Monday, 27 July 2015

Karen writes: Last long run

Got out for the first...and last decent long run on Sunday, it was a bit of a lackadaisical affair though, at least to start with. Down the road a kilometer, outside a cafe, oh there's another runner having a coffee.  Stop for a chat.  A bit further along the road, text messages, hmm...would love to answer them, but I've only been going for 4 km, can I make 5 then I can stop for a drink, something to eat and check the message? SWITCH the sound to MUTE. Funny, I had pretty much gone cold turkey on Facebook which was turning into a troubling addiction but it turns out that the at-all-hours communication has a way of continuing around logging out of one app. I mean I do love the contact, but it can be ridiculously hard to take advantage of the off switch sometimes. So run, run, running along, ahhhh spring flowers, hey spring flowers, it must be getting near to warmer weather, pause for a look. Run a bit further, LAMBS, newborn lambs, that's so cool, take a picture and send to the kids.  Is that a new calf, oh sheesh, just run why don't you!

Part of the discussion with the runner at the cafe was about how we don't do what we should do, like the recommendation is to only increase your running distance by about 10% at a time.  Well, I laughingly admitted that I was taking my longest distance to date up by about 30% for this particular run. I know I can do that, but I also know I will pay a price. My legs got heavy, my brain was tired, and eventually the road under my shoes was way more interesting to look at than any amount of pretty flowers and frolicking baby animals.  I wasn't inclined to drink because it was raining, I forget that wet weather can be the worst for getting dehydrated, with all that water around you don't seem to feel as thirsty.  I forgot to eat, and had to keep reminding myself to straighten up, stop slumping along. Checking my phone for the time, an email has arrived, so stop and look at it.  This is so NOT good.

And music. The same cyclist managed to surprise me twice by coming up behind me and singing out hello, I think the second time was to see if he could make me repeat the startled shriek and stumble, there is a message in that. And why on earth is this song on my phone, how did I not realise what a complete prat this artist is? Oh the joy of having the lyrics being fed directly into my brain so I have to listen to each and every idiotic word.  Stop, delete.  And this one, goodness, I liked it when I was what 12? Can't for the life of me think why.  Hmmm, battery down to 70%, will it last, what happens if I fall into a ditch and need to call someone to rescue me?

So I turned the phone off properly, ate something, had a big drink and decided to concentrate.  It was not a particularly pleasant run, but the closer I got to home I found myself feeling a bit better, listening to the world around me I reminded myself of why I had shifted heaven and earth to get out the door for a long slow effort today. Why, I was hopefully mimicking race conditions. Doing things like checking that the clothes I was wearing were the right clothes for race-day, were they OK, yes, but a visor needed instead of just the scarf. Feet, got a blister the other day, but today no trouble with chafing or anything else. Checking nutrition, no not OK, that wasn't working at all, mainly because I had screwed it up from the start and you cant catch up once you are behind, better put some thought into it for the day. But yes, I'm ready for the next marathon however it will be a slow one in line with the amount of effort I've put into getting ready for it...not a lot. The heat will be a consideration too, so message to self, go slow, and concentrate on not messing up the details.. also... leave the dratted phone at home.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Karen writes: Running away

I escaped for an unexpected Saturday run today, no preparation or planning, it was straight after a lunch of supermarket sandwiches in town, but the opportunity was there...so gear on and out the door. I headed off along the coast road, pottering along, one eye on the suspicious looking sky. Bit of a dodgy choice to decide to go light on the clothing after we had had a morning of heavy rain and wind, fortunately it all worked out ok. I felt a bit like I was running away though, dashing out of the house, just because I could.

Running along, running along, thinking about everything except running, and oops, foot off the edge of the tarseal and oh drat, over like a tree and rolling into the ditch.  At least...at least I chose a ditch that wasn't currently full of water, and was more grassy than rocky, but still, why do I persist in doing that sort of stupid thing?  You would think I would have learned by now to concentrate, but no, my running remains my thinking time, sometimes to my detriment. But I got up, quick look to see if anyone noticed, dust off, check for holes in my clothing and me, none, so I kept going.

Some runs you feel like you could go forever after you get over that almost inevitably miserable initial half hour.  I still have to fight to get through that first bit, no matter how long or how far I run, the first few km are just plain hard, then suddenly I realise things are easier and I feel pretty good. Other runs, well the half hour comes and goes and you might feel a fraction better, then another half hour, each step remains a battle and this run was pretty much like that, the whole inadequate 17 km of it.

Anyway, turning over the likely reasons, well, excuses actually, had busy few days, not a lot of sleep, that dodgy and unsuitable lunch, oh forgetting to bring any nutrition for a run longer than an hour in duration might contribute, or it can be that sometimes you simply just don't have a good day.

The trick is to not let your mind tell you that a tough run is the norm.  It's not.  I've learned to go home early if I don't feel good and not to beat myself up over it.  I remind myself that I can go out the next time, enjoy the good runs, they are by far the most common, and accept the occasional not-so-good as part of being a runner. It will of course mean I will be short on long runs for the next marathon, but hey, there is always walking!

And the best ever recovery treat ever... I now keep a container of peeled, chopped banana in the freezer since discovering this and when I come in after a run, throw some bits of banana with a little milk and a scoop of protein powder in the blender, handful of frozen kale if I'm feeling really healthy, and you have instant banana icecream (or smoothie if you use more milk).  Almost worth going for a run for!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Karen writes: Forgotten how to just walk

Its a dangerous mentality when the need to 'train' takes away from just being able to go for a walk for the sake of going for a walk, or you have an automatic reaction that says 'it's only 15 minutes, it's not worth getting dressed in running gear for that'.  And it is so easy to get into that habit so you only want to do  'real' training or nothing.

