When did 10km become an short run?

I read a motivational quote today that said “Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you can go”. I really like that and it got me looking back at how far my running has come over the past 18 months in particular.

This time last year I was running 10km and it was a struggle for me and it took me a lot longer to recover after the run too. I had to be pushed very hard by some good friends & run leaders to make the switch from the 7km group at run club to the 10km group. I struggled with the 10km group and switched back to the 7km a few times so i could not say that I ran it with any consistency.

But when I became a run leader late last year meant I had to up the ante. There was no more getting out of the 10km runs and we also had a 12km which I needed to be ready for. After the first couple of 10km runs as a run leader I started to feel confident that I could make this distance more frequently. I think that was the beginning of what I now call categorise as a ‘short’ run. Our club also added a 12km course a few times and I even took 2 monday sessions for a 17km supercourse prior to the half marathon a few weeks ago.

How did this happen? I don’t really know. I guess I just never stopped running and I always put my hand up to have a go. Like they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

So the last part of the quote was to have faith in how far I can go, and after struggling with my long run last sunday (see previous post) I was feeling pretty deflated, but i’m not going to let it stop me. Instead I’m going to change the scenery for my long run this weekend and try to trick my brain. Then maybe it won’t know what i’m up to and will have lots to look at and think about to help me have a good run. Let’s see if it works.

I’d love to hear about what motivates you? What do you do to stay on track, or get yourself back on track?

10km anyway...

When the going gets tough

On Sunday my training planner said that I had to run 24.1 km. I have never run that far before in my life and felt pretty scared in the few days leading up to it, especially when I had only just run a half marathon 7 days earlier (and probably pushed it a little harder than I ‘should’ have).

When I woke up sunday morning I didn’t feel sore or tired and I felt well prepared having eaten properly and hydrated in the week leading up to it. But I was scared and it ended up a HUGE struggle.

For the first 5km my calves were tight and felt like they were restricting my leg movement and changing my gait. Thankfully they got warm and released, however at about 6km I got a sharp pain in the muscle underneath my foot and it slowly got worse. It felt like a cramp and it burned for the entire run, never really easing enough for me to forget about it.

Then at about 8km the knee pain started, a sharp pain underneath my kneecap. All I could think was “Why me?” and “Why now?”. I have been going so well for so long, it had to be in my head right? So I kept running, and running, and tried not to think about the foot, or the knee… just keep running.

I looked down at one point and my App told me I had 14kms to go. The hamstrings were getting tighter and tighter, which was putting more stress on my already sore knee. This was not going to be an easy run at all. But I kept running, and running.

I had to keep telling myself to think about the end goal, the reason I was out here and why it meant so much to be getting the kms into my legs now before the marathon which was only 62 days away. I had to keep telling myself that “I can do this” and I kept running, and running.

Usually I hate traffic lights because it gets me out of rhythm but I welcomed them with open arms and used the time to stretch, hopefully ease the muscles into the remainder of the run. And it seemed to help a little, enough for me to raise my spirits and keep running. The little green man was telling me to “Go” so I ran, and ran.

I reached the peak of the second last hill. I had 3 km to go and I knew I had it in me to just keep going, I just kept my head down and kept putting one foot in front of the other. All I could think was “Just keep running”. Then I reached the peak of the last hill and it was such a relief to know the rest was all much easier than what i had already conquered. “Just keep running”.

Finally I saw the gate, our beautiful front gate. Just sitting there waiting to welcome me home where I could rest my weary legs. I had made it, i was there. I could be satisfied that I had not given up. No matter what got thrown at me I had stuck to my guns and I had run 24.1km and beaten the calf tightness, foot pain, knee pain and tight hamstrings. I had won and I had just run the furthest distance of my life, and the longest run of my life. It had taken me 2 hours and 37 minutes but I had gotten there.

I immediately went to the yard and laid down with my legs in the air against the back fence. I stayed in that spot for ages and then eventually got up and started a long stretch session, followed by a cold/hot shower. Thank god it was over.

