not running: a new category

This blog is about running and specifically about two things:

  1. me trying to find out how good I can be as a runner
  2. hopefully helping and inspiring a few people to be the best runner they can be

So why have I added a category of posts entitled ‘not running’. This is not going to be easy to write, but I have come to the conclusion that running, on its own, is not enough… or perhaps it is too much.

Screen Shot 2013-08-03 at 23.32.00I have long understood that there should be other stuff around running – my coach Nick is a strong advocate for core strength and conditioning exercises as part of the weekly routine (I fail badly to do these!) I also know many runners – a few of them quicker than me – who don’t limit themselves to just running. I remember one memorable run with a friend, where we met up with another runner – a 2:28 marathon runner – who said that he cycled every Monday in lieu of a recovery run, because he felt that it was better for his body.

I also know lots of runners, who add cycling and sometimes swimming to compete in duathlons and triathlons – in fact I competed in triathlon for a couple of years.

The conclusion I have come to, is that I love running – it has given me so much, including a sense of self worth, friendships that are more precious to me than almost anything, unbelievable experiences and a livelihood. But I have decided that I also like other stuff too and I am going to allow myself to indulge in a few of these other activities. Specifically the things that I really enjoy, in no particular order, include:

  • cycling
  • swimming
  • hiking
  • cross-country skiing
  • rock climbing
  • mountain climbing

And I want to emphasise that this list is in no way exhaustive and I hope that there will be other things that come along that I get to have a go at, but I am pretty sure they will be in the endurance sphere and I absolutely know that running will always be at the centre of what I do, in fact part of the attraction of doing other stuff is that I hope to elongate my running career by taking some of the pressure off my knees.

So from time to time I will write about the other stuff that I have been doing, Hopefully there will be some guest posts and I will attempt some product reviews. If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions, they will be most gratefully received. For now, I am off to see what else the world of endurance sports has to offer…

4 Comments

  1. Hi Simon

    I’ve been following your blog for a while and really like it – I share your interest (obsession?) in finding out just how good a runner I can really be.

    Core is a bore – but (as your coach rightly points out) is pretty much essential for runners, because it enables your body to cope with the training that is necessary to perform well, but it will not in itself improve your running and is distinct from cardiovascular cross-training (such as cycling and swimming).

    Unlike the rest of the activities you mentioned, rock climbing isn’t really a cardiovascular workout, but you should find that it gives you a lot more strength, not just in your upper body but in your legs, and also improve your balance and agility. I used to go to an indoor climbing centre in North London – great fun!

    Looking through your blog it’s clear that you’ve done a lot of running in recent months, so adding some variety should add enjoyment to your workouts I think that if you’re looking to optimise your running performance then cross-training is most useful for recovery days and in the more general stages of training, well away from key races – a long bike ride is not an ideal substitute for a 20m run six weeks before a key marathon!

    Good luck with it all

  2. I think that ‘other’ sports can do wonders for your running, not only from a training perspective, but also by giving your mind a bit of respite from the constant plodding and pacing.

    I’m a big cyclist, but I approach cycling in a completely different way to my running. My (almost) daily cycle commute makes my post-run legs feel better than a stretch and sofa session. I also love a good, long cycle ride with friends and think little of setting off on a 50-120 mile ride on a Sunday. But my time on the bike is stat-free for the most part and I don’t attempt any of the technical training like I do with my running. The contrast between my (overly?) analytical run training and chillaxed bicycle-based fun keeps me sane.

    I’ve been recently considering training on the bike and seeing how good a cyclist I could actually be, but I know if I do I will need a third, hobby sport!

    I hope you enjoy your guilt-free multi sport adventures and find them beneficial in some way – any way – and look forward to reading how you get on!

  3. I’ve recently been taking this approach too to help ‘broaden my horizons’ and hopefully become a stronger runner. I cycle commute and always get back on the bike the Monday after a marathon and find it helps my legs recover massively.

    I do pilates for core but have never been a huge fan, and have contemplated crossfit but I don’t really like the gym (much prefer being outdoors). So I was pleased to recently discover kayaking, which is a lot of fun and a great upper body and core workout (plus, nothing beats crusing along the Thames in the sun).

    Lastly, I’ve always been a fan of yoga and recently read the book, Running with the mind of mediation, which helped me to link yoga/meditation as being hugely beneficial to running. The book compares meditating and running and draws a lot on the idea of ‘being present’ in your activity – so rather than blocking out your run with music or mental tricks, focussing on the moment and not worrying about how long there is left to go. It’s helped me enjoy running more, rather than just numbing things or worrying about how long’s left to go. After all, running is essentially a hobby so it seems crazy not to enjoy and appreciate it at the time.

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