Hi Runners! Welcome back to Runner Diaries!!! Today’s blog is all about learning a little bit more about our sport and here’s how you can do it:
A few months ago, my teacher introduced me to the Olympic channel: https://www.olympic.org/athlete365/ where there are around twenty courses that you can follow for free to learn about every possible aspect of your sport. All you have to do is sign up with your email and then choose your desired sport. Mine is obviously athletics, but they also have every sport that is celebrated at the Olympic Games.
Once you have logged in, click the courses tab and you can scroll through the entire list of courses. They also do them in different languages which is incredibly useful!
The first course I completed was the ‘Sport’s Psychology’ one. It took me about two hours to complete, but the website saves your progress so you can come back the next day to finish the course.
It was such an interesting experience and I learnt about a lot of new visualisation tricks and tips to practise during trainings for before my races. And… at the end of each course you receive a certificate from the Olympic Channel which you can print out and frame, or you can put it on your CV if you fancy!
It is a really great opportunity to continue learning so much more about our sport, and they have so many more courses from nutrition to sports coaching. Try one out and see how much you learn!
Hope everyone’s training is going as planned. Keep it up!
Hi Runners! Welcome back to the bloggggg! So, after only four weeks of training post-injury, my coach decided that he was going to host a 5k time trial at a nearby circuit. It was a two lap course around a lake, with each runner being staggered so as to follow the social distancing rules.
There were around 25 of us running and we arrived at 6:30pm to collect our bibs and start warming up. I was slightly nervous as I hadn’t raced in over six months and it has been two years since my last 5k. I also had no clue what my fitness level was as the trainings over the past couple weeks have been incredibly difficult.
After our 15 minute warm-up, we jogged to the starting line and waited for our names to be called on the list for the staggered start.
Once my name was called, I set off at a fast but comfortable pace. On the first turn, I ran the wrong way and had to run back down the road, but I minused the missed seconds off my finishing time. The first 3k felt comfortably hard, but the final 2k were very very difficult. The last mile was painful and I tried to catch a few runners at the end. I finished in a time of 20:59, having thrown everything into the last mile.
Although it isn’t a lifetime PB, I am so so happy with my finishing time. I honestly wasn’t fully confident going into the trial, and I had no expectations about times so I was delighted with my splits: 4:04, 4:16, 4:16, 4:15, 4:08.
It’s going to take a long time to regain my previous fitness, and even longer to improve my previous fitness and earn new PB’s, but I’m working hard each and every day to achieve my goals. It’s not going to be pretty and it is going to hurt more than it has ever hurt before, but I know I have it in me to become the best possible athlete I can be.
Hi Runners! Welcome back to another blog. I can’t believe it is already the middle of August and I only start school in three weeks! So far, the school has agreed that we are going to start back face-to-face, but we will see what happens over the next couple of weeks. The school will be following all of the social-distancing rules so it will be very different to last year, but at least they are keeping everyone safe.
So, today’s blog is mainly focused on tempo runs and the difficulty I have been experiencing whilst re-building my fitness. It has been so so hard and every session feels like my lungs are going to explode and my legs are going to give way. It has also taken my body and my mind a while to come to terms with getting “comfortable with being uncomfortable”.
I had my first two trainings with my new club at the track and at a local area where there are a lot of grassy dunes for hill training, and they were a lot harder than I anticipated. I think I presumed that I my fitness was a lot better than I thought it was, and it has been very challenging trying to keep up with the other athletes. It also feels a little confidence crushing when everyone is lapping you.
However, I have seen a lot of improvement in only one week. It is certainly all about consistently training hard and ensuring that you recover correctly by incorporating rest days and recovery runs into your schedule. I have now swapped out a few strength and conditioning sessions for recovery runs, as I now have the fitness to be able to run the day after a hard training.
My coach is completely focused on endurance for the next six months and tempo runs have become a very prominent part of my training. I had never really focused on tempos before, and I have been finding them so much more difficult than I expected. Keeping up a comfortably hard pace for 5/6 miles is so hard, especially with all of the hills where I live!
