Steph Claire Smith Hated Running. Now She Smashes Out 5km - Women's Health

Steph Claire Smith Hated Running. Now She Smashes Out 5km

Whether you’ve taken time off from training or have zero motivation, Steph shares how you can find the love too

Ahhhh running… it’s one of those exercises which I used to absolutely despise. In all honesty I’d go so far as to say that I hated it. Whenever I used to push myself to go for a run I’d always put myself down and think ‘why am I even bothering’. This mentality was a by-product of never really giving running a fair chance – I simply accepted that it wasn’t my strength. I never approached running in a way that was manageable and enabled me to take baby steps that were suited to my fitness level to actually see progress.

But this all changed when I switched my mindset. I realised that a lot of the hatred I had for running stemmed from my comparisons. I would always compare my runs to others’ and judge myself for my slow pace or my short distance, leaving me feeling deflated. 

As soon as I stopped doing this and accepted my running abilities for what they were and understood that it takes time to build fitness, I started to ‘hate’ running a little less. When that little negative and self-deprecating voice ever popped in, I would give myself a compliment on my run, and think ‘I should be so proud of myself for getting this far’. This new mindset then spurred me on to start running more frequently and in turn I was able to realise WHY people run: because of that post run high! 

Now, that was all pre-Harvey. Once I got pregnant, I tried going for a run in my first-trimester and upon finishing the run, I was left feeling a little uneasy, something didn’t feel quite right and so I made the decision not to run during my pregnancy.

Having now re-ignited my want to run, the launch of our KICRUN program couldn’t be more perfect. It has honestly launched at the best time because I’m at a stage in my postpartum journey where I am physically ready but also mentally ready to get back into running properly and regularly. I am so excited to follow the audio program alongside our KIC community all the way from week 1 to week 8 and see my cardiovascular fitness improve and finally have the confidence to smash 5km.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a little bit nervous about this commitment but knowing I’m going to have the KIC community on the journey with me and Laura’s voice cheering me on through my headphones comforts and motivates me so much. Like anyone, I get overwhelmed and doubtful of my running ability, but I’m learning to take the pressure off myself and trust the program. 

I’ve also come to be mindful of comparing my personal abilities pre and post-Harvey. Pregnancy did change my body, but I’ll forever be in awe of just how AMAZING the female body is for being able to create new life. For all my fellow new mummas out there who like me are looking to start or get back into running, try not to put pressure on yourself and just go with the flow – life is already hard enough with bub and compromised sleep.

I am so excited to rebuild my fitness and get back into running more frequently. Our KIC team has worked so hard on this and I can’t wait for you all to try it and fall in love with running! 

Read on below for tips on how to get into running from KICRUN’s expert physio, Hannah Drysdale.

Tips for getting into running

It’s common to think that when you start running you need to push yourself. I often see clients who decide to start with a 3km or 5km run, but this tends to cause overload and injury. Starting with interval runs, where you alternate between running and walking gives your body the chance to adapt to the new load. It will also help to prevent your runs from becoming so difficult that you dread them rather than looking forward to them. This is where the KICRUN program is perfect to guide you safely from 0-5km.  

What exercises should we introduce to support our running training? 

Once you learn to love running, most runners just want to run (guilty!), but it is just as important to look after your strength and flexibility as it is to complete your runs. KIC offers a range of Pilates, yoga and strength classes on the app. I would suggest aiming for at least 2 of these per week, in addition to your 3 runs. While you are working on your 5km goal, it is best to minimise the HIIT sessions and focus more on strength and control. Aim to have a day off in between each run, where you do a strength or Pilates session and try to include 1 yoga session per week.

 

Describe the signs to look after for which is your body saying to slow down? 

Sometimes the signs are clear – you will feel tired, you’ll be yawning, it will be difficult to get out of bed, you won’t feel like exercising. However, sometimes the signs are not so obvious. You may still have plenty of energy (aka, running on adrenaline) but find that you are a little irritable, off your food, not sleeping well or lacking your usual enthusiasm. Your muscles may start to feel weaker and your legs may feel heavy, you can even start to feel physically unwell.  When embarking on a new exercise program, we expect to feel some changes, but these should only last a couple of weeks before your body adapts to the new routine. If you find that you feel ‘off’ in any way for more than 2-3 weeks, then your program may need to be adapted to suit you more personally.

What are your tips / main things to consider with postpartum running training? 

    1. Medical clearance: When returning to running after giving birth, the first step is to be cleared by your GP or obstetrician for exercise. This usually occurs around 6-8 weeks, but it is important to note that this is not necessarily clearance to start running. You will need to build your body back up with the following steps before you can return to running or impact exercise.
    2. See a women’s health physio: Whether you had a cesarean or vaginal delivery, it is important to check that your pelvic floor has recovered and is strong enough to tolerate the load of running. You may need to complete some exercises before you start any impact exercise to ensure that you have the strength to run, jump, cough and sneeze with confidence postpartum. Following an expert led postpartum program like KICBUMP is a great way to strengthen and reactivate your pelvic floor. The sooner you get onto this the better, so get the ball rolling before you intend to start running.
    3. Strength: See a musculoskeletal physio who can screen you for any areas that may need to be strengthened before you start running – this may include your calves, glutes and core abdominals. Depending on how you feel and where your energy is at, you can get started on this quite early in your recovery under the guidance of your physio.
    4. Give it time: don’t rush this, your body has been through a lot and it is so important to take whatever amount of time you need to recover. Take it slowly, build up gradually and listen to your body.
    5. Make time to warm up and cool down and follow a program like KICRUN that manages your load across the week.
    6. Check your shoes are still the right fit – a lot of women find their feet change through pregnancy and motherhood, you may need a new fit before you hit the pavement again
    7. Enjoy getting out there again!

     

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