Feeling good

I am feeling good! Such a relief after my last blog. Saying that, I am not running. Not at all. Can’t remember my last run in fact.

Do not fear, I am exercising. We are on a family holiday of a lifetime and have been walking incessantly.

Now I am at the most beautiful ski resort and am spending hours sliding down mountain tracks. I have none of the energy issues that I was experiencing a month ago. I think this break from running and my life in general has been really great for me.

Just wanted to reconfirm the point I made in my last blog. We really need to be listening to our bodies and hearing what they tell us. I thought it was possible for me to just keep on running without a decent break but the truth is, I am much better for this hiatus.

The true test will be when I start marathon training in late January.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope you have set some great goals for yourself. Me, I am just taking it one day at a time and loving it.

Living the dream.

Amazing bodies

Our bodies are truly amazing and completely confusing. I have been undertaking a detox in order to rectify a small health issue that I have and as a result I am struggling to run. Hence the lack of blogging of late. I have also quit sugar (as much as you can when you enjoy prosecco) as mentioned in a previous blog.

It is outrageous. When I do head out for a run I have to run/walk as I just don’t have the energy to do anymore than that. It is quite disconcerting and everytime I feel the need to walk, I feel surprised.

My goal was to be running between 15 – 20k long runs by the time the Christmas holidays arrived so that I would be in a good place to start Marathon training in late January.

Nuh-uh. No way.

I have downloaded a new training plan thanks to AnotherMotherRunner website which is geared towards getting a PB. I think I might have to delay the start and aim for a different race.

Heartbreaking as that is I really have to listen to this amazing body of mine. They tell you what they need. The things you don’t listen to is your negative self talk but that is a whole other blog.

What are your plans leading into Christmas? What is your body telling you? Are you nailing it?? Love to hear a sensational story of someone achieving their exercise goals. Tell me all.

 

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…..

Running Away

I thoroughly enjoyed a blog today over at Fit is a Feminist Issue about Angry Running or Running as Running Away. There was a great story about her running home barefoot and drunk from a party.

It is interesting that there is a number of motivational running photos which portray running as a way to deal with anger and frustration. I cannot deny that I have found running to be a very effective way to dissolve stress. I am certainly one of those mother runners that can be a bit cranky if they don’t get their run in, or their bike, or a swim. Actually even a good walk will sort me out to some degree.

There is a picture somewhere of a dad talking to his kids saying something like, ‘you had better go clean up your rooms, mum missed her run this morning so we don’t know what sort of crazy we are dealing with today.’ Not completely sure how I feel about that and I know it to be true of me.

Really, I find running to be fun most of the time. I don’t consciously use it for emotional state management necessarily.

Many of us find it hard to put aside time to meditate or quieten our minds and running helps me to make that time. So I wonder about all the people out there who don’t have exercise as a regular part of their daily life. How do they deal with stress, anger, frustration? They can’t all be finding time to meditate!

Running has made my life a better place to live in. It has given me something that is all mine, time to reflect and quieten my mind, personal aspirations and goals to achieve and it helps me to turn to the light and not stray to the dark side which I have propensity to do. It can also be a lot of fun. Especially when you run with other people. It is not all about running away.

Why do you run?

What does a runner do when running is not their friend anymore?

Running is not my friend at the moment.

Saying that out loud breaks my heart.

Running and I have been friends for a few years now and have developed a deep, satisfying bond. Running helped me through PND and has revealed that solid core of concrete I always knew I had inside me, but rarely got to feel.

But right now I am tackling a pretty simple health issue and the treatment is making me so very tired. Very, very tired. My energy levels have plummeted like the feeling you get as you hit the wall during a marathon. Running 6k is taxing. 10k is becoming out of reach. So much for my dream of a PB half marathon in Spring. Even the thought of running that far is making me feel like curling up under the warm covers. And this from a woman who has declared the marathon her favourite distance.

I am desperately clinging to my friendship with running, trying to make something work, not wanting it to fade. The reality is that I might have to give it up for a week or two and return to the bike. For some reason riding doesn’t seem quite so hard.

Perhaps my love of running has been too intense and this is a necessary hiatus. Nah. I am just making a choice to get my body healthy and the downside is a short term energy slump.

Sigh

So what does a runner do when running can’t be their friend for a while?

My Playroom

My children are lucky enough to have a space in the house which is their ‘playroom’. I was lamenting with another mum at work how I have to remind them to tidy up their playroom and that “it is not MY playroom.”

The other day I found myself adding to that sentence suggesting that I would not have their kind of toys in my playroom if I had one.

Then I wondered, what sort of toys would I have in my playroom (keep it clean, please) and this brought the realisation that I actually do have a playroom.

The streets are my playroom.

That is where I go for imaginary play, to mimic life in order to make sense of it, to escape from responsibilities.

Running is my playroom and I am so glad that I don’t really have to grow up.

