I just got the hang of that!

For the last month or so I had been running to NO PLAN. Only running when I wanted to run. Running the sessions that I felt like and not what a program was dictating.

The main motivation behind this was to challenge myself. I have often thought that I am motivated and driven by a goal. With no goal in sight I wanted to try to still enjoy my running. The biggest driver of course was my desire to run through my next pregnancy and doing so would rely on being able to have a relaxed approach to running. So this was a great opportunity to master just that.

While it was only a short while before this plan of no plan got thrown out the window by my CRAZY MARATHON idea I still learned a lot along the way:

Plan or no plan I still love and need to run!

To be honest I expected the frequency of my running to drop without a training program but it didn’t. I still woke up most mornings wanting to run. I can’t believe how much running has become such a part of my normal day-to-day life. (Probably shouldn’t put “normal” and “my life” in the same sentence but you know what I mean)

I choose the easy route most days

Considering my love of speed work I  thought I would be doing loads of speed sessions and loving the opportunity to try lots of fun and crazy things with no regard for recovery because it didn’t matter if I pulled up sore. Not so. Most mornings I just set out for an easy run. (slacker… I know!)

I didn’t feel any more or any less recovered for or from runs

I guess this may be because I was still running the same frequency. All the same I was certainly running at a lower intensity for the most part and I didn’t feel any better or worse for it.

In summary

I honestly expected the whole running to no plan to be an ordeal like the first time I tried to switch to decaf (I literally fell apart)!!! It was anything but an ordeal. Do I prefer to run to a program… YES! I love waking up and knowing what I have to do and that each run is one part of a bigger plan. I love seeing improvements from week to week in similar sessions and I love speed sessions but clearly I just have to be told to do them!!

That said I have been known to say “I can’t wait till this race is over and I can just go and run for fun”.  I think that is normal though. Doesn’t every program hit an ugly spot? A spot when you may feel a slave to your training? BUT then you get to run that race and can’t wait to sign up for the next one because it’s just so much FUN!

See how much fun this is!?!

So the verdict is BOTH are great and both have a place in my life.

For specific goals, races and times I will always lean on the guidance of structured program that is designed to help me optimise my training. As for all the running in between these goals and races I will enjoy just running because I know I can and because I know a plan does not hold me together or keep me putting on my sneakers each day – my love of running does that!

Do you ever hit an ugly spot in your training?

Do you prefer to be training for a goal or do you just love to run?

The universe’s plan… now its mine!

As much as I like to be proactive in trying to design my life I have come to accept that there are things in life that are just out of our control. Things that are driven by the universe and sometimes the universe’s grand plan doesn’t align with our own plans. However they do say as every door closes another one opens.There hasn’t been  a door closing in my life as much as I have been sitting by the door waiting for it to open and it just is NOT opening.

Lactational Amenorrhea sounds like a dream but when you are keen to grow your family it is kind of frustrating. So here I am twiddling my thumbs waiting for my body to kick back into baby baking mode.

2 weeks ago after my 5km “not so fabulous” race…  I had an idea. A crazy idea. So crazy it seemed ridiculous at first but the more I thought about it the less crazy and wild this idea became.

After a few days of thinking it over and over I was starting to seriously consider this idea and decided it was time to float it to Big A.

Let me just say I am lucky to be blessed with the most supportive family who have always encouraged and supported me to achieve my goals. I was even luckier to marry a man who is also so supportive of me and backs my every dream and goal 100% no matter how crazy.

So once I had got the OK from Big A I did what any Type A control freak personality does –  organise the hell out of it. I worked out every tiny detail to the point where I could see it all coming together BUT I still wasn’t ready to commit.

Then this happened. I visited my Podiatrist… The king of the lower limbs. I walked in to my appointment 75% committed to my crazy idea and walked out 100% committed.

Decision made.

As of Monday 26th November I will abandon my running to NO program approach and start a 20 week training program for …

WaHoo! YeeeeeHaaaa!

So  rather than sit around and be frustrated and impatient with my body I am going to refocus my energies on another goal. Yes, Little A (and Big A) are my #1 priority but he sleeps 14 hours per day (Little A that is!) so there is definitely some time each day to pursue a crazy goal.

Now there are so many things I want to share with you all but in the interest of not making this the LONGEST post ever I will split it up into 4 more posts that I will publish over the next week. Here is a sneak preview of them…

Chill time!… I’m prepping for a marathon but fully intend to sit on my butt for the next 7 – 10 days ( and I am not injured!) here I tell you why!
I just got the hang of that Running to NO plan. Everything about my experience and what I will do in the future.
So much more than running .. There is so much more to prepping for a marathon than just running. In this post I will share all my plans: nutrition, recovery, managing my niggles and balancing family life.
Running Royalty… A an exciting post to tell you what tipped my decision to train for the Canberra Marathon… THIS IS EXCITING!!!!

