A couple of weeks back, I completed my 2nd run event. It is difficult for me to participate in running activities as I am hardly in town. A day straight after touching down from Paris-Japan back to Singapore, I was at the Jurong Lake Run running my 6km run. As I was not feeling my best with the whole last month of not sleeping and feeling well, my performance actually turned out not as bad as I expected it would be. I was running at a steady (probably kinda quite slow) pace all through to the 5km mark, without actually feeling worn out yet. I was later able to complete 6km without decreasing pace, which for my stamina, I guess wasn’t bad at all.
From naught to 6km non-stop, no doubt it came with a fair amount of training, this (little) achievement is largely mental. Here are some pointers I talk about, when I talk about running. Like all runners will always tell you : ‘If you can imagine it, you can do it!’
1. Set short term (achievable) goals – Always begin by setting short term goals for yourself. In this way you increase the chances of seeing positive results faster, and this will mean you are also minimising the number of possible failures you experience in your training. When you start seeing results, you will then be motivated to work towards achieving your optimal fitness level. Work a step at a time, define your initial goals, and set incremental ones along the way.
2. Time Training (be flexible) – If you are conditioning yourself after recovery or just picking up, running by time is especially beneficial so you do not let discouragement take over you. Running without worrying how fast you are going, helps a lot mentally. If your aim is to gain speed or burn more calories, this approach might work better for you. I train by keeping one factor each time constant, and varying the other two. (The 3 factors – heart rate, time, and speed). When I train by time, i monitor my speed and heart rate to keep them at a relatively constant pace, and push myself to do longer runs.
3. Distance Training (be flexible) – If you are training for a run event, or just want to put a figure to gauge your running training progress, setting a distance for running will work well for you. As in with marathons, we have a distance to cover, thus Distance Training will enable us to keep working on improving on our timings based on a targeted distance. This will help you gauge your progress and how much distance you can comfortably cover in a specific amount of time.
4. Heart Rate Training – With a heart rate tracking device, I will determine my runs according to a specific heart rate range when running. Heart Rate Training tells you precisely how hard or easy your heart is working. Many of us tend to overwork ourselves especially for beginner runners, which puts us at risk of injury and burn out. This type of training method helps me prevent myself from running too fast, too hard.
On days when I am going slow, I keep my heart rate to a range of around 155~165. On days when I decide to push myself a little more, I run with my max heart rate at a high180+~. This heart rate training allows me to run focused, watch my breathing, and eliminate distractions along my runs. At the same time, it is a good measure to improvement by watching the increase in your run time based on a same heart rate training zone.
5. Love your body, be proud – For many of us who were not very athletic to begin with, the starting of our fitness training is the hardest to get through. Have you ever looked at the ultra-fit ladies who seemed to run so effortlessly and admire how they have such great form when running? I do. And even though I feel a little better physically and mentally when running now, I still wish I could feel better.
When you start by telling yourself that you are loving every inch of your body by putting them to such conditioning, the confidence will pick up and gradually, you will be proud of the effort you put in to do something really good for yourself. Give yourself some pseudo confidence, and believe me, this radiates and it follows through.
6. Its All Mental – Stop thinking negatively, be positive. Ultimately, it is your mind that pushes your body onward. We set our running pace based on feel (this feel tells us our comforts and discomforts). And all these, comes from our brain. When you start to feel tired in a run, this is your brain acting ahead of your body to pre-anticipate the limit where you are likely to crash. On the contrary, our body is actually capable of remaining physically active and continue even after our brain starts to send us negative signals. Think positive, always tell yourself you can do it, and you will realise that once you start believing in yourself, you start seeing your real abilities.
7. Know that it will only get better – Results build up. Understand that results may vary, but it will all get better and improve over time. The only reason you will not improve is when you stop all your training all together. If you are committed to make this work, results will definitely follow.
Of course, in all runs, we have to understand body limits. Be it at any stage of your training, always listen to your body, feel the runs. It takes a while to get to a point where running can actually feel relaxed and natural for you, especially if you are an amateur running. Once you do, target to achieve that ‘natural’ state of running feeling during each run.
Love yourself, and never stop running.