We never know where life is going to take us or what challenges it brings. In January 2010 I was happy, so happy I wanted to stay that way for as long as I could. I realised that if Ali and I wanted a long and healthy life together, we had to change. I was clinically obese, had a bad back and my knees were feeling the strain. I had various health problems and I was ageing faster than my years. I looked ahead to a life I did not want. It was time to change. By the end of the year I had lost 4 stone - 56lbs. My confidence rocketed - I had taken control and it had worked. I was exercising, enjoying buying clothes, speaking up for myself.

I began to believe in myself again, I began to dream. For years I had watched marathons with admiration and a lump in my throat. In April 2013, I ran my first marathon.

This blog is about living life as a slim person, staying slim and fulfilling my dreams. Come and join me, support me, advise me!

Take care, Sue

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Running from the hip: lessons in focus and practice

Something remarkable happens when you say things out loud and I reckon blogging works just as well. It's the logic behind the power of intention, behind the working of spells; saying things out loud starts to turn your hopes and dreams into reality.

In my last blog I said I wanted to run my second marathon in 2015. I knew when I was running Lochaber Marathon that I wanted to do another. I know I can do better and I really don't want to waste the vast amount of (painful) learning.  I learnt the hard way that more than most people I need to allow plenty of time to build up so I start Marathon training from a strong baseline.  So I signalled I'm ready to start with plenty of time to ahead.

Those few words written down in black and white have started something, my world is turning and my perspective has definitely changed now I have a purpose and a goal again.  I've started to build hills and speed bursts into my runs. Just a little bit, not every run, but they're back. Every time I run I have (or I find) a purpose, every run takes me closer to my goal. The journey has begun and I'm looking forward to a serious Chi boost in a few weeks when I'll get some transformative training with Nick at the Chi Running school.

My thoughts are turning to what races, when and where. I need to build up distance but more importantly at the moment I need to rediscover my inner hare.  I did a pretty good job eradicating speed and pace from my consciousness when I was marathon training, now I need to get them back! I've started to sprint at the end of short runs and managed a couple of quick 5k treadmill runs snuck in before classes at the gym. It'll be a while before I get back to my short distance pbs, but this is the year to go fast and short. Already I'm finding that my pace is speeding up and my perceived exertion dropping down. My body knows what's expected of it and is responding.

The mental side of running has been dominated by what happened to my knees and hips over the marathon training period and I have developed an obsession with building up slowly and carefully to avoid causing any damage. But recent developments have made me realise that I can do more than just take it slowly and wait for things to get better.

A few days after my decision I got a massive boost of serendipity, courtesy of Virgin Gyms.

The first thing was Adam's yoga class. I love the gym's Yoga classes, the teachers are excellent and  have taught me a great deal about what practice means. That way of thinking is filtering through and starting to impact on how I go about things, especially on how I focus.  Anyway, Adam's class focussed on pelvic alignment. I'd done a long run the day before and was a bit creaky in knee and hip. After an hour and half with Adam focussing on this one key bit of my alignment, all the niggles in my left hip and right knee completely disappeared. Proof that the problem is not my knee or indeed my hip, I need to focus on my pelvic alignment and strength. I have to build improvement and strength through focus and practice. I started with my morning Yoga stretches.

The impact on my running was instant. I went off for a slow run the next day with a clear focus on hip alignment.  I've never focussed so directly on this bit of my core before and as I ran I realised I usually concentrate on holding core muscles rather than aligning bones. The shift of attention really worked. Running from my hip bones meant I got the rest of my core right, it made me concentrate on holding the correct position rather than holding the right muscles. I found it much easier to tell when I was getting it right and it gave me access to more power and speed too, it felt very strong running from the hip. Nothing hurt, even the next day, not even the niggly knee. Something had clicked into place and my understanding of maintaining form and the importance of practice deepened. Good Chi Running stuff!

 I'm doing as much as I can for free at the moment, so when the chance of a free session with a personal trainer came along, I jumped at it.  I had pretty low expectations to be frank. I thought I'd get a bit of help with the new machines and maybe a new core training regime. What happened was another epiphany.  Dan took me through my paces and analysed my gait. He quickly identified my wobbly uneven pelvis as a problem and had me doing lunges with and without weights; it was hard work and I now know why I have always hated lunges with a passion! Wearing trainers made my wobbles much worse as they reduced my ability to stabilise. It took pelvic stability and alignment to a new level and gave me a really good way of building that bit of my core strength. Working with Dan I realised that personal training could help me improve my technique, strengthen my weak points and take my running to a new level. Finally I could ask all those daft questions and get feedback on my form without feeling guilty about holding up the class.  Watch this space.

So the journey continues, this time leading from the hips with a new respect for the power of form and practice. I have a lot of work to do but I'm not deterred. I've my Chi Running training coming up which will bring running and Yoga, form and focus together with friends and fun. Great things will happen. Bring it on!

Have a great week!

Take care