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?

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?

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!

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!

All over the place

My running these days is all over the place. I can get my sessions done but just not in an “ideal” order. Even though I am following a program I do have to shuffle my sessions around a LOT to fit in with life. This week there was plenty of shuffling and the result was something that would make any running coach cringe. A speed session after a long run. A 5km time trial after my intervals. My two rest days were back to back and not spread out before or after my hard sessions.

There was a time in my life (ohh a distant memory now) when my life could be scheduled around my running. When I could spend time and money on recovery and nutrition. These days its just a bonus if I get to stretch and foam roll after a session! There are no special diets, no weekly massages or walks in the ocean to recover the legs. At most I’ll slip my compression pants on but even those take 20 minutes (that I don’t have) to put on so that rarely happens.

I know if I could find an extra 20 minutes a day to invest in my running and recovery or re-arrange life to get the right runs out on the right day I could optimise my training.

It occured to me the other day that even though I am not doing high mileage I am shooting for PBs on every front and am striving to get the fastest times out of my legs to date, yet I am spending the least amount of time and effort in my training and recovery. Ordinarily this is the point where I would re-adjust and make more room for all of that. But not this time. . . I love my new casual approach to my running and I love not being completely and utterly consumed by it.

On Friday I woke up with a massive craving for runny eggs. . . not the greatest “just before a run” meal but I wanted it. Did it repeat on me? YES. Could I have performed better on say a piece of toast and a banana? PROBABLY.

I LOVE running. I dream about it. I spend lots of my “spare” time reading about it and I look forward to my sessions (99% of the time!). But running does not define me, it is just an enjoyable and important part of my life.

For that reason I am happy to miss out on all the benefits that could come from an “ideal” schedule and all the bells and whistles that go with training. For this mummy just running and giving 100% when I do run is enough for me. I’ll try my best to provide the right training, nutrtition and recovery for my running but not at the expense of something that does define me like being a mummy and wife (and food lover!)

I am PASSIONATE about Health and Fitness
I LOVE Running but
I AM a wife and a mother