I think the hardest part about tempos is the mental aspect, knowing that you need to maintain the pace for so long. I am hoping that the tempos will start getting easier because they are absolutely brutal!
Although I do post a lot about the positive side of the sport and all of the successes, it is nice to know that nobody is perfect and that some days are going to be a lot harder than others. It is all about consistently training hard, so get out tomorrow and crush the next workout. If you need rest, take it though, listen and trust your body to tell you what it needs.
I have a 5K time trial on Monday which will certainly test my body. At least I will be able to compare my current fitness to my fitness in a couple of months and this will really boost my confidence for races.
“No pain, no gain. Embrace the difficulty, the excruciating pain because it is making you a better runner. You would rather experience pain, than lose, wouldn’t you?”
Hi Runners! Welcome to another blog. A lot has been happening recently. It feels like quarantine was definitely ‘the calm before the storm’, but in a very good way. Funnily enough, everything seems to be slotting into place after a very uncertain start to the year. It is funny how life works in mysterious ways.
This blog is more based on the non-running side of life, a side that I usually don’t talk about very often. This is because during peak season I don’t usually focus a lot of time on my social life because I am determined to achieve my goals and desired race times. But, now that most races have been cancelled this year, I have decided that it is finally time to get a job.
My first ever job and I feel very sophisticated:) I am working at a local beach cafe, and although it sounds very low-key, the job requires a lot of energy. The beaches are absolutely packed, so the days are always very very busy. I have been working there for about three days now, and I have really enjoyed trying something new and different. I have also met some lovely people, and a few who might be going to my new school so that is an extra bonus!
Also, yesterday my IGCSE results came through. I’m not going to post my results, but I am very very happy considering the fact that we didn’t get the chance to take the exams and I think they were very very close to what I would have achieved. Although I didn’t realise it, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can finally start A-level revision knowing that I have the grades required to take English Lit., History and Spanish at A-level.
It has been a very very different kind of year, but I am so so happy that my hard work has paid off. I was a little bit worried about how my results would pan out whilst juggling running at a national level, but I managed to pull through. Not everything is based on your grades, but I am happy that I managed to achieve what I wanted.
A more running specific blog will be up very soon!
Hi Runners! So, you are probably wondering what I mean by today’s title. This is not clickbait, today’s announcement is VERY VERY exciting!
Are you ready? 3,2,1…
I have joined an American college scholarship agency!!! They are going to be helping me over the next two years to gain an academic and athletic scholarship to a college in the USA. The agency is called ‘College Sports America’, and I am so so excited to start working with them towards my goals.
Now, along with my A-level study and my usual training, I will also be studying for the SAT and ACT, which are the exams required to be eligible for an American college.
I contacted CSA on Instagram about a month ago to ask about how the college process works and they replied the next day asking to phone me about the details. They advised me to start the process as soon as possible to be able to start SAT preparation and send my profile off to college coaches. It’s crazy how quickly plans change and new opportunities arise!
I am mainly focused on Division 1 Colleges, but this means that I need to lower my 800m time to around 2:10 and my 1500m time to 4:30. Lately, I have been lacking a bit of motivation as it has been quite difficult building my fitness from the bottom again, but this has inspired me as I now have new goals and aims.
I have started researching my top five colleges, but these could completely change over the next few years as I will hopefully be contacted by different colleges as my times decrease. I will also have the chance to visit college campuses. I could prefer the atmosphere of one college to the other, or I could favour the coaching style and team values of another college. It will all depend on how I progress over the next two years.
I started the process a few days ago, and I am now focused on building my profile which will then be sent off to American coaches. Regarding SAT’s, I will hopefully be taking the exam in either December or March, depending on how I am finding the course. I will be studying on Khan academy around three times a week, fitting the learning into my training and A-levels timetable.
I am beyond excited for the next two years, and I cannot wait to see where my academics and running times progress. Races might be postponed till next year, but training does not stop. I will be so ready to lower my times and achieve PB’s in 2021!