Of course running will move up the priority list and blogging will have to move down a little. However I do aim to share a marathon training update each week in addition to the normal mummy and running posts.

Finally I just want to point out that I have committed to TRAINING for the Canberra Marathon NOT RUNNING it. The truth is if my body kicks back into baby baking mode in the next two months I could easily ditch the marathon to move forward with growing our family. However there will come a time when I am far enough into the training when there will be no turning back and I will see out the marathon no matter what my body does. In the interest of making race preparations I have decided to give myself a deadline of February 21st to make a decision on the race. This will see me 12 weeks into my training and 8 weeks out from the race.

So anyone want to come line up at Canberra with me?

When have you been frustrated with your body?

Am I crazy?

How far out from a race do you sign up for it?

Race 4 Life 5km

I am seeing a bit of a pre-race trend… Little A doesn’t sleep well the night before my races! Maybe he gets pre-race nerves for me?!?! This morning I lined up for my 5km race on not much more than 5 hours sleep. Lack of sleep the night before a race is no big deal to me if I have slept well during the week. In fact I am generally on such a pre-race high I run on nervous or excited energy anyway.

Running in the heat on the other hand IS a very big deal for me. And when it comes to running I use the word “hot” very loosely. In fact anything over 20 degrees to me is hot! So seeing a weather forecast of 36 degress for today was not very comforting.

Luckily for me I had just read The Arty Runnerchick’s post on 5 ways to make sure your race doesn’t suck (nice timing hey?). So I had adjusted my expectations and devised a race plan. In my few races since Little A came along I hadn’t really bothered with race plans. This was partly because I didn’t want to think or get excited about races and then not be able to run them (little babies are so unpredictable). But now Little A is much older and much less reliant on ME, having little periods of time away while I race are much more achieveable. So back to race plans for me.

Before bed last night I said to myself…. “tomorrow I am getting up and running the hardest and fastest 5km I can”. Yep, that was my race plan. I didn’t want to pace myself, I wanted to go out and try and achieve as close to 4 minute Ks as possible. Even if this meant my last Ks were 5 minutes Ks. I knew this approach was risky and not the smartest race plan but it was time to try something different (usually I am well paced and or finish stronger than I started).

Since I was going to run like a crazy fast woman (at least for the first few Ks) I had to dress for the occassion…

Chicking shirt and game ON!

Race for Life donates part of the entry fees to the Breast Cancer Foundation which has Pink as its super cool corporate colour. So I arrived at the race to a sea of Pink… AWESOME! Even some of the guys sported some pink tops – very big of them.

I collected my bib and made a dash for the loos for my “nervous pee”. Yep even if I have only been minutes before I left the house I always need to go pre-race now!!!

Ready to go I headed to the start line where I found Big A and Little A.

Soaking up the atmosphere

I took my final sip of water (while Big A took happy snaps) and then I headed for a warm up…

Can I get an IV with this stuff?

After a 5minute warm up my throat felt DRY already. I had drank water through the night and knew I was well hydrated. This was not going to be pretty!

At the start line I battled my first case of SERIOUS pre-race nerves. I had nervous energy in my arms and legs and felt sick to my gut. “It is just a run, go out there and do it” I told myself.

The commentator babbled away and I half-heartedly listened. At this point I just wanted to get going so this sick feeling in my gut would go away. He asked the girls in the front row what time they were hoping for… “under 20 minutes” they said. “Great, there goes my chance of placing” I thought. Big A who was standing on the sidelines next to me must have seen my face sink. ” Go Blitz em!” he said and with a bang of the gun we were off.

A beautiful morning in Adelaide (just not for running)

I just want to take a moment to THANK all the speed work for some pretty awesome quads. I have to say I never use to be a lover of my legs but now they are performance machines and I totally respect and appreciate them for what they do not what they look like. When I saw this photo – I was a little bit excited to see some serious quads are starting to develop. Wahoo!!!!

All the better to chick you with

Anyhow back to it. Apparently I was running so fast Big A mostly got photos of my back. Which is fine because that is the best view of my Chicking Shirt….

I’ll slow down a little so you can read the back of my shirt

I wasn’t in the lead pack but I had them in my sights….

A pack of runners ahead = a “chickers” dream

My first Km was my best. By the time I had knocked out 2Ks my mouth was SO DRY. It was horrible. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would stop at a drink station in a sub 25 minute race but when I saw that arm holding out a cup I snatched it like I hadn’t seen water in a week! I actually hate the whole race hydration thing. It is such an art to get in enough to maintain performance but not too much that it sits in your gut. I chucked back a mouthful, ditched the cup and ran on.

