Monday, November 29, 2010

Boston. And this is how I'm going to do it.

It's been 3 weeks since I last blogged and I am, once again, behind on many of your posts. Wait up people - I WILL get there. But I have not been sitting around procrastinating - oh no. Primarily this is because I have set Google up with a little add-on called Leechblock which is designed to "block" you from doing things that "leech" your time away. Like Facebook. So between 9am and 6pm, if I try to go on Facebook my computer takes me to my to-do list. Clever eh? It is still sadly lacking in a sledgehammer to beat me over the head with unless I do the things on my to-do list but it's a sweet start.

But anyway - what I've been trying to do is clear the decks, practically and mentally, for training for Boston.

Practically I've been focusing on time-consuming stuff that I can (and do) sit and waste time on, and have forced myself to make some decisions:
- I will not be doing a course in London which requires a weekly 6 hour commute. I did one this term and contemplated a different one next term, but the commute is too tiring and organising my domestic life in my absence for 36 hours even more so. So that's not happening.
- new kitchen - all decisions re design, layout, materials and contents made. Workmen lined up. Now all that needs to happen is it to happen. And that's slowly happening.
- Christmas shopping. Aaarggghhh. Usually the thought of this makes me want to curl into a ball and moan gently to myself while beating my head on the floor. But this year I decided to man up, pull myself together. I put together a budget, made a spreadsheet (yes I am comfortable enough with you all to tell you this) and bought everything online. Bish bash bosh. One evening's work. Done.

Clearing the decks mentally. Aha. A different matter altogether. Ardent readers of this blog may realise I've run only 2 races this year - the Stamford 30K in February and the World Wide half in October. With one thing and another, and that thing, it's not been a stellar racing year. Mojo has come, gone and reappeared. I've not kept track of all of my runs in one place and I've switched training plans and strategies a few times in the course of this year. I could look at this year and say it was a mess. Running-wise. On the other hand, it has been a pretty stressful year on the personal front and I have carried on running and running has definitely helped me through it. And on the eve of the last month of the year, the personal front has improved immeasurably, and my running is back on track for marathon training. So not such a mess after all, really.

So my strategy going forward? Well I contemplated the BAA marathon plan. I contemplated doing the Pfitz again. I contemplated lots of things. And I have decided to try something new (you know me - I love me something new). I'm getting a coach! I am hoping that a coach will help me adapt a plan more and train smarter. In the past I have been guilty of over- and under-training, of pushing my paces too hard and of not pushing myself hard enough. I am hoping that by developing a plan as we go along and by making changes when things are not working, or too easy, I can maximise my enjoyment and potential this April. Forgive the secret squirrel approach for now - all will be revealed shortly.

Till then my lovely friends. Hope your running is going great and for those of you racing in the next week or so - great good luck!

10 miles in the snow this morning

Friday, November 05, 2010

Scratch that.

Last post. I debated about taking it down all week because:
  • talk about Debbie Downer. Who needs that?
  • self-pity? Check. I was meant to be past that. Sorry.
  • not very well-written. I could have crafted that into a much more coherent whine-fest.
But the reason I did not take it down was because of all of your comments. You were so good! You helped me! You listened and you advised and you gently chided. Gently chiding, in particular, is very good. I needed to be gently chided. The following pieces of advice, in particular, stand out.
  • I deserve to run Boston. I will stop whining about the )(*(*&*&^*&^*^ 13 seconds. I'm in.
  • To train to run, I need to run. I will fit in bikerides and swims - because I love riding and because swimming technique takes time and I'm so not there yet - but until April 18th, I'm focusing on running.
  • I was tired. That and hormones did not make for a good training week. I won't give up on my long runs again, Lizzie Lee!
  • I have picked my training paces somewhat randomly. No - I'm going to be honest, my training paces are what comes out when you put my PR - run a year ago and not neared since - into the Macmillan calculcator. Probably not an accurate picture of where I'm at right now...
  • Fun. I was missing the fun in my run(s). I know there are some nuts admirable people out there who love race pace training runs but I love my slower runs where I just zone out and smell the roses (or cow poo which is more like it round here but still) and listen to my podcasts and clear out the cow poo in my head.
So what am I going to do? Oh I know you're all desperate to find out.

Well, as you know I've been "working on myself", hideous as that may sound (and it does! I know) for the past year - primarily because I'm bored and fed up with how I've dealt with various stressors in the past. And it struck me this week that my running is due for an attitude overhaul. I know I've told you that I started to run because I was overweight and felt, in all honesty, that I had hit rock bottom physically and mentally. For years, I've been running to prove to myself that I was not fat, not worthless, not a quitter. That strategy has been good in some respects - on many a cold, windy, nasty day it has got me out the door. But on the other hand, when a week like last week happens, I tend to think that really, all the negative stuff really is true after all. In other words, a bad week proves that the past 6.5 years have been a fluke. And after writing that pitiful post on Sunday, I suddenly wondered whether I might just be able to run (forgive me for sounding like Oprah) from a more positive place. In other words, maybe I could run because I can, because I love it, because it makes me a happier and more positive person. And then maybe a bad week could be a bad week. It could have reasons for being a bad week, but the reason would not be that I'm basically such a terrible person, and the bad week proves it.

Which led me to think on Boston. I am meeting lots of wonderful runners and bloggers out there. And when I think of them I think of all of these women as fast, strong athletes. All of them are - they really are. And I realised all of a sudden that I still think of myself as an interloper in their midst. The slow, short fatty who somehow managed to fluke her way into Boston. Like somehow my qualification doesn't count as much as everyone else's. If one of you were posting this I would be shouting at you that you deserved to be there as much as anyone and I would believe it. So why don't I believe this about myself? The truth is - compared to many of these women I'm meeting out there - I don't dare to take my running as seriously. I don't dare put it out there that I would like to PR out there in Boston. But I'm beginning to think that my behaviour is self-fulfilling. Asking whether it's okay for me to run Boston "for fun" is basically me asking you whether it's okay for me not to even try to run my best race. (Please don't get me wrong - I have no views whatsoever on anyone else's strategy for any race, this is simply me being honest about myself).

And so I am going to be honest with you, and with me. I want to run a great race in Boston. I am going to try to be positive in my thinking and my visualisations of myself in this race. I have pushed myself hard physically before in training and I will do that again this time. But I will also push myself for a more positive goal and self-image this time. I am going to race Boston as well as I can. That's not setting myself a time goal - that's telling you that I am going to race Boston with the best of my ability. I am going to leave it out there, my friends.

Woah. It feels scary just to say it but there you go. If I don't say it, I won't ever believe it.

And as for training - I'm still thinking on it. I'll come up with the detail and you will help me. But this, people, this is what matters. Never mind turning the body around - that happened 6.5 years ago. It's time my mind caught up with it.