Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why I run

Oh I've put together posts like this before. Weight loss, self-esteem. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

It struck me tonight - 8 1/2 weeks into the summer holidays - why I run. And more importantly, why I do big nasty marathons that take it ALL out of me and leave me spent. Because of the fact that when you're out there, training or racing, you're dealing with physical breakdowns and mental breakdowns and, in my case, facing down each and every big fat demon in my head (you're useless, you're incapable, you're incompetent, you're fat, you'll fail) and knocking them on the head one after the other (I am NOT! I am NOT! I am NOT! I am NOT! I am NOT!) and there is no space in your head for the small stuff that I sweat on a daily basis.

For the daily discussions with my kids, for example. Let me recap for you some of the things I have actually, seriously, said today:
- "No, we cannot take the gerbils on holiday with us. And that does NOT make me a bad person."
- "If a gerbil told me he didn't like me that would not hurt my feelings."
- "I don't like rodents like you don't like bananas. It's not logical, it's just how it is."
- "Calling you in for supper and supper not physically being on the table as you slide into your seat (with dirty hands) does not make me a liar."
- "Just because you did not intend to break it does not mean you did not break it."
- "I don't care that everyone else gets to go to bed later than you. It's bedtime."
- "Everyone else does not actually have it better than you. Believe me."
I know. I am such a MOM! I am my own pain in the ass.

Then there's all the other stuff. Phonecalls to my accountant who hasn't filed my tax return. Or returned my calls. Phonecalls to my dishwasher repair people because my dishwasher has been broken for weeks. (That, in itself, calls for running a marathon). An ancient soft water tank in our roof bursting on bank holiday Monday and leaking big gushing quantities of rusty water into my linen cupboard.

But when I'm out there training or running a race I am stripped of all that. I forget it all. I am no longer a mother, a wife, a daughter. I am me, just me. I am not wearing make-up. It doesn't matter if I haven't shaved my legs. Most frequently my outfits look terrible and there's no getting away from the fact that I have short stumpy legs and will never be a supermodel. But it doesn't matter - at all. When I am running I am happy to be me.

And when I come back from my runs, I am still happy to be me. And I see that it's not all so bad, and that my children are wonderful - even when they're not - and that they are the sun and the moon to me. That my husband is the love of my life and I am lucky for each day he is in it. And that I lead a life of great privilege and good fortune, materially and spiritually, and that I am so lucky with my friends and family.

And on that warm and fuzzy note - training update. Well - T-1 update. Training starts next week. Kids are back in school and it'll be 12 weeks till I start training for Boston. Old bike given to new owner? Check. New bike bought? Check. In fact, check it out. It's LOVELY!
And this is me after my first ride on it - just before that cloud behind me burst into rain. Is it me or is my helmet ENORMOUS?
Stupid idiot footcut healed? Check. First runs in since stupid idiot foot injury? (oh and speaking of nasty outfits my son says I look like Sportacus in my purple outfit I was wearing below. Nice.)
Check and check. Oh and for those of you who worried I wasn't sweating? It's hard to capture on an iPhone but I was! Forgive the stupid pose but I was trying to highlight the "glow".

Jamoosh's Hard Core club week 2? Ah. Slight fail - only did 2 out of 3 possible sessions. Will do better this week J!

Beginning to feel much better and like it might be possible for me to feasibly start training next week. Watch this space...

Monday, August 23, 2010

You're with Stupid.

That would be me. Stupid, stupid me. After a decent early week of running, 16M which included a 6 miler with 3 at tempo (yes I know Haile is not worried yet but still) I was closing the shutters in one of our bedrooms on Friday night (anticipating 4M on Saturday morning and 10 on Sunday to bring me a satisfying 30 mile week) when I banged my foot on a sticking-up floorboard and got a nail in it. It has just lifted up a flap of skin (believe me you'll be happy I don't post a photo of this) and it's nothing serious but when I went out to run on Saturday I realised there was no way I could do so. It hurts too much to land on it. Same yesterday.

How stupid is this? This is no serious injury and yet there is no way I can run. I can't swim for a few days due to another issue (I'll spare you the TMI there) so this is now very very frustrating. I would bike, assuming that biking doesn't hurt my foot BUT I've sold my bike. Which is good news - I didn't make a killing but more or less got back what I paid for it so with a year's riding I'm happy with that - but I'm now bike-less. I intend to remedy this situation fairly immediately. My parents are staying with us for a few days so I will prevail on their desire for quality time with the grandchildren to head to a bike shop and find myself a new, sweet, ride. While I am keen to go local, the local shops only have one, maybe two brands and very little for me to choose from. Instead I have found this place, Wheelbase, which is quite a drive away (3 hours or so) but seems to have LOTS of different brands, choice and lots of expertise. What do you think?

