On the road again

Excited to report that I am back into marathon training. My 20 weeks has started and although feeling a little rusty with the routine I am happy to be back on the road again.

IMG_3421My podcasts this week have invoked some interesting thoughts. I have listened to stories of interpreters in Iraq who have worked for the US military and now find themselves at risk of losing their lives (due to the involvement with the US) with no or little ability to relocate.  I have listened to Another Mother Runner and how to get yourself motivated and stay that way after Christmas indulgence. Of course the podcast included the usual TMI associated with running, which we all love to hear from the AMR ladies. This morning it was listening to an interview with a Canadian runner who delved into the topic of the objectification and perception of women in sport and the impact this can have particularly on young girls. This is a topic that has been of interest to me for a long time and I enjoy hearing different perspectives.

So marathon training is back in swing and so is the time that I have to listen to a plethora of podcasts that make me think. I am in my happy place!

Last week I was feeling a little overwhelmed as I stared down the 20 week plan but then my mother runner community reminded me to take it one run at a time. Such a great metaphor for life. We only have the here and now – what are you doing with it?

And where is your happy place?

Happy Merry New Year

I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas, Chanukah, or whatever it is that you celebrate at this time of year. I know mine was very full with laughter and some very touching moments as well as some frustration, stress and chaotic looking organisation. It is all part of the mixed up ball that is Christmas for me.

colorful-new-year-pictures

But this is a running blog…. As per usual at this time of year, my running gets a back seat and my mojo hides itself under the couch. I will have to dig it out soon as I have plans. I am not one for New Year’s resolutions. I have already made my plans for 2017 and the end of the year isn’t quite upon us. No surprises, nothing shocking, no revelations here…. another marathon. Another BQ attempt.

I am continuing with Heart Rate training with my coach, Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming. I am committed to this approach for at least the next couple of years if not longer as I want to see how big an aerobic base I can build. I know I have a long way to go in this regard. I also know that I have to take a good hard look at my nutrition and work out what is the best way to fuel my body. My body. What works for me.

Running is a part of my life now and I kind of take it for granted. At times I lose perspective about how brilliant it is to have the motivation and ability to run four or five times a week. Some people don’t exercise at all. Some people cant. My mantra for this next marathon training cycle is “be grateful” and I am backing this up with “how bad do you want it?”.  I have issues with pushing myself – that is, I am not very good at it. My plan is to spend this training cycle working on that mental strength as it is a critical component of achieving a time goal.

I hope you have something to look forward to this coming year. Would love to hear your plans.

Ros

You cant win them all

It has taken me two weeks to write about my fourth marathon experience. To be honest, it is not because I am ruminating over it but rather that I have already moved on in my mind.

I was a DNF.

Yes, a “did not finish”.

Don’t worry – no medical tent for me. I just walked off. Totally, just walked off the course. It was so easy. I wandered off down a side street, called my husband and told him where he could come and get me. Simple.

The decision to do that was also simple in some regards but nonetheless extremely difficult. As I said to my husband during one of our phone calls while I was still running, my decision is between how much my heart will ache from quitting compared to the heartache of knowing I was about to run my slowest marathon.

Let me take you back a few weeks. I have participated in an outstanding 20 week heart rate training marathon plan. During week 18 I completed an enhanced, anaerobic threshold run, the numbers from which informed myself and my coach that I could run a 3:45 marathon on a perfect day. My official BQ time needs to be 3:55 (although more likely around 3:52). I was extremely excited and a little bit in disbelief.

Two weeks before race day the weather turned and I started to get horrendous hayfever. I did everything I knew how to do to get it under control. I thought it would all be ok. The Saturday before race day I was so overwhelmed by it that I had to take a nap to reduce some of the effects. Perhaps that should have been the tip off. Perhaps someone I little less one-eyed, blinded by their training numbers, might have been able to see the writing on the wall.

Race day was warm and windy. Much warmer than the conditions I had trained in and also the wind was gusty from the north – hayfever wind. I popped an antihistamine and headed into town and the start line with a friend. I was so hopeful for his race after all his efforts as well. It was great to be hanging with him amongst all the excitement of a marathon start line. I love the atmosphere.

img_5962 img_5959 img_5958Long story short. At about 5k I was going slow but was ok with it. By 10k mark I knew my plan was out the window. At 15k I rang my hubbie to tell him not to hurry into the finish line as I would be a while. At 20k I started to think about whether I should just pull the pin. I was having trouble keeping my HR under control and my pace was awful. My nose wouldn’t stop running and my lungs were starting to hurt.

Not fun.

I did enjoy chatting to a New Yorker who was running his first marathon – that distracted me for a while.

