Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Keeping it all together.

Spoiler alert - I don't always keep it all together.  Just this morning I was sitting at my computer staring at my virtual inbox, ignoring my real inbox, and trying to think of a way to do it all.  Oh, I have all the productivity tools and books and gadgets - one of my favourite ways to procrastinate is to read about productivity - but when push comes to shove, when it's 6am and I wake up a blind panic at ALL I NEED TO GET DONE I freeze like a rabbit in the headlights.  And do very very little. 

I was thinking about this because a blogging friend of mine - yours too, probably - Emz recently lost a "follower", because, in the words of her follower Emz had initially seemed to be a "serious runner" but on the follower's reflection seemed to have a lot of "filler posts".  What she appeared to mean with this is that Emz writes about other stuff than running, that Emz has other things going on in her life.  I was astounded by this comment.  First off - Emz is a serious runner.  Serious because she runs.  And, not that this makes her a more serious runner, but it just so happens that she runs 3:20 marathons and works really really hard at being a good runner.  So, in terms of commitment and achievement, she's got what it takes (she also has the BEST abs in the entire world but that's beside the point.  Filler, if you like).  But the real thing that astounds me is that idea that we, as runners,  wouldn't have "filler".  Or a life, as you could also call it. 

My life is full to busting with filler right now.  We are finally getting to the good bits of some major redecoration in this house, so there are endless trips to paint shops and decisions and drawings and considerations.  My kids have had all sorts of emotional stuff going on in their lives recently which I've been heavily involved with.  My husband's businesses are doing really well (thank goodness) but I'm required to lend a hand with that, and what I thought was a dormant career is proving to be waking up.  What's interesting to me in all of your blogs is not just the running and the training and the race reports - but how you're doing this in the middle of all your life, whatever your life might be like.  Even the pros - could you get more "serious runner" than Kara Goucher? - have filler - she didn't race as well as she could have recently because she spent nights by her son's bed in hospital. 

It really bothers me that there is this kind of stuff going in the running community.  You can see it in the discussions around Boston qualifying standards, discussions about race cut-off times, discussions about walkers in races.  I'm not saying we should not discuss this - we should, absolutely, debate these issues - but please don't look at other runners and tell them they are not serious runners.  Speed has nothing to do it.  Commitment is harder to measure, but a far better way of knowing.  Run your own race people - and leave others to do the same!

I'm in real ranting form at the moment aren't I?  I guess I'm trying to get my head round various things that have been percolating for a long time, and I'm wanting to work them out and move on.  Turning 40 this year can, I know, be a tough thing but I really want to take stock of thoughts and habits that might not be working anymore, and move ahead with the constructive ones.  "Filler" can take over, and sometimes you need to step back and work out which filler matters..

So onto my running - have you stopped following me yet? It is going seriously well.  I am still loving having a coach.  I didn't realise how much mental energy I was expending working out pacing and training and then trying to determine whether I was working hard enough or too hard.  Now I just do what she says.  Generally I assume that whatever she sets me to do, I can do.  Revelatory recent runs?
  • a very hilly 18 miler.  Last year I was trying to pound out all my long runs at below a 9 minute mile.  Looking back, I think I tired myself out on the long runs and thereby lacked quality in my speed and pace work.  Coach makes me run my long runs slow and so I'm focusing on form and endurance, rather than getting round quick.  There'll be a time for that, but that's not now.  The 18 miles was very hilly and because I was hitting it in 2 out and backs, the hills never stopped, but I still made it round comfortably, finished strong (and fast) and averaged a 9:07.  
  • my first two-fer - 3 easy miles in the morning, then 7 miles of 800 repeats at 7 min/miles and a 1600m at 7:11 min/mile.  Not easy, but did it.  Can't quite believe it! 
I can't quite put my finger on it but I have my mojo back.  I feel strong and able in my running.  I am prioritising it in my life, dropping other balls when I have to / am able to and - most importantly - really enjoying the training.

So onto February, which will no doubt be a month full of "filler" - bring it on! 


Fran said...

I'm a bit angry that you can actually lose a follower because you aren't a serious runner in his/her eyes.

The blogs I love the most are the ones that are about running and the daily life of those who write the blogs. I love reading about how people who live in other countries live and do things. It's the personal touch in a blog that's keeps coming me back.
In the past I even unfollowed a few blogs that were only about running and nothing else, gets boring after a while.

So keep on writing about running and everything else you are doing. I like it!

Lindsay and James Cotter said...

Amen to that! Run your won race, thats what passion is about, right?

Detroit Runner said...

Running is part of life, not your ENTIRE life.

ShirleyPerly said...

