My Bumpy Journey to Consistent Running

Any attendees at GoRun Group over the past couple of years will know Caz.  Caz left Melbourne and moved to Switzerland with her husband, Michael at the beginning of 2019, where she is still running and progressing in leaps and bounds.  However, Caz has suffered her fair share of frustrations as a runner, with tight and painful lower legs whenever she ran, an issue she never thought she would be able to break through.  Thankfully things are on the up, but Caz wanted to share her story of the bumpy road to consistent running, as other runners suffering the same frustrations may be able to relate.

Here is her story, in her own words: 

 

“I have always been an active person in some way, but never a runner. I started running in January 2016 after making a deal with my husband, who is a triathlon coach. He was going to cook dinner once a week and I was going to start running. In the first year, my aim was to get out and run 15 minutes, 2 or 3 times a week. I found this really difficult as I didn’t see the value in only going out for 15 minutes.  It didn’t seem worth the hassle of getting ready for a run to just run around the block. When I did run, I would get a lot of lower leg tightness which made it painful to run and my feet would often go numb. As a result, I had to stop and walk to alleviate the pain/numbness and often it was every few hundred metres. This was how all my runs were and to be honest, I found it hard to keep going out and persisting.  I would often find myself thinking “Will I ever get to a point where I have no pain in my lower legs?” or “Is it even possible to run pain free?”

The following year I started doing run group with my husband’s athletes once a week, but this was the only running I was doing and looking back it was probably too far at between 3-7kms each session. Mind you, there was still a lot of walking during these sessions to try and ease the tightness in my legs, but I was able to run a little further before I had to stop. I continued to get lower leg issues, so my husband suggested I start doing some barefoot running. I found when I ran barefoot it gave me less problems and I started to feel like I was making a little progress. I felt better about getting out and running because I would get moments where I had no pain and it seemed possible that maybe one day I would be able to run pain free.

In June 2017, I tried going along to GoRun Group, which was more suitable to where I was at with my running, with a nice mix of beginners and intermediate runners. I started going every second week or so and I was also making time to go out and run once or twice a week for an extra 1-2 kms. I was still finding I was getting the tightness and pain, but it was less frequent and it certainly wasn’t as bad as it had been.

In 2018, I started going to run group every week and most weeks I was doing one extra run a week of 1-3 kms. Some weeks I had a good run with only minor lower leg tightness and others I had to stop and walk every few hundred meters. There didn’t seem to be any pattern as to why I would be ok for some runs and not for others. I started trying different things like activation exercises and walking before runs, different shoes, different speeds of running, higher cadence and walk/running, but still I was finding I was getting some sort of tightness in my lower legs. By this stage I was very frustrated and was finding it hard to get motivated to go out for a run. I would go to run group every week and it would be the same thing. I didn’t know what else to do, so I just kept turning up and running as best I could.

Between December 2018 and March 2019 I ran a total of 3 times a month. Things were very busy during this time as we moved our lives from Melbourne to Switzerland. We arrived in Switzerland at the end of winter and for the first couple of months, I found it hard to get motivated and rugged up to go out running in the cold. As the weather started to get warmer heading into spring, I got my husband to write me a plan to start back running. He said if you can run 3 times a week and increase this over 3 months you will be able to run 1 hour by June. I wasn’t sure how I would go initially because I had never been able to run pain free or for longer than about 15 minutes non stop, but I had confidence in the plan he set me. So in mid-April I started running 30 minutes 2 times a week and gradually building the third run to be longer every two weeks.

I’m a little bit behind schedule, but in July 2019 I ran for 1 hour!  I walked for 8 sections of 30 seconds to get my breath back after a few little hills and to alleviate some very slight tightness in my lower left leg, but I felt good! Tired, but good. It was amazing to look back afterwards and think “I ran for an hour and I almost made it to 10kms with almost no lower leg pain.”  These last few months have been very satisfying to see my improvement. I never would have thought I could run for an hour had you asked me a few months ago. This month I have also been able to run 5km in 28 minutes which again I would not have thought possible even a few months ago.

I have kept track of my running over this time and here are a few stats which shows the gradual progression over the last 3 years:

Total Kilometres

August 2016 – July 2017  Total: 206.6 km (Weekly average 4kms)

August 2017 – July 2018  Total: 233.2 km (Weekly average 4.5kms)

August 2018 – July 2019  Total: 317km (Weekly average 6.1kms)

5km Times

August 2016 - 5km 47 minutes

August 2017 - 5km 42 minutes

August 2018 - 5km 37 minutes

April 2019  - 5km 34 minutes

July 2019 - 5km 28 minutes

As you can see, it hasn’t been easy, but I have persevered with my running (unlike my husband with the cooking!) and I can now go out and run between 5-10 km fairly comfortably, with minimal to no lower leg pain.  This has been a result of consistent running. I have only been able to see the benefits of being consistent after sticking to a plan and now experiencing what it’s like to be able to run without pain. If there is one thing I would encourage a new runner to do, it would be to get out and run a little bit, often, even if it’s just around the block. Simply being consistent will get you running further and stronger in no time. 


Imagine what my running journey would have been like if I had been consistent from the beginning?”

Caroline Harvey