Nobody likes to be the slowcoach but you know what? It’s okay and I’m going to tell you why.
I never used to be okay with going slow. Whenever I pulled on my running shoes, or got on my bike there would be a little voice nagging away in the back of my head saying that I needed to push harder, be quicker. In a world of splits, KOMs, QOMs and fast miles, being fast means you’re better. The faster you go, the harder you go, the more recognition and appreciation you get.
How I learned speed is not everything…
The past year has been pretty tough, both mentally and physically. I’ve been through a seemingly endless string of niggling injuries – nothing terrible, but enough to stop me seriously pushing to get my fitness back. Every time I tried to start I had to pull myself out again. The reason? I was pushing too hard and too soon. Carried away with measuring myself against others on social media (Strava and Instagram, I’m looking at you…!), I convinced myself I should be achieving more, and as a result I ran myself into the ground again and again. The guilt and disappointment of stopping hit me mentally, just as hard as the shin splints and aching joints hit me physically.
After a whole year of being out of the game I realised that I’d fallen into a very negative frame of mind when it came to exercise –to the point that I’d talk myself out of doing it. What was the point, when I couldn’t keep up with my friends, and I’d only injure myself if I tried…?
It’s hard not to compare myself against others out there; I know I do it on a sub-conscious level, despite knowing it’s 100% stupid. I’ll look at what others are doing and it makes me feel small and completely betrayed by my body. I don’t look much different but my body feels like a shadow of what it was a few years ago. I miss the strength. I miss the fitness. I miss being injury free and my body just doing instead of just groaning.
My plan …
As Anastasia once sang, I’m sick and tired of always being sick and tired, so I’m starting again from scratch. And, I mean properly from scratch. No jumping in at the level I think I should be at. There are going to be no mistakes this time. Going slowly is the key.
The boyfriend and I have some decent challenges lined up for 2017 and we’ve found a six month plan to help us get there. Following a training plan that’s over a greater period of time is going to allow my body to gradually adapt to the strains and strengthen steadily, meaning no injuries (hopefully)!
One thing that I’m going to make a point of doing at least twice a week is gym work. When I was at my absolute fittest a few years ago I did weight training more regularly and I never injured. I was strong and so my body could cope with everything that I threw at it. The aim is to get back to weight training and get my strength back. Then I can focus on kicking the running up a notch. It will hopefully make my Little Pig Duathlon London to Paris 24 hour sportive much more enjoyable, and less likely to land me in physio.
Why going slow is essential …
I’ve learned that there’s no point in going too quickly if it’s going to land me back at square one. I’m not prepared to put myself back in a place where I struggle on a mental and physical level. It does not matter what other people think, or how fast they can run. What matters is me and how I feel according to my own standards. It’s not a race and it’s so important to remember that. And so easy to forget. There is always time – as much as I’m scared there’s not . Going slow and building a solid base strength is crucial.
If you take nothing else away from my experience then please just remember this:
Look after your body. You only have one – and it’s in it for the long haul – so you need to do things properly.