The last HooRah

Little A is just shy of 6 months which means I have been back running for 5 months already. There is nothing like having a baby to make time fly! I have well and truly made my “comeback” and can now shift my focus from regaining strength and fitness to building on and growing it.

Post baby my goal was to regain my fitness as efficiently as possible.
Enter Speed Work!

5 months of running with a program built around Tempos and Intervals has paid off and now I feel ready to crank up the Ks!

And crank up the Ks I will do as I am only seven weeks out from my next goal… The McLaren Vale Half Marathon.

So whats the plan going to look like now?

Well you may remember me saying that I want to become a Stronger Runner?
Enter Hills!

It has been nearly 2 years since I have ran a hill session. I’m not expecting these to be fun but I am looking forward to pushing myself in a new way.

I am also going to keep two “easy” runs but do these with the stroller. I am finding stroller running physically quite challenging but I know it is making me a better runner.

I will also keep one “speed” session each week and will alternate these between tempo and intervals.

Finally of course there is the long run in which I will build up my distance. My longest run since Little A came along has been 80 minutes. In the next 7 weeks I would like to increase that by 30-40minutes. So all up for the next 7 weeks my training plan will look something like this:

Easy
Tempo or Intervals
Easy
Long Run
Hills

With 2 rest days thrown in there too I should be able to comfortably manage this load.

So why the last HooRah?

After this race I’m not going to train for anything. I may or may not race but I wont be following a training program. Runs will be done when and if I feel like them for as long or short as I feel like. There’s a few reasons for this change of approach:

1) Little A will be nearly 8 months and summer will be just around the corner. I can’t wait for our first summer together… trips to the pools, walks to the playgrounds and runs to the beach. Bring it on! I know we are going to have a blast and I know there will be lots of physical activity in there and lots of Ks put on the pram but I want our activites and days to be dictated by the weather and what WE want to do not my running program.

2) I have never really done much “unstructured” running. Generally I have been training for something and following some program. I want to learn to embrace running without striving for a race or an achievement.

3) The BIG reason for the change – Big A and I have made no secret of our desire to grow our family. The last 6 months have flown by and I know the next 6 months will too. When that time comes around I want to be ready physically and mentally. Breastfeeding, Pregnancy and Running individually are all demanding of the body. For me I am finding the combination of two of them an energy burning fest(!!!) and would dare not attempt all 3 at once (Honestly I don’t have time to eat & drink anymore). As I am not ready to wean Little A from feeding just yet I am going to wean the running first. Hopefully I can find my “sweet spot” where my body can manage running and baby growing responsibilites.

4) Finally mastering “unstructured running will be essential if I choose to run through my next pregnancy. Running while pregnant requires you to listen to your body and each run will be taken on a day by day basis (if at all!). I suspect following a plan would be futile.

So here goes my last HooRah before I attempt to master “unstructured running”!

Any unstructured runners out there? Whats the secret?
Did you run through pregnancy?

Adelaide Marathon 10km Race

Pre – Race
Like all races these days I try not to think about them or more specifically get excited about them until its the morning of. Mostly because now I have this little guy who is completely dependant on me and quite frankly “unpredictable”, I know that there is always a chance that something may crop up and I will have to forgo a race.

“Go run Mum, I’ll look after daddy”

So as I walked to the start line with Big A and Little A, I had a mini-panick attack. I had no race plan, I hadn’t even spared this race a thought! Arriving at the start with only 5 minutes to go didn’t leave much time to do anything either. I said goodbyes to the boys and made a dash for the loos. Cutting it fine …. I know!

I made it back just in time for the count down. Usually I would join the back of the pack but today I was going for a PB and negotiating traffic can chew up precious seconds so I nestled in to the middle of the eager to start (it was about 9 degrees!) pack of runners.

My race plan was formulated in the first 500m. I was going to run at a pace that I thought I could JUST maintain for 10km and then give anything I had left in the last km. A 10km race pace for me is running at about 7/10 for perceived effort. In the first Ks I glanced at my Garmin and was a little freked to see the number 13 on my speed screen… but I felt comfortable so I went with it.

This turned out to be the perfect plan.

My Time
I crossed the line in 46 minutes and 22 seconds. My race pace must have been smack on as my splits were very even:

4.39
4.41
4.40
4.38
4.39
9.24 (oops missed a km marker! average = 4.42)(2.06km)
4.27 (.95km)
4.36
4.34

The Course
Do you remember me saying that I was scared to run the Adelaide Marathon because of the twisty turning course. Well the 10km still had some loops and turns (but nothing like the marathon). I think the course was inspired by the London Olympic Marathon course with its 111 turns!

Despite the winding nature of the course and nearly colliding with a pole in the middle of the foot path AND nearly being taken out by a runner who didn’t see the fountain in the middle of the path, I loved the course. The South East corner weaved through the botanic gardens and was all new running territory for me.

The last 200 meters came off the road, up a path and into an oval. It was awesome to finish a race along a path lined with supporters and friendly faces.

Highlights
Looking back on the race there are so many things that make me smile. Here’s just a few:

1. Shaving 13 minutes and 38 seconds of my last 10km time in just 17 weeks! I know this is largely thanks to the massive “returning” to running gains after baby but I still put in all the hard work and clearly my training program (written by me!) wasn’t too shabby either!

