Sometimes the greatest chance of success comes when we keep our goals to ourselves. As a high achiever, my fear of failure stopped me from telling anyone I was going to take up running. So I snuck out on cold, dark on wet November mornings for a slow jog whilst Declan had clients to see how well I could do. In hindsight, it probably wasn't the smartest, or the safest thing I'd done, but it all worked out in the end!
2. Get fancy gear
There is absolutely nothing glamorous about running! Unless you consider chaffed nipples, cut heels and snots running down your face as attractive, don't waste your time or money on fancy pants. Get yourself good runners and comfortable clothes that you don't care if they rip, get wet.... or worse!!!
3. Run for distance
The thing that I used to despise the most about running was having to cover a certain distance - the difference between 3km and 4km is feckin' horrendous as a beginner, so I decided I was going to aim to run for a certain amount of time instead. Because the difference between running non stop for 25 and 27 minutes is so much more manageable and I wasn't under pressure to go at a certain speed, my goal was stamina.
4. Get a running buddy
Running in secret means that you can't have a running buddy and looking back this really stood to me in races. I was less likely to skip a run if my friend couldn't make it and I became comfortable with my own company which worked wonders for my mental health. Nowadays I do run with others but equally I run solo when needs be.
5. Skip leg day
I can't stress this to clients or fellow runners enough. You need to strengthen your muscles - especially your core, quads, glutes, calves and hamstrings. getting miles into the legs isn't enough. Ireland is not the flattest of terrains - even in Thurles you're hard pressed to find a route that doesn't have some form of a hill. I ran two half marathons 8 weeks apart last year, for the first one I ran 3x times a week and did inconsistent weight training - the Limerick Half Marathon definitely won that one! For the second one I ran in Waterford, did 2-3 runs a week and also 2 consistent strength/TRX sessions and I genuinely flew it. Even the mother f%&ker of a hill in the middle didn't take it our of me.
6. Listen to music
My music preference very much depends on my mood, so I spend more time frustrated or bored if songs come on that I'm not really in form for. I much prefer to listen to podcasts, I find educational ones a bit heavy so I opt for fictional/interview/historical ones such as Serial, Criminal, Missing Richard Simmons, Off the Ball, S*town, You Must Remember This and currently I'm listening to Somebody Knows Something.
7. Foam roll
Regretfully I didn't foam roll or stretch half enough initially, but now I head over to Cashel Yoga once a week and get a full body massage at Nat Thai Massage.
8. Sunshiny days/late evenings
I was lucky that I started running in the darkest, wettest time of the year because when the bright sunny days came around they were a bonus. Now I'll pretty much run in any kind of weather, and if I can't outside I'll run on a treadmill. P.S. If you can commit yourself to one long run a treadmill before a race this will help to mentally set you up for the long haul! I did 18.5km last year and it was the best mental training I ever did. I would also advise you to get out and run in the mornings before your body knows what it's doing so you can't talk yourself out of it!!
9. Post on social media
Although I'm an active social media user I don't put up all my runs. It's a personal choice but it helps me to stay focused for races. It can be a great motivator for some people but for me I don't like the added pressure of people asking me about what times I plan to complete the race in etc.
10. Eat all the carbs
This one should probably be at the top! I see and hear about more people putting up weight when they get into running or finish a race and they can't understand why. You can't eat every carbohydrate in sight!!!! Yes, you can and should increase your carb intake slightly, but what is more important is the timing of the intake.
This post is just what worked for me. It won't work for everybody and others will have tons more advice or contradictions and that's what makes the world go around!