It’s All About The Base

Surprisingly I’m still going strong with my decision to do something active every day.  Between running, yoga, pilates and keeping up with our girls it hasn’t been too hard.  My husband being keen to join me in some of the pilates and yoga hasn’t hurt either, and we’ve been doing some together and some separately.

The part that is surprising me is that I can already notice the impact of these extra sessions.  My core is getting stronger, my tummy slightly flatter, the niggles in back, shoulders and hips are reducing and my running feels stronger.  It might just be all in my head, but I’ll take it!

My focus at the moment is to try and keep most of my runs nice and easy and build up how many k’s I do each week – which I need to do without getting an overuse injury if I want to hit that 1000km annual goal.  They’re boring, especially on the treadmill, but it’s all going to help.  I needed to get outside earlier this week though, so I headed out after work Tuesday and hit the road.  I was smiling in the first kilometre and refused to look at my garmin for the rest of the run.  I ended up doing my quickest run on that route, and beating my PR on a 700m strava hill segment by 30 seconds – and it felt great!

Orienteering hasn’t been happening as much lately, the locations for Summer Series events hasn’t worked out for us.  We did make it to a Sunday Sprint though – our first one of these which was good fun.  Despite both of us having slightly upset tummies, we made it around without any mistakes and in a reasonable pace.  The results had us both coming last in our age categories!  Hopefully we can make it along to another couple of the Sprint event over the next month or two.

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Exploring Bare Creek

On the last Friday of our holiday leave, Nick and I decided to head out on an exploratory trail run together.  I picked the Bare Creek trails just to our north, as I have been wanting to check them out for a while now and they are close enough to become regular trails if we want them to be.  It was shaping up to be a hot day and after swimming lessons in the morning and then getting our girls to daycare, it was a later start than either of us would have liked.

My expectations of the outing were to be running on nice, wide fire trails and a fair amount of elevation as we ran down into the valley, out the other side and then back again in a vague figure eight loop, covering approximately 13km.

As expected, the start of the trail was steep!  The first kilometre we dropped over 70m and a further 40m in the second.  While the trail was wide and well defined, because of the grade there was a lot of rock to help prevent erosion which meant constant concentration was required for foot placement so as not to roll an ankle.  I hadn’t thought to tape my dodgy ankle for the run, so I took things carefully and while I didn’t go over on it, the constant strain left me with a swollen and sore ankle for the next few days.  Having said that, the first couple of kilometres were fun – I love a good downhill, and it was great being out in the bush together.  The cicadas were loud without being deafening, it was going to be hot!

The creek was pretty, and luckily easy to cross without getting our feet wet which isn’t always the case.  From the creek it was an almost constant uphill trek, again on wide, rocky fire trail – not terribly conducive to running.  We jogged were it leveled out and walked the hills up, reaching the top of the Heath Trail and looking forward to the single trail ahead.  We were a little familiar with this area from previous orienteering events and knew there would be at least a short section of easy, runnable trail.  It was really hot by now, but this was much more pleasant.  In one stretch of about 50m there appeared to be yellow butterflies everywhere, on closer inspection it turned out to be crickets – leaping to shoulder height on our approach, with yellow undersides to their wings, it looked amazing.  With them leaping so high though, I firmly clamped my mouth shut, just in case!

The track narrowed and we had to check the map a couple of times to make sure we were on course as we then wound our way back down into the valley on the sort of trail that makes being out in the bush fun and challenging.  We made one minor wrong turn (couldn’t see a trail that was marked on the map) before we were back down the bottom again and too soon we had to make our way back up again.

We followed a longer, supposedly gentler track out of the valley this time.  The first section though was a 10% grade!  This was followed by some more hills and some gentle runnable sections of trail – which would have been nicer if I wasn’t completely out of puff from the previous hills and the heat certainly wasn’t helping.  This is were it definitely turned into a “bushwalk” as opposed to a “trail run”.  I did still jog some sections, but decided we were better off walking and enjoying it a bit more.  The final kilometre was uphill/flats along road and approaching midday in the full heat of the sun.  But we did it, with our hydration packs drained of water and looking forward to a dip in the pool once we got home.

