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The running diaries: May, 2020

I have started this blog as a way of offering personal insight and interesting discussions about the world of running, but I also plan to share my own journey to keep myself accountable and, hopefully, connect with others who have a similar passion! It therefore seemed only fitting to begin with a series I intend to continue, a once a month post of my 'running diaries'. Don't worry, this doesn't mean I am going to be relaying my deepest thoughts that come out during my training runs or every angry rant about the near misses with cyclists and dogs alike. Instead, I want to offer a monthly roundup of areas including how my training is going, my favourite sessions, races, any shiny new PB's that have arisen and new routes that I've found myself exploring.

I am sure we can all agree that the current lockdown has been a strange, difficult time for us all. However, it has provided many people with the chance to dabble in new ways of keeping fit and healthy. Running uptake has most definitely been on the rise, with Strava notifying me that every Tom, Dick and Harry on my Facebook list has eagerly signed up over the last two months. Jokes aside, running has been an excellent release for many people since getting out for a steady, socially distanced plod entirely abides by government guidelines and provides our bodies with the movement needed to counteract being frequently stuck in our houses. Given the increasing amount of new runners, I thought I would put my first entry in my running diary to good use by highlighting how, and why, I began running and what has driven me to the point I am at currently. By no means do I consider myself a seasoned athlete or even an overly experienced runner, with my current level still being around the "short-mid distance runner". However, the past two years have taught me a great deal through my own experiences and continual drive to improve, as well as my developed interests leading me to extensive reading around many aspects of the sport.

Running has never come naturally to me. If you had so much as mentioned the idea of running the 1500m at school to 14-year-old Katie she would have loudly protested and given her right arm to be excused. Yet, here we are, 8 years later and running on average over 20km a week purely for the sheer enjoyment it brings. Like many, I began running by following a Couch to 5k plan that I found online, purely to prove to myself that I could do it and that running could be for me. Fitness had been a passion of mine for many years previous but I lacked the motivation and dedication when it came to the area of steady state cardio. Implementing this structured plan made up of just 3 runs a week provided me with that drive to stick at it and persevere, which ultimately resulted in me finding a new enjoyment from running that I hadn't felt before. Something about having set goals to achieve on a short-term basis whilst noticing continual improvements within yourself resonated with me in a way that I loved and thrived off.

Fast forward 6 months, I had completed numerous Parkrun events, followed the Great Run Beginners 10k plan and ran in my first two 10k race events. Looking back, although I soon developed a keen passion for running as a regular hobby, following structured plans with set events to aim for helped me no end in keeping up motivation and allowed me to push myself considerably further than having no goal in sight. Obviously exercise should also always come from a place of enjoyment, not punishment, therefore enjoying the sport you choose to pursue is a seriously important factor.

After suffering a sprained ankle mid-way through last year, I clambered back onto the running train in September but didn't get back into the swing of training seriously for an event until January. January right up until lockdown began saw me putting in my hardest work to date in training for my first half marathon, which sadly, but as expected, got cancelled due to the current climate. This training block has undoubtedly got me to the best level of fitness I have ever been at. I pushed out distances I never quite saw myself completing and slowly watched the pace progress in the right direction. Miraculously, I somehow even saw myself injury free for the entire 14 weeks *touch wood* which is an achievement in its own right!

Am I disappointed that my half marathon has been cancelled after all the consistent, hard work? Definitely. Am I going to let that discourage me into giving up on my training regime altogether? Absolutely not. Whilst mileage on my long runs has been dropped down to ensure I don't overload my body and burn out before the Autumn races (hopefully) come around, I am currently aiming for a weekly distance of somewhere between 22-28 kilometres to continue to build and improve my fitness. Alongside this rough plan, my ultimate aim during this time is to run for my enjoyment of the sport and to appreciate, and be grateful for, the time outside. Additionally, this forced lull in half marathon training has given me the opportunity to focus a bit more time and effort into speed sessions, which were slightly neglected the past few months in favour of endurance building. Although I had expected to have been able to call myself a half marathon runner by now, I am hopeful my running will be in an even better place when I eventually cross that start line, whenever that may be.



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