Dopey training – week 7

This week was one of late nights at school which made things a little challenging, added to which, I have some mystery pains in my calf. Although, knowing my history, they could actually be pains in my brain that I’m just feeling in my calf. It happens. To me, it seems to happen a lot.

Either way, the week didn’t quite go according to plan although I did know at the start that it was a low kilometre week which took the pressure off a lot and gave me a more relaxed attitude.

I had hoped to sneak Wednesday’s run in before sunset but didn’t quite manage it so it was a case of finding my head torch and getting out there. I had tried to get up in the morning but really aren’t very good at this so just have to put up with running at night. Luckily I like the quiet suburbanness of my neighbourhood. There’s really only one spot I need my headtorch – where I have to run on the road because they haven’t finished building the footpath yet. Other than that, I like the anonymity of running in the dark.

My calf didn’t hurt on the run but has been giving off odd pains since, for no particularly good reason. I turned up to Torquay parkrun on Saturday wondering whether I should run or walk it but it doesn’t actually hurt when I run which I find a bit odd – definitely not my normal pattern. Saturday’s run was great – not the 45 minutes of the plan but I’ll definitely call it a speed session 🙂

Today’s ‘long’ run was scheduled for 5km which is not really long at all. It was such a beautiful day, I headed down the river and had a glorious time. Winter is nearly done and I could sniff Spring today with wattle trees in bloom and green buds everywhere. Unexpectedly, it was also quite a bit warmer than I’m used to of late and that slowed me down a bit. Not looking forward to long runs as we roll into Summer 😦

Another week of marathon training done. Am determined to manage this calf pain carefully – goal #1 is making it to the start line uninjured as I’m no use at all without achieving that.

Weekly summary

Wednesday – 5.6km (45:21)
Saturday – 5km (36:48)
Sunday – 5.1km (42:52)

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Looooove this picture (thanks Geoff) – I’m usually very critical of my running form but think I’ve got it right here 🙂

Dopey training – week 6

Wow, week 6 already?! Seems to be going pretty quickly. Possibly too quickly actually – somewhat reassuring to think there are another 21 weeks of training to go.

This week was a bit odd when it came to training. I ran a half marathon last Sunday and normally after such an event, I would spend the week resting and giving my body a break from what I’d put it through. As testament to my training, I woke up on Monday perfectly fine and barely feeling like I’d run the day before, let alone such a long way. And so the training plan continued.

While I wasn’t at all sore, I was a little tired so I covered my required kilometres a little slower this week. I didn’t back off too much though and headed for the hills on Thursday – I’m sure that my work on the hills over the last few months is what has been getting me PBs and generally making me feel stronger so it’s no longer optional. Thursday had been a rainy, foggy and fairly miserable sort of day but I headed for my favourite spot anyway and found I had it pretty much to myself. The low cloud that hung around just added to the general creepiness which was not helped when I was scared by a goat and then a kangaroo coming out of the bush. But there is no denying the beauty of the landscape around the You Yangs and, as always, I felt so grateful to have it nearly on my doorstep.

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The long run for this weekend was supposed to be 11km but I split it over Friday and Saturday instead. I ran with a friend on Friday which was an easy shaking out of the legs after the hills of the day before then I travelled off to another parkrun on Saturday and smashed out a fairly fast 5km, reinforcing that the training is working and that 21km is no longer a run that writes me off for the next few weeks. All up since Sunday, I’ve managed 21.2km – I’m definitely happy with that.

Probably for the first time, I actually feel like I might be able to do this. That seems a bit silly to say as I’ve already booked my place and paid a fortune for airline tickets but there has always been a voice in the back of my head telling me ‘Oh, I’ll just run the first 3 and not bother with the marathon’ or ‘I’ll start but who knows if I’ll finish’. They weren’t voices I said out loud much but they were always there, particularly at the end of a 5km when I was puffing and panting. This week has shown that I might not be fast but I can run long and not suffer too many ill effects. Time to trust the training and just get on with the job of steadily building up my kilometres.

Weekly summary:

Tuesday – 5.5km (46:20)
Thursday – 5km (46:41)
Friday – 5.4km (45:06)
Saturday – 5.1km (38:44)

Dopey training – week 5

What a week! It was, officially, a tapering week before my half so I went into it knowing I didn't want to do too much. Just enough to follow the plan.

My Tuesday run moved to Wednesday as I had to swap my late night at work. For some reason, I was feeling full of beans and set out feeling like running….so I ran. And didn't stop. No intervals, no walk breaks, just running, which is something I almost never do. Before I knew it, I'd run the block and finished just over 5 km without feeling the need for a walk break. I'm still committed to the whole Galloway thing but it's nice to know that it's through choice, not because I have to. I think that was exactly what my running self esteem needed.

The second 45 minute run for the week was on Saturday…and was actually a walk. I was back at my home parkrun after ages away so I walked it with a friend, knowing I had the half marathon the next day. It was actually really good – a perfect Winter's morning, great company and no stress. Just what I needed.