I don’t know why but my emotions were really scattered after the run, maybe it was exhaustion. I felt so unsure of myself and a bit down in the dumps. But after hearing some kind and supportive words from friends and looking back now I can say i’m very happy with the run on Sunday. It’s good to know that I am quite mentally tough, as i’m going to need it in the training to come.

So when the going gets tough, just keep running!

Battling the elements

I know it’s hard to get out of bed, or to get those shoes on when it’s pouring down with rain outside, but you will feel 50% more hard core once you have completed a run in the rain. It’s a fact!

Last night at run club we did a 5km course through the domain to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and back to the store. It rained the whole course but luckily it wasn’t a downpour, it was more of a contact light sprinkle. It was great to see that so many clubbers actually turned up ready to run and didn’t let the water scare them away. They were in high spirits and afterwards they were all very proud of their achievements.

The smart runners came prepared with lightweight, wet weather jackets and a change of clothes for afterwards. I think this is key, make sure you have the gear to make it as comfy as possible and then you have no excuses.

So get those shoes on no matter what the weather is like outside and you will be guaranteed to feel like you have achieved so much more than usual.

Do you brave the elements and let nothing get in your way?

I dare you to give it a try….

Look good, feel good.

I love Sportswear and the brighter, the better! Even though i’m not one of those girls who spends hours shopping and fantasizing about labels (in fact I buy most of my clothes online these days), but I really like to look good when i’m running or hitting the gym.

I was thinking about this yesterday when I went on a shopping spree in my lunch break at the Nike Sydney City Store. I had a voucher to spend and there was no stopping me. I bought shoes, shorts, tights, shirts and a visor (check out the photos below).

When i first started running & became a gym goer again, I made sure I bought clothes and shoes that were bright and pretty. My theory was that if I wanted to wear them then I had to exercise, so in some strange way it helped motivate me.

It’s really interesting when you start looking at what motivates people. I know myself I have to set goals and register for events and that helps keep me in line. But I also love the motivational pictures and quotes that get posted on facebook daily, some of them you can really relate to and they help to keep me focused.

I would love to hear any comments on what motivates you?

Happy Running!

My shopping spree items

A new PB!!

I don’t know how it happened & it defies logic, but I seem to be quicker the further I run. Today I not only ran my fastest half marathon (1:52:05), but it also included my fastest 10km yet (52:11:03)!
The SMH Half Marathon was my second half marathon and I really enjoyed it. It was also a relief to know I can still run that far and enjoy it, especially when there is just over 2 months till my marathon (which is scary).
I was very nervous in the days leading up to the race as my time last year had been a much faster pace than I usually run in training, so I felt like there was no chance I could do it again. My plan was to not keep an eye on my pace and just run to how I felt, that way I wouldn’t put pressure on myself to go faster (or slower) and could just relax and enjoy the run. And boy was that hard! The other reason I had decided to run this way was because my marathon training planner said I needed to use it as a training run, and not push myself too hard. Runners always want to keep an eye on their pace & track their progress, especially for the longer runs – just ask any runner. But I managed to keep my word and I’m thankful that I did.
The course was not as scenic as the Blackmores race last year and it had a few more hills (most of them near the end), but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. It was well organized and I would recommend it to anyone.
I think another one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was because I saw so many friends, run leaders and run clubbers on the course. Seeing them go past and encouraging others (even people that I didn’t know) really adds to the spirit of the run.
Afterwards a few of us run leaders and supporters met for brunch & celebratory drinks. It was great to hear all about the race preparation, planning and the PB’s that were achieved. They are so inspiring and I can learn so much from them.
So now I sit on the couch with my feet up resting the legs. It’s days like this I am thankful to be where I am and supported by so many wonderful family and friends. I love my life!

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5 more sleeps!

So today there is only 5 more sleeps till my second half marathon, and although I feel a little behind the eight ball with my marathon training, at least I feel like I have the kms in my legs to get about the same time as last year (I hope!).

As you’ll know from one of my previous blogs my first half marathon was the Blackmores last year in September and I loved it. It’s what encouraged me to keep running and set the goal for my marathon. This weekend is the SMH Half Marathon and i’m a little scared as i’ve been told it’s quite hilly. I’ve checked the map and it does look like it’s going to be tough near the end, but the longer distances always seem to suit my legs better and I feel like the warmer I get the better I feel.

