4 weeks on Sunday, I will be running my second ever 10k. The first one took place in Leeds, on July 8th 2012. I hadn’t really done enough training, and I don’t think I was emotionally prepared to go the whole hog, but I did it and I promised myself I’d do another one “one day”. Well, that one day is fast approaching, because on September 13th 2015, I’ll be stood relatively near the start line, nervously anticipating what the next hour or so will hold!
Training has been hard this summer, it’s been humid and warm here in the UK and it’s difficult, not only to keep going when you feel so hot your head might explode but also to stay hydrated during the day so as not to affect your performance in the evening (that is if you’re an evening runner, like me!). However, now that the race-date is getting close, I need to up the ante in order to prepare myself for this run regardless of what the weather may be!!
I like to use the time I spend running as a sort of reflective time. Since I started running I’ve made my runs safer in a number of ways by looking at the things I take with me and learning about my local area. Obviously, it would be lovely to run wild and free without a care in the world, but sometimes you need to be realistic and come to terms with the fact that the world isn’t always a very safe place!
I go running on my own, I like it better that way, but obviously running on your own can bring risks that can be avoided by running in pairs or groups. There is a certain vulnerability to running solo, so I thought I would share some of my tips over the next few weeks as I train more and prepare for my race!!
So the first topic is: Routes!!
When I started running in April, I thought it’d be a good way for me to learn about my new home town. It was a way to find my way around whilst getting fit. Even though I’ve found some pretty good routes for running, I’ve actually played it pretty safe! I was thinking about this last night during my run, which was the first run I’ve done in a while that really pushed me further and harder then ever before – but it was on a similar route to what I usually follow!
I have about 5 or 6 routes that are different enough to keep things interesting but all are within a 1-2mile radius of the flat I share with the fella! The fella grew up in this area and has lived here his whole life, so I am pretty sure he finds it frustrating when I try to describe a new road I’ve found or where I decided to take my run and can’t name any of the road names!! We eventually figure it out together though. I try to stick to this so that if I start feeling ill or I want to get home sooner, I’m never too far away to walk home.
I always, ALWAYS stick to main roads or the park when I’m running solo. If I’m with the fella I’ll take shortcuts down alleyways or footpaths, but when I’m on my own, I like to be somewhere relatively public, lined with houses or streets and, most importantly, streetlights. We might have long summer evenings at the moment, but when I continue running in the winter, I will inevitably be running in the dark at some point! Well-lit areas mean you can see where you’re going and means other people will see you!!
Whether you know the area you’re running in or want to get to know it better, there are plenty of apps that track your routes and allow you to plan your routes online before you go. I use a Garmin GPS Watch, which means I can see where I’ve ran previously and show this to the fella (when we’re trying to figure out my route) and I can plan new routes – see screen shot below!!
This also gives me my mile markers, and gives me a good idea of how far I’m going before I get out on the road – apparently my perception of distance is way off!! This feature has encouraged me to increase my distance, I can easily plan ahead and see what sort of routes I need to take to increase my run by a little bit or a lot. You can print the maps off and give them to loved ones so they know where you’ll be, or keep a copy in your pocket in case you get lost!! This map can help runners of all abilities, and it really doesn’t matter if you know an area well or not, it might encourage you to run the long way round every once in a while!!
You don’t need a fancy-pants watch to do this either, most running apps have this feature on their main website and it will then sync the map with your phone. Or you can go with the simple Google Maps (or other search-engine based ones, I am far too loyal to Google to even be able to think of any right now!!).
Do you plan routes, or do you just go with the flow and run?!