Wednesday, April 01, 2009

3 1/2 weeks till take-off

Nearly there - it's 3 and a half weeks till take-off. Suddenly, I'm in marathon month. One more 20 miler and the taper begins. Well - the sort of taper. A Pfitz-like taper - 3 weeks out from the marathon you still do a 16 miler and a have a 43 mile week, 2 weeks out you do a 12 miler and a 32 mile week and in the week running up to the race you do 22 miles. But it'll be down from the past weeks, and the past month - in March I clocked up my highest mileage ever, reaching 209 miles. February wasn't shabby either - 182 miles - and even in January I managed to pull in 133 miles which is good considering I didn't start training till halfway through.

Overall, so far, taking "the opposite of me" to marathon training has really worked. I've talked about this before and perhaps it comes across gimmicky or glib. I suppose a less catchy way of putting it is that I'm trying to break some ingrained habits that have outlived their usefulness. I find that sometimes I get fed up with the predictability of how things don't work in a certain aspect of my life. I find myself upset, angry and mostly bored with myself - here I am again, banging my head against that same old wall. So slowly what I'm trying to do is look at a situation that is frustrating me and trying to change what I do - trying to change my approach getting into the situation and my approach getting out of the situation..

Have I completely confused you yet? Well - take for example a course I have been contemplating doing. I am Miss Let's-get-started. I love taking, and particularly, starting courses. And this course would be very helpful for my job. No question about it. So - in the past I would have taken it on. However, I would, more than likely, have found out 3 months into it, that the commitment was more than I could cope with. I would have found this out after a period where I shouted at my kids, shouted at my husband, gained weight, lost self-esteem - yadda yadda yadda. (See what I mean about me boring myself?). I would have finally triggered that the reason I was feeling so miserable was that I had too much on. I would then be all tortured about giving up the course, would have tortured conversations with my boss and my tutor and would eventually give it up.

What I am doing now is trying to break this habit. I've got a list in my notebook at work where I put down the pros and cons of doing this course. So far, the cons (missing out on family time, always feeling I should be doing more coursework, and not being able to run as much (!)) outweigh the pros (makes my job easier and gives me better career prospects). Moreover, by putting off the course until I can find more time in my life I am also giving the whole thing much more thought than I normally would - for example, although it would make me better at my job and make me more marketable, I am not sure I want to be in this field at all, in the long term.

See what I mean? Is anyone still reading this? I will get to the point - running-wise.

So I decided to shake things up running-wise as well. So I made the following changes:
  • Normally, after a marathon I take time off running altogether and then start again from scratch. This time, after Chicago, I carried on running. Not necessarily high mileage immediately, but up until Christmas I made an effort to run at least one medium-length run a week (9-13M) and to try to get my mileage over the 20M per week at least. By early January, I was running 30M weeks.
  • The Pfitzinger 12 week program is a much more aggressive program than I am used to. Higher mileage (particularly mid-week) and much more specific speed and interval workouts. But I've just knuckled down and done them. I've ignored the voice in my head that says "who are you to be doing intervals? who do you think you are? some kind of athlete?" and just got on with it. That's not to say every session was beautiful, or went well, or that I always enjoyed it. But I just ignored the negativity and kept up with it. Bad runs are followed by good ones and I've kept my faith in that.
  • Diet. Haha! I've been keeping something up my dri-fit sleeve my friends! Since early January I joined my husband on WeightWatchers. He is on a long-term weight loss plan and my weight had, by the end of December, crept up to the very top of where I wanted to be - 65kgs. This gave me a BMI of 24.2... So since then I have been focusing very much on eating for health and exercise. Wholegrains, vegetables, fruit etc. I have been trying to notice when the moments occur where I eat junk and then being conscious of them, so I can avoid them. In addition, I have really cut down on alchohol. That's not to say I don't ever have a drink - but now I try to be really aware of when I would really like a glass of wine, rather than having one as a matter of habit. All in all this has led to me losing over 5 kilos in the past 3 months, bringing my BMI down to a much healthier 21.9.
All these changes, together, are putting me in a very positive frame of mind. Physically I am feeling strong and healthy. I've had a few colds and sniffles but nothing serious. My knees are good - at my last visit to the osteopath he said he had never seen me in such good shape and he thinks the increased mileage has really strengthened my quads so that my kneecap is kept more stable. Mentally I feel I am getting ready for London as well. Ready - but not too ready. I am conscious of what I can control and I feel I've done a good job in controlling those things. But there are other factors - crowds, congestion, weather and last-minute hiccups - which could prevent me from achieving the PB I am seeking in London. And I am determined to accept that side of things as well - if I don't PB this time, I will just have to keep on trying until I do. And either way I am really going to enjoy this race. Bring it on!

14 comments:

Susan said...

