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?

Plus 5

Since Little A was born my training motto has been a hashtag acronym I discovered on Twitter… #JFDI

In the interest of keeping this family friendly I wont write the full version but suffice to say its just the Nike slogan with a little bit of colour.

When I didn’t feel like going for a run or I was thinking of the 100 other things I needed to do, I told myself #JFDI (you know you use twitter too much when you think in hashtags!)

Now my training has changed its not about “Just Doing It”. If I don’t feel like it – I don’t run. So that training motto just doesn’t seem appropriate anymore and it has now been replaced with…

Plus 5

Another sweaty 5? Hell Yeah!

I have had quite a few runs lately when I am in the zone. Feeling amazing and just wanting to run forever. Last Monday on my first day of what I am labelling “intuitive running” I decided I was in the mood for a nice easy run. I had a few jobs to do too so I thought I’d knock out 8km and if the little guy was still asleep I could get dinner in the crock pot and hang out some washing.

At 8km I was feeling great. I really wanted to get some things done but I really wanted to run longer too.  I decided to go for another 5 minutes. After 5 minutes I decided to go for another 5 minutes and after that 5 minutes I wanted another 5. 20 minutes later I finally slowed the treadie, stretched and went into my waking baby.

It is so easy to make up 5 minutes of jobs in my day. I can stay up later by 5 minutes or I can put Little A in his walker while I do them. There are 100s of ways I can find 5 minutes to do other things. But making up 5 minutes of running is not that easy.

For me to go for a run I have to have a fed and sleeping baby (which only happens twice per day now… the sleeping that is not the feeding) and me be dressed in my running clothes ready to go. Its not as easy as “baby’s asleep I’ll go for a run now”. If I did that I’d be lucky to get out 20 minutes. Instead it is planned from the moment I wake up and decide I am going to run.

By the time Little A goes down I am in my running clothes and fed with my sneakers, water, phone and baby monitor at the door. If I am lucky Big A may have uncovered and switched on the treadie for me too. If by any chance I am running behind and haven’t done the breakfast dishes I dare not glance in the kitchen on my way out as I can’t afford even a minute. Lets not even talk about the preparation of a stroller run. Although I am getting this down to a fine art.

If I am running then there has been a lot of preparation and deliberate activities that have got me there. So if I am feeling great and Little A is asleep and I am keen to push out another Km then I will guilt free add on another 5 minutes. Yes, I could achieve a lot of things around the house in 5 minutes while Little A is asleep but this one sleep a day belongs to me and my running.

I would rather get to bed 5 minutes later or not have folded a load of washing than go to bed and wish I had down another Km when I had the chance because those chances only come by once a day. My washing, well thats there all day every day!!!

So tell me…

Do squeeze out every possible Km or do you cut runs short to fit in other things?

Do you have a training motto? Has it changed over the years?

 

The stars finally aligned

Over the last 3-4 weeks I have began to wonder if my love of running has turned into an addiction. Rest days started to get ugly! 2 weeks ago I thought it was a coincidence that rest days just happened to be crappy days for me. But after another 2 weeks of that pattern I was a little worried that I was “addicted” to the high I get from my runs and not able to enjoy a day to its fullest without getting my run on. That is not even the worst of it. On these rest days I was short fused. crabby and dare I say it resentful!

Sound like an addict?

It  wasn’t good. I was wondering what to do and short of just running every day I wasn’t sure how to fix it. Then it happened… an awesome rest day. One when you wake up and you are grateful that you don’t have to fit a run into your day and your body is sufficiently fatigued you couldn’t imagine running anyway. Mentally you have so many other things that seem more important and you enjoy every moment of your day without even a twinge of guilt for not clocking some Ks.

What was so different about this day? It was the first day in months when MENTALLY I had wanted to rest.

