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!

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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?

Mindful Mothering

“By the time we have children, many of us have become so achievement-orientated, so goal-driven, so addicted to busyness that we lose out ability to relax along with our capacity to notice what is going on in the now. One of the greatest gifts children bring is the way they guide, if not force, our attention back home to the present. Young children live in the present moment, oblivious to the past, unconcerned about the future. They see objects, people and events with fresh eyes, and with wonder. If we choose to, we can take on their viewpoint and see our surroundings as if for the first time. Once jaded, world-weary parents can find themselves lying in their backyards, fascinated at the proceedings of an ant colony. If we let them, children can teach us the value of time with no objectives, a skillful kind of laziness free from the need for productivity.”

This is an extract from Sarah Napthali’s book Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children, becoming a mindful parent which I was gifted from a beautiful friend and mother.

Am I buddhist? No, but this book is definitely my #1 recommended read for any new parent. Getting up multiple times in the night to a teething child is always easier when you are filled with compassion and understanding. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t bounce out of bed smiling to tend to Little A and lets face it, sleep deprivation can make all rational thoughts go out the window. But empathy, understanding and compassion can help how we experience those difficult times.

This year I set a New Year’s resulotion to have inner peace. The goal was NOT to be happy but to be at peace within myself which in turn has bought about greater happiness. I don’t believe feeling happiness all the time to be possible and or even appropriate… should we be happy when faced with loss? I don’t think so!

Earlier this year I did a meditation course run by buddhist teacher Kelsang Norjin. I was 35 weeks pregnant at the time and if meditation wasn’t challenging enough trying to meditate with an active little boy in your belly was near impossible. That was ok though, I didn’t go for a day of meditation but instead I had enrolled hoping to learn the art of meditation. I knew I would have lots of practice to do outside of the course. What I didn’t know was just how hard true meditation is.

Going in to this class I believed meditation to be a relaxing process in which you let your mind free. I quickly discovered I was wrong. In actual fact it is the exact opposite…training your mind and FOCUSING on one thing. There is nothing relaxing about learning and trying to master meditation. It takes discipline and perserverance. I found it to be extremely difficult and frustrating.

By lunch time I was ready to give up. After 2 morning sessions of meditation I think I had achieved up to 3 breaths of “true” meditation. Luckily I bumped into the teacher on lunch break (before I made my planned escape) and after being informed that 21 breaths is “master level” of meditation I was starting to feel a little more encouraged. “Bugger it” I thought, I might as well have another crack… so I stayed for the afternoon session.

By the end of the day I was feeling much more comfortable and relaxed with meditation. Whilst I hadn’t progressed past 5 breaths in a row I felt I had learned a lot and couldn’t wait to try it out without the interruptive kicks from my belly!

How did my head get filled with so much stuff that I could’t truly focus on ONE thing (my breathing) with NO other thoughts for more than 5 seconds?!?!

Fast forward 7 months and life is much different. When Little A was a newborn I could pass hours just gazing at him and feeling him breath on my chest, then it was hours spent engaging with him as he became more aware. Now it is hours sitting in the high chair experiencing food and watching him discover and experience everything for the first time. Life is lived at a much more relaxing pace and such simple things bring me joy.

Yes there is lots of chaos here too. Days when I can’t wait for bath time to come around because I feel so stretched and exhausted. Days when the endless washing and folding makes me feel so unispired.

Luckily, they are dispersed between moments of absolute wonder and amazement and I am so grateful to be aware of and capable of fully experiencing these.

My journey to living mindufully started before Little A was even in my belly (not long before) but Little A’s arrival has only enriched it and assisted me to slow down and live in the present.

If you are looking for a beautiful book to read, I highly recommend Sarah Napthali’s Buddhism for mothers of young children, becoming a mindful parent.

If you are looking for a “challenge” to enrich your life I highly recommend learning the art of meditation… just don’t expect results over night!

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?

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!