Back in the Saddle

Sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and do what you are putting off or dreading. Fear is an interesting thing and I always think about an experiment involving spiders which I came across a few years back. Basically, people scared of spiders experience a spike of fear and adrenaline when they first see a spider. This initial feeling of fear is the most intense and does not increase past this point the longer they are looking at the spider.

Running was my spider until this morning. You see, I haven’t been running this year since I have been focused on the thrilling sport of mountain bike riding (and let’s face it, I just didn’t feel like running). Although I want to keep up my riding, it is also time to get back in the running saddle (the horse analogy would really be more appropriate to bike riding I suppose…). I have been putting it off and making excuses since my last parkrun 8 weeks ago!

My time was not the best. In fact it is my third slowest ever (for parkrun). But you know what, I ran the whole thing. I went. I ran 5 km. I set my alarm, got up and went out for a run. I almost bailed several times: when I set my alarm the night before, when my alarm went off (the first, second AND third time), after I got dressed and once I was in the car were ALL breaking points where I asked myself how much I really wanted to go (the answer was an unconvincing: “lots?”).

But I am so, so happy I went. Now I KNOW I can still run 5 km and it isn’t horrible. I didn’t die, in fact I felt pretty good after which means I could have gone faster. My initial fear has spiked. I faced it and now I can move on to enjoying running again. This first time is the hardest it is going to be; it all gets easier from here. Which is just as well because….

I’m doing a TRIATHLON! That’s right, a friend and I have signed up for a triathlon! Impressive, no? Um, no not really. It is an enticer tri-athlon for women to encourage involvement in the sport (brilliant idea) – and it worked on us! The distances are as follows:

SWIM = 300 m (cake. My friend Tania and I swim that easy in our weekly sessions)

RIDE = 10 km (too easy. I ride 10 km routinely and often through the bush, so on the flat it will be a cinch)

RUN = 3 km (puh, not even a parkrun!)

However…put them all together and I don’t know how it will all work out. Especially since it is in less than a month and I have only just started running again… I have no idea how long it will take, I don’t know how I will feel after each leg or where I will sit in the scheme of the other entrants. But I am going to do it and I will be training as hard as I can over the next few weeks in a last ditch attempt to not completely embarrass myself!

To get motivated, I dug through my old Womens Health mags and did some creative (for me) cutting and pasting. I called the book my ‘find your motivation’ picture book. I think it worked. I definitely feel like going for a run when I look at the running page and I am always keen to go riding so that one works a little too well (screw work lets got for a MTB ride!!).

Cutting and pasting is not just for kindergarten...

Cutting and pasting is not just for kindergarten…

I found it useful anyway. Weight loss is such a small part of why I ride, run and sign up for events like triathlons – but it can easily become the focus. So why am I running? Because I like to run, I like how I feel while running and after a run. I like how it makes me feel physically – strong and powerful. I like the effect fitness has on my daily life, enjoying the natural world and the city I live in.

YOLO right?

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I run…to leave the old me behind

On Sunday I participated in ‘Run Newcastle,’ a new event which has come to town (there seem to be more and more each year which is great). I hadn’t put much thought into it, certainly hadn’t been training, but my sister said she was doing it and I should too.  So, last-minute decision, I was in!

The night before I was looking through my race pack and the bib had something a little bit different on it: A space asking WHY I was taking part. It really made me stop and think. Why WAS I doing it? I wasn’t training for it, trying to lose weight or get fit, I wasn’t trying to raise money or set a good example (although I do like to think I am setting a good example for my darling niece and other little treasures in my life). So why? To support my sister whose idea it was? Partly, but there is more to it. I realised I wanted to do it because quite simply I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing it only a few short years ago. I trained for months for my first 5 km, this race I signed up only the week before on a whim. I have changed, and I think it is important to reflect on that.

Good question...

Good question…

I think it may be the best fun run I have done. It wasn’t too long, I wasn’t stressing about it beforehand and…. I bloody well smashed it! It actually had a few quite large hills, but I had gone in with a game plan: walk the hills. City2Surf (shudder) I ‘ran’ up the hills, but my pace was so slow I was basically walking. This time, I walked FAST. I power walked with geeky arms swinging up the hill for the steepest parts and then ran again.

