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?

One week to go. . .

Anthother training week down and only 1 week till my next race. . .

Did I mention my running was all over the place last week? Here’s the training week wrap:

Monday I woke up with tired & angry legs. I was tossing up between taking a rest day or a “recovery” jog. In the end I headed out for a reovery jog (a smidge slower than my easy runs). As it turned out this run got cut short at 19 minutes. Given the state of my legs I wasn’t too fussed about not getting the full run out. I was just glad to have gotten out and turned the legs over. The rest of the recovery could happen in my sleep!

Recovered my legs did. The next day I enjoyed an awesome Tempo Run which included 20 minutes at 13.5kmp/h. Each week I look forward to my Tempo Run and each week I seem to lift the bar more and more.

After the awesome Tempo Run I had two rest days. I always like to save one of my rest days for the weekend (the day before my long run if possible) but with a super busy week I had to make use of them during the week.

After a good rest I was itching to get back into it and did so with my Long run on Friday. It was an awesome session on the treadmill outside listening to the rain pelt down. It was so cool (literally!) to be out in the wild weather but protected from the harshness of the wind and the rain. Talk about having your cake and eating it too!

Saturday I did my Intervals. 5 x 800s @ 16kmp/h and enjoyed a nice recovery jog at the end.

Finally I ended the week with a 5km time trial for next week’s race. Most of my running lately has been on the treadmill and I was keen to head out on the pavement and have a crack at pacing myself for the 5km. I came in at 23 minutes 58. So assuming I can “bring it” on the day I am all set for my first sub 25min 5km race.

Race Wrap Up coming soon. . .Wish me luck!!!

A whole lot of good that REST did me!

I was expecting some great runs this week after an “easier” week last week but what I got was just the opposite. Even though I hit all my target speeds I really didn’t feel strong in any of my runs this week. I think I must have caught a mild version of Big A’s cold as I had the sniffles and was just NOT feeling inspired.

Suprisingly I still managed to do all my 5 planned sessions but today, after a week of feeling less than peak I decided to listen to my body and traded my 90 minute Long Run for a 30 minute Easy Run. I am so pleased I did because as the day has gone on I have started to feel much more myself. Hopefully I have kicked the “lurgy” to the kerb and wont be needing 10+ hours sleep every night anymore.

On top of all the extra sleep I have also needed extra food. Between breast feeding and running I was already an energy burning machine but add in the sudden cool weather and my poor body fighting a bug and I have had to eat like a monster for the last couple of weeks to keep up with what it is demanding. To keep my energy up I have introduced a new meal to the day and it fits in nicely between breakfast and morning tea! Its kind of “breakfast round #2”. I’ve got to stop writing about eating, I am working up an appetite just thinking about it.

After Little A was born I set my sights on a half marathon. I chose the half because getting out the long runs required for a marathon was just not going to fit into my schedule with a newborn. I also decided that as I had such limited training time I would focus on speed and not distance and just have one token long run each week to build up to the half marathon distance. This week aside, I am LOVING the speed work. A 5 minute warm up, 20-30 minutes of flogging myself and a 5 minute cool down fits in perfectly with Little A’s routine and these high intensity runs are just firing me up.

And now that I am reaping the benefits of all this speed work I am wondering if all my efforts are a little bit wasted on a half marathon when I am only doing one token long run per week. Should I be focusing on shorter distances in which I will be able to maximise my speed work training and focus on the longer distances when I am focusing my training more on distance?

Do I shoot for the longer distance or do I focus on achieving 5km and 10km PBs? There are pros and cons of both for me at the moment. For example the shorter speed sessions are easier to fit in but the longer slower sessions will be easier to do when I start running with the pram soon. Realistically I could achieve both this year but even then which should I do first? Should I peak my fitness and then build up distance or build up distance and then work on speed? Decisions, decisions!

Well at least I have something to think about on my training runs this week. Hopefully I can make a decision by the end of the week and adjust my program accordingly.

All in all it wasn’t my best week of running but its not always going to be sunshine and roses. On that note here’s my favourite quote for the week:

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”

I Survived

Here’s another training week wrap and let me start by saying. . . I survived! And it wasn’t the running this week that challenged me. Actually the running kept me sane. Hence why I was on the treadmill on Saturday night (sad, I know but we have a little baby not a wild social life).

It was scheduled to be an easy running week and to ensure that I did just that the powers that be threw a few obstacles my way:

On Tuesday Big A came home early from work. Before Little A and I could jump on him and bombard him with stories of our day he announced he was feeling crap and going straight to bed. Now in case you aren’t familiar with the man flu its important to know that it is WAY worse than the normal flu! So I braced myself for a “hellish” week. But looking after a baby and a sick husband wasn’t what duanted me the most. I was absolutely petrified of getting sick or worse Little A getting sick. I am the first to admit that I don’t cope well being sick. I am a big SOOK. . . Maybe I get the man flu too???? We took Big A to the doctor where I was told to keep my distance from him as I was breast feeding it was more likely that I would get sick (yay!) and ironically because Little A was being breast fed it was less likely he would get it. Talk about putting ourselves on the line!!! Honestly though I was relieved to hear that most likely Little A would avoid this. I couldn’t cope watching him suffer getting his immunisations how would I watch him suffer being SICK for days?!??!

Anyway the doctor obviously has no idea how small our house is and the only way to avoid Big A and his germs were if he was to sleep on the verandah! Which given the freezing temperatures was probably not going to help his recovery. All I could do was up my food, skip all High Intensity Training, get heaps of rest and pray that I was spared. I certainly didn’t mind eating more and after 6 weeks of training I really enjoyed the lower intensity. But by saturday night I was ready to open my lungs up again and did a Tempo run with 25 minutes at 5 minute pace. (I was pretty happy with that!!)