The only thing I have managed to stick with this past week is week 1 of the Hard Core Club. I've done 3 sessions, one of which with my 64 year old mother who holds a plank like nobody's business. High standards.

So where does that leave me? I'm getting antsy about my schedule-less existence. I have been reading Run Less Run Faster and I'm thinking I might use this to train for Boston. It is quite a different program from the high-mileage Pfitzinger program which has helped me so much in London and Berlin. However, I am quite certain that one of the things that really helped with Pfitzinger was tempo and speed work, and the Run Less Run Faster program is pretty demanding on these. I would then be able to do at least one strong bike workout and one strong swimming workout per week, as well as a yoga-type workout. Training for 16 + 2 weeks (because I'm hoping to squeeze a non-running, hard skiing week in January) would mean beginning on December 13th. Given that I have 2 more weeks of children's holidays to go, this stupid foot to heal up, and a bike to buy, I will give myself the next two weeks to set things up and write a base plan starting the week commencing Sept 6th. The book recommends having a 30M base before starting as well as getting used to the fairly punishing paces. I'm not even quite sure where to start with the paces - I have never done a 5K, my last 10K was a long time ago, as was my last full and half-mary. They suggest doing 3 one-mile all-out efforts and using that time as a basis and depressing as that's going to be I think I will do that. I will then start incorporating tempo / speed into each week so I get used to that again.

So there we are - talking things through with all of you is making me feel better. I have a plan, even if it doesn't - can't - start today. I will keep you posted on bike-buying and foot-healing. Till soon my lovely ones. Oh and I have no relevant photos but I'll post this one from a sunny run a few weeks ago. I'm smiling because I've already come up this 1 mile + hill and now all I've got to do is go down it again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blah, blah, blah. And Emz Abz.

I have mentioned my thick skull before. Truths take their time to penetrate - like rainwater on rocks, really - and in addition there's a bit of goldfish memory going on. This has proved the case with summer holidays. I have relearned several things over the past 6 or so weeks:
- even though my kids are 7 and 10, I still get precious little constructive stuff done when they're home all day. The constant interruptions, whether for provisions, help with Lego construction, arbitration in a bustup or fatal-seeming injuries, mean that I start many things but finish few.
- all though, in theory, I have "all day" - in fact, it's harder to fit my exercise in than normal. Before breakfast is a good bet.
- I must plan ahead. Kids sloping round the house for days is not good for anyone.
- summer holidays in the United Kingdom seem like a good idea when you're some way away from them and in a penny-pinching mode. The reality of the weather here (cold, damp, windy for the most part) hits you when you're trying to have a holiday in it.
- I am still a procrastinator. That's not really a summer holiday feature, it's a year-round life skill but combined with the factors above it's not helping things.

Ok. Enough with the blahs. Sport! After my heady start I have tempered things somewhat but am still, much to my surprise, enjoying the multisport and, gasp, the gym classes. After hurting my back doing VIPR I shall be giving that a miss, but the body conditioning feels good and I'm about to book in some spin sessions. My son has swimming lessons for 30 minutes every day this week so I too shall be heading to the pool for half an hour. Not much, I know, but a start. I've even - strangely - started doing some treadmill running. (This has proved extremely taxing as the treadmill counts in km/h - converting that to min/miles is HARD). The advantage of the treadmill, I have found, is hills. Now I have recently been running some hills (including one which is a mile long and has me nearly heaving into my Asics) but they're a bit of a way away and I don't always have a chance to go. And round here it is flat. FLAT! So the treadmill is rather a sweet solution. Plus, I've been told they give me abs.

Because yes. I want abs. This middle aged floppy spread - muffin top? - has got to go. I've said it before but by golly you know me by now - I just have to keep trying to do something and eventually I will do it. (My children's persistent nagging shows apples don't fall far from trees - persistence is inherited. ) I've been in touch with the lovely Jill who has been sidelined from running for a while and she and I have agreed to keep each other accountable with our schedules each week to ensure we don't lose too much fitness. One of the things she forced me to suggested we do is join Jamoosh's HardCore club. And the point of this club is this - I want to look like Emily. I will give up on the tall bit - although I hail from a nation of tall people I am a runt and what can you do about that? I will give up on the blonde bit (let's not talk hair right now people, the picture is not pretty). Even the very slim bit. But those abs. Here you go - here are her abs.
And that's not even the sweetest bit. That woman is FAST! Greased lightning! And I'm sure it's her awesome abs keeping her in perfect form even at 23 miles. Apparently, Jamoosh tells us it's not just the exercises - it's also her healthy and lean diet. And I've a way to go there, but that's for another post (though tips and tricks would be MUCH appreciated).

Overall - the loosey goosey approach to training is working okay. Not more than that. I feel a lot better when I do something every day. Last week I was on my own with one of my children for a few days and so did not get a run or anything else in. I immediately felt like a slug. I only got 18 miles in for the week and I can't tell you how badly I felt about that. I was very tempted to immediately go into an agressive training program for something, anything. But I've told myself I cannot, should not. I am feeling quite good at the moment and need to stay that way for a while.

