Training, Yoga

The aptly named awkward posture

If I was starting this blog again, I’d have to call it Clairewhinges rather than Claireruns because honestly, that’s all I feel like I’ve done with my training this year.  Too hot, too ouchy, too far….whinge whinge whinge.

So, instead of whinging about how I got a blister on my long run on Sunday and it was all rubbish woe is me I’m going to share a few random yoga exercises that are very helpful for runner’s knees and feet.  With no whinging at all.

1) Yoga squat

This one is great for your knees, quads and feet and ankles. It’s tough, but you can feel it working and stretching things out.

Stand with feet pointing out like Charlie Chaplin, heels connected.  Breathe in and lift your arms over your head so your palms touch, with elbows slightly bent.

Come up on your toes.  Breathing out, slowly drop down into a squat, without letting your bottom poke out to the back.  Your knees will point out to the side.  Hold for a few seconds, breathe in as you come back up and drop your arms.

Feel it in your quads? Me too!  Repeat as much as you like.

2) Awkward posture

This one’s good for feet and ankles. 

Stand straight with your feet slightly apart.  Breathe in and lift your arms straight out in front of you (like a zombie).  Come up on your toes (wobbling like a weeble at first) and then as you breathe out, drop your bottom to your heels.  Again, don’t let your bottom stick out behind you.

Hold for a few seconds, breathe in and come back up.  Repeat as desired.

Both of these are good for strengthening feet, knees and also a bit of core.  Hope you enjoy them!

Great North Run on Sunday, race report to follow.  Wish me luck 🙂

Diet, Marathon tips, Training

Marathon Training Tips

It’s been a long journey to my first marathon.  I trained for 6 months, following the Virgin London Marathon intermediate plan but adding much longer runs than they suggested each Sunday.

These are my top 5 training tips:

1) Use a plan and stick to it

At the start of each week, I wrote what I needed to do in my diary so there was no chance of me forgetting what I needed to do each day.  If there were some runs that didn’t quite fit (for example a long run on a day I knew I’d only be running to the gym and back) I swapped them around so that I still did all the days, not necessarily in right order.

The confidence of going into a marathon knowing you have trained as much as you possibly can is invaluable

2) Cross train

As well as running, I did spin classes, weight training, yoga and even some rock climbing.  6 days of running every week left me with ankle pain, so I turned some runs into spins to give my body chance to recover.  Cross training helps you to be strong all over – running is about your core and upper body strength as well as your legs.

3) Set a goal, and be realistic

For my first marathon, I said I’d be happy with any time under 5 hours.  I could translate this into a mile pace and relate that to my training.  As long as I was achieving that pace in my long runs, I knew I’d be okay.  If I’d set an unachievable goal I would have hated my training and started the marathon ready to fail.

4) Do high miles if you want to

Most marathon training plans only take you to about 18 miles.  Because I was so scared, I did a 22.2 mile run as my longest training run, about a month before.   I needed to do it build my confidence, so it was right for me.

5) Approach your training holistically

I didn’t just run for my marathon training.  I changed my whole diet, slept more and boozed less.  The 2 weeks before the marathon, I ate cleanly and had no booze at all.  Changing my diet has led to long term benefits, both the husband and I are sleeping better and have more energy.

Training for a marathon can give you good habits that carry on into your future life.  My training plan gave me focus and strength during a very tough year, and I loved the training as much (if not more) than the  marathon itself.

What are your top training tips?

Running, Training

Cross Training: Spin

The running plan that I follow has me running 6 days a week.  The runs are a combination of fartlek, sprints and recovers, longish runs and one long run on a Sunday.

I’ve really enjoyed following the plan, but 16 weeks in I’m finding the running is taking its toll on my body.  I’m not light, and I’m starting to get pain in my ankles (as well as a disturbing clicking sound!) which I can only attribute to the constant repetitive pounding that they’re getting when I run.

The other issue with running 6 days a week is it doesn’t give me much chance to cross train.  I think cross training is really important, and I’ve stuck with my twice weekly weights sessions because I need to be strong as well as fit to cope with a marathon.

To help my ankles out and give them a rest, I’ve been doing spin classes instead of running on some days.  I get an unbelievable sweat on doing spin so I can be sure it’s working my overall fitness, but I get to do it sitting down 🙂

Energise York where I train has a rather fabulous spin robot. It’s a touch screen terminal set up in a spin studio that projects a virtual instructor onto the wall.  They schedule classes each day, but if you go in between classes you can also set up your own personal spin class, choosing from cardio, fat burn, interval etc.   You can also choose green, amber or red for the intensity of each track.

That’s a great option for me, because I can choose a work out that’s similar to the run that I should be doing, in both time and intensity.

I wasn’t sure if a virtual spin class would be as tough as the real thing, but I find I work myself just as hard.  The virtual instructors are pretty good, if a little bit too happy.   When they ask “how are you doing?  You’re doing great!” I am occasionally tempted to throw a rude gesture in their direction.

This week I’ve done nothing but spin to give my ankles a rest.  Sunday is a long run (18 miles) and I’m hoping to feel an improvement for the break.  I’m trying to balance listening to my body and not drifting too far away from my training plan.