Downtime! No malfunction, just relax.

My marathon went great and I can enjoy my downtime! Good news, you can enjoy it too!

Seriously, can we ease into the new year slowly? New year will surely have another challenges for us.

‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’ so let’s give these words some meaning.

Self care

Are you one of those people panicking during the Christmas time? Presents, polishing the house, preparing the dinner, traveling to find your family? In theory this should be the most amazing time of the year, in practice it’s a source of anxiety for many of us.

Let’s face it, we don’t need presents as we probably get what we want ourselves and probably your family don’t need luscious gifts as well. But if your loved ones are different and require something expensive…honestly you shouldn’t fall for it. Take a look at some charity websites and see how much you need to pay for a Christmas dinner for a homeless or elder person, how much it costs to feed a homeless dog for a month. I don’t want to seem a Mother Teresa here but it puts things into perspective and doing good (make that donation!) makes you feel really good.

If you want to make a present I would suggest giving an experience (travel, race enrollment, dinner or drinks together) rather than an object. We all have too many stuff but not enough great memories!

Training

I know some of you are doing ‘run every day in December’ project and if it makes you feel good, let be it. Me, myself and my two legs are taking some easy time. Training for a marathon has been tough for me mentally because I love logging miles but the pressure of great performance wasn’t easy. That doesn’t mean I won’t be running, I love it! Possibly I’d like to maintain my pace if not getting faster but I’d like to dedicate some time to strength work and yoga. My right tendon is begging me for some attention and I’ll do my best to send away the inflammation I have.

And of course I’m dreaming of next year races, I have something big planned for the second half of the year but springtime is free in my book…Send me some race suggestions, I love to plan!

Are you having some downtime? How are you using it? Are you loving Christmas or you just can’t relax in December?

Few random Q&As on running

Are you on Quora?

Quora in an online platform where people can ask questions and other users who deem themselves experts or just think they know the answer can reply. I like to read and comment on Quora and reply to questions about running. I’m not an expert, I just ran a few marathons and running is a passion of mine. I thought it would be fun to post a few questions from Quora I replied to. If you like them please follow me on Quora  https://www.quora.com/profile/Hanna-Gierzynska-Zalewska or just give a look on the website!


Why do people pay to run a marathon? Why not just run the 42 km on any other day?

Because you want to measure yourself on a given day on that distance and have a proof of that. And a medal. And photos.

You want to test your luck, maybe you’ve trained but on that day you will suck anyway.

Travel: you want to run where you’ve never ran before. Sometimes running a race is a cherry on top of your training.

The best way to know is to run a marathon or watch a marathon in person.

What it means to ‘hit the wall’ in the marathon?

When you finish your physical and mental energy. I would argue that it’s mainly your brain because when it senses that your finishing glucose it just goes on energy saving mode to save itself. There’s enough glucose for the brain so it says to your body to shut down. Which sucks cause you mentally and physically feel like you can’t go any further BUT

You actually can, you just have to tell your brain ‘I know what you’re up to, you’re not fooling me’ and go on.


Will anyone ever run the marathon under two hours?

Humanity is getting there and the latest record in marathon (Eliud Kipchoge 2h 1 min in Berlin Marathon) shows that we’re close.

I’m quite positive that it will happen.


Is it important to monitor the heart rate while running? If yes, why?

It could be very useful as it gives you a feedback on intensity of your workout or your overall health. If you don’t have a special heart condition it’s just something you might use not something that is necessary. Many runners look at heart rate monitor too religiously.

When I would strongly advise running with a heart rate monitor? If you’re running while pregnant as you must keep your heart rate way lower that before pregnancy.


Should I treat life as a sprint or a marathon?

Orienteering but without map and compass.

Stereotypes about runners


How many times you’ve read an article on what people who are not runners hate about people who run? Runners brag  about running all the time, spend too much money and time on training and so on.

