Barriers to exercise:

I just wanted to share something with you because I know how hard it can be when you are faced with a 'barrier' to running.

I'm sure every single person here can raise their hand and say they know what it feels like when the mind says 'I don't have time today' or 'I'll go later' or 'it's too early/ too late'

I just wanted to share some of the main barriers that we all face to running and how we can challenge them.

'I don't have time'

'I don't have time' - whether it's due to working full time (and then some), family commitments, occasions, children's bed times, appointments and meetings or getting stuck in traffic. We have all been there and sometimes it's true, we genuinely don't have time. But how can we stop this barrier becoming the thing that puts us back or stops us running all together?

Find time!

As running has become part of my life I have started planning my weeks so I can see where I might struggle or when I can make time. On days where I am working late I set the alarm 45 mins earlier and now with the weather changing hopefully the thought of heading out at 6am is more appealing than when it was freezing cold! If I know there is no way I will get up that early then I make sure my evening has space for that run. Sometimes if I can't fit in a run when I know I should I will sneak in a 15 minute hiit workout. Or maybe you could go out for a family walk or take the kids out on their bikes. For me this is better than putting my run off completely as it is easy to fall into the 'I'll go tomorrow' mindset.

Did you know? It's proven that after a run you are more productive during the day and your mood will be elevated. Getting up early can be much easier once it becomes a habit. Do you know how a habit is formed? 😉

'It's too cold!'

This was a common thought that popped into my mind most mornings while training over winter for Coventry Half. Overcoming this came down to rational speaking. I knew that I would warm up once I started, I just had to start. If you look outside and think it's too cold, put your layers on, lace up and just step outside. Now you will be cold, so the only option to warm up will be to run!

'I lack motivation'

Sometimes we all feel demotivated. We have days where we just can't be bothered at all. But these are the days where getting out for a run is the best answer. The runners high is one of the best motivators for me to go out the next time and the next. Imagine how you will feel once you get back from your run. Visualise yourself finishing. Music is also a good motivator, getting together a good playlist that will keep your mind occupied and get you through those miles. Use your run to clear your mind, use it as 'you' time, getting out the house and de-stressing after a busy day.

What I love about RLAG is that you all motivate each other, so if you don't already, arrange some runs between you and use each other. Find out what motivates you and use it! Keep track of your runs and reward yourself (with trainers or running gear or even a piece of cake!) for your progress and goals that you achieve.

When I'm struggling on a long run and feel as though I 'can't do it' or lose motivation I think about something close to my heart. I'm running the GNR to raise money for Bowel Cancer Uk because my mum was diagnosed and so when I struggle I think about this amazing cause and tell myself if mum can fight that, I definitely have no excuse not to finish this run. That might sound crazy to some but we all have something that drives us, whether it's a person, a charity, a good cause or simply our family.

'Im too old'

Some people think they are too old to run...

Harriette Thompson - 92yrs - ran a marathon. Enough said.

'I'm injured/I don't feel well'

Unfortunately this is one we will all come across and this needs to be acknowledged. If you are ill or have an injury your body needs to rest and needs time to recover. The most important thing here is to listen to your body. A week of missed runs because of the flu is better than a month off with a chest infection caused by pushing yourself. Likewise a week off due to foot pain is better than months off due to a stress fracture caused by pushing your body when it had a weakness.

'I'm worried everyone is looking at me'

Chances are they probably are... But only because a) they are jealous that you are out there running and they aren't and b) RLAG is amazing and so once that logo is spotted people can't help but stop and stare (chances are they will going home and joining the group)

Who cares if people stare- I used to be very self conscious about this but then I started focusing on myself and how I was making myself better and it didn't matter what people thought. Everyone will feel self-conscious at first. If I went out and got on a horse to go horse riding I would feel self-conscious!

'It's hard- I can't do it'

Yes it is hard but yes you can do it! If you are thinking you can't run then just look at the history of graduates we have from the couch25k programme. We have over 200 ladies who have graduated from the Couch25k. That's 200 ladies who trusted the programme and most importantly believed in themselves. I'm sure each one told themselves it was hard and they couldn't do it... But they did! Everyone has it in them, with hard work and a positive attitude you will do it. And then you will do it again and again. Then you will start finding it a bit easier. The actual running isn't easier but you are getting stronger. You never no, with some consistent effort and going out there you might find yourself doing something crazy like signing up to a half or full marathon! (Stranger things have happened!)

