From Running Wrong, to Running Coach.Sep 06, 2023
How did I go from being someone that did everything wrong at the start of my running journey, to now coaching others to do it? Here is how and why I started running, and why building the Start Running Stay Running Community means so much to me.
Back in 2010, when my children were not quite one and five, I decided to start running. It was something I had never done before, but one day I gave it a go as I felt like I needed some time to myself and to get out of the house. I was so stuck in mum mode – I started to forget who I was. I needed to do something for myself, and running seemed like a good solution.
And guess what? I was right.
I’m running how far? 😮
Not long after I had gone back to work after maternity leave, my boss announced that she had entered me into a 10K as part of our work team! Hang on… what? I’d got myself up to a total of 20 minutes of running and now I’m going to run 10K? Well, I wasn’t going to shirk on the challenge so it was time to get serious and get training.
And training I did… I trained for three months and I got the job done in a not-too-shabby time either. What I didn’t realise at the time, was that I was doing everything wrong and it didn’t take long for it all to unravel, and for injury to bite me on the arse... quite literally!
Years of running wrong 🤦♀️
I did it all wrong! From wearing unsuitable trainers that I got a 12-year-old to help me pick out at a sports shop, to running every run as fast as I could, never doing strength training or any kind of cross-training. I stretched when I remembered and I thought more running meant better results. It’s no wonder I spent so much time injured and paying lots of money to get it fixed! For years I think I was out of running as much as I was in. I thought that was normal. It’s not!
Fast forward to 2019 and now I was taking around nine months off to see if the pain in my piriformis (arse cheek) would finally go away. In the end, it didn’t! At the end of that year, I had multiple visits to the chiropractor, lots of uncomfortable throwing around of my leg and hips, and numerous needles to fix it.
When the penny dropped! 🤨
While I was out from running I joined a gym to keep myself moving. What I found when I went back to running was that I was still able to do it! I had built up my strength and cardio enough that when I went to run 5K, I was OK… just about! I do remember thinking at the time that I would never be able to run any further than 5K! But of course, I did. It was all about getting the miles back up again… slowly and not doing anything stupid.
So, at the start of 2020, I was back out running alongside going to the gym. Then we all know what happened next! The world shut down. 🦠
Time for a change 👟👟
By the Spring of 2020, I had lost most of my freelance work as a social media manager as businesses took their work back ‘in-house’. So while I worked out what to do, I made sure I got out running a few times a week. As the gyms had closed, I had lots of people asking me about running… and because I had done everything wrong, I could now help them to do it right. I loved seeing so many people out running for the first time and enjoying it. I really liked helping and encouraging friends and people on social media with their new running journies.
Then it came to me on a run. Why not create an online community for runners?
Now, I know this isn’t a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, but a lot of the groups I had seen in the past were mainly for women and/or full of runners who were quite far along on their journey. I wanted to create somewhere for new runners to feel comfortable posting alongside those who had been running for a while. So with the help of a group of coaches and a new business partner, Start Running Stay Running was born in June 2020.
Since then, Start Running Stay Running has been through some changes. The biggest being that the business changed from being a partnership which was dissolved and SRSR became a Community Interest Company (CIC) in June 2022. Graham McKenna joined me as a fellow owner, and along with our team of coaches, we have been reimagining our membership, our projects, and how we can serve the local community as well as the wider audience we have in Start Running Stay Running.
If you're not already in the free community, we'd love to welcome you in... Start Running Stay Running Community.
Pushing through comfort zones
At the start of this year, I qualified as a UKA Run Coach; something that I had imposter syndrome about for a long time. Then I did something I said I would never do… I decided to run a marathon! And just to really 'up the anti' and push myself, I decided to do two in the space of a week! It seemed a crazy idea, but I'd already entered Manchester, so I figured that I would go for a charity place in London and make it a great reason for raising money. I also wanted to see what I was capable of if I put everything I’d learned into practice. I wanted to see how far I had come from the runner who always got injured. Could I really train my body to not only do the miles but then do them again seven days later?
The surprising answer was yes! Not only that, I was consistent in both races with fairly equal splits throughout and only four minutes between the two finishing times. Now, to some elite runners, this may not be a big deal… but for me, this was massive. I swore I could never run a Marathon… like NEVER! “My knees won’t take it”, “I could never do all that training”, and “I’m bound to break myself” were phrases I had on repeat.
Well, I couldn’t be more wrong. With the right training, recovery and rest, nutrition, hydration, strength, and stretch work, I felt strong through both runs… yes, even the second one and recovered within days from each of them. I was shocked! I had underestimated how much my strength training came into play helping me to keep my form (head up, straight back, shoulders down) and making it a much more enjoyable experience.
Recovery was a big thing too. From regular massages to cold water therapy. You can take a look at all the things I tried for recovery in my blog on recovery and injury prevention.
It’s all relative
Now, to any elite runners reading this, my achievement may not be a big deal. But that’s the thing with running and your journey… it is all relative – which is what I want to get across with Start Running Stay Running. Somebody’s 5K is someone else’s Marathon. You still feel the same nerves at the start line. You’ve done a tonne of training and got out of your comfort zone many times over the months to get where you are. You have the same doubts about whether you will finish and how hard it’s going to be. We should never compare our journey to someone else…. Heck, you shouldn’t even compare your ‘now journey’ to your previous journey (something I did for a long time – trying to chase my pace from 10 years ago!) 🤦♀️
We share this ethos throughout our Facebook Community Group and our Coaching Membership ‘The Inside Track’. I couldn’t be prouder of the community we have built. It blows my mind how supportive everyone is. No nastiness and no running w*nkers!
Exciting times ahead 🏃♀️🏃♂️🏃♀️🏃♂️
As we move into Autumn 2023, I am excited to announce that we have two new programmes starting… 5K MY WAY and Back on Track, both dedicated to those at the start of their running journey. Our 5K My Way course is geared towards ladies specifically looking at creating a positive mindset towards ourselves and running. Back on Track, is dedicated to men looking to take steps towards better mental health and wellbeing with running as a means of exercise.
We wanted to separate our 5K courses because as a new runner, you are finding yourself far from your comfort zone. Familiarity with those experiencing similar things to you makes the space feel so much safer. As they say, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus so we felt our courses needed to reflect the differences in us and support and celebrate them.
These programmes will be run in cohorts and as a group, we will be working together to create a close community of support, celebration, and motivation.
Both courses work on so much more than just running 5K. We will be working through different elements of health and well-being as we go so that runners have all the tools for a successful journey into running and better mental and physical health.
Of course, we still have our mixed VIP membership The Inside Track where runners start to progress further into their mileage and/or pace.
We have opened up applications for our first cohorts at a special price. We aim to keep cohorts small so that we can give all our energy to those in the group.
If you'd like some tips on getting started on your 5K journey, then we have a freebie for you! Follow our 5 Steps to 5K Success to ensure you are getting off on the right foot (and the left!).