At this point I got some serious eye candy. Just ahead was a recreational runner with the running stroller I have been drooling over all week (see here). I couldn’t help but comment on his super cool wheels as I passed chicked him… I didn’t make out all of his response but I think he said “Its the best – its my sanity machine”.  Like I could be sold on this one anymore!! Funnily enough when I crossed the finishing line one of the first things Big A said was “Did you see the Chariot CX?”

Anyway as I was approaching the final Km I looked up to see the runners in front running downhill – my heart sank! Downhill meant there was going to be an uphill….NOOOOOO!!!!! But before I knew it I was on the final 400m. Now if there is one thing you must know about me I LOVE a sprint finish. So I put it into gear and brought that baby home!

So it wasn’t a great run but it sure was a great finish

Across the line I shook hands with the awesome runner chick who finished ahead of me. I had her in my sights the whole race but she was always out of reach. She ran a great race. I was pleased to hear though that she was feeling as crappy as I was!

My finishing time was 22.03 which put me:

2nd out of 100 females and

7th out of 147 runners overall

It wasn’t the time I had hoped for and finishing knowing that I didn’t run my best isn’t great but I ran my best in the conditions and at the end of the day it is still a PB!!!! More importantly it was a race experience that I learned a lot from. I set out for the first time aiming for a positive split (I was experimenting with whether positive splits work better for me over shorter distances). It was the hottest race I have ever ran in and it was the first time I have ran “competitively” and wanted to or even dared to dream about placing. It was the first time I had SERIOUS pre-race nerves.

If you are looking for a great race in Adelaide around this time of year I highly recommend this one. Not only does it support a great cause but it is one of Adelaide’s nicer running courses around the Torrens.

Did you race this weekend? What has been your worst race?

What awesome changes have you seen in your body since starting running?

Ever been to Adelaide?

Clocked and Rocked it

For a couple of weeks I have been on a quest for that 3 minute 30 second Km. I have so wanted to experience the speed that our awesome female olympic marathoners run at… if only for a few minutes.

Well today I did it. Not one but FOUR x 1km intervals at sub 3 minute 30… JUST. Now all I need to do is get rid of the 3 minute breaks I had between each Km and then run another 38 of them and I will be olympic ready…

But I am not packing my bags for RIO 2016 just yet. Apparently it is not that easy!?!?! Actually if I can EVER run a 5km race at that pace I will be STOKED! How these olympiads not only do it but make it look effortless is a mystery to me!

Anyway today I was hoping to get out 5 of these killer intervals but as I slowed the treadmill for my recovery after my fourth one I heard the “Just letting you know I’m awake so come get me” cry over the baby monitor. So it was a super quick recovery and back to mummy duties for me.

BUT little guy aside I would have gone for one more today. Why? Not because I like pain and not because I hadn’t given my ALL on the first four but because I am a little bit inspired to push that little bit harder at the moment. Here are some quotes that have popped into my world over the last few days…

1) The human body is capable of so much more than we ever give it credit for

2) Most people never go long enough to find their second wind

3) Most people give up when they’re just about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line.

4) That voice in your head that says you can’t is a liar

5) I don’t stop when I’m tired, I stop when I am done

So after my third one when I was feeling pretty spent, I got to wondering what if I really am capable of so much more. What if I am not tapping in to my “everything”. I often determine how many more intervals based on how I felt in the last one. Makes sense right? But what if I am not done, what if that was just a crappy interval and I’ll find my groove on the next one – then I will have ripped myself off!

So should I flog myself until I pass out? No, that is not my point. I am all for train SMART not HARD. But maybe, just maybe I am capable of and got more in me than I think.

I guess the positive side of not racing this weekend (apart from spending time with Big and Little A of course!) is that by not being in pre-race mode I can be experimental with my running and push and stretch myself without fear of needing to be in “peak” condition. And geez if I want to wake up and run hills tomorrow after an interval session today – I can! (ok so that would probably be stupid but just trying to make a point). Not running to a plan could just be my opportunity to grow as a runner or at least grow what I believe my capacity is as a runner (mentally).

Pregnancy taught me a lot about my body. Its a lot smarter than I ever gave it credit for and it knows exactly what it needs ( #1 reason why I am all about “intuitive eating”). I have to wonder though if my mind thinks it smarter and holds me back… just a little.

Please don’t go and crank that treadmill up to 20kmp/h or run so long you can’t walk all week BUT maybe do ask yourself what am I really capable of? It may be more than you think. AIM HIGH… You might just get there!!! But always build and train sensibly and with PATIENCE and consistency.