On a serious note you are all capable, you will all have barriers, even us running leaders are hit with these barriers. Just remember when you find yourself doubting whether to go for that run, Often the biggest barrier is the mind not the legs!

Michelle Mumford

I have always been into fitness but running was always something I found difficult. Last year however, I joined Run Like a Girl as a way of meeting people and doing something as a group,  and after that first 5km run I never looked back! I loved how running made me feel and the sense of achievement after every run. I wanted to do something good with it and prove to myself that I could take on a challenge, and at the same time raise money for charity, so I signed up to the Great North Run for Bowel Cancer UK this year. To help prepare for this I also signed up to Coventry Half Marathon, my first ever half! When I joined Run Like a Girl I never dreamed of running that far, but it soon became possible. Running has become a huge part of my life and I can't wait to see where it takes me. 

It's an honour to be a Running Leader for such an amazing group. Join Run Like A Girl and you won't just be joining a running group but you will become part of something much bigger. A supportive group of friends, running for fun! 

YOU CAN RUN A HALF MARATHON TOO!

Hands up who has watched one of the Great Runs on TV and thought ‘wow, I wish I could do that’?Every year I have watched the London Marathon and joked about how people can run so far, secretly wishing I could do it but knowing it would never happen. Last year after stumbling across Run Like A Girl and getting (gently) nudged shall we say by a friend to do the Blenheim 10km with her I started taking more interest in races on tv. 

After only just achieving 10km at Blenheim Palace I immediately fell in love with the feel of race day… Or crossing the finish line at least! When I was watching the Great South Run on TV while getting on with the ironing I was taken aback by the crowds, the support and all of people’s stories as to why they were running. Bowel Cancer Uk is a charity very close to my heart and I remember thinking to myself, ‘I wish I could run a big race to raise money for this charity’. As I watched more and more I began to question whether I could do it, and seeing the eldest man in the race cross the finish line triggered the idea in me that I was going to sign up to The Great North Run half marathon. I quickly picked up my phone and text my other half telling him my plan, he was in. He was so supportive and told me he would run it with me. That was when I knew I had the running bug! 

But September 2016 seemed so far away, I wanted to start training now, there and then (I’ve never been very patient) I put the iron away and got my running kit on, laced up and hit the road. While I was running it occurred to me that my friend who roped me in to Blenheim 10km had mentioned me doing a half marathon in Coventry. I calculated this being 5 months away and that planted the next seed in my mind. 

When I got home I started googling half marathon plans and it seemed that I only realistically needed 16-20 weeks to train, this was perfect! So I did it. I signed me and my boyfriend up that night to run Coventry Half. I think he was cautious as I had only been out of hospital a few months but he could see how much it meant to me and so he was very supportive. I proved that if you look after your body, give it what it needs and listen to it then anything is possible.

From that moment I started believing it was possible, I was going to run a half marathon. This was both exciting and terrifying in equal measure but however I felt, it was going to happen. I was doing this for me, to prove I can and using it as a benchmark to see where my body was at and as I had never covered that distance I wanted to see the pace I was running at and if my body could really sustain 13.1 miles. 

Training plan:

I followed a BUPA intermediate training plan incorporating speed work, hill runs and long runs at the weekend. I admit I didn’t follow the plan exactly, but I adapted it to make sure I was covering these three types of run.

Hill runs were designed to get my body used to running up hills and then to keep going and not stop. Although hard on the legs and bum these were my favourite training sessions ( in a torture kind of way ) 

Speed work was designed to help me with my pace. I would run intervals in the park mixing it up each week.

Sunday became ‘Long run day’ and at between 8 and 9am every Sunday my boyfriend and I would head out for our long run. I loved having someone to run with, you have someone to talk to, to support and encourage you during the difficult runs and someone to celebrate with when you finished the run (and someone to go out with and refuel with!)

As the weeks went by there were good and bad training weeks, ups and downs, amazing runs and runs where I felt like giving up after 3km but I didn’t, I kept going because I had a purpose, I had my eye on the prize and ultimately I kept thinking to my dream of running the Great North Run for Bowel Cancer Uk, running for my mum.

