Superwoman

I am feeling like superwoman!

superwoman

Not only have I successfully managed all my kids activities this week while working almost full time, I have managed to provide nutritious dinners AND my house DOES NOT look like a bomb has gone off.

And the most amazing thing? I have done all of the training in my marathon plan for the week.

I am super happy. Fun Friday to you all.

ūüôā

Let’s see how long I can keep this up. Now, where is the Hendricks.

Best training plan ever!

I am in the ramp up stage of my marathon training. For those who haven’t experienced it, let me describe it to you from my very personal experience.

It is a distinctive point in time where all the individual components of marathon training fly together like metal being attracted by Magneto’s power. Just like an X-men movie, you know Magneto’s presence isn’t a signal that things are going to be easy.

You have written your training plan flamboyantly adding numbers that increase in size directly proportional to the time passing.

The number of easy days available to you before serious training is required have come to an end.

Your speedwork, which has been a handful of sprints at the local park is no longer cutting it.

It is time to face the reality that you cannot say to yourself, I have plenty of time, it is ok if I do this run easy because I can make up for it next week.

No, it is time to pull on Magneto’s helmet and steel yourself mentally for the battles ahead.

MagnetoThat started for me on Sunday when I set out for my 22km run. Running anything more than a half marathon distance is a signal that you are in marathon training. Exciting and terrifying all at once. Especially since I know what it is to be at this time and place.

And I am afraid to say it was a little tough! I reminded myself that this is the time. This is the defining run. THIS IS IT. This is the run that makes you realise you are going to have to put in. Physically and mentally. Time to get used to the pain locker, time to reinstate the Jedi mind tricks, time to strengthen every fibre of your body.

I was quite tired on Sunday afternoon. I chatted to my son about my training plan and the weeks that I could see lying ahead of me with greater distances. He suggested the following for my training plan:

30km next weekend

35km the week after

then 50k followed by 100k.

Huh! Greatest training plan ever and perhaps useful if I was running Comrades.

He too has to learn one of the most important lessons.

Now that you have written it, you have to be able to get on and do it.

And THAT is the moment in which I now reside.

Running in the sun

I have always adored the summer. Bright, sunny days where the sun tickles your skin filling your heart with its warmth.

In my teenage years, many a weekend was spent basking at the beach with mates. That’s when we weren’t doing ‘run swim runs’ and rescue drills at the lifesaving club. My favourite activity was driving the boat. Sun and sea infiltrated my skin to reside in my blood. Years later I would agree to go on surfing expeditions. I was never any good but, oh, did I love it. Facing up to those¬†magnificent¬†waves. The smell of salt embedded up your nose as you take another tumble off your board.

Surfing Gunnamatta on a borrowed boardSigh.

So when the sun shines, I feel compelled to get out into it in whatever way I can. Now days the sun and running create an inescapable pull and before I know it my sneakers are on and I am out the door. Sweating, swearing and watching my heart rate start to sky rocket.

And so this morning, I headed out into the sunshine full of expectations and loaded up with fluids. And as much as I loved every step I also realised after an hour that perhaps running in the sun wasn’t all that clever. I was really starting to feel the heat so pulled the pin. ¬†Regardless of the run being only half what I had needed¬†to do, it was delightful.

Summer. Glorious, magical summer. Bad for marathon training. Good for the soul.

Are you any good at running in the heat?

 

Looking for some inspiration?

Are you setting some new year’s resolutions for yourself? Are you thinking that you would like to do things differently, be different? Are you setting up some new behaviours and new habits to achieve your desires?

Personally, I set new resolutions at anytime of the year. Quite often¬†I have to step back and reassess what I am doing¬†in order to keep focussed on what is really important. But that’s just me and my enquiring mind that does not seem to sleep.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have lost my running mojo. But with the support of some great mates on DailyMile I am “being relentless” in searching for it. Just this morning I ploughed through a 15km run as I turn my focus to marathon training. With Christmas and new year celebrations almost all behind me I feel that I can give my training plan the attention that it deserves.

So what inspires me to train for another marathon? It is different every time it seems.

Over the Christmas break I was lucky enough to read Kurt Fearnley’s book, Pushing the Limits. He is an Australian paralympian who has won marathons and crawled the Kokoda trail as well as being fortunate enough to be part of the crew on the Investec Loyal when it won the Sydney to Hobart a few years back. You want some inspiration, look no further. Not only will it inspire you to never give up it might also give you a very different perspective on disability. It made me think.

So, if you have some grand plans for 2015 or even just some small, important changes you want to make then I recommend you read a good book.

In the words of Kurt Fearnley, “There is nothing wrong with feeling so sore & exhausted that you want to give up – as long as you don’t.”

Kurt Fearnley - inspiration on wheels
Kurt Fearnley – inspiration on wheels

Wishing you all health and happiness in 2015, may you be blessed with an abundance of joyous moments.