Here’s the kicker, I still did the run in only just over a 6 minute kilometer (39 min 20 for 6.5 km, they were a little misleading calling it a 6 km run as it was actually more!)! That’s only just over 5 km in 30 minutes timing which is incredible since the last parkrun I did (also 5 km) was 32 minutes. Even more incredible that today I did another 6 km run, no hills or walking, and my pace was much slower at 6 min 30 seconds per km! Why was Sunday so good? How did I perform so well? I think it was just a combination of great weather, good lead up, pumping atmosphere, walking the hills (GENIUS method, I truly am converted) and really pushing myself down the hills to an astonishing (for me) pace (my max pace recorded was 4:06 min/km! Say WHAAA???).

We also got the nicest event tee I've gotten! Win win!

We also got the nicest event tee I’ve gotten! Win win!

I felt so pumped afterwards (can you see me finishing with a winners double hand pump at the finish line?)  and was super proud of my sister who did an incredible 5 minute 40 second timing (finishing in 36 minutes 30 sec). Her ‘why I run Newcastle’ reason was to set a good example for her baby girl Cate and I know Cate will one day appreciate the achievements of her incredible super-mummy, I know I do. After the race I just stared at my splits (1 km splits that is) shaking my head at the pace. I’m not sure I could do it again, it just seems so unlike me…I have hardly been doing any running lately (barefoot testing be damned) and instead all my efforts have mainly been devoted to MTB riding. In fact I am obsessed with getting out on the trail and no doubt some of my running success was due to the improved fitness from riding so much.

I also missed posting about the Fernleigh15 which was a 15 km fun run along a track in Newcastle called, surprise surprise, the Fernleigh Track. Another event I signed up to from inspiration by my sister and, once again, hadn’t given a lot of thought to. It was pretty fun although very bloody long (15 km in 1 hr 46 min 15 seconds average pace 7 min/km – we walked a bit of it) but my sister and I did it together which was lovely. We walked parts (no way I could have run the whole thing without training for it).

I like to give a thumbs up when I pass a camera, such a loser...

I like to give a thumbs up when I pass a camera, such a loser…

All in all I liked it so much better than the City2Surf and think I will make it the focus of my training as next years big run…and just be a spectator at next years City2Surf!

In the end it has reminded me that running can be fun. I don’t need to make it the focus of my life, but I will be incorporating it more than I have been lately. And leaving my old self well and truly behind…

THE PLAN: City2Surf in sub 90 minutes

Intervals, Fartlek and Tempo oh my!

The ultimate in amateur running in Australia, City2Surf (14 km run through Sydney) is coming up in August, and my 10 week training plan starts in June.

Posted this week by the City2Surf facebook page

Posted this week by the City2Surf facebook page

I’ve adapted a pre-existing training plan (originally suggested on the City2Surf website in 2012 by R4YL magazine, ‘Intermediate’ level), and squished and squeezed it into a schedule to fit my life. I went Excel mad to make up a ‘pretty’ and ‘easy to read’ timetable…but no matter how many colours I used it still looks complicated. In fact it looks like the concoction of a mad woman. You may need to click on the timetable if you would like to read it!

10 week training timetable

10 week training timetable

Session outlines. Equal time hard/easy where not specified

Session outlines. Equal time hard/easy where not specified

Speed chart

Speed chart

There are three parts, the 10 week time table, a description of different activities, and an outline of pace I want to run at for each activity. Yes, I probably could have spent my time on something more constructive. But to be fair it was during my evening TV time (multitasking like a boss).

Now, my normal approach to running is to, well, run. Just run and try to go faster than last time. Occasionally increase the distance and throw in a hill or two to keep things interesting. But last City2Surf I didn’t reach my goal of sub 90 minutes, actually it took me 95 minutes (I think I said 93 in another post, shaved 2 minutes off without even trying there…). So changes must be made.

However, I’m a little dubious of the plan. How am I meant to complete the full City2Surf at race pace when the longest run in the training schedule is meant to be run at ‘slow/mod’ pace? I think I will end up attempting race pace on the long run on Sundays. The 30 minute on Saturday is also supposed to be ‘slow/mod’ but I am going to use it to consolidate my 5 km pace.

I have also kept in other elements of my workout schedule I think are important including some weight training, MTB riding and yoga (I don’t think I’m ready for p90x, I will start using it in dribs and drabs and focus on it a bit more later in the year). The Fartlek and tempo/intervals runs are pretty short so I plan to throw them in along with another training session. I think its pretty balanced, but it’s definitely A LOT of running.

Looking at it now it looks somewhat impossible (I know, I know, nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it.). At the peak, if I include my 45 minutes morning walks, I will be exercising an average of 100 minutes a day. Crazy.

Crazy like a fox?