There are endless training plans on the internet which you can use exactly or adapt to fit your life. Below are some good ones to start your research with:

http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/the-beginners-guide-to-the-half-marathon_52399

http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2013/09/training-tips/couch-to-half-marathon-training-plan_15065

http://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/directory/r/running-programme-half-marathon

Nutrition:

I admit I was pretty clueless when it came to nutrition, I knew I had to eat more on long run days and had to eat the right foods after a run but for me that’s as far as it went. Despite not having the knowledge on correct nutrition I still made it through training however it has taught me that this is an area I need to really focus on when I start training for the GNR. There is lots of nutrition advice out there so find what works for you. Try not to get to obsessive or caught up in good and bad food, what you can and cannot eat. There are no limits but you will soon learn what works well for your runs. Fuelling is so important and can’t be ignored.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/506701-half-marathon-meal-plan/

http://www.runnersworld.com/fuel-school/how-to-fuel-for-a-half-marathon

Race Day:

Talk about nerves! It’s strange up until race day I didn’t feel nervous, I knew I was going to turn up, I knew it would hurt but at the same time I knew I would do it. 
Race day was a different story! 

Arriving at the race village I was flooded with nerves, questioning my training, wishing I had got proper nutrition advice, seeing everyone kitted up, looking professional! But I was distracted from these invasive thoughts by the atmosphere. It was amazing! There were people everywhere, charity stands with food and drink, loud music, families gathering to watch their loved ones, it was amazing! 

The actual race:

Queuing up to start was exciting yet nerve wracking! Making sure we were in the right pen, getting my music sorted and most importantly ensuring the Garmin had Gps! But we were off, I remember running straight past my boyfriends mum at the start and seeing her there supporting gave me that initial buzz. We were off! When the adrenaline kicks in anything feels achievable but I just hoped that was enough to get me around the full 13.1 miles. As the race went on I admit I was struggling with the early distances, up to 8 miles felt really difficult and I was constantly battling with my own mind. These barriers we talk about ‘I can’t do it’ ‘I haven’t trained enough’ ‘I can feel injuries’ ‘I won’t make it to the end’ ‘I’m not good enough’ I was hit with each one of these but every time one came I fought it. I told myself I had worked so hard for this day, picturing how disappointed I would be if I stopped, people had sponsored me £500 to do this I was not prepared to let them down or let myself down. I thought about how brave my mum and dad have been and if they can get through what they have I can push through the pain for a few hours running. Then I thought about RLAG, about all the amazing ladies who go out when they think they can’t do it. I knew I encouraged them to believe in themselves and not give up so now wasn’t the time for me to become a hypocrite! 

Mile 8 marker became visible and I finally found my feet, I was in a great rhythm, I was smiling and the crowds around me were amazing. It was buzzing!! I finally began to believe and I was experiencing the runners high that we all talk about, I was actually doing it! I will never forget crossing the finish line with Ian. It felt amazing to have trained together and finished together. To top it off as I crossed the finish line I looked up and my sister, brother in law and twin nephews were stood there cheering. I had no idea they would be there but it’s true, it’s not just your race, you share it with so many people. 

Truth:

It hurt, my legs were so sore I couldn’t walk up the stairs and I developed injuries I didn’t know existed!

Would I do it again. Of Course I would!! 

My Half Marathon tips:

– if your in two minds about doing one, just sign up! You come to believe you can once you start training and seeing your body adapt

– train with other people- even if it’s just one of your runs a week, motivate and encourage each other

– for your first half marathon, don’t focus on time, don’t put pressure or expectation on yourself just go out there and enjoy it.

– make sure you have comfortable trainers, if you need new ones, change them gradually and don’t change too near to race day

– personally I didn’t use any energy gels, but if you want to make sure you test them beforehand

– don’t do anything different on race day to a normal training day

– hydrate, hydrate, hydrate in the week leading up to the race and not relying on the morning of the race

– queue up early for the toilet! You don’t want to be stressed about getting to the start line. It’s amazing how many people need the toilet at the same time!

– my biggest and most important tip is to enjoy it, enjoy the preparation, enjoy the run and celebrate afterwards

– oh and equally as important… Smile when you see a camera, they are likely to be official photographers and those photos will be landing in your inbox after the race!