The most heart wrenching part of the run was finding out that my brother, sister-in-law and their kids had come down to see me. My brother jumped into the race and ran with me for a few km’s encouraging me to keep going. He was the person who had inspired me to run in the first place. It hurt my heart to think that I would let him down by quitting.

After hugs with all the family including my husband and kids, I was on my own again running into the head wind at a slog of a pace. Despite a previous walk break my HR was still out of control. I was hating it. I had 14k of head wind left ahead of me. I just couldn’t stomach the thought. This is not my first time at the rodeo. I had pushed through adversity at my previous marathon.

I had nothing to prove to myself, or to anyone else.

So I decided not to. Running is my hobby. I do it for fun. I wasn’t having fun. I turned right, I started to walk, a looked back over my shoulder at the other runners still moving up the road, looking tired and defeated. I thought, “no thanks”. I am done. There are better ways to spend this Sunday morning.

I rang my coach. I rang my husband. My race was done. No regrets. It just wasn’t my day.

You can’t win them all.

I did get to enjoy the sting of disappointment. The ache of a breaking heart as all your effort and plans turned to nothing. As a dear friend told me, I deserved that sting, that pain. It was mine.

I was incredibly unwell for the week after the marathon so I have no regrets about my choice. I am now turning my mind to getting stronger and hopefully faster and will try again for a BQ next May. For now, it is back to enjoying running and having more time with my family.

Thanks for all your support.

 

Taper time!

T – 10 days until marathon day. Obviously I am excited and nervous. No different to normal.

I have to apologise for not posting very often on this site lately. There have been a number of things going on. Firstly, my work life is exceptionally busy which is a great thing, however, creates time pressures. These flow into my ability to keep everything ticking over in my home life and we have had some extra demands there this year as well.  Totally ridiculous that I added marathon training to the mix. But I do love it.

There is also a private facebook page for all of us that are training via Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming’s heart rate training program. I have posted there regularly and have had the immense pleasure of being part of an amazing tribe of mother runners. If this kind of virtual group training appeals to you, I can highly recommend the Train Like A Mother (or Father) heart rate challenge. I guess I have satisfied my desire to pour out my feelings and thoughts on marathon training through that medium and have neglected this blog. I will remedy that!!

not-going-to-staySo, where am I at? I am a week and a half out from race day. I have run five to six days a week for the last 20 weeks. Missed only about two runs and have no sign of over training or running injuries. That, my friends, is absolute magic. The magic of MK and heart rate training. I have had to put my ego aside over and over again to deal with the slow paces that I run. I have also had to put aside my favourite winter boots as they are getting tight on my newly bulked up calves. I have re-evaluated my nutrition, increased my meditation, learnt how to assess perceived effort and that small things add up to big things. I am #winningatlife.

good-and-badDuring the course of the training I have undertaken Enhanced Anaerobic Threshold runs which provide some interesting pace and heart rate numbers. I have plotted these into an excel spreadsheet, digested them, and tomorrow morning I get to chat to my coach about paces for race day and how to run a smart race. I cannot wait to hear her perspective.

Do I feel that I have a BQ in me?

Yes.

Do I feel that I can execute it on race day?

Hmm… there are too many factors out of my control such as the conditions and whether I will get a good night’s sleep. Then there is my inability to hold strong and let myself off the hook during the race. It is a very old pattern and one that keeps me from pushing. I think it comes from being an asthmatic – if it feels hard, then stop. When I ran some of my race pace miles I let myself off the hook. It is ok if I run 5:25s rather than 5:15s as you have to think about how you will feel after running them for an hour… etc etc.

So the question really is, how bad do I want it?

Which then always leads me to, why do I run marathons? What do I get from them? What are they really about?

Feeling strong is always the first thought. Quickly followed by, they are something just for me. I also feel incredibly fortunate that I CAN run, that I can have a hobby and recreation time. Running makes me happy and more happiness in this world cannot be a bad thing.

Why would I like a BQ?

It is a romantic notion really. To run the infamous Boston Marathon. To have a time goal that puts you in touch with your cohort. I cannot imagine the atmosphere of such a race.

I am sitting in a space of gratitude, of excitement and the pressure that I place on myself. No one else cares what time I run my marathon. As Dimity McDowell mentioned in her blog recently:

pressure-is-a-privilege

I do feel privileged. And a little self absorbed. LOL

Dealing with the craziness of taper I am reminding myself.

My body is fit, my mind is strong, the hay is in the barn.

There is nothing more I can do. I will tell the truth on race day when all will be revealed. And in the big scheme of things, it is just a matter of running a long way for no reason whatsoever. Many think I am crazy, but for those of you who are part of my tribe, you know why we run…..

In my dreams I am a Kenyan.

