Training Tips for (*New) Runners... Part One!

This week has involved more than usual of two of my favourite things; sewing and running (NOT at the same time, didn't your mother tell you about running with scissors?)... I digress...

The sewing part is more against-the-clock than usual, as I've taken on the Laurel dressmaking competition, why? Well, a) I love a competition (I'm a Competition Whore), and b) I thought it could only do me good to sew to a remit (you always learn something new from every pattern , it’s a great excuse!).

So – as the deadline for the dressmaking comp is this Monday coming (29th April 2013), the next post will most likely be a blow-by-blow account of how that went, with pics of me wearing the potentially-prize-winning-dress itself. I can hear you holding your breath – please don’t, it may be a disappointment... Just envisage a hamster emerging from a flowery sack, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised, whatever it happens to look like…

In the meantime, the Virgin London Marathon last weekend left a real impression on me, and in fact it got me thinking about entering the ballot. Again. *Sorry Mum* So… I decided to start training in earnest.  Let’s face it, there’s no downside to running – especially when the weather has been so lovely recently. (again, sorry Mum - I know it's been crap weather up North... here's a shot of Rod sunbathing to make up for it...) 

"I know my blanket's near, but I can't be arsed moving..,"

So... where was I? Ah yes, my Training Tips! I imagine you now, sitting rather bemused by this proposal, for the following reasons;

  1. I do not come across as a hardy athlete, what are my qualifications?! 
  2. I did not do spectacularly well in the 2011 marathon (5hrs 25mins) – how does this make me fit for advice-giving? And… 
  3. Am I not worried that by giving training tips I may well be held to account by more seasoned runners/athletes/trainers (*delete as applicable)…?
OK! I’ll answer each of the above points, before continuing my ‘mission’;
  1. That IS what qualifies me; running did not come naturally to me, maybe there’s something in the ‘techniques’ I use that may inspire another ‘non-natural’ to try, 
  2. I COULD argue that running a marathon in 5hrs 25mins IS a good time when you've got a sprained ankle. (but I won’t, that would be self-congratulatory), and, 
  3. Everyone has an angle when it comes to proper technique; my tips are not to be thought of as gospel, merely the tricks I use to make running a more pleasant prospect…

Now that last point might sound a little strange, why would you need ‘tricks’ to make running pleasant..? You’d think everyone that runs, loves running… but NO! I thought it was just me, but it turns out people have to drag themselves to the gym, or the park, and give themselves incentives to face it… if that’s you, the following list is very apt. If that’s not you, I'm very happy for you – stop reading now. You could be doing FAR MORE CONSTRUCTIVE THINGS with your time, like going for a lovely run. Now… where was I..?

Ah yes! Running Tips… In no particular order then,
  • Pick a soundtrack that motivates you. This is so utterly important to me, that I get a bit panicky at the thought of running without my MP3 player… I have done it, and CAN do it, at a push – but I find music to be an amazing motivation. Here are some of my all-time running favourites… Jamiroquai, Beyonce, Daniel Bedingfield, and can't be without a bit of The Prodigy! (*since writing this, my track list has been updated, but I'm leaving this here as an 'historical statement'...)
  • So - what qualifies as ‘motivating music’? Well… a track from any girl band who look like they live on a macrobiotic diet and train for hours, five days a week (Girls Aloud/The Saturdays/Pussycat Dolls) – or singers that actually do (Gwen Stefani/Madonna/Britney…back in the day). For some reason I find this kind of music to be a major kick up the ass. Analyse that any way you like ;)

Also TV/movie characters that have had to fight to survive (Sarah Connor in Terminator, Sydney Bristow in Alias, Rocky Balboa..,) – I find the soundtracks from these shows equally compelling… this leads me neatly to running styles… I run the risk of sounding a little unhinged when I share the next tip with you; but I've told myself I'm going to be as honest as possible in my blogging endeavours… so here goes. *deep breath*
You won’t get reported to the police for what you’re about to divulge Gem, carry on! How interesting… I appear to call myself Gem when I’m talking to myself. Oh dear… have I just written all that..? Get back to the point Gem!! D’oh! 

  • I sometimes pretend I'm one of the characters from one of the aforementioned shows... To clarify, this does NOT involve me running with ammunition (frowned-upon activity in London); neither do I wear wigs and hide behind trees waiting for The Villain to arrive. Although that does sound appealing. What that means, to me, is running like a lunatic, away from (imagined) danger, with Rod often leading the way through the brambles (which he does with gusto). It also means, on occasion, I’ll stop and fight a tree. Shadow boxing, you understand, throwing out combinations; roundhouse kicks, dodging blows, the works – hell, I have no shame! I recognise the more ‘demure’ amongst you will feel terrified at the prospect of being so…open… out in the open… but it makes me laugh, breaks up the training, and feels good! I blame being an only child. 

