when things don’t go according to plan

I know my tag line for my blog is that I’m not running towards anything but that isn’t strictly true. Like many runners, I’m the sort of person who signs up for events months in advance so that I have a goal to work to and, usually, this strategy has worked out ok for me. I don’t usually feel pressure, just like the idea of having a goal and planning my way to reach it.

Earlier this year, I signed up to run the Maui Oceanfront half marathon in January. It will be the first time I’ve planned a holiday around a race, the first race I’ve had to fly in for and my first half marathon so it’s a pretty big deal. As well as the fact that, around the same time, I’m celebrating one of those ‘decade’ milestone birthdays that always make one contemplative.

The first 8 weeks of my half marathon training plan (adapted from Jeff Galloway‘s fabulous plans) was going perfectly, right up until my second injury for the year. The last 2 weeks have pretty much been a write off with me managing a total of about 15km over that time – nothing like the planned training.

So here’s the thing – I’ve planned races before then been unable to run through illness, lack of training or life, generally, getting in the way. And I’ve always been ok with that. Ultimately, I love running and do it for fun, not to compete or finish a set schedule of events. But this one feels different. I’m worried that the stakes feel a little high – what if I get injured again? What if I don’t manage to get back into the training and can’t cover the distance? I know I still get an awesome Hawaiian holiday out of it but will the disappointment be more because of the build up?

Perhaps I’m just stressing too much. I’ve got 12 weeks to go so there is still time to build my fitness back up. I think my goal has just changed – it’s now to get to the start line uninjured and take it from there.

How have you bounced back into training for an event after injury? What have been your ‘pinnacle’ running events?

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alone. with company.

I was completely alone on my run this morning. Quite unusually, I didn’t see a single runner, dog walker or mum/toddler/pram combination in the park so I had the glorious view, sunshine and wildlife to myself. It was definitely one of those mornings that running is easy and I couldn’t think of a single thing I’d rather have been doing. Even my temperamental calf was being helpful today.

Running on Monday after work was not so easy. It was raining solidly by the time I got to the end of my road and it was almost as if someone was throwing buckets of water on me as I ran. Every few minutes, I’d have to wipe the torrents running down my face. But despite all of that, I still had a maniacal grin on my face the whole time. I might have been alone on the track but in my head were all the supportive comments, gestures and thoughts I’d had from others which are what often gets me through on my runs.

Earlier this year, I joined a facebook group called ‘five30runners‘. The aim of the group is to support and encourage runners, regardless of their current time or their goal. The ‘five30’ part comes from a frequently listed goal of aiming to run 5km in 30 minutes. The majority of the group are based in New South Wales, over 1,000km from me but it hasn’t stopped them from being the most supportive bunch of people I’ve ever been lucky enough to be part of. No question is silly, no goal is laughed at and no achievement passes without celebration, however small that achievement may seem.

Through my involvement with this group, my confidence with running has grown and I’ve stuck with it, despite my injury setbacks. The support I’ve gained online has also helped me connect more with friends and family about my running, as my confidence in sharing what I’m doing and being proud of my achievements has grown. I finally see myself as a runner and so much of that is down to this supportive and inspiring running community that I feel part of.

So, when I’m out there running, I might be on my own but I’ve always got company.

What support networks help you in your running? And what gets you through those tough runs?

not giving up

As you would have seen from earlier posts, I’m recovering from my second injury setback for the year. Yesterday, I went out for a gentle walk/run to test out the leg (I’m following my physio’s directions – I promise!) and the only thought that was going through my head was ‘I’ll beat this. I will get back to running as usual’.

When I got home, I thought about how interesting that particular thought was, especially for me and especially related to exercise. Where did this strong will come from? Persistence in the face of adversity? I know I’ve toughed it out through things before but not when it comes to exercise or fitness. My attitude there has been that it’s too hard so, if it hurts, give up. While my times might not have moved incredibly over the last year, my attitude clearly has. I haven’t used the injuries as an excuse to give up, just as fuel to get back into it and run better and stronger. It’s also made me really appreciate how amazing it feels to run injury free – I’m thoroughly looking forward to getting back to that state!