I don’t have set rest days. I have 5 runs to do each week and 7 days to do them in.  Which days become my rest days are usually determined by these things ( and usually in this order)

1. How busy my day is – if it is super hard to fit the run in then it becomes a rest day

2. My program where I am in my session mix in terms of coming off or going in to a hard session

3. Physical. If my body is tired or in need of rest (you think this would fit in nicely with #2 but my body always surprises me how it recovers from different sessions!)

4. Mental. If I am just shattered or not got my running mojo

The problem with doing it this way is that I am taking rest when it is convenient first and NOT when I physically and mentally need it. No wonder 4 weeks passed before the stars aligned and I finally got a rest day on a day that I mentally needed it too.

Hopefully my new approach to running will fix this. Next week I am throwing the program out the window and running to no plan. I am literally going to wake up each day and ask myself these questions:

1. Do I feel like running today?

2. If so, what kind of run? Fast, Hills, intervals, Easy, Stroller, Treadmill etc?

3. When can I fit it in to my day?

I don’t care what I ran the day before, I don’t care if I have taken no rest days or 10 rest days and I don’t care if my training is not structured or lacks direction. I just want to run ( or not run as the case may be).

I always follow a plan. To achieve the optimum out of your running you need to. You need to make sure you are getting the right rest, completing the right kind of sessions and building at the right rate. BUT for the first time in my life I am not about achieving the optimum. I just want to run. Will I race? Maybe! Does it completely terrify me the thought of lining up at a start line not having followed a structured plan (as flexible as they must be) – HELL YEAH!

I love plans and I know I will look forward to a new plan in the not too distant future but for now my only plan is to lace up my sneakers and see where they take me… I know it will be RUNNING and that’s enough for me.

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My pretty sneakers I mean

As an added bonus I’m hoping this “Do I feel like it approach?” rather than “can I fit it in?” approach will weed out that nasty “I can’t cope on rest days” monster. I am probably not the only one hoping for this result either. Apparently the only thing worse than a running addict on a rest day is living with a runner addict on a rest day!

What determines your rest days?

Do you run to a plan?

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?

Winter Running

We are half way through winter and the weather didn’t waste anytime getting cold, wet and rainy this year. There have been some absolutely FREEZING days and more rain than I can remember for a while.

Luckily I lurrrrrrrve winter running. I don’t even mind the odd run in the rain. Once the temperature starts to creep over 20degrees (celsius) my running slows so this is a great time of year for running.

Yes I miss daylight and yes I don’t like being cold when I’m not running and I absolutely HATE wind but there is a lot to be enjoyed about Winter:

-> Electric blankets – a warm toastie bed, what more could you want?
-> Hot showers and trackies after a run
-> Hot drinks, blankets and snuggles
-> Soups, stews and slow cooked meals

If you ask me Winter is good for the soul.

As for running there are some adjustments to make to survive and stay motivated in the cooler weather. Here are my top 5 winter running tips:

1. Layer. Put on any amount of clothes you need to so that you can get out the door but just make sure you can peel them off because once you get going you’ll be ready to ditch them. If you aren’t running with a pram and don’t have somewhere to stash your unwanted layers plan your warm up around your block so you can drop anything off before you head off on the rest of your run.

2. Gloves. Not sure if its just me but my hands can get so cold in winter I have trouble bending my fingers around the steering wheel! Gloves are a must. I know gloves and a running singlet can look odd but hey I’m willing to commit a fashion crime if it means I can use my hands after my run.

3. Turn the heater off before you go. When you get home you will be grateful you did. I can never imagine it when I’m leaving home but walking into a heated house after a run is like walking into a sauna.

4. Rug back up. If you are finishing your run out and about make sure you have a jacket on hand. Once you stop you will be warm at first but all the sweat in the cold air will have you freezing in no time.

5.Adjust your warm up. It takes your muscles longer to warm up in the cooler weather so you need to increase your warm up accordingly to prevent injury. The colder the weather and the faster I intend to go the longer the warm up. For me an easy run in warm weather only needs a 5 minute warm up but an interval session on a cold day may need 15minutes.

Happy Winter Running!