Excellent post, Petra! And 209 miles - WHOA BABY! That is more than I think I have ever heard of. WOW. I am in complete awe of you.

I applaud you for postponing the course for work. Even though some things must be done, they are best done when you can focus on them. You're so wise!

And way to go on the loss of weight! You are my post-baby inspiration!

aron said...

awesome post!!! you are doing amazing :) 209 miles!!! that is SO awesome!!!! congrats on all those amazing achievements - miles, training, weight loss, putting life before work, etc.

just an FYI... the "taper" was a little rough on me when i did it for CIM. i did cut out a few runs but really wished i would have cut out a couple more. my legs werent as fresh as i wanted them to be. listen to your body and definitely juggle around with the schedule if need be. i think i am going to cut back more than he calls for those weeks depending on i am feeling, i just want fresh legs come race day!

Maddy said...

You are simply amazing! All of your hard work is paying off!

I am proud of what you have accomplished and what you are going to accomplish in London!

You are nothing short of a rockstar!

jeanne said...

yes, we're still reading! you are so funny. you know i just love doing the opposite of me (I don't actually DO the opposite of me, I just toy with the idea. If I ever actually DID anything, then i would know what the opposite was.)

I especially love that you weigh yourself in kg. It sounds waaaay better to say "I weight 72 kg" than "I weight $#@#! lbs." sigh.

You're doing great, on ALL fronts. Your attitude will carry you thruogh. Plus? You're a terrific writer!

Irish Blue said...

Wow girl, the opposite of you is one kick ass chick! Skinny too! I thought you looked so tiny in the one race pic you posted. That is awesome. I'm trying to drop some weight too and if I've done the math right, we weighed the same at the start with similar BMIs, so you've really inspired me!

You are going to blow the doors off at London. I can't wait! I'm literally giddy with excitement.

jen said...

Great catch-up post Petra. It sounds like you have made positive progress in so many aspects of your life, and I'm so proud of you!!

First, congrats on the weight loss!! That's great. You're so tiny to begin with, but I know that we all know our own "red flag" number and I'm impressed you managed to whittle down a few more pounds. I bet you look great! WW is great, good luck and continued success to your husband.

As I am considering grad school I can really truly relate to your rant about the cost/benefit of taking courses. In a way your post has made me realize that since I don't have a family or a job... maybe this is the right time to dive in! I think you've made the right decision for you right now, and you can always go back!

Finally, the running. Ah, the running. :P I saw your comment on my "Last Big Week" post and I'm glad my past thoughts helped you out. I definitely think less is more, especially in the final two weeks. You've worked SO hard for many weeks, and THAT is what matters.

Like you said, anything can happen on race day, but you've definitely done your part in preparing to PR.

Sorry for the long comment. Keep up the great work girl!! :)

Tara said...

great post! congrats on all your mileage, training, and weight loss :)

pfitz doesn't seem to have any clue what a taper is! lol i am definitely thinking i am going to cut back on some of those runs!

great job on your training thus far and you're going to kick butt come race day!!! :)

Geoffrey said...

Hi Petra. I've read and enjoyed big stretches of your blog recently. I just wanted to second what Aron said here about your taper. Lots of people line up at the start feeling tired or worse. (I've done it.) Do relax, or cut out workouts, or shorten them, if you feel so inclined. Good luck. I'm running my first Boston a week before you do London. I'll keep looking for your reports. Take care--Geoffrey

Marathon Maritza said...

Oh friend, I am so happy to hear that things are going so well and you are feeling so positive. I will send you all the good vibes I have to keep it this way straight into that PB in London! You have put in a lot of hard work, time management, strength, and really analyzing what you're doing to get to this point, so I hope you are recognizing that all of your achievements are because of YOU.

YOU are amazing!

Keep it up!

ShirleyPerly said...

The title of this post could have been "Change is Good" too!!

So wonderful to hear all the positive things that have resulted from the changes you've made to your running, diet, and time management. I've always thought that Pfitz was the right program for you, albeit did not think about the 12-week one was right knowing your previous running base. But you certainly fixed that this go-around.

Congrats to you, Petra, on all your many accomplishments. You've done so much and yet you realize there are some things you can't control. A mark of a true champion in my book.

Good luck on your final 20-miler this weekend!

PLANET3RRY said...

So what basically what you said is that you are now a laid-back, schedule following, svelte, high mileage runner... ready to take London By STORM!

And you are right, these last months of posts have had a different, more confident feel to them.

Glad that you have gotten your priorities in order:
1)You 2)Your Family 3)Your Running 4) your Career

209 miles... so... when are you signing up for a 50k or 100k race?

CewTwo said...

I am amazed! Everytime my friends tell me that I am crazy, I just show them your blog!!

Congrats, young lady! You are a Bad Girl of Running!

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