When I first saw that "Followers" feature roll out, I was immediately turned OFF. It seemed like some people were getting worked up over not having many followers, some were bragging about the nbr of followers they had, losing followers, etc. It made me begin to think that people were blogging for reasons other than for themselves, like it was some kind of popularity contest or business (e.g., way to attract companies to give them stuff). I'm not saying it's bad, just that that feature has helped me lose interest in blogging.

Anyway, I continue to be happy to hear how well your training is going with your coach. Sounds like you're finding like I did that you save time and sometimes do less than you would've done on yr own but most importantly, you stay more motivated and focused. Carry on, Petra!

Johann said...

I always enjoy fillers. It's a great way to get to know the runner even better. In fact, I can't really learn more about any runner blogger without the fillers. Having said that it's always good to read someones running is going well, like your's today, excellent!

Kate said...

Petra- you said it perfectly. We need to run our OWN race and let others run theirs. I could not agree more.

When Emz posted that, I was astounded at the idea that people think this way. What makes a serious runner? Someone that is completely consumed by running and has nothing else going on in their life? If so, consider me out.

I emailed Emz immediately after I read that, awhile back, just to let her know that those "fillers" are what make her REAL and loveable.

I have come to notice that some runners are very critical about running and those that participate in the sport. It bothers me although I try not to let it. Running is such a wonderful thing that brings so much joy to so many people. Why are we so harsh about it?

Anyway, I loved this post. Eloquent and thought provoking, as always.

Susan said...

Bring. It. On!

Oh my - if we all ONLY talked about running, well... I wouldn't want to hear about it!

Anonymous said...

..and just when i was thinking of including a bit more 'filler' in my own blog.... everyone is entitled to their own subjectivity. that person is better off elsewhere but personally i enjoy a bit of filler.

great to see you enjoying your running. you've got every reason to be happy with the second half of that double session [7 x 800 repeats @ 7 min/miles/1600m at 7:11 min/mile]. keep this up and you'll be busting your own high standards.

have a great feb, petra

Anonymous said...

I hate the phrase "serious runner" and I agree 100% with what you posted! If people don't like what they are reading then don't read it. No need to scrutinize other peoples lives!

Your kicking some major booty with your training lady! Keep it up!

Meg said...

OOOOoooo, loved your words, Petra!
We're all just out there trying to do our best which is really just juggling our lives and trying to keep all the balls in the air, at least that's what my life is like!
I love reading all kinds of blogs about all kinds of people...the ones like you who are 100% real, full of life, truth and simplicity really inspire me and keep me thinking. Thanks for that and I'm so glad your running is going well...welcome to Fabulous February, I'm sure it will bring you a lot more "life" and fun!!
Hugs and thanks once again!

Emily said...

Your filler is the best! In fact I'd take your filler over your running any day. Thanks for plugging along and don't let the bastards get you down.

I am super excited about your training - isn't having a coach just the best? Takes some huge stressful elements out of the mix, right? Still haven't bought my tix to Boston in April yet but it is still the plan to go. I can't wait to see you running the Boston Marathon!

Marathon Maritza said...

I completely agree with this post!!!! We are people, with lives other than running and it's our blog and we can right whatever we want! It's my party and I'll fill it with filler if I want to!

Way to kick ass on your training!!

Running and living said...

Your training is going awesome. Those repeats are fast, even the long run is fast, particularly given the hills. Hurray! You also seem very balanced and together in this post, love that, too.

I believe people should be able to do whatever they want on their blogs, talk about running, or poop, or food, or whatever. Our job as blog readers is to share thoughts and be supportive. This does not mean that we should no disagree, but we should do that gently. And if we don't want to read a blog, well, we stop doing that, but there is no need for judgment.

Jill said...

Ya know, to each their own. Some people want to just read about running as it inspires them and for whatever reason, they just don't have to time to read the filler stuff and/or has not made a personal connection with that blogger so they leave. I've noticed I've lost followers when my running was in a tailspin...oh well. Sad, but I can't do anything about it so just carry on and find others that DO want to be there no matter what. Those you make a connection with certainly don't care about filler and enjoy hearing about others entire lives!

Glad the coaching is going so well!

lizzie lee said...

Hey my dear friend, I will always be around, so "fill" me in!!!

Great 18 miles BTW...


Amanda@runninghood said...

Well said about running being a personal thing and not about being faster or slower than others. We are all just running our own race. :) Your running sounds like it is going really well! So glad!

jeanne said...

you are doing amazing things, woman. AMAZING THINGS!

pft to the person who doesn't like filler.

Everyone knows the best part of the cake is the middle.