Yesterday I returned to normal training with an interval session and I am looking forward to some more good speed sessions this week.

As for the home front Big A is feeling much better and Little A is being an absolute delight. With a bit of assistance from me he has also started to have longer (and less) naps during the day. I don’t want to get too excited but at nearly 3 months we almost have a predictable routine. . .

Tempo run tonight. . . can’t wait to see what these legs have got in them. I know my speed gains will slow and eventually plateau but one good thing about having a break from running is seeing those rapid gains when you return. Honestly I have completely blown my own expectations and my sights are set higher than ever (in regards to times not distances!) . . . Do you run faster after a baby????

To Rest Or Not To Rest….

Today I am feeling something I haven’t felt since I was running. It is that dreaded internal conflict when you are sick or injured. That conflict between the needs and wants of your body and your mind.

So here’s the deal.

I am in the tail end of this pregnancy and getting nasty pains in the pelvis, hips and groin. They last for hours at a time and are responding less and less to panadol. Yesterday I got home from my walk and felt like I had pulled every muscle in my groin region. Despite feeling comfortable and pain-free walking it was clear an hour later that my pace must have stretched all my super relaxed (thanks relaxin) muscles a bit too much. Of course the obvious thing to do is rest and well lets face it I don’t have any exciting races or events (besides labour!) on the horizon so whats wrong with a bit of rest????

Well firstly the extra 9kgs I’m carrying is putting a lot of stress on the base of my spine and walking loosens it up and helps everything fall back in to place and structurally I feel “reset” every day from it. Mentally the walking gives me a high that gives my energy levels a boost. Which is very helpful because I can get through about 1/3 of what I use to so its nice to get little hits of energy where I can. When I walk I tend to always sleep better. Not to mention that staying active helps with all the other pregnancy stuff like water rentention and helping to stimulate labour etc.

So even though I ended up in excrutiating pain yesterday I still am not ready to give up on it. So first step today is to take a rest day and then tomorrow I am going to head out at an absolute “dawdle” of a pace and see how I feel after that.

But before I came up with this plan I spent the night in conflict. My Obstetrician told me yesterday that my walking might be contributing to my problems. All I want to do is the right thing by my body and if that is rest than so be it. But time and time again when I am in this situation I am not always convinced that rest is the best.

For example when I start to feel a little bit flu like but not yet overcome by it I find myself in this dilema. Of course if you ARE sick then you need to rest. Your body needs all your energy to repair and recover itself and stressing it physically is just crazy. But sometimes in those early stages before it has taken hold I feel like a good training session will help to “shake it”. By raising my core body temperature and by really getting my body switched on it might have a better chance of fighting it. It feels as though as soon as I stop I am going to get sick.

Another example is niggles. Not a full blown-injury because again anything but rest is stupid. At what point are you better resting and what point are you still better off running through and keeping good blood flow to the area and keeping all the surrounding muscles strong?

These are the dilemas that from time to time in my training I have faced and on some weird level am facing now. Do the benefits of continuing or continuing a modified program outweigh the benefits of all out rest. OR does rest now save weeks of half-arsed training and recovery later?????

There is so much information and so many guidelines out there. One that I have always followed when it comes to “colds” is if the symptoms are above your neck keep training but once its below you must rest.

This sounds like some good general advice. Obviously if its below your neck than its hit your respitory system and well training on an already compromised respitory system is not beneficial.

I think the answer to these tricky situations is very individual. Just like a training program. Some people can do 3-4 heavy days per week and some can only do 2. Some people can train through low level of stress and illness and some need to rest.

So this year I am going to try to log in my training diary my health and well-being and see if I can get in tune with my body’s well-being. Rather than feel conflicted by general information I am going to tailor make my rules for rest and recovery based on my bodys history to stresses of illness and injury.

Hopefully what I learn will help me to make good training decisions for many years to come.

So with that in mind I am not going to stress about “to rest or not to rest” I am going to do my own gentle trial and error of activity to keep as active as I can all whilst doing the best thing for my number 1 goal – bringing a healthy baby into this world.

Rest Days

Talk about a love/hate relationship!

Why is it that all week you are hanging out for a rest day and then on the rest day all you want to do is go out and train?

Despite the fact that I am only walking at the moment I am still trying to take a rest day every couple of weeks. The higher the intensity of the training the more important the rest days becomes for the recovery of the body. While walking is only of low to moderate intensity I still can appreciate the mental benefits of a “break” from your routine. But mentally Rest days can also do your head in. Here are some of the things I struggle with about rest days:

1) Seeing that blank spot in my training calendar
2) Missing out on the post training high (that gets me through the day!)
3) Guilt (even as a PT who knows the benefits, importance and science of rest days I still can’t shake the occassional pang of guilt)

But there is a lot to love about rest days too. So from now on when ever I feel the pang of guilt or am looking at that empty spot in my calendar I am going to focus on and appreciate the things that only come with rest days:

1) Sleep ins
2) Breakfast with my husband
3) No sweaty clothes to wash
4) Longer showers (more time in the morning)
5) An awesome next session (because all my great sessions are after a rest day!)

Guilt can be good. It is what gets us out the door some mornings. But there are definitely times when its just not warranted. So from now on I am going to love and appreciate my rest days and treat them as an opportunity to nurture and appreciate my body and how hard it works for me every other day!