I’m glad we checked out the trails, but I doubt we will be making it a regular route.  While it was nice being on open trail, the rockiness and grades made it a lot less enjoyable.  We miss our old trails which still had some hills, but for the most part were gentle, smooth, rolling trail along the valley, not just the hills in and out.  There’s still more to explore though, and hopefully that will open up some more options for us.  I became very frustrated with myself on this outing – I feel like I should be able to run most of these types of trails.  I’m happy to walk the steeper hills, but even towards the end of the run, I should still have the energy left to pick up the pace again and not be so exhausted by the end of it all.  The heat didn’t help, but I can’t blame it all on that.  I’ve been trying to make sure I add hills to my regular road runs, but I miss the trails and obviously need to hit them more often to get “trail fit” again.  Maybe I’ll get back to these trails again for some shorter outings and focus on “running” the hills…  We’ll see.

The numbers

  • Distance: 13km
  • Elevation: 342m
  • Time: 2hr 23m

First Week of the Year

Well, at least after a complete slow down of any activity at the end of December, I’m off to a decent start for the year.  I’ve hit my distance goals and my “stay active” goal, with the week looking like this:

  • Monday: 6km road run followed by 20 minutes of running around a bike track at an oval.  Our girls got bikes for Christmas and the local oval has an 800m paved path around it with a small hill.  The 4yr old flies around with training wheels on and gets us running intervals at up to 5:30/km pace.  Our 5yr old has had the training wheels taken off already and so we hold onto the bike as she gets comfortable with her balance and she can also push the pace a bit.  We will be in trouble once they really get the hang of it!
  • Tuesday: 2 x 30min sessions in the pool with our girls.  Not massively active, but definitely constantly on the move.
  • Wednesday: 6.5km treadmill run – steady pace with some quicker strides thrown in throughout for a bit of variety while listening to podcasts.
  • Thursday: 30 min in the pool with girls in the morning and tried out a post-run yoga stretch video.
  • Friday: Trail run with Nick. Turned into a walk as it was so hot and humid and the trails were steep.
  • Saturday: 2km chasing the girls on their bikes again – my oldest now only needing help to get started and riding on her own! 30mins in the pool and 2 x kids yoga videos.
  • Sunday: 1hr at the beach playing in the surf with the girls. 1 x kids yoga video, 1 x beginner pilates video, 30 mins in the pool with girls.
  • Monday: Nearly missed this one, but spent 10 mins stretching before bed.
  • Tuesday: 5km treadmill run followed by 10 min yoga for runners.

So far so good.  Nearly stuffed it up at the start of the second week as I’m back at work now, but I made sure something happened.  No excuses – yet!

November Stats and Goal Achieved!

November felt good.  I finally felt like I was running regularly again and we snuck a rogaine in at the end of the month.

  • Distance: 67.7km
  • Runs: 9 (was that all?!)
  • Elevation: 976m (strava gave me 1450m, I like that better)

Best of all, my second run for December has kicked me over the 600km for the year – distance goal for the year achieved!  Since I didn’t make 500km last year, I am really happy to have made this years higher goal with time to spare.  Now I have a few more weeks to decide how optimistic to be for next years goal…

October Wrap Up

It’s been a while since I’ve done a wrap up for the month, but it’s also a few months since I’ve run regularly.  This month was about trying to get back to regular runs and re-finding my feet with the help of the summer orienteering calendar.

  • Distance: 63.8km
  • Elevation: 974m

Not too bad, although 30km of that was from the rogaine, technically not a run, but it still qualifies for me as it’s a planned activity and I do run most rogaines.  Strava gives me a ton more elevation for the month too.  Still, I’m pretty happy with it for a restart.