And then the half marathon. A lot longer run than I needed to do but so much fun, especially with the added bonus of a bunch of PBs. Check out my blog post for more details of this one.

Weekly summary
Wednesday – 5.7km (45:11)
Saturday – 5km (53:17)
Sunday – 21.1km (2:49:46)

Dopey training – week 3

Training this week has again been pretty easy with school holidays providing ample time to get my kilometres done. And, with more time and less stress, I’ve slotted in a few different places for runs which always help keep it interesting.

I started with a short run around the Geelong waterfront which felt a bit slow but, according to Strava, was about right. I had managed to time it perfectly so I was treated to a beautiful sunset which made it all a lot better.

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As I had time on my hands, I decided to switch my long run around and do it on Thursday instead of the weekend. I opted for one of my favourite long run routes – a 17km loop around Melbourne. I’ve done the route a couple of times before but it was a little bit strange running during a weekday with suited people going about their daily chores while I got hot and sweaty out on the street. It was a pretty good run and I managed to keep to my 2 minute run/1 minute walk intervals up until about 13km when my feet were starting to get sore so I switched to run when I felt like it, walk when I didn’t. By 15km, I pretty much was walking – anything to get it finished, despite my now ridiculously achy feet. I made it back to the car having completed 17.7km – my longest long run on my own so I was proud of that. And my overall pace was exactly the same as my long run before Melbourne half marathon last year so that’s pretty good too.

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For my final short run for the week, I headed to my favourite surf coast trail today so soak up the views and pretend it’s not the last day of holidays. The next 2 weeks are quieter as I’m tapering for the Run Melbourne half – probably a good thing as Term 3 will no doubt hit like a freight train!

Weekly summary:

Tuesday: 5.5km (45 minutes)
Thursday: 17.7km (2 hours 36 minutes)
Sunday: 5.5km (45 minutes)

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What are you running for?

I was listening to a running podcast the other day and was encouraged to contemplate why I run. It’s actually quite a big and profound question and not easily answered. At least not in a single part – I have many reasons and some are more important than others on a given run. So here are my current reasons…

  • Indigenous marathon project
    This one is a big reason for me right now. I have chosen to raise funds for this amazing project through my running of the Disney Dopey challenge and I couldn’t be prouder to support them. The historical and contemporary treatment of Aboriginals in our country is nothing to be proud of and programs like this go a long way to changing that. This program supports indigenous people from all over Australia to get into running and, ultimately, to aim for the New York marathon, all the while earning qualifications in health and fitness and inspiring their families and communities. As a teacher, I know how much of a role model I am for my students, intentionally or not so I love that this project empowers young people to be the most positive role models they can be. I could go on and on about the benefits but I won’t. Check out their website and please, please – if you can spare a small amount to donate to my fundraising efforts, I’d be so grateful.
  • My mental health
    The physical benefits of running are well known and pretty obvious but so much of why I run is for the mental benefits. Running allows me to retreat to a zen like space in my head where all that matters is my breathing, where my feet are landing and the environment around me. Other things will pop in and out of my head but nothing sticks other than my basic needs. Quite often, I come home with solutions to problems I wasn’t even able to articulate when I went out. And when my anxiety rears its ugly, insidious head, the endorphins from running reign it in. Few of my stormy moods last past the 4th kilometre of any run.
  • For the sense of accomplishment
    I wouldn’t say I’m an overachiever but I have always been someone who set high standards and pushed to achieve them. The goals I set and achieve through running bring me such a strong sense of accomplishment – maybe because they usually scare me to begin with? Even my regular training runs end with me feeling almost a little smug – I got it done despite all the reasons I could have conjured up not to. It’s not about beating anyone else, it’s about beating me. Conquering fears and resisting the voice in my head that says it can’t be done.
  • Feeling part of something
    This is a bit of an odd one and not one I anticipated when I started running. I’d had flirtations with running, on and off, for a few years but have now been running consistently for 3 years. And when I say consistently, I mean it – I’ve run 3 or 4 times a week, every week, for the last 3 years. A significant contributor to me sticking with it this time is the running community I’ve found. First online through the inspirational five30runners, then through parkrun in Geelong and then through the network of running friends I’ve built up, locally and far away. I’m not a huge fan of running with people but knowing they’re around, either on the trail, for coffee afterwards or virtually through a facebook group brings me a lot of happiness and comfort. Most of my running is alone but far from lonely and swapping running tales with this bunch is guaranteed to make me smile. I wouldn’t even have contemplated doing the Dopey challenge if it weren’t for them, believing in me and doing it together. So it might not have started out that way but feeling a part of this running tribe is now a very big reason why I run and why I’m sure I’d feel lost without it.

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I know there are more reasons but I’ll stop there so this doesn’t turn into an essay. Please note there is absolutely no ‘to get a better body’ type reasons anywhere in or near my list, nor will there ever be. I certainly run to be a better person but all of the benefits I care about are to my insides, not my outside.

