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)

Run Melbourne half marathon – race recap

I'm home – installed on the couch with my medal still in sight so all that's left to do is tell you all about it.

Run Melbourne half marathon was on this morning, requiring us to have a ridiculously early wake up call at some time beginning with a 4. We headed off to Melbourne and were dropped near Federation Square then got ourselves ready to run.

As always, I started this one not knowing how I'd go. Training has gone well and I've done all the runs I was supposed to. I'm not sick. I'm not injured. No excuses. However you never actually know how you'll feel and how the run will play out until you're in it. (Or is that just me?)

I started this one in a very familiar way – with my amazing running friends. We hung out at the back of the start, letting all the faster ones go through. It was only as we snuck a look behind us as we walked to the start line that we realised exactly how far at the back we were – a mere handful of runners were behind us. "Good," I thought. "Less people to overtake me."

And so we began. I'd discovered a nifty trick to have both run/walk reminders and my kilometre pace screen so felt doubly in control of what was going on. Right on cue, it beeped at 2 minutes, telling me to walk. I used to find it hard to walk that early in an event but now I know better – if you follow Galloway and do it properly, it should let you be just as fast but not as fatigued. As long as you do it properly. So I walked. I had a momentary "hmmmm, I'm last and this is going to be a very quiet run" as there was no one else around but knew the course needed to stay open for the 10km runners and no one seemed to be hurrying me so I kept going at my pace. We ran along a bit of Southbank and headed along Spencer Street then up Collins Street (and the hill – actually not too bad) into the Docklands. So far, so good.

My friend and I chatted as we ran and were soon joined by another lady we'd met at the start line who asked if she could join us – absolutely. We introduced her to the world of Galloway intervals and continued on our merry way.

Coming back into Southbank, we were on track and feeling ok. I won't say 'feeling great' because, well, we were running a half marathon and were bound to be feeling tired. But tired was all – no injuries, no terrible soreness, no real issues. And keeping up with the intervals.

Running along towards the Domain was probably the only time I felt lonely out on the course – here was this wide stretch of road with no supporters, no cheer squads and few other runners to keep us company. Soon enough, we turned into the gardens for a loop and all of that was fixed – lots of other runners and an absolutely brilliant choir singing exactly the inspirational music we needed to hear. We took advantage of a bit of downhill and made up some time then did a u-turn and headed back up the hill, power walking it out.

Anderson Street hill was next – not my favourite uphill part but I do love that downhill and we definitely made the most of it. We also glimpsed our first person wearing a medal along here and it was a great reminder of the bling we would be getting for completing – all incentives were needed by this point as things were starting to ache a bit. We also had some smiles for a runner who came hurtling past us giving cheers (or possibly just grunts but we'll take it!).

Along the tan and around the corner and we saw the crew from Lalor parkrun who had, helpfully, written 'one parkrun to go' on the road – exactly what we needed to hear. We then ran alongside the 10km runners lining up to start although they were clearly nervous and in the zone as there wasn't much encouragement from them.

Running back along the river and over Swan Street Bridge, we were passed by the first 10km runners. I found the last few kilometres a challenge and power walked a lot of it with bits of running when walking hurt too much. The dreaded hill up to Flinders Street actually wasn't so bad (did someone flatten it a bit this year?!?) and, soon enough, we were running down the hill towards the turn into Birrarung Marr.

I was ridiculously pleased to see the finish line but also so happy to be crossing it with my great running friend, Jo and new running friend, Julie. And I was also absolutely over the moon to have beat my half marathon PB by over 2 minutes. (I had also managed to smash my 10km, 15km, 10mile and 20km PBs as well). My time, according to Strava was 2:49:33 – so proud of the work that has gone into training for this and feeling more positive than ever with the journey towards Disney.

The (mind) games runners play

Tomorrow I'm running a half marathon as part of Run Melbourne. So, naturally, the anxiety and general freaking out started about a week ago and will continue until I cross the start line in the morning. Have I trained enough? Will the weather be ok? I wonder how far I can push myself?

These are the pre-mind games I play before every event and I don't know that I'm getting any better at reigning it in. Despite knowing that I've done this distance 7 times before, I've still got nerves. I have to remember the advice I give to my Grade 4 students – nerves about something mean that it matters. That you care. They're not a bad thing and we shouldn't try to quell or fight them – just accept that they're there and they're giving you a message.