It’s supposed to be a ‘training run’ for me, which means that I should not be pushing very hard. But I know that once I get out there I will want to beat my time from last year. Which got me thinking about how much my goals have changed, last year my goal had been  make it to the finish line, how things have changed!

Last night I did the 17km Supercourse for our run club and I struggled for the last 4km. My legs have never felt that heavy and it was very hard to stay motivated for the runners in my group, but we got there in the end and everyone was smiling. By the time I got home I did not feel well at all, the whole train trip home I had felt dizzy and nauseous, so I closed my eyes, sank into my seat and hoped the train would hurry up and get to my stop (it’s a 40 min trip to my station from the city). When I got home I showered, got the fluids into me and eventually had some dinner. I started to feel much better and i have never slept as well as I did last night. I think I had really pushed my body and it was arguing with me. It needed rest.

I will admit that on the weekend it was my birthday and I celebrated with some wine (ok, maybe a little more than ‘some’) but when it’s your birthday it’s very hard to say no, especially whn i’m normally so health & fitness conscious. But I paid for it with the run last night, i’m sure it’s the reason that i struggled, and i’m not doing that again for a while. I’ve learnt my lesson and it’s back to clean eating and healthy living again.

So there’s no gym for me today, no run or walk, just some stretching and taking it easy. Tomorrow night we have run club again so I have decided it will be my only run between now and sunday’s race. How exciting, I can’t wait to cross that finish line and meet up with my friends to celebrate our journeys!

17km Group - we made it!

The ‘Long Course’ Monday

On Sunday night after running a 10km Saturday at race pace and having a recovery swim to assist my joints and muscles, I received a message to let me now I would be taking the 17km long course the next night at run club (Monday).

To be honest I was scared and not very sure that I could complete 17km at a 5.45 min pace, but i’ll be damned if I was going to let it beat me. Have you noticed I’m a little bit competitive? Mostly with myself, but I think it helps in one way or another as it means I never give up.

Now back to the long course. I arrived in store at 4.50pm and there were already some keen runners waiting to sign-up. It’s restricted to 30 runners, 15 in each group so either a 5.15 or 5.45 pace. We keep the groups small as it’s easier to keep everyone together and enjoy the run better. And it’s a beautiful run. We started with the usual 10km circuit which goes from Hyde Park to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, then past the Opera House and through Circular Quay. Then we headed past the Overseas Passenger Terminal, under the Harbour Bridge looking over to Luna Park and along Hickson road. We then snaked our way up to the left and onto the Harbour Bridge. It’s so beautiful running along the bridge at night with all the lights and the cars racing past. There are lots of people and the view is spectacular.

My group stayed close together and they were so much fun to run with. A really friendly bunch who I could tell loved running just as much as me. It’s so nice to be in the company of people who share the joy of running.

As we were running over the Harbour Bridge I found that I had not yet conquered my fear of heights and without realising this my body sped up as it clearly wanted to get off the bridge ASAP. I turned around at one point and only 1 of my runners had kept up, oops! So I slowed down and apologised to the crew at the other end, they had a good chuckle at my fear of heights and we kept pacing along.

When we got back down onto Hickson Rd we caught up with some of the other groups doing 10km that had started a little bit later than us, and it was nice to hear some friendly banter about their run too. We took in all the wonderful dinner smells as we went past the restaurants on Cockle Bay and King St Wharves, and when we hit Hurricanes on the other side of Darling Harbour I thought half my crew were going to abandon me for a quick steak! But we managed to high tail it past those wonderful smells and we made our way onto the Pyrmont foot bridge and headed back up to the store.

There were so many smiles and high fives at the finish line, it really was an awesome run and I hope I get to run it again soon.

The Long Course

Run Unleashed – Nike She Runs Sydney

I had a giggle when I started writing this because ‘Run Unleashed’ kind of links in with my previous post about taking the dog with me for my short runs. And it was also the tag line for yesterdays Nike She Runs 10km at Centennial Park, a women’s only night run which has 6,000 runners this year (double the amount from 2012).