 

 

Well that sucks

Sorry for the blatant blog title but that is how I feel today. As my regular readers will know, I have been following the advice of Dr Phillip Maffetone and running with my heart rate under 140 bpm in order to increase my endurance. This occurs because your body learns how to burn fat rather than sugar when you run within your aerobic limits. Apparently your body has an infinite amount of fat at its disposal (what is he trying to say!) as opposed to sugar which can be depleted. Also, running within your aerobic function increases the type of muscle fibre in your body that is dedicated to burning fat.

That is the approach in a nutshell and it certainly sounded extremely promising for me as I would like to get faster over the longer distances. I also have a few ironman friends who are converts. Well, I tried it for two months. Every run and ride was done within the limits. The riding was easy and in fact I had to push it to get my heart rate up towards the end of the two months. Running, well, I had to walk any hills and was running at close to 8:00 minutes a km to start and 7:30s at the end. It was painful and torturous.

I have decided to put that time behind me and only run at lower than 140 bpm on my long runs. So I went out for a comfortable 5km today and it was crap.

Well, that sucks.

After two months of running and riding at an easy pace I have lost everything. I have lost my pace, I have lost my endurance and I have put on 4kgs. Not fun. My heart rate isn’t any lower and my legs just wont get moving. I tried hard this morning to make them turn over a bit quicker but they just weren’t interested.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been without any benefits. My legs feel strong. I haven’t had any injuries and I don’t need as much sleep as usual. ¬†But¬†my legs just don’t seem able to get moving and my lungs cant cope with an increase in pace.

It is as if I took two months off. Crazy. I don’t feel good and am hoping that my pace will come back quickly with some sensible running and intervals. Here’s hoping.

Maybe I need to be a bit fitter before I can tackle this HR thing. And maybe I might need to see a proper exercise physiologist to find out if it is the right thing for me.

Back to the drawing board……..

Not happy Jan.

 

Run, run, run as fast as you can….

I love race week in Melbourne as the Marathon event looms up large in front of us all. The bright flashy signs on the main roads advising of coming road closures, the influx of emails popping in to my inbox reminding me how many sleeps until the big day, the numerous twitter and facebook posts ruminating the frustration of tapering.

Ah, I love it. And I am not even racing this weekend!

My husband is running his first ever half marathon and I am happy to be the support crew with the kids in tow.

I have plenty of friends running the half and full marathons and I am excited to have been part of the myriad of conversations regarding training, fuelling and race day strategies. Everyone sounds the same and yet they are all so different. Different time goals, expectations and experiences. There has been some crazy talk of amazing fast times and moments where the mental demons have been allowed too much air time.

Hats off to you all. Your training is behind you. Now is the time to trust in what you have done, believe in your body and know that it will do what your mind tells it.

I wish you all the best for this weekend and will be there to support you.

Run, run, run as fast as you can, or as my brother would say…..

GO HARD OR GO HOME.

Happy racing.

Life is too short…

Life is too short not to be joyful every moment that you can muster it. And it is easy to muster on a day like today. The sun is shining, spring is starting to make herself known in the bright yellow of the daffodils bobbing in the breeze. The outside air is chilled with the remnants of winter’s cloak making our lungs feel fresh and cleansed of the centrally heated indoor air.

Daffodils in my garden

My spirits lift with the swaying of the bamboo as it makes shadows across the door sill with sunshine bright in between the leaves. My soul is itching to be outside, feeling the conflicting sensations of cold and warm on my skin.

Spring skyPerfect RUNNING weather!

As the seasons turn I can put another cold winter of running in the dark, rain and wind behind me and relish in the joy of the perfect weather laid out before me.

I hope to see you out there amongst it. A nod of recognition, a smile of joy, a skip of the feet.

I adore this sense of being on the cusp.

Anticipation

Potential

Magic.

 

 

Do you have the heart?

I have dabbled with it before but now I am really interested in the idea of training by Heart Rate rather than pace (or trying to go as fast as I can for as long as I can). And in my recent research I have discovered that one of the key ingredients for determining your¬†heart rate zones¬†is actually quite difficult to determine. Your maximum heart rate is used as the guide for the zones of recovery, aerobic and anaerobic. Maximum HR is traditionally determined by subtracting your age from 220. Over time this has been shown to be rather inaccurate, but later studies still haven’t found anything significantly better. On all the websites I have traversed, the calculators suggest that my Maximum Heart Rate is somewhere between 180 and 188 whichever approach to calculation they use.

A 2001 New York Times article declared that the Maximum Heart Rate Theory had been challenged. One point of many interesting notes in the article:

“Dr. Fritz Hagerman, an exercise physiologist at Ohio University, said he had learned from more than three decades of studying world class rowers that the whole idea of a formula to predict an individual’s maximum heart rate was ludicrous. Even sillier, he said, is the common notion that the heart rate is an indication of fitness.

