I don't know about you guys, but the last few months have been a bit insane. Tomorrow, Tom and I are moving! We're no longer tenants living like rats in a basement flat, but homeowners! We also won't be living in central London any more, which is a bit sad, but we've done a bit of reshuffling of priorities and have realised that with all we want to do with our lives, something has to give somewhere so the other stuff has half a chance of happening. So, we're off - we're going to have a break from city life and see how we do out in the country! We're going to be about an hour out of London now, in Buckinghamshire, just on the fringe of the Chilterns and not far from Oxford. It's so gorgeous and green.....some of the villages nearby remind me of The Vicar of Dibley (which was actually filmed nearby!) We've got everything we need in our little town, about 20 minutes walk away, and the surrounding countryside is going to be wonderful to explore. From what I've seen it's full of interesting walks through fields and woods and by the rivers, country pubs, farmers markets and antique shops. I can't wait.
But, as I said, it's taken quite a lot to pull this plan together and the last few months have been pretty full on - we've renovated our new home (from a distance!) and have had to go out regularly to check in on things, we've also been buying furniture, having scary meetings with banks and all the rest. I think this is the ninth time I've moved in six years. It's been really stressful at times. But last weekend we went out to see it all finished, and with the smell of new paint and carpet heavy in the air, the place had been transformed and we knew in that instant that all the stress and sleepless nights and insane busyness had been worth it. We have really outgrown our old flat in the city. I'm sad to be leaving the area, but we're both so keen for a change!
And we all know that change is good.
As you can imagine, with all these balls to keep in the air and also my decision to pull out all the stops and get the full first draft of my book done, it hasn't been the best time to stay motivated with a running routine! I've done my best but I'm no where near as fit as I was when I was training for the Big M. I've struggled a lot with this whole concept of "giving myself a break" because of all Skinny Latte's critics, they don't come much tougher or meaner than myself.
For the past five years - or perhaps I should say three, because that's when life returned some semblance of stability! - I have tried to find a way of sustaining the healthy habits I formed while losing weight and getting fit so that I can maintain everything I worked so hard for. The aim is not to be controlling or "on a diet" or anything like that, but just to be mindful and to be living consciously, and by doing that ideally I will catch myself before any emotional eating, lack of exercise because I've been too tired/busy, or any other behaviour or thoughts that aren't helping me, spin out of control. I try to be compassionate but also not let myself off the hook all the time either. I remind myself that it's up to me to make the life I want; I have the choice to eat food I'm not hungry for or whether to flop on the couch instead of going for a run. I try to be honest with myself about where my priorities are and try not to be too damning of myself because I let life get in the way sometimes. But it's a tough balance to strike, and I know I'm far too hard on myself. Once upon a time I was stoked to be able to run for 20 minutes without stopping....these days I give myself a hard time because I couldn't run a half marathon with a day's notice! Gee, talk about rough! I think I need to walk my own talk a bit more.
Anyway, this was meant to be a post about running! :)
Even though I have been very busy, and despite the very pleasing fact I do have a full finished first draft of my book to show for my lack of running lately, I think one of the problems is that I was very bored with my routine. I do the same runs, in the same places. I haven't had any events to train for either, and that's usually my biggest motivator. But being bored is not an excuse for doing sweet F A. I know that, you know that. So let's do something about that, shall we? :)
This is a fantastic rut-breaker and probably one of the easiest changes to make - low effort but high impact! Put some new tunes on your mp3 or iPod and you'd be surprised what a spring it puts in your step just having something different coming through your headphones, rather than songs where you know every lyric and every beat that you're almost on autopilot.
Skinny Latte readers have recommended the following songs to me in the past as their favourite workout songs, what are yours?
- "Hide U" by Kosheen
- Coffee + TV by Blur
- Transmission by Joy Division
- Hey Boy Hey Girl by Chemical Brothers
- Rebel Rebel by David Bowie
- Standing Next To Me by Last of the Shadow Puppets
- History Never Repeats by Split Enz
- "Circus" by Britney Spears
- Are you Gonna Be My Girl (Jet)
- Cows (Spiderbait)
- Holier than Thou (Metallica)
- Black Betty (Spiderbait)
- Everlong and Long Road to Ruin by Foo Fighters
- "Don't Bother" by Shakira
Another thing you could try is getting a ready made playlist which is timed and comes with some coaching in between the songs. I recommend checking out AudioFuel's Adrenaline Junkie 2 - the guys there sent me a complimentary copy to try out and, to my surprise, it was fantastic! Just what I needed to add something fresh to the routine. It's a great pick me up and the coaching bits come in at just the right moment - "you're on the home straight, stay strong!" I also really liked the sprint intervals that came in too. The way the beats are set up it's impossible to run slow, so if you want to challenge yourself and step it up a notch, as well as listening to something different, it's a great option!
This is the perfect motivator!!
If you're a beginner, why not register for your first 5k? If you've done a few halfs, maybe it's time to consider giving the Big M a try? Or a 16 miler?
Or, if you're a seasoned runner coming back from a little break, why not pick a distance that you know you can do but that perhaps would be a bit of a stretch at your current fitness - for me, that would be a half marathon. Then you have something not too scary but very exciting and worthwhile to be aiming for!
For me, this is my plan once Tom and I are settled in to our new home: do a 10k in October, November and December, and a half marathon in November.
If you're in the UK, my go to for finding events in my area is the Runner's World Events calendar. Put in your area, the distance you want to do, and the dates and see what comes up!
3. Change your route.
Luckily this is going to happen for me without even trying (!) but if you're not moving to a new place and want to shake up the scenery a bit, have a think about other routes you could run along near you. Maybe there's some roads you haven't gone down? If you're in London, why not hop on a tube or bus to Regent's Park, Hyde Park, St James' Park or Clapham Common? Oyster cards are light and can be carried easily in your hand or in a zip on your running pants or a spi-belt. Or maybe there's a nice park near your workplace - bring your gear to work and head out after you knock off.
There's also a new thing that's just started in London called Home Run, where there is a guided run back to your area, and they take care of your bags, etc. while you're running and meet you at the other end. Sounds like a winner to me - I don't fancy running from London all the way to my new home though, it's about 40 miles :P
I tend to run in pretty daggy things most of the time. Ok yes, I wore eyeliner to the marathon. But that was it, everything else was very low maintenance! But I think it's nice to replace your old, feral looking gear and get something nice and comfortable to run in that makes you feel fabulous. Splash out on a new running top in your favourite colour, or a new pair of capris or shorts. You'd be amazed what a difference it makes. And when you've got something new to try out, you've got to get out there and show it off :)
This has been another surprising motivator for me. Coaching Tom to run 10k with me and getting to experience a race together was just fantastic. Seeing him transformed from a couch potato to someone who could run 10k and enjoy it was hugely satisfying, and realising that I knew far more about running that I thought I did was a big confidence boost! He's been feeling a bit sluggish lately too so we're going to try and do another 10k together before the year is out.
If there's someone in your life keen to give running a go with you, take them up on it and run together! It's so motivating, and makes the time go so much more quickly than when you're on your lonesome :)
Or, and this is something I'm keen to do in my new community, join a harriers group or running club! Sweaty Betty have running clubs at most of their locations throughout the UK, and you can also find out about groups in your local area through sites such as Runner's World or The Running Bug. Keep a look out for flyers in your local sports stores too - or just use your old friend Google!
Well, those five tips are usually what breaks me out of a rut with my exercise/running routine. Now for the tricky bit - following my own advice! :P
What about you? Any other tips for breaking out of a running routine rut, or a rut in general?