When I arrived at the grounds it was still light but it was bitterly cold, the breeze had some bite. And as it got darker, it got colder. I was very thankful to have worn long tights and a light jacket, as some girls were just in singlet & shorts. They made me cold just looking at them.
I ran into a few of my run club mates before the race, it was so nice to see everyone & chat about tactics and goal times. There was a real buzz in the air and so nice to see so many female runners in one spot, it was going to be a great race!

So I sat there and realized that it was actually the first time I had ever raced a 10km event. So Laura (my run leader friend who is about the same pace as me) planned to sit on a 5’30” pace and if we felt good at 5km then we would push a bit harder. That was the plan, but nothing ever goes to plan.

The orange group runners set off first and the excitement rose in the arena, it was almost time. We all hugged and wished each other well & mentally prepared for what was to come. Then the pink group was called, so we made our way to the start line and the atmosphere was amazing, everyone was so pumped up and trying to warm-up in the cold night air. The countdown began and we were off and racing. 

The start of most races can be hard as there are lots of people and nowhere to go, so if you get stuck behind somebody slow it can be tough to get your rhythm. But Laura and I picked our way through a few groups and kept each other moving at a comfy pace. The start actually felt more like an interval session than a run, but it felt good. I felt strong and we kept moving through the crowd and tried to stay on pace. It’s not surprising that my first k was my slowest, followed by the 2nd km and then we stayed pretty much on track after that. I made some headway up the hills as most people slowed down.

For some strange reason I love hills. I can’t explain it, but I love them and I look for them when i’m out on the road. Maybe it’s because always get a break on the downhill….

So there we were running the night with our matching singlets and flashing bracelets lighting up the park to music and signs and many cheers from the crowds around us. It was such a fun race and so inspiring to see so many female runners having a go, young and old, fast and slow. Sometimes the best goal is to make it to the finish line.

As I hit the 7.5 km mark I started to get my groove, I don’t actually think I warmed up until about that point because of the cold. My knees and ankles had felt a little sore up to that point, but I had to put it out of my mind. So as I slowly sped up I started picking off more and more people, I moved swiftly through the groups and felt like nothing could stop me. At the last corner I decided to make a sprint for the line. I took a deep breath and gave it everything I had, I ran past so many girls in that last half km, it was incredible. I felt unstoppable and I hit a new PB of 53:16.

I was so happy with my results and I ran into my friends who had also hit there targets. It was an amazing experience and everyone was pumped up and smiling. What an awesome event and what great friends. I would definitely be back again next year!!

Team shot collage 1

Running with my Moo

This morning I went for a short (hilly) run with my 1 yr old puppy Ebony (aka Moo or Moo Moo). It got me thinking about how I run when I take her with me and I also remembered reading about how Michelle Bridges tore her hamstring away from the bone when she tripped over her dog while going for a run. Do I change my style of running when I take her with me for short runs, and what were the chances she could trip me over?

Up until this point I have declined all offers to participate in any events that could increase my chance of injury, keeping my mindset focused on the marathon in July and wanting to be at my best for that run. So as I was running I pondered all of the above. I came to the conclusion that I should buy a longer lead so she can run way ahead of me, that way it gives me more time to react if I need to get out of her way. I’m not sure it would this eliminate the risk all together but surely it would help.

Then I thought about my running style, when i’m with her I have the lead in my right hand with my arm stretched out forward as she pulls me along. Sometimes I feel like my arms get more of a workout than my legs! She is a puppy so she has a lot of energy and for 80-90% of the run she’s up front. I felt like my body movement while running with her is a little lob-sided as only my left arm is free to move how it normally does. I’m sure that this is probably not ideal, but I love taking her with me and she needs the exercise so she doesn’t dig up the yard.

Google! That’s what I needed, i’m sure that i’m not the only person who has had this trouble. So when I got home I found it, the Handsfree Leash by Kyjen. It not only has a padded belt for my waist with a clip to attach the dog leash, but it also has a little pouch for me to put some poo bags and a gel (for when she gets older and I take her on longer runs). So I ordered it online and am very much looking forward to the day it arrives and I can test it out.

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