Life at the back of the pack

If you’ve been running for long enough and in a big enough variety of events, you have possibly come last or near to last once or twice. Perhaps you were having an off day. Or an injury mid-event ruined your plans. Maybe you were running with someone else to support them and stuck to their pace. The experience will probably not have been the most positive for you. Now think about that being your reality in every event you do. Welcome to the back of the pack.

Life at the back of the pack is a very mixed bag. Sometimes it’s wonderful. The Great Ocean Road half marathon showed me that, hanging out with the most fun loving runners who were taking the event seriously but not themselves and who had time to slow down enough to enjoy the scenery and the experience. How many of those at the pointy end noticed the koalas in the trees or had the breath to say thank you to the farmer handing out jelly snakes?

However, it can also suck and it does so in a large way. Knowing that you’ve put in months of training and are pushing yourself as hard as you can nevertheless can feel woefully inadequate as you are constantly overtaken. Getting to an aid station to find they’ve run out of water/electrolyte/life giving red lollies can seriously knock your psyche. Starting a training run with a group and watching them quickly disappear off into the distance while you hang out alone with the tailrunner is demoralising. Every event or group run I contemplate has to have careful consideration given to whether I’m up for the inevitable issues and I spend a long time looking at prior results and calculating cut off times before I enter. Will I finish before they pack up? Will there be anyone else there at my pace? Will I end up out there alone on the course? Am I prepared for the assumptions (sometimes real and often imagined) – that I haven’t trained properly or that I’m a beginner runner or that I’m not trying hard enough?

I’m not in any way apologising for or embarrassed by my pace – I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and how far I’ve come. I’ve now run 7 half marathons and am close to my 100th parkrun – both milestones that bring me an immense amount of satisfaction and which I have only reached through hard work and consistency. I’m also learning to stop using the word ‘slow’ to describe my running although it’s a hard habit to break. Compared to the old me, I’m stronger, faster and far tougher than I thought I could be. No other comparisons are necessary, I know that. It’s a lot easier to remember that when I’m out on a run by myself and can be harder when surrounded by other runners. So I’ve still got some work to do.

I’m not sure that there is a grand message to this blog post – just wanted to put it out there. For those who are at the well resourced, stocked aid station end – spare a thought for the rest of us and know that a word of encouragement means a lot. I feel grateful to have runners of all speeds in my circle of running friends and appreciate the genuine cheers and congratulations from them during events.

I guess I also wrote this for those of you who haven’t entered an event, held back by fears of not fitting in, being laughed at or not completing what you’ve set out to do. Know that those are my fears too and I’m sure we’re not alone in harbouring them. Just don’t let them stop you from being the best version of you that you can be. The biggest barriers we have to overcome are those in our own minds and there are far worse things that can happen to you than coming last. Like not starting in the first place.

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Dopey training – week 2

I’m sure it will come as no surprise that week 2 of training has also involved a ‘modified’ plan. My 2 x 45 minute runs weren’t 45 minutes (one longer and one shorter) and my long run was longer than I needed. And I had a hike thrown in there for good measure. All of this is partly thanks to the flexibility of school holidays – I know it will get a lot harder to get the kilometres in once Term 3 hits. More than any other statistic, I’m proud to have managed 1035m of elevation this week…and my calves are feeling every metre of it.

Tuesday started with exploring a new running route close to home – there is only so many times I can run around my block without lapsing into a boredom coma. My new route is quite scenic and reminded me how lucky I am to live where I do – there really is more variety than I give it credit for and no reason to get bored.

We then headed away for a few days camping in the stunning Grampians National Park (Gariwerd) and enjoyed an amazing hike from Halls Gap to the Pinnacle. It’s not an easy hike at all but I was really pleased to find that it was nowhere near as strenuous as I remembered. I last did the whole thing as an unfit 14 year old and I think it had haunted me ever since. I couldn’t stop grinning as we powered up the hills, steps and rocks to reach the top. Coming down was more of a challenge with some horrid metal steps to navigate but I felt very grateful for the opportunity to be out in such a beautiful landscape.

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These steps were not fun, especially in trail shoes which kept getting caught in them.

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We made it to the Pinnacle!

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Silent Street – one of my favourite places in the Grampians

Parkrun on Saturday saw us adventure to Frog Hollow – a slow one as my calves were definitely still angry with me about the hike.

And, to end the week, I joined the Surf Coast Trail Runners on their introduction to the You Yangs. A bit funny really as it’s just up the road from me and is the home of the parkrun I am a Run Director at but it was a wonderful chance to find some new trails that I hadn’t explored before. I had been rather nervous in joining this run – scared of holding everyone up and I was very glad that I had 2 great running friends join me which helped make it a positive experience.

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Photo courtesy of Matt @ SCTR

Weekly summary:

Tuesday – 7.3km (59:58)
Wednesday – 10.5km (4:49:04) – hiking
Saturday – 5.0km (39:10)
Sunday – 11.6 (1:56:18)