Some people get blood to their muscles by pushing out large amounts every time their hearts contract, he said. Others accomplish the same thing by contracting their hearts at fast rates. As a result, Dr. Hagerman said, he has seen Olympic rowers in their 20’s with maximum heart rates of 220. And he has seen others on the same team and with the same ability, but who get blood to their tissues by pumping hard, with maximum rates of just 160.

”The heart rate is probably the least important variable in comparing athletes,” Dr. Hagerman said.”

Intriguing! And also a little frustrating as it makes my desire to run by heart rate seem to be an elusive one. How can I calculate my “zones” if I do not have easy way to determine my maximum heart rate?

So on my run this morning I messed around with running a variety of paces to see what my heart rate would do. I can confirm that by the end of my run I had my HR at its supposed maximum and I could hold it there for quite a while even though that, theoretically, should be difficult.

I have always had a fairly high resting heart rate for someone who exercises as much as I do (although lately it seems to be coming down, finally). This leads me to wonder whether my heart is one of those ones who pumps more often as opposed to pumping hard to get the blood to the muscles.

But unless I am willing to take the time and money to be a lab rat I am never really going to know. And as a mum and a weekend warrior that is not something I am going to do. So where does this leave me? Well, reading Phil Maffetone’s book on Endurance Training. Looking really good so far. I will keep you posted.

And the good news is that an average fit person’s HR is expected to drop by 20 beats per minute in the first minute after ceasing exercise and an elite athletes by roughly 50 bpm. Mine dropped by 41 this morning – not too shabby!

Mid life marathons

Had a hilarious chat with my hairdresser today. We have known each other for an awful long time – we did lifesaving together at the local beach in our teenage years. That kind of shared history creates an easy bond despite years in between when we went our separate ways.

He is just a little older than me and we were laughing today about having a mid-life crisis. I have often joked about my mid-life marathons. Apparently it is a common occurrence¬†that people take up long distance running in their 40s. I have never been one to run with the crowd per se but this time I don’t really care. I love my long runs.

I have been feeling a little dissatisfied over the last few weeks and losing my running mojo has not helped any, or perhaps has been a result of the dissatisfaction or even the cause of it. Either way, my hairdresser suggested that I was just having a mid life crisis and it would be alright, I would find myself. We agreed that we were lucky to be able to have mid-life crises where we question what we are doing, what we want, and how we are going to make it happen. Very lucky.

Then I realised, I am only feeling dissatisfied because I haven’t been running long. I am back in the pool and on the bike getting ready for summer triathlons. (And I think I have found my mojo hiding at the bottom of the pool – yay). Swimming and biking might have their own joys but they don’t sort my head out like a long run in the crisp morning air before most people are awake.

Long runs are my spiritual time, my thinking time, my time of peace.

Stop when tired pic

Time to get back to those long runs. I will find the time for my peace of mind.

Name your poison – taper or post-race slump?

I am fascinated by the ebbs and flows of amateur running. Or perhaps just fascinated by my own internal feelings and reactions to the different situations that I find myself in.

As mentioned before, many people find tapering for a race quite difficult to manage emotionally and physically. It certainly is an interesting time as you find yourself getting slow and sluggish from the decline in kilometres (potentially a little panicked) before finally becoming completely beside yourself, full of energy and just raring to go. Race day just can’t come quick enough and you find yourself getting snappy in the days proceeding the event as well as talking about it incessantly to people whose eyes have glazed over.

I actually love the taper. The antic – ipation (yes, always makes me think of Rocky Horror Picture Show), the rest after an arduous training cycle, feeling like you have achieved so much of your goal already. It really is a time for congratulating yourself, taking stock and preparing for the last run to the post (literally).

And now, the post race swish swash of grey sludgy water that has no direction as it collects in the kerb. Not enough momentum to push it towards a drain. No sense of purpose or meaning. Just collected in a puddle mixed with any other effluence that comes along to swirl slowly and then sink.

Pigeons drinking from a puddle

Get the idea? The post race triumph is gone. Dissipated with the lactic acid as it slowly left my body. Now I am in limbo. Mentally wanting¬†to run with¬†a physical body¬†that isn’t so willing. Mind flicking from wanting to set up the next goal but then feeling exhausted from the thought of another training cycle. Wanting to just ‘run happy’ but feeling a little dissatisfied upon returning from an easy 5k.

Totally ridiculous.

And then on the weekend my body finally gave me the answer. No running for you! Yes, I am injured. I can swim and ride but no running for three weeks. Perhaps this is just what I need to help with my post-race slump. A different focus.

I never really know what to do post-race and struggle to just go with the flow. It really is my poison.

What’s yours?