 

Runs to test your mettle

Always an important part of marathon training to have a couple of runs that test your mental and physical resilience. Well, I had one of those last weekend. My long run included intervals at 10k pace. The last set of which was hard to hold. But I did it.

Then, I had to get my heart rate back down under 140 bpm for the final 9 miles. After waking your heart rate up with some faster pacers, it doesn’t always want to comply. Actually, it never does. There were a few choice words coming out of my mouth as I had to slow to a crawl to get my HR back to where my coach tells me I need it. It was tough. It was long and slow. You have to “lean in” to these runs because what you do here will set you up for when things get tough on race day (if they do).

I kept reminding myself how much I want this. I kept thinking about the finishing line of the marathon and a huge PB. That didn’t help to get my heart rate down either as I would find myself starting to feel quite excited. I have crossed the Melbourne Marathon finish line before and know how it feels, what it looks like, what it sounds like. Creating all of that visual in my mind certainly got my heart racing. Dang! I imagined hugging the fellow runner next to me in excitement as I see the time on the clock. Cheering to the officials, thanking them for their time. Hugging and kissing my husband and kids for all their support to get me to that moment. You can see why the heart rate went up….

I took my ear buds out, focussed on my breathing and got into the moment. That works. Nothing like a bit of running meditation to calm things down and make life a better place.

Whatever techniques get you through those long, tough runs, you can draw on again on race day. You have to get that practice in. Totally critical. As scary as they always feel when I look at my training plan, I know those tough runs are going to put me in good stead. I am not just training my body but also my mind and it is all going well so far.

Happy mental strength to you all.

Bit of trust, bit of patience & a whole lot of love

My regular readers know that I now have a coach and with this comes a facebook and strava page. There is a bunch of us all training for a marathon with the same coach – about 100 I think. It makes for a busy and interesting facebook group.

Not only that but we are all undertaking a Heart Rate Training plan. This means running slow to run fast. But that’s not all! Maybe not a set of steak knives, but there are plenty of other bonuses to having our coach and HRT plan. There are super short strength circuits to do, bosu work and using bands to improve hip strength. On top of that, amazing nutrition advice and weekly podcasts on EVERYTHING. This is the kind of training program that changes your life.

I am at week 10 of a 20 week plan and have hit the mid-plan blues. Seems there are many of us that are feeling a little sense of tiredness and being a little disheartened. All part of the process I am sure.

In response to a long thread on a facebook post I decided that at this stage of a training cycle it is all about having three things.

  1. Trust in the process,
  2. Patience in your development, and
  3. Feeling the love.

Love of running, love for your community and the love of your coach. And she always tells us that we are #coachedandloved.

Question is, what am I going to do to get my motivation and energy back? What do you do in these circumstances?

Getting it done!

Many a time I have questioned my mental strength. I have always been very good at letting myself off the hook.

“So I don’t feel like running, no big deal, I’ll make sure I run tomorrow.” I never felt any guilt, I just thought I was being very sensible listening to my body. Unfortunately with marathon training skipping one run here and there isn’t an issue but if it becomes a regular pattern then you REALLY need to take a good look at what is going on. I wasn’t holding up that mirror!

Last Monday I couldn’t get myself out of bed to go for a run. Firstly because I had skied all day on Sunday and was pretty tired. Secondly, it was cold and there was snow on the ground.

After another morning of skiing, I was chilling out at a friend’s house and emailed my coach for advice on how to change my plan to accomodate the fact that I had missed my run. She was very nice about it.

But I kept on thinking about it. Thinking about how I had been able to tick off every run of my training plan so far and how far I had come. And then there was all the mums on my coaching facebook page who had given me amazing advice on how to run in snowy conditions. I couldn’t let it go.

Unbelievably, at 4 in the afternoon, I put on my yak tracks, thermals plus another layer and headed out into the cold and rain. Over an hour of running in less than ideal conditions in complete silence. All I could hear was the rain on the trees and the roads. It was completely magical. The air was fresh and clean smelling of snow gums and dampness. The road was edged with snow and all I could hear was the sound of my yak tracks scraping on the asphalt. It was like an amazing dream world.

IMG_5315 IMG_5316

Here’s to having the mental fitness to go along with my physical fitness in getting it done.

Satisfaction guaranteed.

Be careful what you wish for

Last week I did a presentation at a breakfast seminar on how to leverage the humanity within your organisation. As part of this presentation I talked about myself and went beyond my linked-in bio (humanity and all that). I admitted to the things that I really love of which running was obviously one. I also admitted to loving learning. I fundamentally enjoy having my mind twisted by different ideas, concepts, perspectives and thoughts. This really started for me when I studied Philosophy in my under graduate degree (I went on to receive a Masters in Philosophy).