*You may not believe this, but when I searched Google Images for 'Only Child' the poster to the left came up... I think Only Children get bad press... can anyone tell me why? Technically, I am BOTH an only child, AND one of three siblings... I spent the majority of my childhood with my Mum, and holidays with my father in Spain, and his '2nd' family (with my brother and sister). Do I feel my brother and sister are more 'well-adjusted', caring, sharing, understanding or fraternal than any one of my 'Only Child' friends..? No! They are wonderful people, and I love them, but not because they grew up together... Am I starting to resemble a velociraptor while talking about prejudice towards Only Children? Possibly. But at least I know how to spell IMMEDIATELY. Coincidence? I think not.

Who knew I had SO much to say on the subject of running? Not I! So -
this is Part One; I don't want you to explode under the pressure of remembering everything I've told you, so I've cut it down into smaller portions...
I also do not want to be held responsible for you running around Hyde Park in a yellow striped suit, attempting to hunt down Only Children Haters. (OCH's - if you didn't already know...).

Part Two of the Training Tips for (*New) Runners will explore themes of running locations, clothing, and organised events... if you have any questions about what I've written, then you're taking me too seriously it'd be great to hear from you!! 

I've had some feedback on the Leaving Comments part of this Blog; if you have any trouble, please head to my Facebook page and leave a comment there; I really do appreciate it when you take the time to tell me your reactions to this drivel Blog. I thank-you!! 

"Less words, more action! When are we going running?!!"


  1. As much as you were being serious about 'pretending to be the character', I couldn't help but laugh!! Part of the reason is that I do it too! (Glad it's not just me!). The only difference is, I do it when I'm simply walking, and I do actions... People are used to me, I think. Once whilst in town with my mother, I heard the town clock 'ding' and immediately went into Cruella DeVil mode during 102 Dalmatians where she reverts back to being evil. After shouting "Cruella's back!!" & producing manic laughter, yet receiving no response I've decided I either live among lovely people, or everyone in Newcastle is used to me. Or both.
    I don't even know why I shared that, it just felt appropriate, but at least you got a bit of insight into my strange existence.
    Loved reading this, as always! You're such an entertaining writer. :)

  2. You, Sarah, have just made me sound normal- which is no mean feat! I can just imagine you cackling away, C.D.V. Style!! That's one way to keep the undesirables away ;) Lovely to have you commenting, and complimenting, again :D
    *Why not start your own blog? Bet it'd be good!*

    1. I'm not sure if making you sound normal is a good or a bad thing, but it does make me proud.
      Also, I don't do anything worth blogging about, unless people wish to read my lovely rants about how unfairly treated the Evil Queen is in 'Once Upon A Time' and how Snow White is completely out of order, which I'm sure most people do not :P
      Technically, I do have a blog, however it's not the type you're thinking of; it's rather irrelevant to anyone except myself and my followers :) However, I appreciate the suggestion :D

  3. Another great blog and some cool tips! :)

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Only removed because I noticed I had made a spelling mistake (not allowed !).
    I agree with your comments on 'Only Children' although I find it an anomaly as you were hardly ever on your own ! Your first four years were spent being my companion/sounding board/pupil of old songs etc.. in Spain - we were always on our own as your Dad travelled so much and left you and me on the side of a mountain amongst the pines. On arriving back in England, you were always surrounded by little friends, you must have been the only child in Holy Trinity School who had ALL of her classmates to her birthday parties, and so it has ever been - wherever you have studied/worked/played you have gathered up people and never put them down, you are like the pied piper (without the rats of course). I shudder to think of your eventual wedding list !! So, go blame your madness on something else (your Dad is very eccentric, and I have my moments - especially when it is windy - ask your Aunty Jane), because you, like a lot of people, are one of the nicest 'only' children I know xxxx

  6. Would a pursuing tyrannosaur classify as a performance enhancement?!

    1. Possibly...altho I'd have to check with the Powers That Be... I think they'd allow it, if it meant more sponsorship...

  7. I have just downloaded 'Eye of The Tiger'. I've always loved it. It's always motivated me. I am UNASHAMED. Gotta dash, I have a run/ jog/ walk-jog to start. Great tips Gema, thanks.

    1. Obviously you won't get to read this until MUCH later when you're back from your tiger-like run; but be strong in your unashamed musical likes Kate!! May I also suggest 'Fame'..? I have a feeling you'll like that too ;)

  8. Hello,
    How are you..? I hope ok..! I have just seen an episode of Kojak and I could have sworn you were in it..! Have you done any Television work in United States..?

    Kind Regards

  9. Thanks for the running tips, I'm always meaning to start running again, so I hope this can give me the kick up the backside that I need!


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