2. How in tune I have become with my body and pace in all things running. To achieve those (almost) EVEN splits on “feel” I was pretty happy!

3.Seeing hubby and bubby at the 9km marker. Even though I had arranged to meet the boys at the finish line. Big A surprised me a couple times along the course. The 9km sighting was completely unexpected and gave me that final kick I so needed!

4.This was my first race in which I have associated myself with a charity and run for a reason. It added a whole new dimension to the experience and I thank everyone again for their support. It sure feels good to mix my passion with giving back to the community.

Final thoughts
I have to confess I didn’t go into the race confident of achieving my goal. In the 2 weeks leading up to the race Little A had been teething and quite unsettled. This meant that a lot of my runs were done with the stroller (at a slower pace). Having not ran much at my desired race pace I was a little psyched out as to whether or not I still could. Turns out the thing that “did my head in” actually makes me a better runner. But I’ll tell you all about that in another post dedicated to the wonderful BUT challenging world of “stroller running”.

So now that I have achieved my 10km goal whats next? Well this is worthy of another post too so stay tuned to hear about the next training goal and race in 7.5 weeks… my last HooRah!

Running… the answer to everything

Hmmm maybe this wonder week only lasted 3 days I thought to myself as I washed Little A’s breakfast bowl. The little guy was playing happily in his high chair and after only waking for one feed the night before it was a nice contrast to the grizzly bub I had encountered on and off over the last few days. Little A was just shy of 23 weeks and I had put his grizzling and desperate need for mummy and cuddles down to a wonder week.

After the breakfast clean up, I took Little A in to Big A who was enjoying a snooze in. The two boys played and cuddled while I got dressed for my run. It was Sunday and I was due to do my long run. I was keen to crank out some Ks so I decided I would do a treadmill run. The plan was 90 minutes and my goal was 18km.

With everything in place for my run I offered Little A his pre-sleep feed. After a whole lot of fussing and not much feeding I decided it was time to wrap and settle the obviously over tired baby.

As soon as I laid the little guy on his wrap grizzling turned to screaming. I sat in the nursing chair cuddling and rocking confident that he was just over-tired and would settle soon…

10 minutes later and no sign of settling Big A came in to take over. I was happy to trade places by this stage. I paced the hallway waiting for my cue (silence) to jump on the treadmill… 10 minutes later we were no closer to having a sleeping baby.

The longer it took to settle the worse it was getting. I decided to bite the bullet and started packing the pram. I told Big A of my plan and he happily placed the “unsettleable” baby in to the pram.

By the time I hit the end of the street the little guy was fast asleep. Once we reached the river I plugged my hands-free in and called Big A to make plans. We hadn’t managed to exchange a word over the screaming baby and I wanted to make sure he was on stand-by in case the miserable-looking sky decided to leak on us. I decided I would do an hour run (if the weather allowed) and meet Big A at Macdonalds for raison toast and coffee (we earned it!)

11km later I pulled off the track and started the recovery walk to meet Big A. The little guy was still fast asleep and stayed that way for another hour while we enjoyed our coffee and toast. Apparently screaming at the top of your lungs for 30 minutes is tiring work!

About a week later Little A’s bottom 2 teeth cut through his gums. Was it a wonder week, was it teething, was it separation anxiety or was it just a REALLY over tired baby? I don’t know. Either way I thank god for stroller running. The little guy settled and got what he needed (sleep), Big A got what he needed (caffeine) and I got what I needed (a run).

I know there will be a next time and when that comes around I want hesitate about getting Little A in that stroller!

I’m a mixed breed

I have always enjoyed my tempo and intervals sessions but despite my love of speed sessions I have never considered myself a “short distance” runner. Although I would do shorter distances I always thought I was a half marathon runner who was trying to become a marathon runner.

Then Little A came along and my focus changed from quantity to quality. I knew 2-3 hour long runs wouldn’t be on the cards for a while. What I didn’t know was how much I would enjoy the shorter distances. Or more importantly that I can achieve more over these distances than I could in the longer.

Problem solved… Become a short distance runner! But its not that easy!!!

Despite absolutely loving my current training I just can’t shake this nagging desire for a marathon. I ache for that 42.2km. Adelaide only has one marathon each year which happens to be this weekend. So any desires for another marathon would mean travel. Shorter distance races though are much easier to come by with at least one suitable race each month.

When looooong runs were out of the question it was easy to focus on the shorter distances but now that we have reached a point where training for a marathon is possible I feel torn. Little A and I are now running together in the stroller which gives me a lot more flexibility for length of runs. Intervals and Tempo Runs on the other hand are a bit more a challenge with a stroller (or at least they are for this beginner!).

At the end of the day the problem is I love it all. I loved the 5km, the marathon and everything in between. I wish I was a “pure” short or “long” distance runner but I’m not.

Marathon Runner Vs The Sprinter

For now though my focus is the 10km race this weekend. If I achieve my goal time then it will move to a half marathon in 8 weeks. If I don’t achieve my goal time then I will do another 10km in 8 weeks instead of the half.

