Be kind to yourself

I couldn’t be arsed to go to the gym today. Or run. Or go to Bikram.

I laid my kit out for an upper body session at the gym and went to bed at 11 rather than midnight (early bedtimes are a work in progress, still battling with myself to get to bed before this). Too many hits of the snooze button and a general I-can’t-be-arsed feeling convinced me to write it off and have another rest day.

This is part of Project Be Kind to Tess, something I’m working on during this cycle of marathon training to look after myself and train mindfully to get to the start line of Brighton Marathon injury free, strong, conditioned and fully charged for a PB.

And I will get a PB.

It’s easy to activate beast mode when working hard towards a goal – nothing else matters, never mind if you’re tired – no pain, no gain, and all that crap.

Miss a threshold run this week?! Better defer your marathon place, it’s just not gonna happen now.

Nah, I’m not buying into all that any more. I’m respecting what my body can do (and what it can’t) and am letting it have its say. If Tuesday’s planned threshold session has to be turned into an almost-walking-pace recovery run – so be it.

If I can’t be arsed to go to the gym and fancy two slices of toast with peanut butter and builder’s tea on a Friday morning – that’s fine. I’ve learnt a few things this winter about how to look after myself while training, so if you’re going through the same thing, do yourself a favour and be kind…

1. Stop criticising yourself

So you stopped and started a bit on your long run, took a few photos, stretched out your calves, didn’t run as fast up the hills.

You did your intervals but didn’t keep the pace as well.

Who cares? The miles are in the bank, the work is done –  you could’ve sat on the sofa and not gone out at all. Stop nitpicking at your workouts and look at what you’ve achieved.

2. Rest when you need to 

A difficult lesson to learn when you’ve got a training plan to stick to. Something I’ve learned though, is not to be ruled by the plan. Use it as a guide. If you hit all the sessions – great, well done! If not, don’t beat yourself up about it.

Only you know your own body, and if you try and push on for a hard session when your legs are screaming NO, you’ll be injured and miserable.

Rest hard, and you’ll come back stronger.

3. Strength and conditioning 

One of the most important parts of marathon training, without a doubt, is strength and conditioning. If your body is not strong enough to cope with the training you are putting it through, you’ll crash and burn.

Strength and conditioning for runners - King Alfred gym Brighton

I learnt this the hard way last year, skipping hills and not doing any weights, and my weak hamstrings and glutes made me pay for it.

Staying injury free is vital and the only way you can do this is by training mindfully and getting strong. My physio Tom Goom (aka RunningPhysio) has done this ace guide to injury prevention if you’re interested.

4. Sports massage 

I know. It hurts, it’s expensive, it makes you swear. A lot.

But if you don’t give your legs a regular service, you’ll seize up and probably die. Maybe.

5. Go to yoga 

If you’re a runner you just have to do this. Do it for your body and your mind.

I’ve been saying I should do more yoga for months. Last week I signed up to a 30 day intro deal with Bikram in the Lanes in Brighton and since (and including) Saturday I’ve been three times.

It’s incredibly hard, probably the most difficult thing I’ve done so far this winter, because my body is so tight and rigid that I can’t open myself up to do the postures. But this is a work in progress, and I’m gonna go at least three times a week for the next month to see if it improves.

Despite the difficulty, I’m absolutely loving setting aside 90mins each class for ME. Focus, be calm, be strong, and breathe. I will get better…

I must get over wiping the sweat from my face though!

6. Eat and sleep more 

Healthy Turkey Burger recipe - FitBits
Homemade turkey burgers with sweet potato chips – recipe here 

I don’t tend to have any problems with eating more but sleeping more is another massive work in progress for me right now. I’ve set an alarm for 9.45pm with the aim of being in bed by 10.30 but it’s not happening at the moment.

Sleep is just as important as the actual running and training – I need to remember this! It’s just difficult with 101 other things to do, with work, my writing and actually spending time with hubs and friends/family, to shut down and get to sleep at a sensible time.

Like I said though, a work in progress. This week I’ve nailed fitting in the yoga. Next week I’ll nail the sleep.


Are you being kind to yourself with your training? 

Am I the only one who nitpicks at runs and comes away feeling bad? 

Also, somebody please tell me I’ll get better at Bikram soon… please?

<– Marathon Training Week 6 

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