Pity there is not a lot of time for running in my life at the moment. I need to make time for my playroom.

Where is your playroom?

Running this way and that….

Firstly, apologies to my regular readers for it being a long time between drinks. My work life has ramped up considerably which means very little time for any of my writing projects.

Sorry.

Did you miss me?

But I have some good news. Despite being in the usual post-race slump as my body attempts to get over the training cycle and race day that I have put it through, I am investigating some different running approaches.

I have been reading the book, Run Less, Run Faster by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr and Ray Moss. It has changed how I plan my weekly workouts. We all know that I am not particularly good at having to monitor my runs while running. What I mean by that is I haven’t mastered the ability to do a pyramid tempo run as an example because that would take too much computation time while actually out there. I am a day dreamer from way back, just ask my mother, and when I run it is with the pure delight of being able to just wander around the maze of my mind dredging up beautiful images and wild imaginings………

I am fine with a 1k warm up, run at X pace for 6km and then 1k cool down – that is totally fine – but run 1k at 6:00min, the next 500m at your 5k pace +10 secs, followed by 200m jogging, then 1km at 10k pace…. Ok, that’s a little exaggerated but you get the idea. The system put forward by these gentlemen, known as the FIRST approach, at its most basic level says one day of sprints, one day of tempo and one long run a week. Easy!

Their book does have lots of tables so you can calculate how fast you need to do each of those runs and they have training plans that lay out all manner of speed work sessions and tempo runs if that is your thing. And I do confess to having spent an awful lot of time with the calculator, notepad and an excel spreadsheet to put together my ideal training plan, but I am not training for anything in particular at the moment. This means that I took the key premise of their approach – build the different systems of your body – and adapted it.

They also recommend two cross training days where you use different muscles but still build your aerobic system. Love that. I still love to swim and bike ride. It suits me perfectly, my busy work life and family life. I feel much less pressured and can move workouts around depending on what is going on. And I am loving the speedwork. It hurts, but not for long and you feel so wonderful afterwards. Although – confession time – my speedwork isn’t so speedy as my 11 year old son can beat me with his eyes closed.

Next comes Chi Running…. I started to read the Chi Marathon book by Danny Dreyfuss but then a girlfriend sent me a YouTube video that goes through all of the exercises and theory of Chi Running. Much easier to see it than to be trying to understand it from reading it. Because I have always loved Tai Chi the idea of it resonates with me. I can’t confess to feeling effortless when I chi run but my pace has really picked up. I wasn’t much of a heel striker to start with so it must be the “lean” that is having an impact.

It certainly is worth looking into especially if you have troubles with your knees, ITB, or shin splints. I am hoping it is making me look a little more graceful. But then again, who is watching? I am running in the dark every morning and often with a bit of rain thrown in and the wind! That arctic, icy wind is beyond lazy, it doesn’t make way for anyone.

So despite not writing about it, I am still out there or on the treadmill – whatever I can get to work. I secretly dream of being able to run a PB at a half marathon race in the spring. Just have to get my long runs a bit longer and faster without feeling so tired afterwards.

Next step is to sort out my fuelling. Amazing how badly you can eat when you don’t take enough time to plan…..

How are you going this winter? Still getting out there? Trying anything new?

 

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?

To run or not to run….

My head is a crazy, swirly mess at the moment and I am hoping that will be short-lived (please!).

I am in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia at the moment on a little mini-break and the mornings are perfect for long runs. Cool, fresh, hint of wind, light early and the most perfect temperature. A far cry from my home town of dark, cold, wintry, wet with constant indecision as to how many layers to wear for a run.

And yet, I am not feeling overly motivated to run. I want to run. My body feels ready to run and my mind says, yes lets go, the night before. Come morning, I turn over and hide myself from the world until it is too late to fit in a run. Why? What is that all about?

Am I worried that it is too soon after the marathon? It has been three weeks today.

Am I worried that it won’t be a good run so don’t want to do it if it isn’t going to be amazing? I really don’t understand this mix of emotions that I am feeling about running.

I love running. I love being fit and I feel that it is the right time to start ramping up again so I can build on the fitness I developed for the marathon. I desperately want to continue to be fit and strong so that if the mood takes me I can sneak into the Melbourne Marathon in October.

I guess it is just another one of those times when you just have to go with it. Let the kangaroos roam around the top paddock, jumping here and there. Eventually they will settle on a spot to graze and all will return to calm. Ah, I look forward to that time again.

 

We are built to move…..

I am getting a bit tired of the “sitting is bad for you” tale that is being spruked around the place.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree completely but having looked at some of the research it isn’t sitting that is the problem, it is our CHAIRS. Active sitting is fine – squatting, sitting cross legged etc.

And this is because our bodies are built to move……  Here is a lovely Ted talk on the topic. Gives me permission to fidget when sitting…. 🙂