Motion in months

Posted on January 3, 2013

differenceThree days into 2013 and it’s a safe bet that every single reader of this post (and indeed the writer!) is full of positive intentions and excited anticipation to set greater goals this year, to train faster and harder, to sleep earlier, to rise sooner, to listen to niggles, to replace Cosmos with coconut water and G&T’s with ginseng … well, within reason of course!

With this in mind, Runners World ran (sorry!!) a great piece recently about approaching these intentions month by month … small steps and all that!

Here’s the lowdown:

JANUARY: Plan Your Race Year

Commit to a goal and stay motivated! Research your options and then throw caution to the wind and register. Select your ‘A’ race and then plan other smaller races around it. Make sure to leave some days post race for well-deserved retail therapy and spa recovery.

FEBRUARY: Commit to Cooking

Whilst good (adidas cushion response) shoes and a healthy dose of motivation help you improve, there’s another set of tools we should use … an oven and a stove. You will know what you’re eating and more easily monitor hidden fats and added sodium. Plan ahead and supermarket shop in advance so you have everything to hand. Take packed lunches to work and cook in bulk then freeze. ) This BTW is classic ‘do as I say not as I do’ advice as I am about as useless in the kitchen as a chocolate kettle.

MARCHBuild an Injury-Proof Body

You only get one body and it comes with no ‘new for old’ warranty so take good care of it! The knee accounts for nearly half of all running injuries and any issues are usually indicative of a weakness in the hips, glutes and core. Incorporate some good cross-training into your schedule so you build strength and balance. Avoid only running on road too. Hit the sand or trails when you can. Throw in some yoga too. And a daily headstand … a couple of minutes each day has as good an anti-ageing effect as Crème de la Mer … at a fraction of the cost too!

APRILSpring-Clean Your Gear

Throw out the old and bring in the new.  Treat yourself to some fab new threads in time for the summer. Wash your shoes in the machine – just remove the laces, pop into a pillow case and set on a delicate programme – and trade them in for a new pair after 500km. Buys some brand spanking new socks – always race in a new pair – this is chicken soup for the soul. Wear a decent sports bra … not only for support but for a foxy cleavage too. If any labels are no longer legible, it spells time to hit the mall. Buy some clear storage boxes from Ikea and organise your accessories (e.g. Sweaty Bands), winter / night wear (e.g. yak tracks / headtorch), race gear (e.g. poles / emergency blanket), misc stuff (e.g. lippie / spare earphones etc)

MAY: Sneak in Speed

Apparently, you do actually have to run faster if you want to run faster. This means the likes of hill sprints, strides, training runs with fast friends and practicing negative splits.

JUNE: Strengthen Your Brain

Your brain is just like any other muscle in your body – you need to push it regularly to gain confidence and improve mental toughness. Don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone but at the same time, never be too hard on yourself. Listen to some psychology podcasts, learn to visualise, master the art of meditation, develop a mantra, make your own SBS and breathe … just breathe!

JULY: Overcome Aches and Pains

Listen to your body … it sends out all the warning signs you need and niggles will never just disappear on their own … a stitch in time saves nine! If you decide you need to take a break, start with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), replace your running with low impact cross-training like swimming or cycling, take some Vitamin I to help reduce inflammation and if you see no improvement within a few days, see a specialist.

When back with the running, always warm up, warm down and perhaps try some foam rolling or trigger point. Lots of people swear by it especially for those over-worked and under-paid glutes.

AUGUST: Rediscover Your Mojo

If Dante had been a runner, August would have been his sixth circle. The heat is on, humidity up a gear and if in the Middle East, Ramadan is upon us … combined, they do little for motivation levels but the autumn race season is just around the corner so don’t let up. Take precautions to handle the heat, mix up your training a little and regularly revisit your goals.

SEPTEMBER: Master the Long Run

No matter your goals or fitness level a weekly run where you cover more distance than usual is a staple for all runners. It’s one of the most effective workouts any runner can do because it improves endurance and cardiovascular capacity, which allows you eventually to hold a faster pace for longer distances.

OCTOBER: Go Gadget-Free

GPS’s definitely play a strong role — they help you learn what a certain pace feels like and tangibly see your progress. I personally have run without my Garmin for the last couple of years, going down the purist route instead and listening to my body. Going gadget free is a great way to get less hung up on the numbers.  Remember, we run because it is our passion. Nothing more, nothing less. We shouldn’t therefore equate our speed or progress with the pure enjoyment it gives us. Unplug and tune into your body instead.

NOVEMBER: Stay Fit through the Good Times

Running is more important than ever during times of fun and festivity. In the UAE, the weather is wonderfully cool come November and the weekends are packed full of sporting events, wild weekend and al fresco soirees. Running through it all is the perfect antidote from the stress and caloric overload. Throw in some cross-training to the mix … spinning, strength training, Pilates and yoga too …

DECEMBER: Share the Love

Get social during the jolly season and organise some group runs. Arrange a meeting point and invite all who care to join. Make the route accessible and hatch a plan to regroup mid way or at the end. Utilise Facebook and Twitter to share plans and discuss important run-defining issues such as what colour combos to wear and which coffee shop to wind down in afterwards.

Pay it forward too by giving back a little. Help train someone who’s just getting started, act as a motivational mentor for those stuck at a road block or plan to volunteer at a local race. Get all your old shoes together too and give them to a good cause.

Of course, everyone has different goals and other priorities in life … work, play and travel to tend to, commitments to family and friends, our lovers and others … but I think if we all pick even a few from the above and adjust the timings as required, then we can’t fail to get to the end of 2013 finding ourselves in peak condition.

That is, of course, until the seasonal indulgence, commences once more …

 Happy 2013 to all!



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