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?

Chill time!

I am not deluded in any way about what lies ahead…

Hours of planning, organising and prepping for runs, day after day of fuelling and recovering from runs, week after week of sweating it out on the treadie and the pavement. Actually doing the runs will be the easiest bit. Co-ordinating life around the runs, fuelling for them and then getting my body recovered for the next run will be the challenge.

For this recreational runner training for a marathon is “all consuming”. My completely relaxed attitude to food will have to shape up a little bit to ensure that I am getting in enough carbs and running-friendly foods so I can PERFORM AND RECOVER! My relaxed approach to my core training will have to shape up a little to keep me strong and injury free. My relaxed approach to foam rolling and all things recovery will have to shape up a little bit to ensure I can back up the runs day after day.

In short I (I mean WE) have 20 weeks of life being a little dictated by my running. I will write a post shortly on all the GUILT that goes with this and how I am trying to work through it and stay focused on the goal and stop driving Big A crazy by apologising every 5 minutes…. and I haven’t even started training yet!

From experience I have learned that I need a program with a little bit of give in it. Basically a little bit of room in case of injury or illness but not too much room to be “peaked” for too long. However if I am lucky enough to avoid injury and illness then I am signing up for 20 weeks of non-stop running. Running that is faster and longer than ever before. My weekly kilometres will quickly double from a casual 30-50km that I do now to a personal record of 70 – 90km.

I am excited and terrified at the same time!!!

For me there is only one thing harder than training for a marathon… tapering for a marathon. Its tough. Not running when you are only weeks or days out from attempting 42.2km is fricken crazy and totally does my head in but I KNOW it is what my body needs to perform at its best.

So with that in mind I have decided that to get my body to perform at its best for the TRAINING for a marathon (which for the record makes the actual marathon pale in comparison) I need to REST it, RECOVER it, RECHARGE it and REPAIR it.

I have decided to do this with 7 – 10 day of all out NO RUNNING or training at any intensity for that fact. Only a little recreational incidental activity for me.

Why 7 – 10 days?

My goal was to take 10 days of rest which is inside the 2 weeks at which we start to lose our cardiovascular fitness but as long as possible to rest any niggles and promote the maximum muscle repair. I have given myself the flexibility of doing a gentle run at 7 days so that I can have a warm up run or two before I hit the program. This takes the pressure off the first day of the training program and gives me a run or two to find my feet again before I embark on 20 weeks of pure insanity.

How will I cope?

I probably wont. It is no secret I turn into a bit of a nutter when I am not running. However just like the marathon training has been a way for me to shift my focus from other things I am going to shift my focus from running to other things for the next week or so. I am going to absorb every moment of life without running at the forefront while I can. I am also going to enjoy the extra spare time to catch up on reading, writing and other hobbies that come a distant second to running (watch out pile of runners mags that are sitting on my coffee table – I’m coming for you!)

This is the life… all I need now is a Mojito

I could harp on forever about how important REST is in any kind of training. As hard as it will be some days when I am itching to put my sneakers on I think this week is going to give my body (and mind in some ways) the best chance of suceeding at what lies ahead. So rest it is!

Do you ever take a FULL on REST WEEK? Post race maybe?

If you are not running how do you spend your spare time?

Seriously?!?!

Little A was finally asleep (after 10 minutes of protesting about going to bed) and I was finally lacing up my sneakers for my run. I was excited to be hitting the pavement and not the treadie for a change. It was warm and I was hoping to get out some good distance so I strapped on my fuel belt for hydration.

I headed out at a steady pace as my focus was more on running longer than any particular speed. Somewhere between the 2km and 3km mark I started to feel the horrible rubbing on the back of the foot – the start of a blister. Seriously?!?! How many times had I ran in these socks and shoes?!?! Why on earth was I suddenly getting a blister!?!?! At this stage the discomfort was bearable and I plodded on but by the 6km mark it was getting more painful and I decided I would rather get home and get the little bugger drained and sorted so not as to affect the rest of my running week. So I headed home. I finished my run at the 7km disappointed to have only done a smidge of the distance I had wanted.

I have racked my brain to think of the last time I got a blister from running and I can’t. Maybe running is a little like child birth in that you quickly forget all the pain and horrible stuff and only remember the joy. But honestly I don’t think blisters are something I have ever really encountered over the last 4 years of running.

Just when I thought my feet couldn’t get any more hideous I am now sporting this little baby…

So now I am trying desperately to work out what caused this so I can avoid it in the future. Is it just the slight increase in foot size at the end of the day (a hot day at that)? Do I need to double sock?

On a positive note the shorter run means I can try and get an early night and I am so in need of some serious sleep so I will consider tonight an investment of my time in muscle recovery!

Do you ever get Blisters? If so what triggers them? Do you drain or leave them?

How were your weekend runs? Better than my effort I hope!!

8 months

Remember this little guy…

Well now he looks a little more like this…

Little A is 8 months old now and it has been another big month of development. Everyday we are seeing more and more of his fun little personality. This month has also been filled with lots of “firsts”…

First ride in a shopping trolley

“Are you sure this thing is safe?”

“Is that food?”

“Quick Mummy…follow the food”

First time trying to feed himself…

Close but it comes out the other end kid!

Getting warmer

Jackpot!

Then there was the first trip to the pool…

“Does my bum look big in these?”

I tried to get a mummy and Little A shot but he was more focused on what was on the menu for lunch!!

Little A’s first chair…

“Look mum it is my real parents!”… we are still convinced he is a Lion!

Crawling

Little A is progressing with his crawling and starting to lift his belly more and more. For the first few weeks it was more like a “commando” crawl with his belly dragging along the floor polishing the floor boards. He has also started to get more adventurous and will now crawl out of the room and head off on his own. So we have started having to make sure we shut doors and now have a big weekend of “baby-proofing” planned. All I can say is Jeez he is quick!

Life with an 8 month old

Changing a nappy is impossible, dressing is impossible, in fact any task that requires the little guy to sit still is IMPOSSIBLE. As soon as we lay him on his back he wants to roll over and wriggle away. So much so we have given up on the change table and now change and dress him on the floor or bed. We do love how curious and active he is but it just takes twice as long to do the basic tasks some days. We have had to adjust our approach and how long we allow to get ready to leave the house.. 60 second nappy changes are a thing of the past!

Luckily his super cute smiley face makes all the impossible worthwhile…

“Did someone say playground?”

“What are we waiting for? SWING SWING already!”

“Finally she’s giving me food that isn’t mush. She must think I’m a baby or something”

Little A’s best “Angel” look. Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth…

Apart from all the crawling and cuteness the month has been filled with all the other typical baby stuff. There have been some rough nights and grizzly days with the teething. The new teeth have also seen Little A experimenting with new sounds. I just can’t wait for that first word but for now we are happy to enjoy his beautiful baby noises.

All in all our little guy is a happy and thriving little boy. He is the joy of our lives and every day I feel more and more blessed to watch him grow in front of my very eyes. Pure love… pure happiness!

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?

Three Things Thursday: Deadly Sins

LUST

A running stroller that turns into a bike trailer …. need I say more? Ok you twisted my arm. It can also be used for skiing and hiking (strapped to you!) DROOOOOL!

GLUTTONY

No “Trick or Treaters” showed up….Hmmm what is a girl to do?!?!

PRIDE

Yep this ridiculously good looking little guy is with ME!

Have you comitted any of the seven deadly sins this week?

Did you celebrate Halloween or did you hit the gym to avoid the candy temptations?

Any experience with the Chariot? All feed back would be appreciated… Seems TOO good to be true.