If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

I don’t know whose quote this is (wish I did) but I heard it on a podcast this morning and it really resonated with me.

It made me think about how we often try to get different results without changing anything.

I know many people have big goals for 2016. By that I mean big goals for them. Whether it is around their eating, their fitness, their careers,  it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we all need to recognise that for us to achieve what we might have in mind, we need to change.

How do we change?

Often through grit and determination and habituating new ways of being. The other way we change is through challenge.

Challenges change us. Hopefully most often for the better.

Do you have any changes you would like to see that could be instigated through setting yourself up a challenge?

Put your beginner pants on

every_expert_was_once_a_beginner_poster-r4606d721690f422081ec6b54390f749b_w2j_8byvr_512Oh yes, I am feeling like a beginner again.

There are a number of things that have contributed to my lack of fitness and consistency with exercise. I decided there is no point in listing them here. The fact is, I am starting again and I just have to accept it.

I have decided to make the most of it.

Rather than thinking, “I am so far behind where I used to be, I cant believe I let myself get this way.” I am thinking, “nailed it! 5k without walking!”

I am setting the kind of goals that any beginner runner would set for themselves:

  • A measured increase in distance each week
  • Noting pace at the end of each run to see if there is a pattern or improvement
  • Include one day of speedwork each week

The next thing for me to do would be to decide on a race that I can work up to.

Having lost so much of my fitness has actually been rather frightening. I don’t really understand why I feel that way about it.  Frightening is a pretty strong word. I guess I was feeling so healthy and strong and all of a sudden it was just gone. It was like a switch went off when I wasn’t ready. You’re snuggled up on the couch at night reading a book and one of your kids turns off the light for a joke. You lose your place, your orientation.

My body doesn’t do very well staying still. I will get it moving again and in all the right ways.

What are your goals? Are you starting again?

The benefits of cross training?

I am having a ball.

Let’s put it out there. I HATE the cold and up until a year ago would choose a beach holiday over any other kind. Give me sand, surf, a whole lot of sunshine and I will smile all day long.

Last August I hit a turning point in my skiing. It was a matter of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” as my husband and kids are all pretty good. After lots of panicked moments, adrenaline sweats and patient instructors, I finally was able to make it down blue runs in a semi ok fashion (by then of course my children were skiing black runs – doh!). More importantly, I was able to enjoy the peace of the mountainside and relish in the fresh, crisp air.

So when our friends asked if we would like to ski the States with them during our summer, I said YES! And it has been an experience. Due to the freezing temperatures I have not run for nearly a month now but for the last eight days I have been skiing, and skiing, and skiing.

With the particular ski resort we are staying at, it was formed by a glacier so it has these patches of flat parts after down hills. This means you have to use your poles to dig in and push yourself forward. So not only are my legs getting a work out on the downhill, my arms are getting a work out too.

Solitude Ski ResortAdd to this the difference in altitude and I am wondering if I am actually getting fitter while we are away! Ah, the benefits of cross training. My running muscles are getting a well deserved break and other muscles are taking up the task. Physically I feel really good and mentally I am almost ready to start marathon training again.

A side bonus is that I seem to be losing weight on this holiday which is amazing considering the quality of the food in the States (sorry guys, it is a bit questionable).

The benefits of cross training? Using different muscles, exercising a different part of your brain and mixing it up. All pretty perfect if you ask me.

Oh, and I still hate the cold. Lucky I have something to keep me occupied.

How and when do you cross train?

Dreamin’ of a BQ

“Doing a marathon in a time that qualifies for Boston by May 2016, tell her she’s dreamin’!”

Boston StrongFor those readers who have not seen the classic Australian film, The Castle, I have pinched an expression from one of the main characters. It is how I am starting to feel about my chances of achieving my dream of a boston qualifying time at the Barossa Marathon in May next year.

And for those readers that dutifully read my blog because they are my mates and do not have any inclination to run, you have to run a ‘registered’ marathon in a specified time for your age/sex category in order to be able to sign up for the Boston Marathon. It is kind of a big deal.

I am getting older so the required time is getting closer to being achievable which is one benefit of “ageing up” next year. Hopefully not the only one.

But based on my current lack of fitness and form I am starting to think that 2016 might be a preparation year. I have cut sugar (as much as I can) from my diet in order to ensure my body ‘fat adapts’ (check out this blog if you are thinking, WHAT??) and I am starting to work on my core and increasing my speed work sessions to improve my fitness. I have been tackling a minor health issue which has made me tired so my running has been cut back – hence the lack of fitness at the moment. It’s all going to be worth it. All the pieces of the puzzle are going to come together. I am good at puzzles.

Not to mention I am planning on making my own ‘gels’ for the long runs. Yes, I am going to get in the kitchen and make a mess. Sugar free gels are my goal. I think that my body has become overly reliant on sugar for its energy after having too many of those sticky things during training and racing. Time to really cement that fat adaption.

So a BQ in May? I could be dreamin’ but we shall see what the next few months bring.

So long as I am having fun and have a goal to work towards it is all good.

What are you dreaming of? And don’t say donuts…..

Ditching the numbers

I am taking the plunge, I have ditched my Heart Rate monitor and am paying less attention to the numbers in order to improve my numbers.

Since the marathon I have been a bit sluggish and tired despite having undertaken a recovery approach which took into account my need for a long rest after these kinds of events. I have been obsessing over my high heart rate and frustrated by thinking that I am not fit enough. (Come on, I just trained for and ran a marathon!). I even wore my HR monitor to bed the other night to see what it is like when I am sleeping. The results were not what I expected…. (‘sad face’ as my 11 year old would say).