In October I also kicked over 500km total for the year – the goal that I didn’t reach last year, so still on track to hit 600km for this year.  I also made it past the 1000km mark on RunDownUnder – woohoo!  Although I won’t make it to Brisbane (a bit over 1200km) before the end of the year, I should reach it early in 2018.

At this point I’m not even sure what the rest of my goals for this year were, so I’ll review them in January and get a surprise in seeing what I did and didn’t achieve.

 

Reminder to Self

Don’t eat rendang beef for lunch when you want to do a moderate-hard run on the treadmill as soon as you get home from work.  It hurt (not my legs), it wasn’t pretty and I didn’t get to finish my planned interval/fartlek hit.  It was a struggle to even just walk the last bit out to reach 30min / 4km…

Pace 😦

So – no more rendang on running days!  Pity, it’s so yummy.

 

The Final Long Run

Ooops!  This post has been just sitting here, forgotten about.  Bit late, I did this run last weekend of August and little did I know that the next day I would start coming down with the flu – might explain how rotten I felt.

Saturday saw the longest long run in the build up to the Blackmores Half Marathon in three weeks time. I’m following the Nike beginner half marathon training plan (same as I did for my 16km trail event) and the longest run is 17.5km. I decided to aim for 18km but would be happy as long as I reached at least the 17.5km mark.

Keep in mind that I’ve done very little training the last few months. In fact, I’ve done a total of 8 “training” runs, with 5 of those in the last two weeks and the others were in June. I’ve had 3 orienteering events in between, but they are all much slower paced so while they help out with giving me time on my feet (2hrs, 1hr and 6hrs), it hasn’t done anything for my pace. My goal was to hit about 8min/km pace and get it done in 2hr 30min. My other aim was to keep it slow and not speed up in the final few kilometres as i tend to usually do. I knew I could do the distance, but I also knew it would hurt having missed pretty much all my other long training runs.

Saturday morning didn’t start out well. I was tired and my headspace wasn’t really good. But I knew I had to do this if I had any hope of doing the half marathon and not ending up walking it in. First I had trouble sorting out my hydration – I was planning to test Tailwind in my hydration pack and managed to drop the packet in twice, causing it to glug up and not pour out. Finally started and my water was sloshing around like crazy, I’d forgotten to squeeze out the air… Finally got going just before 8am.

The route I’d planned was roughly based on a 10km road loop with several big hills in it. I added a 3km out and back on right at the start, another 3km loop around 5km in and tacked another approx. 2km loop on straight after that, leaving the last 7km or so as straight run home and the final 5km on very familiar territory to help me get there.

That first 3km out and back was so damn hard. My head was fuzzy, it was cold and I was out of sorts. The running was comfortable though and I had picked the hills I was giving myself permission to walk up in advance – one at only the 2km mark! I bumped into a man walking two little sausage dogs at this point, and he urged their little legs into a run to race me up the hill, then urged me on when I started walking. Then I had 2km of easy flat/downhill effort. A steep hill at 5km and straight into the next 3km “extra” loop. This was quite hilly, but took me through some pretty suburban streets. Spring is hitting with full force and the air was thick with the scent of jasmine and freesias and even a hedge of lillies in full bloom.

I barely paused at street crossings, even the ones I had to wait for lights to change, which was a big difference to my usual runs. OVerall I only had 1 minute of “non-moving” time according to Garmin and Strave, where it would usually hit 5 minutes plus for this route. It was around here I hit the half way mark – yes! I was already slogging it out though and my pace was over the 8min/km pace I had hoped to stay under. Nothing to be done about it though, so I just kept on plodding and envied the light-footed and faster runners that crossed my path.

Each of my “big” hills I aimed for a street sign or road crossing about half way up and made a deal with myself to run to it before I started walking. 14km in and I was on the home stretch. Still one more decent hill to go. My legs were approaching jelly-like status, my knees were complaining but my ankle was strong and my cardio fitness was up tot eh challenge. On I plodded. One final hill and then 2.5km of flat and very gentle downhill to get home. It was so tempting to pick up my pace a little, but my legs didn’t really want to and it wasn’t part of the plan – save that for race day!