However I know that, once I start, I'll be fine. Crossing the start line means a whole lot of other mental games come into it to get me to the finish. Here are some of my favourite tricks to make 21km not seem like, well, 21km….

  • run/walk intervals – I generally run my long runs at 2/1 or 3/1 (eg, 2 minute run, 1 minute walk) as I've found Jeff Galloways' training and techniques to really help me, mentally and physically. That way, I only allow myself to think about the next 3 or 4 minutes, never more. I do not, under any circumstances, think about the whole distance or time that I will be running. Get through this 3 minutes and the rest will take care of itself.
  • run the kilometre you're in – If I'm not feeling as tied into doing set intervals, I change the screen on my Garmin to show the pace per kilometre and I focus on that. This is particularly useful if I'm aiming for a time goal. I know what pace I need to aim for and I track that in the kilometre I'm in but don't allow myself to think of the next kilometre or any that I've finished. Just this one. Make this one good and keep it within the pace I want but don't think of the future or the past.
  • break it down – Thinking about 21.1km when you start a half marathon is a very, very bad idea. It's a long way. If you run at my speed, you'll be out there for quite a long time. Neither of those things will particularly inspire you while standing on the start line so I try not to think of it in terms of total distance, rather I think of chunks. A few kilometres to the first aid station. A few kilometres to a bridge or other landmark. A few kilometres to the half way mark or a turnaround point. A few kilometres to another aid station. Before you know it, the kilometres have flown by and you're counting them down towards the finish line. I only allow myself to count down once it's less than 5km to go – that's a parkrun. I can do a parkrun, even if I'm tired, sore and over it.
  • think about someone else – This one started for me while doing my first 'Run for the kids' where the kilometre markers were pictures of children who were in the Royal Children's Hospital, fighting all sorts of illnesses and conditions. Thinking about them made it very hard to feel sorry for myself and my pseudo woes. I also think a lot about my heroes and the tenacity they demonstrate – Turia Pitt, Kelli Roberts and Kurt Fearnley being 3 that spring to mind. The combination of thinking of those who would want to run and can't and thinking of those who show what strength really looks like is a potent one and always make me hold my head a little higher and run a little stronger.

Whoever said that running is more mental than physical was completely right – for me, it is definitely that way. My runs that are hard are usually that way because of what is going on in my brain and not my body. Here's to me winning the mental battles tomorrow.

Dopey training – week 4

I thought that training might be a challenge this week as it's the first week of Term 3 and returning to school always seems to knock me around in unexpected ways. As it turned out, training was a challenge this week but for an entirely different reason – I didn't want to.

'Not wanting to' is a tough one to overcome. I allowed myself to give into it on Tuesday and not run, giving myself all sorts of justifications to make myself feel better. When I finally just came clean and was honest, it really was just that I didn't want to. Wednesday didn't see me in any better mood but I had a much needed and harsh word with myself – it's fine to not want to every now and then but if you don't want to do this day after day, why are you? No one's making you and you're actually paying for the privilege. Is this even something you want? The answer to that is a resounding yes so all other arguments went out the window, I put my gear on, shut the hell up and headed out the door. And, as usual, it was pretty good once I was out there. I quite like running at night – I like the way darkness envelopes you and makes it just about the run. The world seems different at night – a little bit magical and mysterious.

Friday's run was much easier to talk myself into – I'd taken my stuff to work and decided to head up to the You Yangs when I finished. I also had spent the day mentally giving myself permission to walk as much as I wanted to. The whole thing if I felt like it. What always happens when I do that is that I walk for a tiny bit then get caught up in it all and run. And that's what happened on Friday. It was a beautiful run – a stunning, crisp, blue sky evening with the trail feeling like cotton wool under my feet. Even the arduous climb up the Saddle wasn't so bad and, down the other side, I let my legs go and loved the exhilaration of it. I was also accompanied in the last little bit by a couple of large kangaroos – doesn't matter how long I live in this country, I still get a buzz out of that. And, to finish my run, I had an official finish line. Truly. The Trailplus event was setting up at the You Yangs for the weekend and they were just putting the finish line up when I arrived so I helped them out by testing that it met requirements.

Today's run. Well, I got it done. I had gone out to buy new shoes (which I'm sure will be the topic of a whole other post), forgotten my rain jacket and returned home feeling out of sorts. Remembering the talk I had with myself the other day, I put my new shoes on, found my rain jacket and put it on then headed out into an almost instant and heavy downpour. Within about 500 metres I was thinking of turning around to the warmth of my living room however I then actually started to enjoy it and figured I was wet now – I may as well stay that way and get this run done. 7.5km running around the streets of my town is actually pretty good for me so I've ended the week feeling good.

