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.

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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…….


Marathon Training Plan

Here we go!

I have signed up for an online marathon training plan with the incredible TrainLikeAMother.Club. Not only do you get a detailed plan but have access to a coach, a specific Facebook group, Strava page,  support videos and exclusive podcasts just for you and the other mother runners who have signed up for your “wave”.

Why did I do this you ask?

I decided that I needed a coach in order to have the best chance of laying down a Boston qualifying time. I have also had some curious goings on with my heart rate that I have researched with no success and thought a running coach could help. I reached out to some amazing runners on the Australian Mother Runners Facebook page and got some great tips and recommendations.

Then, as I was listening to Another Mother Runner podcast on my long run last Saturday, I heard Mary-Katherine Fleming talking about heart rate training. Yes, yes, I have tried the Maffetone approach before and failed miserably. However, she provided some brilliant advice and was an absolute wealth of knowledge about the how and why of heart rate training. Her passion, knowledge and approach hit a chord and I was sold.

I also have to mention that I am currently reading Mark Fitzgerald’s book, The Iron War which makes you want to go outside and get your sweat on every minute of the day. It is a fantastic book about the rivalry between Dave Scott and Mark Allen – two of triathlons greatest athletes. And those boys know all about heart rate training…..

I am going to give this a red hot go and see where it takes me. I am new at being held accountable to my training and am sure I will get frustrated with the long, slow runs but if they bring me a Boston Qualifying time then every minute will be worth it.

I am in this for the long haul. I do not see this as a short-term approach. I will race at the Melbourne Marathon in October but will also have in my sights, the Barossa Marathon in May.

All the while just focussing on one foot in front of the other because that is really all I am doing. 🙂

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It’s the little things

Aug 2013 Winter SunriseWow, it has been a while since I posted…. sorry guys. Life has gotten in the way of my running and blogging.

But I am here to tell you that life is GOOD! And it is the little things that make it good.

At the moment I have extremely sore legs from doing squats. I have decided to get back into the ‘runner style’ strength training in preparation for the start of my next marathon training cycle. I love having sore legs from squats even if I do look strange when I walk.

Yesterday was a ‘rest’ day and I was not happy about it because as I got a sniff of the morning air when I let the dog out at breakfast time. The air had that beautiful combination of sweet smelling sea air combined with the scent of fresh greenery. One of those perfect running mornings when the air you breath in seems to give you extra strength due to what is floating on the wind. Love it.

And then this morning, I got to run in the rain. I love running in the rain (if it’s not too windy). Everything is much quieter and still with the rain. The air is fresh and you know you are a true runner as well as a little crazy.

It is the little things that I love about running.

What are yours?

I’m baaaacckkkkk!

Stop when tired picI am exceptionally excited to announce that I am BACK. My running mojo that went on holiday while I tackled a minor health issue has decided to return. And I think my running mojo has returned sun tanned, relaxed and ready for the next challenge.

I swam 2.5k in the pool on Thursday and then ran almost 15km yesterday morning followed by an easy 20k on the bike today. I am not overly tired and I have no aches or pains or gripes. Hallelujah! It feels really good to be able to do all my favourite activities.

I might need to put a caveat on my success though. It hasn’t been pretty. There was a fair bit of “legs through mud” action going on as I plodded up the hills at the end of my long run yesterday. Obviously no one I knew saw me as I would have received some concerned phone calls.

It is energising when you realise that your body is starting to be able to do the things you ask of it again. It has been a long road back after making some significant changes to my diet. I am feeling a sense of positivity that comes from having applied grit and determination.

I found myself registering for the Melbourne Marathon earlier this week. I have plenty of time to build a good base and then initiate a training plan. We all know I have a BQ in mind and this will be the race to do it. Nice and flat! I am going to give it a good crack. Whoo hoooo!

So for any of you that have lost your mojo, or have not found it as yet, hang in there. With patience and persistence comes rewards.

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?