Tuesday, 21 July 2020

How to Adapt to Running Solo

Rachel Emily sat on a fence in matching green running gear

I'm going to throw this out there. I'm not a solo runner. 
I can run solo and I do run solo but it's not where my running 'buzz' comes from. 
I like seeing the miles go by having a good chat with the girls from my running club.
Ask to speak to Ellie, she'll tell you that I don't shut up. Or Caz. 

I tried to get into running solo, mainly through couch to 5k, and I failed multiple times. Usually at week 3 or 4. It's the support and accountability from my club that got me motivated enough to run, complete the 5k and keep running. That's why when lockdown hit it was very strange. 

I had to adapt to solo running and I found that the majority of the time I felt like I was running because I should, not becuase I wanted to or was enjoying it. So I started to get creative on how to entertain myself and have a companion while getting one foot in front of the other. 
Here's what I tried, what failed and what worked...

Rachel Emily on Rainbow steps in matching green running wear

Phone a Friend
Your first who wants to be a solo runner lifeline is to phone a friend. 
For me, I love running with people because we chat away and the miles fly by. When I'm solo I'm constantly in my own mindspace thinking about when the next mile marker is, or how my feet sound pounding the pavement or all the things I still have to do at work/home that week. 

It appears that it's only when I'm really worked up, stressed or angry that I find solo running a release. 

So I tried phoning a friend. At first chatting on the phone while running was hard because all the other person got was my darth vader breathing through the microphone but I learnt to slow it down a bit, enjoy the slower pace and enjoy the conversation. 

Podcast It
Now I'm now big into podcasts. Everyone keeps telling me to get into them and recommending them but they just never seem to stick. Maybe I've not found the right ones yet, who knows. 

Listening to a podcast is similar to having a good old chin-wag, it's just a little more 1 sided and you can listen away without worrying about the darth vader breathing. 

I find podcasts that are completely random are best for me to run to. Nothing too hard hitting or that you need to concentrate 100% to - mainly because I need to remember to actually run and check when crossing the road.

Rachel Emily leap frogging a bollard in matching green running leggings and top

Virtual Racing
With the majority of scheduled races now cancelled or postponed virtual racing is a great way to have a goal or target to work towards. 

During April I ran my first 10k to take part in the virtual Bristol 10k that I was signed up to run before cancellations hit. I did my own chosen course, at a time that suited me, submitted a screenshot of the run and received my medal in the post. Had I not decided to do the virtual race then I doubt I would have pushed myself to do a 10k, especially solo. I've since done 2 so i'm pretty chuffed. 

Here are some upcoming and live virtual races:

Challenge Yourself
So similar to above - you can set challenges to keep goals in mind when you're running. 
My club have set up lots of local challenges and a mini-league to help keep us motivated and it's been really fun. If you don't have a club challenge yourself to beat your own goal, or challenge a friend.

- They've set a 10k route and challenged us to walk or run it as many times as we can in a month.
- They've set us a target to do as many miles as possible in a month to help us reach a certain destination worldwide.
- We are currently on a photo scavenger hunt where we have to run past certain local landmarks and take a snap. You could set this for yourself locally to achieve over a month which would help keep routes diverse also.Plus the photo is a great opportunity for a cheeky stop.

If thinking of challenges for yourself is too much then check out Strava. They often have monthly challenges based on loads of different targets from distance to pace. And you get a little badge once you complete them. 

Finally. If you are out running solo - please do it safely.
Tell someone where you're going, how far and when. Make sure you're visible and take an ID. Only run where you feel safe. If i'm out alone I often stick to main roads and daylight hours so if there was an emergency I could get help nearby easily. 

Ad - PR product (Leggings from Love Leggings)
Photography by Kayleigh Gresty

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