So, go do it.

If you got to the end of this post, well done. In case you're wondering, why yes, I do have Fitness quals, and no, I'm not in the right shape to come and work for your gym... yet.