Monday, November 30, 2009

The future is bright (and cold and wet).

Finally! You thought I'd just crawled under a rock and given up right? As well I might have done given all the moaning and whingeing I have done in the past month. But the funk is officially been, done and gone. How did I achieve this? 

First of all, by going back to the opposite of me. Remember that? Well this time I took it and interpreted it slightly differently (it's my church, so I get to make the rules) to just mean "doing things differently".
• After being on a running schedule for most of the year, I had no schedule. After getting each and every run in for the past 7 months, I let myself off the hook sometimes. I took a break and it was good.
• After more than 5 years of doing only running, I bought a bike. I have held off on buying a bike for a long time because, being Dutch, and having used a bike as a primary means of transport for years in my teens and twenties, I was under no illusions as to the problems with bikes. I.e - technical problems. Flat tires. Chains coming off. Strange noises. Adjusting and readjusting. Endless stuff. And this was all on the simple and cruddy bikes I used to ride. Heavy "sit up and begs" that had no gears and had backpedal brakes. However, I was owed a birthday present and eBay suggested a beautiful bargain. It was delivered to me with clipless pedals and while this would, normally, have been an excuse for me to park the bike in the garage for 6 months while I procrastinated about working it out, I headed to the bikeshop instead and bought some shoes, some cleats and a helmet and set about working out my bike. Yes I fell. Four times hard, so far. I have forced myself to work out how to adjust the tension, I have adjusted the seat, and have also - major victory, worked out the gears. Somewhat. That's still a work in progress.
• I have entered a duathlon (31st December, 2.5 mile run, 9 mile bike and 2.5 mile run) and am currently trying to find somewhere agreeable to go swimming. If I can find a place to train and learn, the next summer will be summer of triathlons. I really am working on this one peeps!
• I did some of the things I haven't done when I was training so hard. I spent some time with friends, I filled in my tax return (so late it's not even funny) and I generally lazed about a bit.

However. However. However. The most interesting realisation to me has been that while I needed a break from my schedule and running I am happier and more effective with a schedule in my life. Somehow it sets my course for each week - this is the training I need to get in and I need to work my week around it. I get a lot more other stuff done when I'm training. I waste less time. I feel better - physically and mentally - with a goal. All hardly an aha erlebnis for most of you, but I'm not really a Type A like so many runners. (You should see the state of my house!). I'm amazed that I'm able to stick to a schedule and find it so useful to organise my life, and set out my priorities.

The other thing that has got me back is, once again, the kindness of you lot. The emails, the messages, the FaceBook comments. I couldn’t drop out if I wanted to could I? So thank you – you know who you are..

So I'm back in the game now people. The past few weeks have seen my first brick workout (8M bike followed by a 5M run -hardly an IronMan but still) and I’m determined to keep up my biking as my cross training in the run-up to Boston. I’m going to try the 18 week Pfitzinger schedule this time – it’s long but I want to try and see how the more gradual build-up will go. I’m fitting in 2 extra weeks as I’m going skiing in January – yes this time I will have sports massages while I’m out there and I’m already booked in with my osteopath immediately upon my return. Tight quads will NOT derail Boston.

Finally – can you keep a secret? You know I’m better when I get naughty. And I have been. I have had (and still have…) a very bad cold at the moment. On Saturday night I was in bed by 7pm feeling like death. However, I had entered a half-marathon on Sunday weeks ago to motivate me to get some mileage in. I woke up at 6am on Sunday feeling okay and so, without telling anyone, texted the babysitter and headed to the race. Well of course it was a stupid idea. The rain was sheeting down. It was SO cold. So wet. So hilly. Despite that I got race giddy and ran my first mile in under 8 minutes – so the end of the race was very grim indeed. I wasn’t properly trained, nor physically well enough to run a half-marathon yesterday. But I did it. And I crossed the finish line in 1:52! No PB, but not bad at all. A good yardstick to start Boston training with.

I'm going to publish this now so I can go off and catch up on your blogs. Apologies for the radio silence - I'm back in the game!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The party's over

The pity party that is. As always you, my faithful commenters cuddled me, cajoled me, and some of you gave me a kick up the *ss and okay okay - I get the message. I've put away the black streamers, dried my tears and I'm back again.

That's not to say the running has been great these past 2 weeks. I think I definitely suffered from something related to what my kids had last week - they've had (swine?) flu and tonsilitis but have now recovered - and even by the middle of this week my 8 miler was compiled of grit, determination, clif-shots and slow miles. None of it is a pretty picture to be sure but I've just read Meg Runs' blog and I have cut and pasted the following:

No matter what your goal is...weight loss, a 5k, a 3 day walk, a hike, an ultra, a need to look at the plan. What ever your pace; to finish, to go fast, to go slow, to walk. Don't let it own you, own the plan. Talk to it, "Bring it on!"

Do it with confidence. age doesn't matter
Do it with concentration. single out that one specific moment in time and focus on it
Do it with control. but don't force it
Do it with commitment. bring it on

And she's right. Completely right. The other mantra that has embedded itself into my mind is the AA mantra of "fake it till you make it". I am faking it and slowly beginning to make it. I struggled through 7 awful miles in wind and rain last Sunday (failed to run the 12 I had told myself to run, but ran 7 when 0 was by far the more attractive option), I ran 5 on Tuesday that were neither here nor there but on the books all the same, and today I decided to kick myself a bit harder and make myself run 5M out of a 10 miler at a faster pace. (Chicken and egg you see - my lack of mojo has had me slugging out the miles at 10 / 11 min/mile pace - great recovery pace if that's what you're going for but for me, at this point, just a sign of how deeply I had sunk into sluggishness. ) And reader, I did it. I warmed up for 2 miles at 8:17 min/mile (good to find that pace again), then ran 5 miles at an 8:01 min/mile, before slowing down for the last 3 at a 9:03 min/mile pace. Much better - and I'm much happier.

I'm in the doldrums for a number of reasons, really - I'm worrying about my kids, worrying about the lack of direction in my life, worrying about when I'll ever get settled into my new house, worrying about all sorts of relationships in my life that aren't working terribly well at the moment - but what I'm hanging onto here is that running is good for me when all this stuff is going on. It may not be fast, and it may not be quality, but getting out there is always better than not getting out there. And before you worry about me - none of the things I am worrying about above are as troublesome, or difficult, as I sometimes think they are or as I might be making them appear. The problem, really, at the moment is my attitude and my worrying, not the people or situations I am worrying about. And as I'm unable to think these worries away, I might as well go out for a run. After which things never seem quite as difficult anymore. So Meg, you're right. Bring it on!