So, do you think you have what it takes to run a half marathon?

Too right you do! See you at the start line

Michelle Mumford

I have always been into fitness but running was always something I found difficult. Last year however, I joined Run Like a Girl as a way of meeting people and doing something as a group,  and after that first 5km run I never looked back! I loved how running made me feel and the sense of achievement after every run. I wanted to do something good with it and prove to myself that I could take on a challenge, and at the same time raise money for charity, so I signed up to the Great North Run for Bowel Cancer UK this year. To help prepare for this I also signed up to Coventry Half Marathon, my first ever half! When I joined Run Like a Girl I never dreamed of running that far, but it soon became possible. Running has become a huge part of my life and I can't wait to see where it takes me. 

It's an honour to be a Running Leader for such an amazing group. Join Run Like A Girl and you won't just be joining a running group but you will become part of something much bigger. A supportive group of friends, running for fun! 

RLAG takeover Leamington Parkrun

Saturday 5th March, Run Like a Girl were tasked to take over the majority of volunteer posts at Leamington Parkrun, and as a women’s only running group, you can imagine how excited we were. One thing we know that we can always bring to the party is plenty of noise and enthusiasm.. oh, and cakes, we brought A LOT of cakes, much to Mrs Doyle’s delight.

Despite the sprinkling of snow the night before, the near freezing temperature wasn’t quite enough to harden the soggy ground which was a result of the heavy rain we’d had earlier on in the week.. the course was a mud fest! Regardless, this wasn’t going to dampen the spirit of the 360 Parkrunners who had made the effort to get there. Add to this, the buzz of our own 35 runners, 30 of whom were among the 76 total first timers, and we were all set to take on our volunteer roles.

Still on the winter course, the mass start made for great viewing as they all pelted down the pathway towards us. There were some huge puddles along the way and it wasn’t long before everyone cut their losses and embraced the mud.  

For those who are yet to volunteer at a Parkrun, it really is an eye opener to see the sheer amount of effort that goes into setting up these free events. I’ve marshalled on a couple of occasions before now as well as help Mrs Doyle in the café, but the role of Funnel Manager was a new one for me and gave a real insight into the importance of having all of the roles associated with the finishing area, in place andfirmly focused on their allocated tasks.

Once everyone had passed, we quickly set to putting up the finishing funnel while the Time Keepers and Finish Token givers stood poised for the first finisher to arrive back. It wasn’t long before Susie Tawney came hurtling by with her loyal dog on lead, both serving an impressive display of focus and determination.  This stirred further excitement among our group and it was only a short wait before Dean Mawby took the position as first male finisher. Congratulations to both Susie and Dean.

The crowds of mudcovered Parkrunners soon picked up and the Run Like a Girl volunteers were in full cheer mode!  With so many of our own runners out there it was hard not to get excitedbut we hope that our enthusiasm carried across to the other runners as well. As Emma, the Run Director said to us, ‘There’s nothing like a gaggle of girls to make a noise’!

There are so many variables which can make or break any running event:  the atmosphere, the weather, the location, good coffee, cakes and bling. But when it comes to Parkrun, the formula is fail proof - it’s the people that make the real difference. The camaraderie among the runners and the commitment made by the volunteers is what makes Parkrun the close knit running community that it is. If you havn’t volunteered yet, you’re missing out. I urge you to get yourself on the rosta, the sense of reward is addictive.

Thank you Leamington Parkrun for having us, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

The Run Like a Girl crew.

To Run Like a Girl...

It's not that we're a bunch of feminists trying to take over the world with our girly ways.. although that does sound quite fun. You see, women when challenged, display a ferocity and gritty determination which is really only found in those who didn't realise it was there in the first place. That in itself, is reason enough to encourage others to step outside of their comfort zone and explore their potential, regardless of gender.

Throw into the mix, the era of #ThisGirlCan add a sense of humour.. combine together and there you have it, Run Like a Girl (catch up if you can!). It's fun, sassy and does what it says on the tin.

The name had stuck and it was then that I stumbled across this fantastic video on Youtube. If you're still unclear about my choice of name for this group, then I urge you to take a couple of minutes to watch this.