You know what? It’s not so easy to be a runner as well. We roll eyes every time we’re asked how long is the marathon and if we run every day and if we won the last race we’ve participated in. Because we’re tired being asked the same sometimes, let’s face it, really ignorant questions. Oh, I shouldn’t probably say that but common sense is for free. I don’t ask a mother if she wants to spend every second of her day with her children, or a fitness coach if he/she never eats chocolate.. Let me get through a short list of questions we get:

  1. You run you should have a professional runner’s body. That’s also a reason some people are afraid to start running, they’re just intimidated. And even if you run for number of months or years you don’t have to look like an athlete the way you imagine it. We’re tall, we’re small, lean, robust or overweight. We gain weight, we loose weight, we get injured and we’re out of form, then we get snatched or we don’t. Running is a privilege not an obligation. Some of us treat it less serious others get religious about training. We’re very diversified among us.
  2. If you run you should be fast. But we’re not professionals. Our capabilities changes as we get older, as we get stressed or have a blissful period of happiness and less stress.
  3. You’re runner, you have to run all the time. Actually rest is a part of training. To be honest even if I ran in the morning I will get jealous if I see someone running later that day but I think I’d hate running every day. Time off is a good idea both for your body and your brain.
  4. How come you take elevator, you’re runner. Because I’m tired. I do take the stairs quite often but yes, we runners do get lazy and we don’t think about our fitness all the time.
  5. You’re a runner, you ran a New York City Marathon, right? It’s one of the most popular marathons in the world and for sure someone who has a vague idea about racing has definitely heard about NYCM. Most of the runners would like to run it, some people who would like to run only one marathon in their lives will choose that one. This doesn’t mean though all runners have done it, there are millions of other, even more prestigious, races
  6. Marathon? You know, the first guy who did it actually died. Not true, Philippides was a professional and he ran more that a distance of a marathon, according to our standards he ran an ultramarathon and he survived as he was trained to run long distances. His job was to deliver messages on foot and horses ha to be spared for other tasks.
  7. You think less of all non-runners. No, we don’t. More time passes less we want to talk about running as we want to have other friends, non-runners and running is such a  natural of our life we don’t feel the need to talk about it all the time.

The conclusion would be that we don’t expect of people who don’t run to know all about running but we don’t like to be judged by the cover, that is our bodies, shoes and the term ‘runner’.

Knowing how long is a marathon is kind of basic knowledge, for the rest: be open and tolerant.  Maybe one day you could go out for a run and once you do..you’re one of us!

How to avoid injuries: 4 simple advice

The short answer is: you don’t

But of course the longer answer is: it depends. Experienced runners know what to do but it doesn’t mean they apply those rules. Why? Because we’re mad, we’re addicted and we always think that running will heal everything. Just another one, only 10 km and I’m done.

Runners: we’re different..

Pay attention

Injuries (I’m not talking about accidents) usually don’t come from nowhere. They creep on you, they come as a nagging pain, small ‘thingy’ that grow bigger until it becomes unbearable. Like taxes. But, unlike taxes, you can avoid them or mitigate the damage. Sometimes a day or two of rest will do the trick: you have a tense muscle and if you run on it you might pull it. Or maybe you should change your running shoes but you forgot to keep track on how many miles/kms you run in them. Pain that stays with you is always an invitation to stop and find a reason why. Or at least stop.

Don’t be greedy, good things come slowly

Most of us believe we’re made of iron (or rubber, you choose) and we can do whatever and our bodies will follow. News: you’re not a Superman, if you start running too much too soon you will get injured. It sounds so obvious but we still forget that your body needs to adapt to a load of workout. A small amount of it will make you progress and become faster and stronger but if your body will be subjected to too much too soon it won’t be able to process it.

Small addition of kms (miles)= you’re sore, big load too soon= you’ll be sorry.

Invest: foam roller, massage and maybe a coach.

Aah, investments..they said running was the cheapest sport of them all. But then you decided to run more, race, eat gels wear fancy shorts and have a smart watch that tell you that you’re slow.

To be honest you can skip most of the gadgets (keep the shoes and sports bra) but invest in foam roller. This torture device will give you a good muscle release, use it on your legs, glutes or even on your back. It hurts sometimes (almost always) but it works like a good deep tissue massage. If roller is not enough go to osteopath that may spot flaws in your posture and maybe give you some corrective exercises. Another good investment is a good coach. If you keep on getting injuries maybe someone should take a look at your running routine and goals?

Running is not enough

That’s the saddest and most interesting part. The saddest because running is fun and everything else is sooo boring.

Interesting because in reality there are a lots of other sports and activities that can make you move, be entertaining and even…wait for it..make you a better runner. Cycling, hiking, swimming will condition your muscles differently and will help you building endurance. Personally I consider very beneficial taking up activity that you won’t take so seriously as your other sport. You’re a great runner? Start dancing and laughing at your lack of coordination!

Ok, that’s it. I’m sure there’s a way to avoid injuries but they happen anyway to even the best of us. The art of dealing with it is another blog post…