The reason I am explaining this, is that I have just had one of those “a-ha” moments when you realise that you are playing the same pattern over again. I always wish for interesting conversations and different ideas. I realised today that my new approach to marathon training is exactly that. It is changing the way I think about my running on quite a profound level. When I write about those changes, they do not seem to be of any significance, but when I FEEL those changes they really have twisted my mind to a different way of thinking.

As an example, the long runs in my training plan are stated in miles but they also have a maximum time limit. This is due to the law of diminishing returns. The long runs are done with your heart rate below 140 bpm. Depending on how good your aerobic base may be, you might be able to do the miles in the time allotted, or you might not. I am in the “might not” category. On my last long run, I managed to let go of the desire to complete the full 12 miles (19.2km) stated in the plan but ran for the designated time of 2 hrs 24 minutes with an average HR of 138. I had not been able to do that before. I had run for longer than the maximum time limit in order to feel that I had done the distance and nailed the miles listed. But that is not what it is about!

The long runs are all about time on your feet. When was the last time you ran for over 2 hours? I am working up to being on my feet for 4 hours. I have totally let go of the need to cover a particular distance. Until now, all my training was about building the distance, logging those km’s, checking what pace I was doing, working out the fuelling. Now I am free of those constraints. I run by time and heart rate. And I don’t need much in the way of fuel, just some water. I am thinking about running so very differently. I am thinking about perceived effort and time on my feet. I am also enjoying myself so much more because I am not hungry or sore after the long runs.

Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it. #lifeisgood

If nothing changes, nothing changes…

T – 17 weeks.

Three weeks into the official marathon plan for my Boston Qualifying time. And I am definitely changing!

I no longer care about pace.

What? I hear all the hard core runners say. Yep, totally given it away. My watch only shows my heart rate and elapsed time. Even my long runs which have been provided in miles, have a maximum time limit so I can use that if I wish. I must look ridiculous at the pace I am running but I am beyond caring about that as well. I am focussed on my goal and I trust my coach.

I am running five times a week, every week, no problem at all.

Seriously. I have had to get up at 5.30am to fit in some of my runs and it is not a problem. Because the pace is comfortable and based on effort, there is no sense of dread. Just more of a question as to which podcast am I going to listen to and which audio books are good.

I am warm.

Now this was a surprise. During a Melbourne winter, I am always cold. Not these last few weeks. I do still feel the cold when I go from my cosy house into the cold air but it doesn’t last long. I am definitely wearing fewer layers than I usually do and it feels good!

I don’t need as much fuel.

Not that I have gotten up to any large distances as yet, but I have run for over 2 hours and all I needed was some water. Easy. Will have to think about my next run which will be closer to 3 hours….

Finally, I am feeling strangely more relaxed. I don’t feel the pressure that I have felt during previous marathon training cycles. I get a little email in my inbox every day to let me know what I need to do the next morning and I think “alrighty then”.

I am feeling very happy to be changing because if nothing changes, then nothing changes.

🙂

Run long and strong.

My heart’s a flutter

Time for an update!

It has been four weeks and I have finished the “holding pattern” for those of us that are on the Outstanding Marathon Plan, wave 4, as part of the Train Like A Mother club.

The holding pattern was an interesting experiment to get me ready for a marathon training plan that is all about my heart rate. It has been a very interesting and introspective experience.

My first two or three runs were fantastic. When you run with your heart rate no higher than 140 beats per minute you feel that you can run all day long. You also don’t feel worn out and exhausted when you get back AND you don’t want to eat the house down. All huge wins.

I also found that I didn’t dread getting up in the dark to run (again). I happily got out of bed knowing it was going to be relaxed and enjoyable.

And let’s talk about just how relaxed it was! I am running somewhere between 8 – 9:30mins per km. Yep! Tortoise. I have to walk here and there to get my heart rate back down under 140bpm. I had a couple of runs that weren’t fun at all because they were almost all walking. There are obviously so many factors that impact our heart rate from day to day and you have to be mindful of them. Not enough sleep is one, not eating right another and let’s not talk about how you feel when you might be coming down with a cold.

The other thing that I need to think about is how asthma affects me. Now that the mornings are getting chilly, I find my chest closes up a little bit and that is definitely going to have an impact. Or at least that is what I think has reduced my pace in the last few runs.

So how does this slow, tortoise pace work when I need to run 5:20s come October in order to achieve my goal…. hmmm….. running slower to run faster….. My coach tells me not to look that far ahead and focus on the now. We will talk race strategy closer to the day.

For the meantime I am building my aerobic base and am going to morph into a speedy cardio monster who can run for hours and hours with no pain and no anguish.

Here’s to the monster. First step is Monday morning as I start my official marathon plan. T -20 weeks folks.

I am committed. I might be crazy. And I am going to give this everything.

My road to Boston…….

boston-strong-run