Hi Runners! Welcome back to Runner Diaries. I apologise for not posting recently, I have been spending the last few weeks travelling and slowly upping my trainings again. After my physio appointment around two weeks ago, which showed that my knee pains were due to muscle tightness, I have been cleared to run!
The first few sessions were slow and unsteady. I had lost quite a lot of confidence in my own body and was nervous that the pain would return in my knees. There was very limited pain when I started training again, but sometimes there would be a dull ache in my left knee when I went up and down stairs.
The main change for me was my post-run recovery process. I had always focused a lot of my time on stretching before my sessions, but I had always neglected the recovery after my runs, as I was always rushing to get home for schoolwork, or dinner.
I changed two main things:
I stopped rolling before workouts. Apparently, this doesn’t achieve anything as your muscles are not warmed up. Instead, I swapped rolling for dynamic stretches. As I was only doing slow runs for around 15-20 minutes at 9 min/mile pace, I would spend the first half an hour of my session focusing on properly warming up. I chose to run on the beach, during low-tide, when the terrain would be smooth. To slowly increase my heart rate, I would walk one length of the beach (around 700m), and then I would do dynamic drills for around 20 minutes (leg swings, drills, etc…). Then, I would jog another length of the beach, and then stop to do static stretches. This helped me to gain more confidence in my knee strength once more, and made sure that I was improving my muscle fibres and coordination by doing dynamic drills.
After my run, my recovery became the most important aspect. If I didn’t recover enough, I wouldn’t be able to perform again the next day. I would walk home and then start rolling. For my calves, I loosened the muscles by using the hard bone on the top of my knee. Honestly, the first time I did this, it hurt so much, but over time it has improved so much and there is barely any pain anymore. For my hamstrings, I used a boule ball (like the ones you use on the beach), and I would sit on it and roll out my hamstring. My left leg would always hurt more than the right! I used a regular foam roller for my quads, making sure that I rolled as slowly as possible. I would also use the boule for my glutes and my TFL. The pain is pretty horrendous the first time, but with consistency, it is so so much better.
I am currently in Spain, after travelling from England a few days ago and I am currently focused on 5/6 mile tempo runs, 1 hour long runs, strength and conditioning sessions and a few track sessions per week. The aim is to keep the sessions simple, and slowly get fitter before moving onto higher volumes and increased qualities of the trainings.
The track sessions are 300m/400m reps with very little recovery, as I am building up my endurance base. As there are obviously no races for the time being, I can enjoy the time I spend running, without having to rush or focus on having to get to other places.
As I am currently not in my fittest state, it is very hard not to get overwhelmed and stressed thinking about the future and the lack of races. I am not under any pressure, but the fact that I am starting from scratch in almost every area of my life can be a little overwhelming. Starting a new school, a new running club, meeting new people, thinking about universities and the future are very scary prospects, but the experiences I will gain will be incredible. I am focusing on the present and enjoying the time I can spend running and reminiscing about past memories as we pack up the house.
The 2nd Edition of the Weekly Newsletter will be up very soon, and the next blog will mainly be focused on adjusting to the Spanish heat and adapting to the post-pandemic changes!
When I read articles, I usually skip the nutrition sections because I am very fortunate to have a family that eats very healthily, but after speaking to my physio, I realised that I needed to be eating more protein. She advised me to buy protein powder, which I hadn’t bought yet, and this is because I have had a strange experience with protein powders in the past. In my first year of running, whilst living in Spain, I went to a shop to buy protein powder. Now, what I didn’t realise was that the protein powder was actually for weight lifters and body builders, so well, I quickly stopped taking it. The moral of the story is to research your protein powders, or go to a nearby health store and ask them for their advice or you might be taking something which isn’t suitable for your body!
But, the most important reason why I bought protein powder was because you need to be eating more protein when injured. Why? Because when you are injured, your body is trying to repair your injured area, and the protein helps the process. I completely understand that running is seen as a pretty simply sport because you barely need any equipment, but there are so many other aspects that will help you recover faster and more efficiently and protein powder is one of these!
I bought the chocolate-flavoured powder, and when I first started incorporating the protein powder into my food, it honestly tasted disgusting. I was really put off by the taste. I tried it for the first time in yoghurt (honestly I’m not sure what I was thinking), and it just tasted horrible, so do not make the same mistake I did.
