These past couple of weeks have been a difficult one in regards to my training since the half marathon. My knees since the Anglesey Half Marathon have still not fully recovered even with following my runs with a foam roller and stretches. My new goal for the next month is to build up on my strength as I can see now why it is so important to have strong muscles to be able to keep up with the amount of running I am doing. My main focus is to build the muscles in my quads as they control the movement of the kneecap and hip muscles as they stop the knee from dropping inwards. Many online articles have some great exercises to follow for it but I have personally been using Runners World and 220 Triathlon.
I am finding my motivation for the runs has slowed down mainly because of the pains I have been faced with and I keep not wanting it to push me down but when even a small 3 mile run feels hard on my legs compared to two weeks ago when I would be happy to run 10 miles and then work a shift the same night, it does make you feel as though you’re either moving backwards or not at all. However, this just showed me I have to review my training plan and work out where I may have gone wrong.
Success & Grit
On a similar topic, friends and family have approached me to tell me how well I am doing and how they wish they could achieve the same. Not to say I am not proud of myself on how far I have come so far however it leads me to the picture above which is titled The Iceberg Illusion. Related to my own experience when I see this picture it makes me think of when people see me posting my pictures of races I have done where I have beat personal bests or in general training photos with the glorious sunny weather with some of my fellow classmates.However they do not see the harder times, the times my alarm goes at 6am for a run after working a night shift and I lie there debating whether its all worth it. The times I find even the shortest of runs a struggle and beat myself up for it the rest of the day. The social events given up so that I can get a good nights sleep and a clear head for another run.Yes, you could share all these things but who wants to see that? Better in thinking that someone is naturally talented in that way.
“Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible.”
Leading on from this, working hard for what you want is also known as having grit. Very strongly researched by Angela Duckworth, she focused her work on grit and self-control. Grit means to have a strong interest and put a lot of effort towards a very long-term goal and self-control is the ability to subdue our impulses to achieve a long-term goal. Research was found that on average people who are more “gritty” had more self control however the link between these two is not perfect. You can have people who had no self-control but were very gritty whereas others showed little grit but high self-control.
My long-term goal is to finish the Liverpool Marathon and I would say I am personally passionate about it because it is something I have always said I have wanted to do and I want to show myself I can work hard for something when I want it enough. Showing I have grit is also by overcoming any setbacks that come my way which for instance right now is aches and pains. The main way I can overcome these is by not giving up completely and reviewing my training plan to work around my injuries and building myself back up. I took the grit scale test and came back with 3.20 which I am rather happy with! Having grit is not just important for people doing sports but can be used in any aspect in life in order to become successful.
What I aim to work on next…
This means the number of steps per minute while running. Researcher & coach Jack Daniels found that 180 or so is the best cadence to aim for while running as it minimizing over-striding, has less impact on the legs and maintains forward momentum. So after reading this Runners World article on improving cadence, I am now following the steps to finding out what my current cadence is and training myself to stick to one that is right for me and hopefully notice some differences in my running form which could lower the risk of making knees and legs any worse.
So considering I thought this blog was going to be completely on what was going wrong at the moment, I have actually got some small improvements that have been noted. I never really had a problem with my heart rate being too high however it is motivating to watch as my resting heart rate slowly goes down the fitter I become and also very interesting! Below is a screenshot from my Fitbit app which shows my resting heart rate in the last month.
Overall I think these couple of weeks have been a good learning point for me. This is my first time ever training for a marathon, of course I wont get it perfect the first time, of course I am going get bumps in the road but it’s helping me learn more about my body and mental determination in ways I have not before.
I hope you enjoyed reading and will carry on following me through my journey!