1km left and unless I picked it up I Wasn’t going to make it under 2:30, but my aim today was to NOT go faster at the end, so I stayed at my plodding pace, desperate to just finish by now. The final 200m was uphill (I really hate my street sometimes!) and I did it! My 18km long run was done in a couple of seconds over 2:31 total time. My average pace was damn slow, but I don’t care, I did it and I know now that I will make the half marathon.

The numbers:

  • Distance: 18km
  • Time: 2:31:04
  • Elevation: 279m

The test run of the Tailwind for hydration/nutrition worked brilliantly with no tummy upsets and just feeling a little need for something non-salty to drink. This will be easily solved on the day of the event by having Tailwind in my hydration pack and just drinking the water at a couple of the water stands around the course. My ankle strapping worked perfectly and a little tape on the other foot prevented any blisters. My knee still needs some strengthening, but that’s a work in progress.

Two days later, my quads still ache, but everything else has settled down. Now just to keep working on my pace and make sure I do all the training sessions scheduled over the next few weeks. Do I dare utter my goals? They’ve changed a little from the start of the training period when I had hoped to get through all 16 weeks of it! Now, my overall goal is to finish, still running, within the cutoff time of 2:45. My “can I do it?” goal, which I will be amazed if I manage, is to finish in 2:30. Let’s see what happens in three weeks time.

Training?

There’s now less than four weeks to go until my first half marathon. Crazy stuff given my complete lack of training, or really any running, to date. Last week though, it was time to kick things back into gear, strap up the ankle and see if I could run.

My first two attempts were shorter interval style sessions I did on the treadmill, so that I could stop if my ankle or knee were giving me too much pain. I taped up the ankle both times and each session was around the 4km mark. My knee ached badly by the end of each session, although my ankle held up well. My fitness was surprisingly good and while the intervals were relatively tough, I managed them pretty comfortably. I was also really happy my cadence in each run was mostly in “green” zone for each.

This week

A couple of weeks ago

I didn’t do the planned long run on the weekend – many reasons, but mostly just too tired. So Monday was my next session and I pushed straight into the next weeks program with a “faster” 10km run. This was going to be a real challenge as I had no idea if I could do the distance and how my body would hold up. It had been close to two months since I had last “run” this distance rather than completing it as an orienteering shuffle. I stuck to the treadmill option for this run as well, taped up the ankle a little more securely and started up.

After a little over 1km, I had to stop and adjust the taping on my ankle as it was uncomfortably digging in on the side of my foot. Surprisingly this was easily done and didn’t bother me again. I took a 10 second or so break every couple of kilometres to have some water, but otherwise was going along pretty comfortably. I had some music going and covered up the distance tracker on the treadmill so that I wouldn’t watch it constantly, and just ran. As the pace increased, my stomach started giving me issues – this wasn’t good. Kilometre seven was very uncomfortable and I was incredibly glad to be running at home and as I finished the kilometre made the dash for the toilet.

Stomach issues resolved, I picked up the pace again for the final three kilometres and finished with tired legs but feeling great. Amazingly, my knee had given me no issues at all for the entire run.

Splits – happy with my last few kms!

The next day I had booked in to see the physio to make sure everything was ok with me ankle and knee – just to be sure. It was all healing ok, but with the half marathon coming up I couldn’t really give it the rest that it probably needed. Happily he gave me the all clear – ligaments on the ankle are still a bit stretched but should be ok with taping properly. The knee is running a bit off due to strain caused by the ankle, but there’s no ligament or other damage directly to it. I need to do some single leg squats to strengthen up the right muscles and that should help it out too.

There’s hope yet that I can make this half marathon. It’s less than ideal preparation for it, but pending how I go on my long run this weekend it’s looking ok. Since it’s the only road half marathon I plan on ever doing (pretty sure I Will stick to trails after this!), I wouldn’t mind giving it a decent shot.