Then, I started putting a scoop of it in my porridge in the morning and it still tasted really dry and tasteless, so again, the protein powder taste testing, same as the stretching and strength training, was a lot of trial and error. It took me many many attempts to see how I preferred my protein powder.
So now, I only eat it in porridge. I tried it in water and milk and yoghurt and it was awful, so now I have figured out how I like it best. I love to add plenty of milk to the porridge, and I always add toppings. My favourites are:
Dried banana chips
Peanut Butter (Organic)
Linseed Mix – Easy to buy in local supermarket and HIGH IN PROTEIN!!!
Vegetarian turned Meat-Eater:
So, a little bit about my past. My parents brought me up as a vegetarian, and until May of 2019, I had never tried a piece of meat. However, once I started running competitively, I noticed how tired I would be after trainings. It was difficult to recovery and I would struggle to stay awake at school.
In the summer of last year, my family and I decided that I would start introducing chicken into my meals. I was really unsure whether it was the right decision because I had spent the first 14 years of my life vegetarian, but when I started eating chicken, I almost immediately felt a change. I had a lot more energy, and my race times were improving. I could also execute trainings with more speed and efficiency and I felt more revived.
The changes were incredible to see, but in the winter of 2019, my training stepped up again. I decided to introduce beef into my diet to see what would happen and the results were even better than the chicken.
I completely understand that there are vegan athletes who can perform at a very high level, but eating meat was truly the best decision for me.
I recommend experimenting with your diet, but definitely avoid doing it during the peak of the season. It took quite a while to figure out what was best for my body, but once you get there, you will notice such a change in your overall training and racing performance. It’s exactly like training, stay patient and consistent!!!
Hi Runners! Welcome to a new series of my blog: A WEEKLY NEWSLETTER!!! I can’t honestly say that I have been planning this for months, because it only came as a brainwave to me last night, but I am so excited to start! Recently, I have been reading other bloggers’ posts’ and I have noticed that they regularly post about their current situations and are very open about their lives and personal struggles. So, I have decided that I want my blog to be more personal by starting this series. And, although I’m calling this a ‘newsletter’, keep an open mind because it is certainly going to be different to the usual Sunday paper;)
I also really wanted to start this newsletter as a way to open-up the comment sections at the end of each blog. As athletes, we all experience the same nerves, adrenalin, injuries and struggles related to running and training and we can motivate and drive each other by starting up a conversation. It will also be such a fun way to talk to athletes from all over the world, whether you live in Spain or Australia; this is what social media is all about!!!
Running Updates: (a general overview of my weekly training schedule and current struggles/successes. Keep celebrating the small wins, remember that goals take time. Stay patient, your time will come with hard work and perseverance!)
First of all, I wanted to apologise for not finishing off my injury series. I have honestly been very lifeless and demotivated the past couple of days because my injury took a turn for the worst. I thought it was probably best to stop the injury tips incase I had obtained a more serious injury than I anticipated.
All of this happened last Thursday. I had been training for about two weeks, running 20 mins very easy about three times a week, trying to gain back my rhythm and making sure that the ITB syndrome didn’t return. After my run last Thursday, I felt a small niggle on my left leg, the opposite leg to where I had experienced my tendonitis and ITB syndrome. I presumed it was a natural response to my run so I didn’t focus on it too much, but later in the evening, it started to get a lot worse.
It was extremely painful whenever I stood up or sat down, and I honestly didn’t know what to do anymore. I had followed every tip on every article, every rule in the book, and I felt hopeless because the injury kept coming back.
I decided to rest it on the weekend and see if it improved on Monday, but it became even worse. I knew that I couldn’t do anymore, so I texted my physio and she told me that she could book me in for a virtual appointment on Wednesday morning. I couldn’t believe it, and was just so grateful that I could finally see a professional!
The days before the appointment, I felt very low because my knees were so sore ( it even hurt when I walked) and I was so worried that maybe the strength training had been affecting my legs the entire time!