In other breaking news, my bike is on ebay and I'm hoping it will sell for enough to put towards a new one.

That's it for now folks - hope things are more exciting in your life!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The birth of multisport me - I'm lovin' it!

I know! It's been aaaagggggeeeessss again. Sorry people! After my last post we went on a week's camping holiday to Wales and as anyone with kids knows it takes 3 days to get ready for a holiday before you leave and 3 days to recover when you get back.

Not to mention endless loads of laundry etc. So I am once again waaaaayyy behind on blogs - nigh unforgivable when you lot have been out there running triathlons and doing half ironmen (women?) and running marathons with your heels falling off and all sorts of crazy stuff. Sorry! I will catch up - it's on my to-do list. Ha.

So. After my overtraining insight and post - thank you for all the amazing feedback by the way, you are too kind! - I did what I was threatening to do and joined the gym. The reason I was hesitant to do this was:
  1. I have joined and left this gym about 3 times already and have left each time because I did not use it enough;
  2. because it costs money and I'm trying to cut costs;
  3. because I have finally seen that despite being a chatty Cathy I never seem to last long in groups and gyms are a very "groupy" kind of place.
However. If I'm going to cut back on my running - a bit - I need to do something else. I like being fit and strong AND I just cannot bear to think of getting fat again. Anyone who has ever been fat knows it's just awful and losing masses of weight is hard hard work and I just don't want to climb that mountain again. So. I need to branch out! Do the opposite of me! Not let myself stumble on roadblocks that have stopped me before. So I have made the following resolve:
  • to use the gym 3 times a week;
  • to get private swimming lessons so I can improve my skills;
  • to just )(*(**&^*&%^* do it and get over myself.
One of the things that fells me is any class requiring co-ordination. As soon as someone lithe steps in front of a mirror and starts doing any kind of "moves" I screw up. My moves are not the same, my moves go in the wrong direction, I mix up left and right.. And then I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and instead of the early 80s Olivia Newton John picture I had in my mind there is a sausage in lycra moving in the opposite direction from everyone else. But! The new motto is suck it up, and suck it up I will.

So to prove this, let me present to you this week's achievements so far. Sunday - ran 10 miles easy (giving me a total of 24 miles for last week which, given that all of this mileage was run because I wanted to run is great!).
look at me! I'm lovin' that 10 miler!

Monday - cycled 14.5M to the gym (up and down hills), ploughed up and down the pool for 1000m trying to follow Kelownagirl's swimming tips, got back on the bike to cycle 14.5 miles home. Minimal transitions there people, and I was on my bike by 6am!
and now I'm lovin' 29 miles on the bike with a swim in the middle!

By the time I got home, just after 9am, I was toast but I did not get to sit down (or lie down, hmmmm) because I walked straight into summer holiday sibling strife and spent the rest of the day trying to be productive and not get my kids to kill each other. In the evening I went back to the gym (I know!) to do an hour's "body balance" - basically yoga / pilates type stretching which was hard and lovely. Slept like a log! Yesterday I ran 6M easy and then in the evening did my first ever VIPR class. Oh. My. Goodness. I have NO upper body strength. I am a weed! And this weed is feeling it today. But Jill - that means 2 consecutive days of ab workouts! So Emz, watch out - I'm right behind you. (Only joking! Emz will have showered off her washboard abs, had a three-course meal and a post-marathon nap by the time I come in..).

As for the long-term - for this year, I have no plans. My osteopath thinks I should concentrate on 5Ks and 10Ks to get faster. Somehow I cannot get excited about this plan, but maybe I will. My overall consideration is to get stronger - and my iron levels are going up, people! - and to get back into enjoyment of exercise - which is also happening. I'm going to spend the rest of August trying out the various exercise classes my gym is offering and will probably settle on a couple that I will rotate, focusing mainly on core strength and flexibility. I will get my swimming lessons organised and started. And I will buy a new roadbike. You may recall that back in November I bought a bargain Cannondale on ebay. Well, as these things go it was not such a clever move - I have been suffering with back pain on that thing and when I took it into a decent bike shop for some advice on fitting it the guy told me straightaway "that bike is waaaayy too small for you". I kind of knew that - it is titchy! - but it's a Cannondale! (Anyone want to buy a bargain Cannondale? It's probably suitable for 13-15 year old?) So in the next few weeks I am going to buy a new bike and keep that up. I am loving the fact that on a bike I can actually go places - I can cyle to people's houses (remember I live in the country - everyone lives at least 10M away from me) and then cycle home.

Overall - I'm on the up. I have some BIG plans for next year but will keep those under my (new Nike) hat for now - for now I'm just firing up my mojo and lovin' it!