Break down the barriers

Every mile counts, says #Run1000Miles ambassador Sophie Ruffles

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Wow, we’re already one month down in this fab challenge. Hopefully, like me you’ve been motivated to run off some of the Christmas excess and hit the trails. I already have over 100 miles, a 10th of the challenge, ticked off, which has been fairly easy as I am training for a marathon in April.

I completed the challenge last year by November. It was easy to get the miles in at the start of 2017 with my first ultra marathon, Race to the Stones, to train for. Once that race was over in July, I was grateful for the #Run1000Miles challenge to keep me motivated. It wasn’t always easy as I have a now nearly two-year old son, a full-time job with a two-hour commute and a husband that works shifts. 

I am lucky enough to have a running buggy, which means I can continue to run when I have no childcare. Over 300 of last year’s miles were with my son and buggy, which made those miles all the more special. 

We all have reasons not to run - work, children, tiredness. Injury and illness aside, this challenge is all about breaking down the barriers and getting outside for a run little and often - a couple of miles with the buggy, a quick 5km in my lunch break, a few miles to wind down after a hard day, a jog with the dog rather than a walk. It all counts. 

So use this challenge as a nudge to get out of the door as often as you can. No matter how far you go, all those miles count. Enter a race if it motivates you, the training will add extra encouragement. The beauty of this challenge is that even when that race medal is hung up, you still have a reason to run, and a brilliant community of like minded runners to share the journey with. Happy trails! 

Welcome to #Run1000Miles

Paul Larkins, Editor

Over the next 12 months we’re going to supply you countless stories of success, training methods, inspiration, special diets and training sessions to supercharge you but I’m going to get us all going with that classic line: keep it simple.

Over the years I’ve tried just about every training session there is, eaten all sorts of super vitamins, agonised over what injury prevention gizmo works best and rubbed all sorts of miracle cure creams into aching limbs. And you know what? When it comes to the training, everything kind of works as long as you do it regularly and programme in plenty of recovery time. Just be confident in what you’re doing. All I ask is that over the next 12 months you aim to try a few different training regimes - speed or endurance or a bit of strength training; the variety will do wonders for your enthusiasm and, I bet, make you a better runner. 

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I started running in 1978 and was chatting with my coach from back then recently and more or less that’s exactly what he told me. For him, it almost doesn’t matter what you do early on in the year - just get it done, but make sure that after a few months, you then step back and take a look at what’s happening… and do something about it. Make a change, add something in. Think back, he said, what did we do? We ran a lot up until Christmas (our year started in October), to get into a routine then after that we did some strength training, quite a bit of speed-work, then went back to some endurance, before hitting the speed again. Mix and match, it works every time. And I figure he knows what he’s talking about given he’s coached several Olympians and World Champs competitors in that time (me included).

With that in mind, I’m going to say this: aim to run at least three times a week. Make one of those runs longer, make one shorter but faster or include fast segments in it and make one slow and easy. Get that done and it’s Job done. Glory awaits!

This mix and match approach is kind of true for everything when you think about it. For instance, if you ate nothing but carbs your body would quickly break down because of a lack of fat needed for muscle repair and if you ate nothing but fat, energy levels would be all over the shop and difficult to manage. Mum really did know best when she insisted on that meg and two veg for every meal! Of course, energy supplements and recovery drinks come in handy at certain times but a bog standard traditional evening meal will do the job. 

All of this is, of course, a bit of a generalisation. As a coach myself my job is to recognise everybody is different and everybody reacts to training in a different way. One of my athletes, Luis, loves to clock up the miles, Patrick on the other hand loves to sprint. But both are almost identical when it comes to racing. I think that’s where the Facebook forum works so well, so thanks to everybody who has signed up and thanks in particular to those of you willing to share ideas and advice. Our job as runners is to then take those ideas on board and adjust to our own needs accordingly.

And please, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at the magazine if you need any advice. It’s a small team but we cover just about distance. I ran for GB in the mile and now coach everybody from a group of beginners on a Wednesday night to international athletes two or three times a week; fitness editor Paul is a 2:28 marathon runner who has also competed in the Everest 100-mile stage race, while one of our regular contributors is Damian, who was 12th in last year’s UTMB. We have everything covered!