Today, I had the physio appointment and I am so happy to say it went so so well! I am going to be posting the advice my physio gave me on my next blog, because she has honestly been my life saver! Today, I have walked for the first time in 8 weeks without any pain, and it feels so good!!!
Everyday Life Updates:(a way to focus some attention on everyday life! Although running is a very prominent part of my life, it doesn’t completely dominate every second of my day, and I only spend around 2 hours of each day actually training! Keep in mind that you have other passions and goals to pursue aside from running:)
It has been quite hard to focus recently with my injury constantly being on my mind and the weather being a bit gloomy here, but I have taken up some new hobbies. I am absolutely useless in the kitchen (it’s actually quite worrying because I nearly burnt the house down making scrambled eggs!), but I started helping my sister out in the kitchen. We made chocolate chip banana bread and brownies, which actually tasted really moorish, and it was so nice to spend time off my computer! It was also very fun, which I find surprising considering I have had a very bad experience with kitchens in the past!
I have also started playing chess again, which is something I haven’t done since year 8. My dad is the only one who knows how to play, so we have been having a game every couple of days. It was actually not too difficult remembering the rules, but I forgot how much the game drains you; I was so tired after I played!
Not much to say on the post this week because I’ve haven’t been able to walk around for most of the week. Oh, I went on my first shopping spree since lockdown! My family and I drove two hours to a shopping outlet so I could start buying some new clothes for school in September. It was a really nice change of atmosphere from the house, but the trip really drained us because we hadn’t been out in so long. I slept the entire car drive back!!!
Important Dates:(this could be related to upcoming races, track openings, or holiday ideas; both running and everyday life related!)
07/07/2020 – The nearby track where I will be training with my new club for the next few years is opening!!! It is connected to a leisure centre so it has been closed for slightly longer than other tracks, but I cannot wait to go, especially now that my knees are improving. I am quite nervous, though, to meet my new coach and teammates, and it will be so strange social distancing and wearing masks for training; I’m not even sure how it is all going to work!
12/07/2020 – We have booked flights back to Spain for the last time to pack up the house! It has been around four months since we flew to England and it will be very strange going back to warm weather! It will be the last time I am flying back before I permanently move to England for the next two years for running! It’s going to be sad to leave, but I know that there are so many new experiences are on the horizon, and I am very excited to start a new school and join a new running club!
Books I’ve been/am reading: (I usually never take book recommendations from people because I am so stubborn with my favourite authors and genres, but these reviews are here incase you fancy a new read!)
I have just finished reading ‘The Nanny’ by Gilly Macmillan. It is a definite recommendation and was an absolutely thrilling book! It was a very fluid read (always the sign of a good book!), and there were some great plot twists! Not the best book I’ve ever read, but certainly a solid 8/10!
And, I have just started reading ‘The Family Upstairs’ by Lisa Jewell. I bought is as a present for dad’s birthday because the blurb sounded amazing!!! I have read a few of her books before, including ‘Then She Was Gone’, and she is an extremely gripping writer! I’ll post a review in a few weeks when I finish it, but I can tell it is going to be a good read!
Movies/Series I’ve watched: (everybody loves a good movie! I usually miss out on all of the movie trends, so sorry if some of these are slightly dated, but, you never know if you don’t try watching it!)
The movies for this week were the ‘John Wick’ series. The movies are based on a man called ‘John Wick’, played by Keanu Reeves, who is seeking revenge on the gang who broke into his house and killed his dog. If you love thrillers, and a lot of blood, gore, and death, these movies are definitely for you! I loved movie 1 and 2, but 3 was a little bit far-fetched!
My current go-to running song:(I usually choose not to run with music on, but here are some GREAT upbeat songs for training or pre-race!) –> ‘Staring at the Sun’ by Post Malone
I hope you enjoyed the first newsletter! I am so thrilled to have a new series to focus my time on. If you were wondering, I am still going to be posting blogs aside from the newsletters, but they are going to be very topic specific, such as: recommended running shoes to buy, how to juggle school and running, my pre-race routine, how to deal with self-pressure, etc… These newsletters are just as a way to keep track of my progress and I am going to be using them as a sort of logbook.