After that… I don’t know.I have 8 weeks to work it out. What I do know is this:

– I want to become a “stronger” runner
– I want to have peak health to grow our family when we choose to
– I want to continue to enjoy running without it ever becoming all consuming
– I want my training to be efficient… if I am going to be away from my family, then damn it I will make it worthwhile.

I’m not sure what distances and styles of training will best suit these goals but I will let you know when I do!

Are you a short or long distance runner?
Do you ever want to do it all?

5 months

Make yourself a cuppa and put your feet up this is going to be a long one! It has been an exciting and eventful month for our little guy.

After weeks of staring at us eating and even trying to steal rice off my plate we decided it was time to introduce Little A to the wonderful world of solids. The process has been a gradual one as we are introducing one new food each week. Starting with Farex, Little A has since enjoyed Sweet Potato, Apple and most recently Avocado. He happily devours everything on offer and lets out a desperate wail if you haven’t reloaded the spoon by the time he has swallowed his last mouthful. His obvious LOVE of food is a sure sign he is my son (in case that experience of child birth ever fades and I am ever left wondering!!!!) However it is not all smiles and smooth sailing at food time. Here is how a typical mealtime plays out…

“Is that for me?”

“Bring my bib back… I’m not done!”

Speaking of bibs I discovered very quickly that they don’t cover much and when you are an OCD mother dealing with curious little fingers and sweet potato they just don’t cut it. Enter the painting smock…

“I thought you were just kidding about wrapping me in plastic”

Here is some more mealtime fun for you:

“Any chance of seconds?”

“Okay no seconds then. What about some dessert?”

“What about that banana over there”

“NO DESSERT!!!”

Little A’s appetite isn’t the only thing that has developed this month. Now that he has well and truly mastered the grasping of things he wants to grab everything in sight. This is making simple things like trying to read a book a bit more of a challenge! On the plus side though he is starting to enjoy his toys on a whole new level…

Tummy time is turning into a desperate bid to get moving. Luckily (for us) he is a little way off actually getting anywhere just yet but its super cute to watch him try his little heart out. Most attempts to draw his knees up and lift his hips result in a face plant which is quite entertaining!

In regards to sleep I have finally adjusted to the 2 feeds per night which hasn’t changed since it started last month. Apart from the feeds Little A is more settled at nights again. We did have one night this month that gave me insight as to what its like to get up 5 times in the space of a 2.5 hours! Luckily things returned to normal again the next night. Sleep deprivation doesn’t suit me!

As for daytime sleeps we have now dropped down to 3 sleeps per day. These sleeps can vary in length from 30 minutes up to 2.5 hours. Generally I find that his first sleep in the morning is his best sleep for the day. Like all mothers I just adore a sleeping baby! Here are my favourite snoozing shots from this month…

All in all it has been an amazing month filled with lots of special memories. I can’t wait to see what next month holds.

When did you stop wrapping baby for sleep time?
Any tips on helping them adjust
?

The ultimate runners network

On my post pregnancy to do list was a trip to my podiatrist to get re-assessed. After having my hips and core plied apart I figured “structurally” I wouldn’t be the same. Turns out I was right! The extra weight I carried, the physical changes that happened and all that relaxin that pumped through my body have a bit to answer for. All in all I was happy to discover that all my core work has paid off but I still have some work to do. Let me say though, there is nothing like a knowledgable health professional to help you establish what needs to be stretched, tightened or adjusted. I left my appointment feeling confident that I can get back on top of these few niggles that I have acquired post baby that I just haven’t been able to shake.

Today reminded of a post by pavement runner about surrounding yourself with greatness (see here). Its amazing how much we as humans can feed off and be inspired by others. I mean who isn’t sitting on their couch at the moment feeling uber-inspired watching our olympians!?!?

At the moment I am training on my own. I am not part of a runners club and I am only doing the odd race here and there. So I am not getting to socialise in person with many other runners much. But I AM SURROUNDED BY GREATNESS and do have an amazing network of people who inspire, motivate and assist me.

Firstly there is the amazing online community of bloggers and tweeters. I love sharing in other peoples journeys and I love being inspired by them. On the occassion when I just lack that motivation there will always be another runner who tweets or blogs something that I swear was written just for me. It doesn’t matter if our mileage, goals or paces are different I can always rely on these people to give me a kick in the bum when I need it.

Then there are those allied health professionals who keep us on our feet. Now I have met a few in my times as a PT but there is nothing like working with a fellow runner who “gets it”. Yes runners can be “slightly obsessive” by nature and not the most reasonable people to deal with when we are injured. Sometimes rest is the only answer but a fellow runner sure understands how much you just want to get back to running!

Finally there are my amazing supportive friends and family. They are magnificent and are always there to encourage me. This in itself inspires greatness in me. I want to strive to be the best I can just for them!

No, I am not aiming for the Olympics or any elite level for that matter. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still benefit from being surrounded by amazing people (athletes or not!). I might be the one to go out there and do the Ks BUT I only got out there because my husband understands and supports me, because I read that inspiring tweet that motivated me, because my podiatrist removed my corns and I am pain-free again!