If you want to do it – do it!

Image

Yesterday I hit the treadmill for my intervals. 5 x 800s. I secretely hoped that I would achieve a 2 minute 45 second interval but in the end I had to settle for a 2 minute 47 second one as my best (on the plus side there is room for improvement!). It was a tough session, partly because mentally I was drained and partly because I pushed SO hard I was at my absolute limits but MOSTLY because it was hot.

Make no mistake about it I am not a hot weather runner. I fall apart. I get stomach cramps, feel light headed, dizzy and lose pace dramtically. I know what you are thinking – hydrate better right? I could run with an IV of fluid and still not be a “hot weather” runner. I am the queen of hydration… One of my nick names is “glug glug glug”! In the first few months of breast feeding I would put down 5 litres a day like it was no ones business.

So by the time I had finished my last interval yesterday, I was feeling pretty terrible. Little A was asleep and as much as I wanted a nice long relaxing cool down (and to clock up some extra Ks Miles for September Miles Madness) I wanted to stop MORE.

Then it occured to me – how am I ever going to become a better runner in the heat if I don’t run in the heat. Don’t get me wrong I am not suggesting choosing the hottest part of the day to head out or continuing to run when you are faint or dizzy. But after my last interval I had demolished a bottle of water and I wasn’t feeling ill just sluggish…couldn’t be bothered, too hard!

Moving my running around the weather is easy. Get up at the crack of dawn, take your rest day on the hottest day and do your hardest longest sessions on the coolest days. But what happens when one day I line up for a race and it is freakishly HOT. I have never “sucked up” a run in the heat. I dare say it would be my first DNF (which I am not scared of… I accept this will one day happen!) but I don’t want “too soft to run in the heat” to be the reason!

I realised the only way I was ever going to be able to run in the heat is if I run in the heat. Genius hey? So I continued on for my long and “relaxing” cool down.  Amazingly as every minute passed I felt a little bit better. Yes some of it was recovering from my awesome but crazy intervals but some of it was also my body adapting to the heat. If well hydrated and realistic about your pace running in the heat can be quite good (yep I am trying to convince myself!) Decreased chance of injury is definitely a big plus for warmer weather running!

In 2 weeks I will be following NO training plan but I will definitely be “training” to be an ALL conditions runner. Time to toughen up!!!

Are you a freak hot weather runner?

DOMS

Its time for a training week fortnight wrap.

Since the last training update I have managed to get some longer runs under my belt and I am starting to feel ready for this half marathon!

Thanks to the September Miles Madness I have been motivated to tack a few extra Ks on all my sessions and not just my long runs and this has seen me achieve my highest mileage week EVER!

With the exception of some specific ‘post baby’ soreness (apparently all the kegels in the world don’t strengthen you for DISTANCE running) my body has adapted well to the higher mileage.

The Hill sessions on the other hand completely shocked my body and left my hamstrings screaming. I chose very gentle hills, did extra long warm ups and kept the reps low. Even though I felt like I didn’t push very hard IN my hill sessions my legs talked about divorcing me for days after. Given how much of a shock the hills have been I am only going to squeeze two more hill workouts in between now and the race. I certainly don’t want sore tired legs like that close to the race. Its been a long time since I have experienced DOMS and in some sick and twisted way it sure felt good to know that I pushed my legs in running.

When Sunday rolled around I was planning on heading out for 90 minutes on my own while Big A took care of Little A. But cuddling up with Little A on the bed (in the morning when he is just ALL smiles) was just too much fun… how could I leave this little guy behind???? So I suggested to Big A that I take the stroller and he come along on his bike. We decided to run/ride in to the City and have breakie along the River Torrens and run/ride home. Running home on a “big breakkie” and a belly full of coffee was a bit rough but it certainly was a nice way to mix my running up and squeeze some more time in with my two favourite people!

Tempo and Intervals are going well. I had a great Interval session last week in which I attempted 3 minute 30 second Ks. I failed. My fastest was 3 minutes 35 seconds. How amazing are these Olympic female athletes… they run 42.2km at a pace that I can’t even maintain for 1km!!!

This morning my Tempo Run included 30 minutes at 15kmp/h which is another personal best for me… Suddenly a sub 20 minute 5km seems possible and dare I dream of a 40 minute 10km!?!?!

All in all I am mentally and physically in a great place for this half marathon. Now the only problem is making sure I am geographically in the right place for this half marathon… an unexpected trip away might mean I wont be able to race the McLaren Vale Half. Fingers crossed though! Anyone know of any Virtual Half Marathons on the weekend of October 14th? I need a back up plan!

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?