Let the tapering for Run Melbourne half marathon next weekend begin!

Weekly summary:
Wednesday – 5.5km (46:09)
Friday – 5km (45:52)
Sunday – 7.5km (1:00:19)

parkrun #25 & a reminder that ‘This girl can’

I was back at my home parkrun this morning after a few weeks trekking the countryside and visiting some parkruns interstate and it was lovely to be home. The weather was typically Geelong-like – a bit nippy and overcast but perfectly suited for running without heat or glare.

Having completed Melbourne marathon 10km last weekend and done no running all week, I didn’t really have a plan for today, just wanted to get out and run which is what I did. For only the second time ever (yes, ever), I ran 5km without walking. Same as last time, my overall time was slower than when I run/walk (which I find hilarious) but I felt really good, extremely happy and not at all as exhausted as I thought I would.

It is a funny thing – this need I have to occasionally cut out walk breaks. They’re something I put in consciously, as per Jeff Galloway‘s program, to help me manage my dodgy achilles and push my distances out. However I also like to run it all every now and then to prove to myself that I can. It allows me to prove to myself (and the doubts that live in my head) that I run/walk because I choose to, not because I have to.

So, another successful parkrun done and halfway to my 50 milestone.

Image

training plans – changing plans

Having signed up for my next half marathon a couple of weeks ago, I hunted out a training plan and got to it. I opted for the my asics plan which is very easy to use – you put in a current time for a distance, put in the date of your event and what your training commitment is (3 or 4 times a week, easy, medium or hard effort) and it gives you a calendar of training runs which gradually increase in distance and intensity. Logging runs is straightforward and it lets you know how you’re progressing towards your overall plan.

So far, so good. However, only into week 3 and I started to notice that my foot hurt. Again. I have spent most of the last year nursing my achilles and calf through their various bursts of drama and it was clear that, regardless of how slowly this program was pushing me on, it was too fast for my temperamental foot. It wasn’t the speed – that was definitely kept low but the distance it pushed me to was a bit too much, too soon.

Instead of pushing through it or giving up totally, I’ve changed plans and, so far, have noticed my foot calm back down again. I’m back using Jeff Galloway‘s training plan with planned run/walk. I used this while getting ready for the Maui half marathon in January so I know that it works for me. Most importantly, it feels flexible. I know that, technically, all plans are flexible as you do as much or as little as you want but I have a tendency to do things because it says to. A perfect example was my run on Tuesday where I kept pushing on even though I didn’t feel like running and I was tired and my foot was hurting and I wasn’t enjoying it. Any one of those factors should have been enough to stop me but, once I’d seen that I had to run 7km, I had to run 7km.

With Jeff’s plan, I don’t feel I have to stick to times or paces so I end up running a lot more on ‘feel’. Tonight’s run was magical – lots of bits where it felt completely smooth and almost effortless (almost!) and any pain was fleeting and fixed by throwing in an extra walk break. I know it’s a long road ahead – will keep you updated on how I travel along it 🙂

wpid-20150927_180120.jpg

my week in running – a creaky tendon and a new challenge

I pulled up a bit sore after last week’s Run for the kids but not in a muscular kind of way. Regular blog readers would know that I have had problems with my achilles for about a year now which come and go. This week, it flared in a big way and saw me hobbling around at work on Monday like an old lady. I was really gutted as it hasn’t been more than a pesky niggle for a long time. By Wednesday it was starting to settle back down again but I rested it for the week anyway. Not only that, but I’ve started back with my calf strengthening, eccentric heel drop exercises (that I should have been doing all along) in an effort to get it back under control.

On Saturday, it felt good enough to test it out at parkrun and I decided to set myself a bit of a challenge too. I’ve always adopted a run-walk approach and have been quite happy with that but a niggling voice in the back of my head has recently started to ask ‘why’? I wondered if, deep down, I run-walk because I’m scared of failing if I just try to run. So I set myself the challenge of running as far as I could before I felt the need to walk. To my astonishment, I made it 3km before even thinking about walking. The last 2km, I did my usual run-walk intervals but felt pretty good and proud of myself crossing the line. I’m still a fan of the run-walk approach but feel like I’ve got options now and aren’t just doing it because I can’t just run. And, foot willing, it’s given me something new to aim for in my runs this week.