The past month has been a personally busy one. I was lucky enough for July to entail a couple of short getaways within England as government restrictions were eased. Spending time in Cornwall and the Cotswolds during the last four weeks meant my walking for the month drastically increased and my running distance took a slight decrease. Having said that, I did manage to squeeze in a couple of runs in some gorgeous places, as well as still fitting in my normal three sessions a week when at home. Generally, my running has felt in a good place this month. All my sessions have been run for enjoyment and I have loved getting out and about with no pressure hanging over me. This month also saw me finally receive my University degree results and I was absolutely over the moon to find out I had been awarded a First Class Honours. A huge weight felt lifted off of my shoulders knowing that all of my hard work had paid off, possibly helping with my elated feelings during exercise.
The coastal run in Cornwall has to take this months crown. Although the uphills were extremely tough, the surroundings and fun of the downhills entirely made up for it. Every step of that run was enjoyable, with the beautiful views allowing me to get lost in my thoughts with little consideration for how fast I was going or how long was left. Running down into a local town from the cliff tops was such fun, with my legs gaining uncontrollable momentum that had me laughing and smiling the whole way down. As I mentioned, getting back up onto the cliffs was a different kettle of fish with a few walking breaks needed. However, this was all taken in my stride and I knew the views of the sea from the top were worth it ten times over.
Another session that particularly comes to mind this month was a local 12 km route I ran from home. Although this route is very insignificant and one I often use, the feelings I encountered are what makes it stand out. Setting out, I had no expectations on distance but knew I'd quite like to push myself further than, the what has become the norm, 7-8 km. I decided to begin on a route I often use to complete a 10 km loop with the hopes of at least ticking off those 6 miles. Once running, my legs felt strong and my body responded well causing me to push myself to achieve 12 km. Now, although this doesn't sound far and isn't even one of my longest distances, it felt a great achievement after the motivational slump I've been in for longer runs. During the session I felt motivated and determined, leaving me with a sense of pride and accomplishment once I'd finished. Finally, it gave me a sense of my mojo returning and the love for longer runs creeping back in now all pressure and structure has been lost.
Since this month has equated to a grand total of zero personal bests on the running front, I thought I'd spin this section to discuss my walking achievements. During July I clocked up 63 km worth of walking miles, which is the most I have done since my hiking trip to Majorca last year. A lot of this has been hill walking, particularly when down by the Cornish coast, and I have loved every step. Whilst running is undoubtedly my main hobby, I forget how much I enjoy walking/hiking in the countryside. Although less intense and harbouring less impact than running, it's a great way to keep up fitness and get those endorphins flowing, all whilst exploring some beautiful places. Especially with times being quite crazy at the moment, walking is a great activity to stay away from the busy streets and pubs whilst still enabling a nice getaway trip. During my stay in the Cotswolds, we completed a 19 km circular hike around the area. This is one of the furthest distances I've ever covered on a walk, even beating some of our days in Majorca (albeit with considerably less elevation). Spending so much time out in nature was a lot of fun and an ideal way to spend a sunny day exploring new countryside. The scenery and local villages were beautiful as well which made the experience all the more enjoyable. Overall, I am extremely happy with how much time I've spent walking over the last four weeks and hope to keep it up throughout August ready for conquering Snowdon at the end of the month.
Reflecting back on last months diary entry, I believe I have definitely continued with a similar mindset throughout these four weeks. This months sessions have been entirely for fun, running however far at whatever pace whenever I feel like it. As I said, it's been quite a busy time compared to how life has been the past three months meaning not following a structured plan has been welcomed. I've noticed a considerable increase in motivation for my longer runs too, something I previously mentioned I was hoping for after an unanticipated lull. Learning to take my long runs 'slow', at a genuinely easy pace, has helped in making me feel less lethargic and drained for the rest of the day which ultimately provides a better, motivational endorphin boost. Although my weekly distance still hasn't gotten up to where it was, I am pleased to see my love for longer distances slowly returning. Time dependent, I am hoping to continue implementing at least one longer session of above 6 miles into my week to keep my endurance performance ticking over. Hopefully once race season returns with some normality, I will be ready to ramp up the training and sign up to the first half marathon possible. But, with still no races currently on the horizon, I'm aiming to continue as I am for the foreseeable until I've made the move and settled into my new surroundings come September.
This month has provided a couple of well needed and very much enjoyed changes of scenery. Increasing my walking miles has also given me a bit of extra variety in my weeks which has made me appreciate every run just that bit more. Additionally, I've noticed a comeback in my love for strength sessions this month, having more of an urge to drag out the kettlebell and get my music blasting for a sweaty hour in the garage. Admittedly I am beginning to really miss the gym for these sessions, alongside the strength based classes I used to regularly attend. However, I have noticed leg strength improvements during lockdown that I am eager to keep up before finally rejoining a gym. Whilst my running may have taken a decrease in miles overall this month, I know my other sessions will still be benefiting my fitness and running performance massively. Taking time to focus on strength and conditioning is so important to keep injuries at bay and provides a stronger base for when race training finally returns. As the new chapter of my life quickly approaches involving a considerable relocation, I have begun thinking about how exciting exploring my new area will be as well as the enjoyment of joining a new, local running club to hopefully begin social runs again.
How has the last month been for you? Have you hit any new running PB's or achievements? Let me know in the comments!