I gave a presentation to a group of Oxfordshire-based Run England Run Leaders a few months ago about the best ways to help beginners build up their confidence.
I spoke about the importance of the Golden Key (a big part of my Beginner’s Luck book) which is to slow right down, making it easier to keep going.
As well as the Run Leaders there were a few complete beginners in the room: ‘willing volunteers’ for the practical coaching part of the session.
I’d asked them about how they found running and they all told me that a minute or 2 was their limit, then it just became hard to breathe and felt too uncomfortable to continue.
Common complaints, I’m sure you’ll agree, but what happened next surprised me.
When we did the practical – running in a loop VERY slowly – they predictably found that they could run for 5 minutes non-stop and finish feeling as though they could have gone on for longer.
What was surprising was the comment from one lady who said “yes but it’s not exactly running though, is it”
But you see, as I tried to explain to her, running is running and walking is walking.
Everything else is just a matter of scale
Pace is very important to me at the moment.
I had a conversation a couple of days ago with 33Shake.com’s Warren Pole about ultra running, and my 10 marathons in 10 days.
He’s just back from a mountainous 60 miler, all part of his preparation for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, a 104 mile in-one-go foot race around the highest peak in Europe this August.
On his run he averaged 5.1kph.
Then yesterday I met with Alex Bellini for coffee, the guy who’s going to live on a melting iceberg for the whole of 2015.
When he ran 5200km from LA to New York in 70 days a couple of years ago, he was averaging 45 miles a day and running at a pace of around 7.5kph.
And I just got off the phone there with Gerry Duffy, who famously ran 32 marathons in 32 days around Ireland and then completed 10 back to back Iron-distance triathlons the following year.
The advice he had for me was the same as the advice he had been given by Polar Marathon runner Richard Donovan before his own challenge:
In other words, slow the heck down.
It’s 10 marathons, not one.
Putting in ‘Hero Miles’ at the start (as Warren puts it) is NOT going to pay off.
Gerry told me that I have the choice of having a challenging experience in September or an amazing, life changing experience.
My running pace is going to be the variable that dictates which I have.
If you’ve got your training and taper right, at the start of any event you’re going to feel fresh. Running slow is the last thing your body is going to feel like doing but you MUST make a plan and then stick to it.
Don’t be the runner who everybody shakes their head at for going off too quickly at the start and then dies half way round.
You’ll probably make it round either way, but give yourself the chance to have the most positive experience possible.
Both Warren and Gerry presented alongside myself and Catherina McKiernan at the Dublin Running Mojo way back in February.
I had planned to put on a similar event in the UK in September but to be honest I really don’t think I could replicate what we pulled off in Dublin.
I do have plans for more live events (some very exciting stuff, especially if the idea of stepping beyond the marathon and into ultras floats your boat) but the Mojo is likely to be a one off.
If you weren’t one of the 140 runners who got to attend the event but STILL want to suck out some of the wisdom and inspiration from the powerful line up of presenters, there are still a few copies of the Running Mojo DVD available from the website.
Many of those who attended have emailed me since to tell me that they regularly watch the DVD any time their motivation is starting to ebb a little and it does the trick every time.
Get your copy of The Running Mojo DVD << ANY runner will find this useful!