Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wedging in the Pfitz

Well if that title doesn't set an expectation nothing else will...

But seriously my friends, have you seen the 12 week Pfitz plan? I know I've gone on about the weekly mileage and it truly is a higher mileage than I've done before on my calm, sedate, friendly little schedules with Uncle Hal Higdon. But the clincher, I am finding, is just how these miles are distributed throughout the week. Because you don't get lots of nice little 5, 6, 7 milers in the week which add up to a respectable mid-week mileage. No, no, no. I'm playing with the big people now. Mid-week run today - BAM! - 11 miles. In the top week - where you run 55 miles - the miles are distributed as follows: 6, 12 (with 7 at 15K pace), 12, 5 and 20. Hoo-ah!

So yes, in other words, I've started. Sticking with the opposite of me scheme, I'm exercising prudence and caution (believe me, I have NEVER ever been described by anyone as prudent or cautious). So I've added 2 weeks onto the 12 week schedule. There's a chance I might be able to squeeze in a ski-break somewhere in the next 6 weeks which would take some days out, and there is also a chance my son might have to go to hospital (a minor procedure in an ongoing thing, but still stressful and I'm unlikely to be able to fit a 50M week around it). If neither of these things transpire in the training schedule, by about week 6/7 I will see how I feel and double up a week - if I'm tired I'll use it as week to take it easy, if I'm full of beans I will double a higher-intensity week. Plus, I don't know what it's like around where you are but EVERYONE has been really ill here for the past 6 weeks and so far we've avoided it. I'm hoping that my *healthy* lifestyle is protecting me but really - I could so easily get felled. In fact, at the moment I have a very considerably head cold. It seems to be sticking in my head, no fever, no other symptoms, so I'm just babying myself, lots of Vit C, sleep where I can find it and generally being gentle with myself (other than running my legs off). But should the worst happen and should I get felled by flu, I have built in a cushion of 2 weeks in my schedule and I won't have to miss training.. Oh dedication.

So how's it going? Well it's going fine. But it's a wedge. The days are long at the moment - work is busy, family's busy, and wedging in 9 miles on top of that in the evening in the dark - not always easy. So far - half-way through week 2 - I'm doing okay. I'm switching some of the runs around so that I can do the longer ones on the days where I'm not working or working from home.

Update from my sickbed - well that was prophetic of me. After running 11 miles yesterday (in 1:45) and feeling much better, I was whammied overnight with a temperature and this morning flu has set in. Unfortunately I had to go to work this morning but by lunchtime I delegated everything and went home. Found myself in the bathtub at 1am this morning (I just couldn't get warm) contemplating going out for my 5 miler at 5:30am. I was just about to google advice on it when I thought "no - I am insane. I don't need google to tell me that you don't run with a temperature". So darn it. I've missed today's 5 miler and am unlikely to do tomorrow's 8 miler. As for Sunday's 15 miler we shall see. Depending on how the next few days go, I might repeat this week's workouts next week or carry on... Obsessive? Me?

I don't feel too bad though - I'm hoping that a few days of being kind to myself and resting will do the trick and see me through. Till soon my friends - happy running and don't have whatever I'm having!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Superwoman takes on 2009

Do you sometimes find yourself looking at other people's lives filled with awe and amazement? You look at all they achieve with such ability, competence and skill - you look at what they are able to do and you compare this with your own knowledge of your mistakes, your laziness, your inabilities and procrastination. I am old enough to know better. I am old enough to know that life's rich tapestry does not unfold in just one shade and that most people suffer from doubts, misfortune, fears, worries and the (occasional) bout of procrastination. I really would like not to look at other people's lives and oversimplify and reduce them to a Hallmark movie.

Sometimes my friends look at me and think I am one of them. You know? Superwoman? They see that I work, keep house, look after my family, get all my geekery in and say that they don't know how I do it all - how I fit it all in. Most of the time they are talking about my running. In their view running is often the straw that should break the camel's back.

And the truth of the matter is that it can be hard to get it in. For the past year I have felt, increasingly, that my days are very long and very full. There are plenty of days where the to-do list fills every gap between 6am and 10pm. Bam bam bam. To fit in 5 miles on a day like that could so easily be optional. And then it could go. And I could go and sit down with my husband, or read my kids an extra story, or god forbid go and watch TV.

But it's not going to go. Because my day is also filled with moments of self-doubt, of tiredness, of lack of motivation, of questions of whether I am where I want to be. And running never ever inspires those feelings in me. No matter how hard it is, no matter how I am struggling to do my run I never feel it is a waste of my life. The rightness of what I'm doing when I'm out there is never in any doubt. It is a good thing for my health, for my life, for my mind, for my family and very much for me. Over the past 5 and a half years (incredible!) that I've been running it has forced me out there in the world, it has created friends and opportunities and time for self-reflection. So I'm still out there peeps. Even in January. And yes - to those of my friends and family who think I overdo it, and should slow down I say "not me. This is not an optional element in my life. This is what keeps me and my show on the road".

Speech done. 2009? Well - bring it on. It started with a bang, and a party. After a night of good food and great champagne with a few close friends we invited a much larger group of friends over on New Year's day for a run, walk and brunch. In the end 3 of us ran (Dawn, her brother-in-law Simon and myself) - Dawn peeling off after 3M and Simon and I completing the 5 miler. We then came in, met everyone else who had gone for a walk with children and bikes and dogs and had bacon and sausage sandwiches (it's an English thing, trust me) and coffee and orange juice. Pretty damn perfect. And then .. something that had been brewing for some time came up. Do you know that swedes are crazy? It's a fact. All the swedes I know are crazy. Fun and crazy. One of the many things crazy swedes do is swim in the sea on New Year's day. I know they're not the only ones who do this but I challenge anyone else to embrace this idea with as much gusto as the swedes. And we had a swedish friend with us that morning. And we have a lake on our farm. Mats and I had been bantering about swimming in there, and now it was New Year's day and clearly - it had to be done. 4 of us - Mats, my husband, my sister-in-law Hannah and I - lined up at the water's edge and in we went. Mats swam ahead, breaking the ice like a dog, and we followed. It was unbelievable. While you were in you couldn't really feel anything. But as soon as you came out it was like your entire body started screaming. Very exhilarating! And one way to get rid of a hangover.. My legs are still bruised from bashing into the ice as I waded in but I'll be there again next year. Everyone's welcome!

And now it's mid-January and I'm just ploughing on through. Work, home and everything else - nothing is too exciting and every area of my life has long to-do lists. Running is going fine - my first week in 2009 ended in 40M, the second in 31 and I'm hoping to hit 39 this week. Today's mid-week long run didn't pan out due to everything else going on but I'm hoping to run 9 on Friday morning. And then out for 14 with a long hill on Sunday.

I really want to do some of the memes going round at the moment but I'm going to just go ahead and post this now - it's been hanging in blog limbo for 4 days as it is.. Happy running buddies!