Running Hacks-Listen to your body
Ever been so bushed that you imagined how wonderful it would be to skip dinner and pass out on your bed in your sweaty outfit? Or maybe you wished you were a baby and someone would give you a bath, feed you, tuck you in and finally sing you a lullaby? That was me last Friday. I had planned to watch Beauty & The Beast with Xena on big screen but the moment I stepped out of the shower, I felt like somebody had slowly sucked all the life out of me with a long clear straw. You know the very long ones that guys in the past would use to drink traditional brews (muratina) from a common pot. On the other hand, Xena was also quite lethargic as she was recovering from a flu. Naturally, we had to take a raincheck and we plan on going for our date this Thursday. I recently discovered that Thursdays make a better day for movie dates as rates are heavily discounted!
Back to my unusual lassitude on that Friday evening. I struggled to finish my dinner as I was nodding off at the dining table like the kids do when forced to have celery or cauliflower. At 8.30pm, I dragged myself to bed, dejected that I didn’t have the energy to put my kids to sleep, much less watch a movie with them. What’s the point of this narrative you ask?
If you follow my fitness journey, you know how sacrosanct my Saturday mornings are, spent nowhere but at Karura putting in some miles. More specifically, some 10kms to my name. I could easily give you 500 words on how much I love my Saturday mornings at Karura, how the drive at 5.30am is heavenly and the music on HBR soothing, how the air is crisp and fresh and how amazingly good the forest smells. But that’s not the point of today’s feature.
Enhancing my running experience has been through trial and error. Along the way, I have learnt what works for me and what doesn’t. In the past, knowing how much joy I derived from Saturday runs would have me set my alarm to go off at 5am no matter what state my body and mind were in. However, I have learnt that a good rest is as important as a good meal or a good work out. And what’s more, when I am well rested I excel in my running too. The days I have broken my best average speed record or covered the longest stretches successfully are days when I was well rested.
For that reason, last Friday I deactivated my alarm and allowed myself to sleep in. I woke up at 7am (10 hrs later) feeling fresh and energetic and bubbly and happy. I had a productive Saturday but by around 8pm, all I could think about was going for a run. Happens all the time when I skip a run, and I love it. I love when I have an overwhelming urge to run. Trust me, it’s worse than the chicken-bacon-barbeque pizza cravings I had in the last trimesters of both pregnancies. I get excited when my body craves a run because I know I have to yield to it and I will kick ass. Records will be smashed.
Obviously, I wasn’t going to run at 8pm as I am not too sure about the safety of our hood at night and I prefer morning jogs anyway. The following day was a Sunday. My official rest day, as is Monday. I could barely sleep, waiting for dawn. Having never run in the forest on a Sunday, I was apprehensive about going alone as I wasn’t sure I would find a crowd that early. So, I asked a friend to come along. When we started the run, it was still dark. 6.05pm. I could make my way in the semi darkness, but he couldn’t. So he ran with his phone’s flashlight on for a few minutes. Such a bourgeois runner. After about 10 minutes, well into our second kilometer, streams of light were filtering through the tall canopies. My music urged me on. Sarkodie, Victoria Kimani, Naiboi, Femi One and Darassa. Next thing I knew we were on the 7km stretch and slightly ahead, a pack of three hyenas hurriedly crossed the road. I kid you not.
I clocked my best average speed. 5min 47sec per kilometer, 10.06km in 1 hour. Like I said, records are smashed when rest becomes an important part of your fitness journey. Listen to your body the next time it speaks of lassitude. Just don’t let it be an everyday story.