However I still have my battles to fight in this mental war. Following on from that run, a friend ran her first half-marathon on the weekend – my first thought was ‘wow’. She’s really turned herself around in terms of health and fitness in the last couple of years and I’m so proud of what she’s achieved.

Having seen her time, my second thought was ‘I can’t run that fast. Why am I bothering? Is the idea of me running a half marathon a joke?’. This really caught me off guard and it took a little while for my attitude from yesterday to kick back in and remind me that I only compete against myself. My biggest competition really is against those demons that tell me I can’t, I’m too slow, too fat, too unfit and, generally, not cut out for this. I have to remember that I run because I love it – love being outdoors, love setting and achieving goals, love the way it clears my head and love how it makes me feel.

How do you fight your demons that tell you that you can’t do it? Any mantras that help?

brown paper packages tied up with string

I know lots of people say that running is so good because it requires very little special equipment. But that’s not how I run. I do love a good gadget and my husband steers me away from running shops for fear of losing me for hours amidst the colourful shoe collections. Here are 3 things I absolutely, positively can’t run without…

my shoes – currently Brooks Trance 12: Love them. I leave them near the front door because just looking at them makes me want to go running, just so I can wear them.

That would be my shoes….underneath my cat 🙂 He’s quite fond of them too

my watch – Garmin forerunner 405: This was an expensive piece of kit when I bought it but has been such a good motivational tool to get me out the door. And I love lining up at the start line to a race and joining in with the synchronised ‘beep’ of gps watches. Its battery life isn’t great and time seems to go in slow motion while I wait for it to acquire satellites but it’s worth it for the quick and easy data on the run (literally!) that I get. And I have been known to run past my house several times in quick succession, just to get the extra metres required to hit a round km figure.

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my tunes – iPod shuffle: It’s little and I barely know I’m wearing it but is invaluable. The eclectic mix of music I have on there means that, just when I need it, I can guarantee I’ll be rewarded with a quirky tune to keep me smiling. And my latest find, my beloved yurbuds, are the perfect headphones for running. They do just what it says on the box – never falling out, regardless of how much I sweat and wriggle or how far I run.

What are your running essentials?

pressing pause

Not so much running going on for me this week. In fact, none at all. Yesterday I visited my friendly physio to have my calf pain from last week looked at and was a bit trepidatious, having taken months to get over my achilles injury earlier this year. However the news was much better – I’ve apparently strained my gastrocnemius muscle which doesn’t take as long to heal and, having caught it early, should be back up and running in a week or two.

For now, I get to wear this very attractive taping on my leg. The best part of that was showing it off to the students at school today who clearly think it is a big bandaid covering up an impressive war wound. And who was I to burst that bubble?!?

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the fantastic and frustrating of running

Something I have found hugely motivating in my running journey is reading other people’s running blogs. I love hearing about their stories, successes and even setbacks, as these help me see what others have overcome and make me believe I will too. So, for better or worse, I too am going to blog about my running, mostly as a way to chart my own journey.

This week’s running has been equal parts fantastic and frustrating.

The fantastic – As it’s currently school holidays, it’s been easy to fit in my runs and to time them to match the changeable weather around here so I’ve had blue skies and crisp air – perfect running conditions. My long run this week (6km – so not too long!) was along the river where it is peaceful and the surroundings perfectly picturesque. Even better, there were no swooping magpies to contend with, only lots of friendly fellow walkers and runners.

The frustrating – During the last kilometre of my long run, the vague ache in my inner calf turned into a more alarming ‘ouch’ and has stopped me running for a couple of days to rest it up. I tried again this morning – the ache is definitely still there but not as bad. Either way, I’ve learnt my lesson about listening to my body and will be booking in to see my trusty physio as soon as I can this week, just in case. Having injured my achilles earlier this year and taken months to get back to comfortable running, I’m very aware of every twinge, ache and pain. I’m crossing my fingers that this is a minor one.

What fantastic or frustrating moments have you had in your running this week?