Hippy, hippy ouch

I’m sure I’m not alone in having a weakness round the hips. Common in women runners, apparently.

Mine stems from having one leg longer than the other and so my left leg gets a disproportionate pounding when I run. That means tighter muscles in that leg and that hip.

The very brilliant runner’s world has some exercises on its website which are just great for hip flexibility.  You’re looking for the MYRTL routine, you have to dig about a bit, though the perky nutrition women are worth listening to – watch you don’t get blinded by those dazzling white teeth though!

The guy races through them, and you need to do 10 not three, but these will be great for me and I’m going to give them a whirl. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Running like the wind

Yeah, right.

For my first run after my chesty cough has almost buggered off, the day has been blessed with more than a stiff breeze outside. Perhaps not the howling gales we endured earlier this week in the UK, but it’s blowy out there.

I don’t like running in the wind. Does anyone? Sod’s law dictates that it will blow in my face all the way, push at my shoulders and generally make breathing even more difficult.

Still sporting a head full of gunge, I managed to jettison snot all over myself as the wind whipped up, sending mucus splatter across just about everything I was wearing. Yeah, attractive.

I ran 3.03 miles in a pathetic 37 minutes with mile splits of 11:21 (good), 12:54 (abysmal), 12:08 (better). That second mile was the especially windy, muddy, slidy, ‘bugger it I’m walking for a bit’, section of this run.

But, according to runner’s world, running in rubbish weather is much better for your performance potential than retreating to the gym. Apparently you are forced to use oxygen more efficiently in cold conditions. Northern Arizona University research claims if you regularly work out in cold weather conditions, interval training running speed increased by an average of 29%.

So, a crappy time on paper, but apparently money in the bank for my running faster quest.

Given that my whole plan is to run faster I will just have to keep on enduring cold, wind and all the other delights of British winter weather, because I fancy a 29% increase in my interval speed no end.

Cat calling: good or bad?

I’ve come to realise that my running is something of a spectator sport.

I can be wrapped up in my own little world of ‘come on, you can make it up this hill, distract yourself, legs up, run lightly, pump arms’ when my mantra is interrupted by the voice behind me…

‘KEEP IT UP, LOVE’ or ‘KEEP RUNNING’ and once ‘PUSH IT, BABY’ (I kid you, not).

Now it is a bit irritating, and it can more than put me off my stride, but is it really such a bad thing?

In the past I’ve had a bit of a harrumph to myself, mostly because these comments come from men who look like they couldn’t run for a bus/toffee/a free six-pack of cooking lager.

That and the fact that I’m usually on my last legs, pouring with sweat, bright red and generally looking like I’m about to implode.

But they have actually spurred me on to run a bit faster, which is what I’m aiming for after all.

Clearly I’m not alone and from this Runners World forum most people take it in good humour.

Of course I have the advantage of being past the NED fantasy age and so I don’t have to endure lewd, explicit comments from youths as I’m old enough to be their mother, or possibly grand-mother.

I think most of my commentators are trying to be helpful or identify themselves as ‘friendly’ rather than ‘threat’, and if that helps me run a bit faster, then all to the good.

And Stretch…

We all know how our muscles tighten up after runs. And we all know we should stretch properly after our runs. How long do you give stretching, maybe five minutes?

As well as those post-run stretches, have you considered yoga as a real asset to your running schedule?  As a rest-day alternative, if you really can’t sit still, it has so much to recommend it.

I mentioned yoga to Harry the personal trainer and he nodded enthusiastically and mentioned ‘downward dog’. Downward facing dog has the calf stretch to beat all calf stretches – and it’s stretching hamstrings, arches, shoulders, hands and your back, to boot!

But there are a myriad of yoga positions you’ll move through during a class so all of you gets a treat.

Runners World featured yoga in their magazine’s August issue, showing a variety of stretches you can achieve with the aid of a pillow (no, not putting it under your head and falling asleep).

But there are also styles of yoga that are pretty testing on the muscles, increasing strength as well as . I’m a big fan of ashtanga yoga and there are classes all over South Manchester where you can drop in at classes. It’s an hour and a half work out but my goodness, you’re floating by the end. Metaphorically speaking.

There are many different types and yoga fusions out there today, you are bound to find something that suits your temperament, whether you like fluid movement, from one yoga position to another, or whether stillness suits you well.

But one thing’s for sure. A relaxed, stretched out body can only help in the quest: to run a bit faster.

Namaste, runners everywhere.