Mid Week Runs

I think I’m starting to like the idea of getting a run in while working from home.  This time I braved the cold and headed out after the kids left for daycare and before settling in for the days work.  It was still damn cold, so I trialed a long sleeve top I had bought during the recent 2XU flash sale.  Bargain – $100 top for $40!  The fabric felt quite heavy, so I wasn’t sure what it would be like for running in but figured it was a good time to try it as I wouldn’t be too far from home.  Plus, if it worked, it would come in handy for the weekend run up in the Blue Mountains.

The top was magic!  Even before I started running I didn’t feel cold.  The long sleeves with thumb holes, I could pull right down over my hands and kept them toasty warm too.  I kept it on for the first 4km before heating up too much, then a double knot around my waist and I barely even noticed it for the rest of the run.

A 10km run was on the schedule, easy pace but I didn’t feel like doing the flattish runs from last time around, so I plotted out a hilly route to see how much more elevation I could add after my last hilly run.  It started out easy – 2kms of flat and downhill.  Third kilometre kicked things up a notch being pretty continuously uphill, starting with 300m at average 9% grade.  After that there was a bit of up and down and it took me through some pretty suburban streets in perfect weather.  People nodded hello, there were autumn leaves still in the gutters to crunch through, a garden of beautiful smelling lavender and minimal traffic.

A wrong turn had me facing a very steep hill I wasn’t’ prepared for which had me walking once I hit the top (I was determined to run up the damn thing, but my heart rate was telling me to slow down by the end of it).  Then, a slight reprieve before the final long, steep hill and then two blissful, easy, flat kilometres home.

It felt like a much hillier run than the previous week, so I was pretty disappointed to see that it was only about 15m more of elevation in it than the 6.5km run the previous week.  I probably pushed too hard again based on heart rate, and my pace was slower than my goal, but it was a good run.  I felt strong, the daily calf raises are definitely helping and my fitness hasn’t dropped off too much with the reduction in weekly runs.  The time was pretty good too – only a couple of months ago this would have been my time for 10km with barely half the elevation.

Numbers

  • Distance: 10km
  • Elevation: 152m
  • Time: 1:16:11

Now we’re half way through the year, I’ll have to do a post soon to see how I’m going on my goals for the year.  But first – the annual Turkey Trot.  Approximately 12km up in the Blue Mountains waiting for us.

Finding the Hills

The first couple of weeks of the training plan have me back at shorter distances for a little while.  Which is a good thing, since it feels like I’ve barely run at all for a month or so.  I’m still struggling with the colder weather and fitting in my runs.  My plan on how to manage it was good, but the reality of living in a cold house is making it a bit harder.  It’s tough to talk myself out into the cold for a run when I’m inside and cold to the bone already and know that after the run there’s no nice, warm house to return to.

Last week I managed a couple of runs – one on the treadmill, a quick intense interval session.  Mid-week I worked from home and headed out for a local 45 min run.  I’m lucky to have this option and with the commute time removed I can fit in a run in my lunch break and still get my hours in.

The lunch time run was my first outdoor run since the NOSH and my first steady run in ages.  The plan was for 6.5km at “recovery” pace which has sped up to 7:10/km.  I plotted a route on google maps around my suburb taking in as many hills as I could without doubling up anywhere.  Perfect planning had me finishing at the local shops (to pick up lunch) on target for distance and with close to 140m elevation squeezed in.  Some of those hills were hard, but my goal was to keep moving, don’t stop, don’t walk and don’t push harder on the flats and downhills to “make up” time.  I ended up averaging a 7:30/km pace, but with that much elevation in it I’m not going to lose any sleep over it!

Unfortunately, since then I haven’t run.  The weekend was perfect weather, but Saturday morning was freezing cold (for me!) and then the day got away from us.  Sunday was spent in recovery mode after a big night out – first hangover in absolutely years – ouch!  I “should” have been back on the treadmill last night, but home life with kids got in the way.  I’ll probably head out for a run again tomorrow when I work from home – a full week since my last run and with an event this weekend that we’re completely under prepared for.