Today is the first day of Jantastic, a three month fitness challenge designed to keep you motivated to achieve your goals through winter and spring. I decided to join up because, although I have been working to improve my fitness over the last few months in preparation for this year’s races, I’m still only running about twice a week on average. So, this month I have set my Jantatsic target to run three times a week – a challenging but achievable step up!
As today was Day 1 of the challenge, I wanted to get my first run logged. My aim was to run an easy 5K on my usual seafront route on Hove promenade. After last Sunday’s run, I felt confident that I could cover the distance without taking any walk breaks. However, I also wanted to make sure that I didn’t over-do things in terms of pace, as I would have two more runs to complete later in the week.
I headed to the seafront just after 7:00 pm. It was predictably cold and windy, but I was layered up enough for it not to matter. As it was dark, I decided not to worry about checking my pace on the Garmin (I’d have to wait until I passed under a lamp post or keep pressing the light button, which I really couldn’t be bothered with) and resigned myself to simply running along at what felt like a comfortably slow pace.
As I was taking things nice and easy, I decided to use the opportunity to think about my form. It’s not something that I have bothered with much, except maybe in the beginning when I was heel striking too much, or when I first started running up and down hills, but on the whole I don’t really give it much thought.
I know that I generally land front to mid foot and that I have a very short stride so, as I was going fairly slowly, I started to try to lengthen my stride a little bit to see how it felt. At first, it felt kind of weird and almost exaggerated, so I was glad it was dark and there weren’t too many people around to see what I was doing, but I soon started to get the hang of it and it felt ok – like I was running more than jogging, even if I was going more slowly than usual.
In the end, I finished the 5K in a time of 33:47, giving me an average pace of 6:45 per kilometre, which is fine for an easy run; but more importantly, I didn’t overdo things the way I usually do. The next four weeks are all about building a routine, and if that means taking it easier on the mid-week runs then so be it.
Besides, training isn’t just about improving pace or building distance, there’s consistency, form and a whole load of other things to learn about. And I have a feeling that this month is going to be a bit of an eye opener for me in that respect!
Have you joined Jantastic? Do you think about your running form? Please share your thoughts in the comments.