It was at this point that I decided I was a bit crazy and getting a little obsessed. I had already made up my mind that the next few months are about strengthening my core and increasing the amount of swimming I do in order to build my overall fitness. Now I am totally determined to increase my strength and fitness but without the HR monitor and with a focus on running form rather than pace.

I won’t give up my Garmin just yet as I feel that the distance and pace data is handy when looking at how you are going during a training cycle, but I am not going to look at it when I am out there, enjoying my running.  I recently read an article about getting into your running flow and it recommends this approach for working out the appropriate pace to run on any given day.

ColorChart-300x195

Yellow is for easy runs, recovery runs, long runs.

Orange hovers around the lactate threshold for tempo runs, long repeats and helps us to run faster at easier efforts.

Red is for intervals and hill repeats.

This will be how I plan my effort for my runs, not what pace I feel I “should” be running. I think I spend too much time in Orange and need a bit more Yellow and Red.

It is liberating to be ditching the numbers and get back to focussing on how I “feel”.

How do you plan your runs? How much attention do you pay to the data? More than you pay to your body?

It is going to hurt

I am feeling rather underdone, under cooked and if I was a piece of chicken you might be concerned with getting salmonella poisoning.

I am realising that one of the amazing things about training for a marathon is how much you LEARN even when it is not your first time. This is my third training cycle for a marathon and you would think that I know what I am doing.

No.

Absolutely no.

Positively no.

Decidedly no.

Uh-uh

(just a little Donald O’Connor reference from Singing in the Rain for you, but I digress).

So what I have learnt this time around is:

  • That my particular body needs a longer time to build up to the distances as compared to what many of the marathon plans say will work.
  • I can’t afford to focus on increasing my protein intake for fear of dropping my carbohydrates as I just can’t run long if I don’t get enough.
  • Getting sick and going away for a weekend when 7-8 weeks out from the marathon is very poor timing in terms of my base building.
  • I need at least two days to recover from my long runs regardless of distance or perceived fitness.
  • Dropping out of swim squad to make more time for running is actually detrimental to my running. Go figure.
  • Long distance running has no effect on my baby belly (the kids are probably a little too old for me to be holding on to that one but never mind).
  • Staying focussed on my long runs is important but they are not the be all and end all – I have to do speedwork in order to improve my times and leg strength and this sometimes means sacrificing my mid-week mid-distance runs which is a huge source of frustration.
  • You can never do enough hill training/stair climbing EVER. It continues to hurt.

And I have been reminded that I am a slow runner and do you know what? I don’t care. I really don’t care. Truly.

I have been reading Ben Kaplan’s ‘Feet don’t fail me now’ (great book) and it reminded me that your time for a marathon is not worth much at all compared with the actual doing of a marathon.

Remember: THIS IS MY HOBBY!

With all the ups and downs that I have had in my life during this training cycle it has been less than ideal. I am working more and dealing with greater demands in my life than I have for some time, and that impacts on my stamina and mindset.

I feel very underdone, under cooked for facing the hills of the Great Ocean Road in just over four weeks time. But what the hell! This is my hobby. I love running and I am going to head out on my big, long run this weekend with a smile on my face. It just might be disguised as a grimace. He he.

It is going to hurt. That is all.

 

Holy Toledo Batman

Yes, yes, it is “that” time of my marathon training. I hit the wall during my long run on Easter Monday.

Holy Toldedo Batman!!

I know why they call it “the wall” but it feels much more like a very long, sludgy, muddy river bed that sucks your feet into its depths and releases them only with much pulling and effort, issuing slurping sounds with each reluctant lift of the foot.

I slogged through the last three kilometres of my 33k run which, to my credit, did contain hills. And when I finally stopped, I thought to myself, a thought I have had many times before…

“Holy Moley!”

How am I going to run 44km in just under 6 weeks time on a course full of hills and likely to be sporting outrageous weather conditions?

The answer came clear as the beeping of my Garmin watch on a still autumn morning, the same way you have done it before, one foot in front of the other, over and over again. With all the other crazies.

Still, not a good sign to have hit the wall on a medium distance training run so I have done an assessment of my nutrition, my training plan and rest days. Definitely need to improve my nutrition and make sure I get the carbohydrates that I need. Time to start a food journal again.

No matter how tough it was and how tired I have been for the two days since, I adore marathon training. It makes a part of my soul sing.

I am definitely a little unhinged. Perhaps just like a man who wears a skin tight bat costume…..

🙂

Batman

You know you have…

..too many Ironman friends when you don’t expect anyone to be impressed that you ran 30km on the weekend even though inside you are high fiving yourself all day.

..too many fast runner friends when you are embarrassed to admit your time goal for the marathon is “to finish it”, and really that is the absolute truth when you think of all the hills ahead of you.

..too many runner friends when you find yourself including ‘fartlek’ in everyday conversation.

..become addicted to the running high when you are explaining your week’s routine to girlfriends and they look a little shocked but you don’t think you have trained hard enough.

..entered the hard core part of your training plan when your husband’s eyes are glazing over as you mention a niggle or potential injury brewing.

That is where I am right now and loving it!

Time to get in that sweat locker and stay there until taper.

Magic!!!

As Ben Kaplan would say “Feet, don’t fail me now!”

 

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.

🙂

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.