Positive Quote: (it always makes me feel so much more positive and motivated when I come across a quote on Instagram, so here is mine for this week)
“You are strong, and getting stronger everyday. Enjoy your journey. Trust you process.”
So, the second advice that my physio recommended was to take a bath to ease my leg. For the first week of my ITB injury, I was so focused on rolling and strength training that I forgot to have a bath, but once I did, I felt the benefits of it almost immediately. Disclaimer: If you do not have a bath, you can heat up a hot water bottle and place it on your leg, or have a warm shower instead!
Aside from making me feel so so relaxed and sleepy, it also loosened up my leg and opened up my pores. The next part of the recovery process is so important! Straight after my bath I would apply a product called ‘Tiger Balm’. It is an ointment for sore muscles, but it really helped to target the ligaments and tendons that were especially painful for me. Once I applied it, after my bath, it absolutely burned, so don’t feel surprised if you leg feels like it is on fire!!! It also smells very very strong so I would always put my knee support on afterwards so the entire room didn’t smell! You can purchase the ‘Tiger Balm’ here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiger-Balm-30-g-Red/dp/B01N36X67C/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=tiger+balm&qid=1592688160&sr=8-2
Another product which I highly recommend for past injuries is ‘Fisiocrem’. It is an ointment which I always apply before my trainings on small niggles, or past injuries. It was an absolute life-saver for me with a past ankle injury of mine, and allowed me to run pain-free!
The next step after having a bath and applying Tiger Balm is to roll and stretch, following the Adidas rolling video and 7 knee stretches linked in the ‘Tip 3’ blog. (Sometimes, I would roll first and then bathe and it still worked for me, but I would recommend doing it the other way around!) Make sure you leave about 30 minutes to do this and also make sure you play some music to lighten up the mood because the rolling sessions for me were not very fun; they hurt way too much! I will be posting a workout/rolling/stretching music playlist on a future blog so you can play it during your sessions, or shuffle your own songs!
Straight after rolling, I would usually have dinner, but I would recommend icing straight afterwards if you have the time. I actually found it more enjoyable and more convenient to ice whilst watching the tv, so I would ice every night for around 15-20 minutes, or however long I felt was necessary.
Bathing turned into my new favourite way to calm down my body and loosen up any tight joints. It was also a sort of meditation for me, as it was the only time when I would be completely alone with my thoughts. It is something I definitely recommend trying for a bit of self-care!
At the beginning of my injury journey, knowing that I couldn’t run, I knew that I needed to do something to maintain my fitness. I spent about an hour everyday doing strength exercises. With the tendonitis, I did have to adjust various exercises, such as avoiding excessively bending and straightening my knees in activities such as bicycle crunches, but other than that, I could continue working on my abs, glutes, and upper body strength.
My physio had told me that my knee injuries had occurred due to weak glutes and hamstrings, so I knew that I had to focus on this specific body part. Calf raises, and single leg exercises sometimes hurt my knee, so I researched videos where I would rarely be on my feet.
The Strength Videos that I followed: I have chosen a range of exercises which range from easy to more difficult.
After a lot of trial and error with certain videos, I found that these were my favourites. I would rotate days between doing arms and abs one day, and then glutes the next day for five days a week. After I returned to running, I noticed how strong and stable my upper body and glutes felt. I am most definitely going to be dedicating more time in my everyday schedule for strength sessions. However, I do not recommend doing strength training, a difficult running session, and walking all on the same day, because this usually results in injury or pain for me.
At the end of my injury process, I found out that squatting and planking hurt my knees the most, so I avoided those. I also discovered a new trick for how to plank when injured. Instead of using my feet to support me in plank, I would place the foam roller under my knees. This meant that I had to use my core to steady my body; it was perfect for targeting both the core and the biceps!
These were the videos that worked best for me, but feel free to choose and try out your favourite videos too! Make sure that you do not attempt any exercises which hurt your injured area. I know it is so so tempting, but you are just pushing back the time until you can run again!