Last night I went for a walk.  I 'should' have gone to spin (last opportunity until who knows when), or I 'should' have gone for a run (marathon in just over 5 weeks for goodness sake), but I took the dog for a walk.  I had to make myself slow down a bit, get the idea of  'getting it over with' out of my head. The dog loved it, she chased birds up the beach, ignored me when she felt she could get away with it, ate suspicious items out of the tide and we wandered round the coast road till it was getting quite dark, then I remembered I wasn't running and it would take me a bit longer to get home so we turned around.

I walked out onto the wharf at Magazine bay and stood at the end of it, just soaking up the fresh air, making myself breathe deeply, emptying my head.  Wow, what a strange and unfamiliar thing to do, walking sure is different from running, what was that feeling... could it be... relaxation?  You also meet different people. A man came up to me and said "you aren't running today".  Ah, who are you was my thought...I worried that it was someone I knew, they seemed to know me, had I forgotten them somehow, perhaps it was early dementia?  "Aren't you worried about your knees and ankles with all that running?"  Ok, not someone I knew, no-one I really know would dare take that line with me.  "I see your neighbour has sold...I remember your house being built".  Ok, getting a little freaky now, but it turned out if I put an imaginary hat on his head to be a guy who lives a bit further up the road and who I ran past regularly on that stretch of road.  But still, I walked home in a thoughtful frame of mind after that, wondering what and who else I have been sleep-running past in recent times.  The dog, dear little thing she is, took advantage of me not concentrating and I eventually noticed she had chased a bird into the sea and was swimming flat out away from the beach.  Great, a wet, cold, salty dog but even that couldn't take away my new found relaxedness.

So my walk was very nice, and it was good to slow down and do something 'just because' rather than 'because I had to'.  Certainly the dog enjoyed it.  But I'm looking forward to a nice real run tonight, Kate is catching me up according to the GPS thingy...no competition between us of course!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Karen writes: First Sunday winter run

It's been a long time since I got out for a Sunday run, but this morning, the girls were away with their grandparents, and I was a free agent.  And I nearly, nearly rolled over and went back to sleep at 5 am when the first alarm went for early breakfast, oh madness, who wants to get up and go for a run when it's only 3 degrees according to the indoor gauge?  But, breakfast it was, and I was out the door just after 7, enough layers on to feel like a moving washing pile, but oh what a beautiful day.  Yaaaay frost, I could leave the first footprints across the paddock at Te Puru, draw pictures in pristine sparkly surfaces like picnic tables and boardwalks.  Ok, I still haven't figured out how to concentrate on being a serious runner yet, I think I never will.

Not helped by the introduction of music to my runs.  Everyone else seems to do it, Kate does it, I felt like a luddite wandering along taking in the sounds of life, and because it seemed everyone else had their ears full talking was out, so can't win, it's time to join 'em.  Well sort of, I can only cope with one ear having an earphone in at a time, I still can't quite let myself sink into a self contained little world and not know what is going on around me. The tipping point was a friend who claimed not to be ABLE to run without music, apparently returning home for music if it had been forgotten and a run was planned.  So, I've been trying for a few weeks now with varying degrees of success.  Running with music almost works for me if I... have phone charged, remember earphones, the earphones work, and I can figure out the controls without screwing up the GPS. I've also realised that very little of my music is going to promote better running performance, there is some hard out stuff that would kill me if I tried to use it to set a tempo, and plenty of slow wander-along stuff, not a lot between the two extremes it seems.  I'm also finding that I'm listening to the lyrics more closely than I might normally, as a result I've decided that some music is just plain annoying...so pause to delete. I guess while I am trying to join the music movement, I still haven't got the hang of it yet, and as I'm not particularly sold yet I can take or leave the sounds when I run for now.

Today I managed about 25 km, reassuring given that I only have about 5 weeks to my next marathon and training has...as usual in recent times...been a bit patchy.  So 25 km today, if I can fit in 28 sometime next week, then a 30 or two, I might be ready.

The high point today was catching up with an amazing lady from the next door town.  She was heading off, with the support of her husband following along in his car, to run her first 21 km as a celebration of her mum's birthday (mum lives a long way away).  She had lost a huge amount of weight as she had journeyed to become a runner, and she tick ticked along the road at a steady pace, wow.  I asked about what food she was taking for her expected 4 hour effort and as a result her fabulous husband/support crew went up the road for electrolytes and jellybeans.  I ran for a bit with her, went ahead, did a couple of loops off catching up on occasion and finally turned for home and left her for the last time when she had done 15 km out in the countryside somewhere.  She was looking steady and determined, I was so impressed and was a bit of a pest suggesting she should do an event.  It's something like that that reminds you how much you learn over time about making life easier as a distance runner, food, drink, and yes you are allowed to walk up hills and still call yourself a runner. What an amazing couple, made my day, goodness, they made my week.

So I'm feeling pretty on track for the next event, not sure how much use running in the lower than usual temperatures is getting ready for a run in Australia, but as we have learned over the years, take it easy, deal with what you can, the day will take care of itself even if I have to walk.  I'm starting to get a bit excited about it, roll on August!