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Our awesome ambassador Kel has written the following article. I love it! It hits the nail right on the head. Remember if you need help or advice just ask we have an amazing network of people we can send you to for help 🙂
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Is my training plan right for me?
With nine weeks to go before the Australian Running Festival commences in Canberra we find most recreational runners are starting to get into the real meat of their training plans. These training plans are often free and sourced from the internet. They tend to be generic in nature and vary in duration from 12 – 16 weeks. These plans often relate to specific events such as the Canberra Marathon or City2Surf. They are often referred to in the industry as ‘spreadsheet’ training plans. On the other hand some runners will seek out a running coach for a specific plan for their event with additional guidance and support throughout their training. Which one are you?
I recently read an article from Runners Connect about the most common mistakes with training plans and it really resonated with me and my running journey. When I first started endurance running I searched the internet and found a number of free ‘spreadsheet’ training plans that I attempted to follow. They were easy to understand but weren’t very flexible when I had niggling injuries that prevented me for training that day or I was sick. I am also sure that they all had the majority of the following mistakes built into them.
Later on I sought out a run coach and have been following him blindly ever since, not truly understanding the purpose of my workouts, tweaking the pace and distance during workouts. I have made inroads into my fitness and also achieved PRs in nearly all my distances with the exception of the marathon. Running a good marathon still eludes me and I would say it has a lot to do with the faults mentioned below.
We are drawing closer to the start of the run season and most runners have had a few weeks of building into their plans. Now the real work begins for them. But when was the last time you really looked at your training plan? A real in-depth assessment of everything included in the plan including your workouts, the volume, and the paces. Do you understand the why? Why the author has you running that 8x 800m interval session? Why your tempo run is set at that pace? Why are you running those hill repetitions?
Understandably most recreational runners don’t need to know the intricate details and science behind their plan. After all they are not likely to be chasing a win but more likely doing this for fitness and fun or other personal reasons. There is no reason why you can’t make a ton of progress by just following along with the plan and not really understanding it. But you would like to hope that whoever wrote it surely understands.
Most ‘spreadsheet’ training plans will cover the necessary training principles of Overload; Progression, Reversibility and Specificity, but unfortunately they tend to suffer from a lot of the same mistakes. These mistakes are mainly tied to 1980’s physiology and a misunderstanding of the physiological demands of the race distance for runners like you. They are also very generic and don’t take into account your physical and training ages, training history, motivations and desired outcomes.
This blog focusses on four of the most common mistakes often found in spreadsheet training plans. As you read this, have a copy of your training plan open and see if you can spot any of these mistakes in your workouts.
FLAW 1: NO RACE SPECIFIC WORKOUTS
There are four principles of training and they are Overload, Reversibility, Progression and Specificity. The principle of specificity means that each training load produces its own specific response and adaptations dependant on the physiological stress encountered by the body. A training load must therefore be specific to the fitness objectives of each individual runner and their goal race.
As the name implies, race specific workouts means tailoring your workouts to the specific physiological demands of your race distance. Now, this might seem obvious – isn’t every workout in your training plan training you for the demands of the race, especially those plans written for the specific race like the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival marathon training plan for the Sydney Marathon? Well, not really. The difference between the physiological demands of commonly run race distances can be quite different. Certainly, there is some overlap between distances in close proximity, like the 5k and 10k, but there is a large difference between the specific demands of the marathon and half marathon.
It’s important to remember that when you’re in a race-specific phase of training (usually 4-6 weeks in duration and about 6 weeks prior to your event), your performances at distances outside your goal race range will suffer e.g. if your goal race is the marathon your 5k or 10k performances will drop. Most runners forget this important lesson when they schedule tune-up races like 5ks and 10ks when training for the marathon or when trying to cap off a summer of 5k racing with a half marathon. The most obvious difference is the paces these events are run at, but also the different cardiovascular systems (aerobic or anaerobic) used.
There is a balance in training that gets ignored in the four to six week race-specific phase of training. You’re sacrificing overall running fitness for better results at one specific race distance. If you’re targeting the 5k, you’ll be gaining speed endurance, but losing fitness to your aerobic system and lactate threshold. Conversely, when training for the marathon, you’ll rarely be running faster than half marathon pace and you’ll be constantly tired, which means you’ll lose the speed and VO2max required to run a good 5k.
Targeting your training to one specific goal is crucial if you want to run your best on race day, but it’s also important to remember how the training will impact your overall running as well.
Let’s take the marathon for example.
The marathon requires you to (1) be very efficient at burning fat as a fuel source to; (2) conserve carbohydrates while running fast; (3) while doing so on very tired legs.
Now, let’s take a couple of workouts from popular marathon training programs = 6x 800m and 6x hill repeats. These workouts are what we call a VO2 max workout – you run at max speed for 2-4 minutes and then take an equal amount of rest in between intervals. Research demonstrates that an increase in VO2 max doesn’t increase fuel efficiency. Likewise, VO2 max intervals don’t specifically develop or improve your aerobic threshold (ability to run at marathon pace).
Therefore, a workout like 6x 800 or 6x hill repeats during marathon training has limited benefit to your specific fitness. Now, it’s okay to have a workout like this sprinkled into your plan two or three times over a 16 week training cycle to break the monotony and spice up the legs. It is also not a bad idea to help build your speed, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you are only training a couple of days each week. The majority of you training week really needs to be specific to your race. Remember the purpose of this type of training is to help build your speed only and not increase your aerobic threshold.
How do you fix this?
Luckily, this fix is pretty simple – just swap out those workouts that aren’t specific to the demands of your race distance for those that are. Specific marathon workouts get a little tricky because it’s impossible to simulate the distance and intensity of the marathon in one run without actually running a marathon. The marathon requires you to be efficient at burning fat as a fuel source to conserve carbohydrates while running on very tired legs. Therefore marathon specific workouts are often a combination of workouts throughout a week that build up fatigue and require you to run with low glycogen levels as opposed to one specific workout. If you are not sure what to replace this with speak to a running coach who will be happy to help you.
A better training session would be something like the 2x 6 mile, which was made famous by runners at the Hansons Running Shop Olympic Development Project. It involved a 1 mile (1.6 km) warm up followed by 2x 6 (10 km) miles @ 10-20 seconds faster than marathon pace with 10 minutes rest in between each set and is finished off with a 1 mile (1.6 km) cool down.
The purpose of this workout is to run at your threshold pace for a total of 12 miles (19 km), which will help you (1) increase your ability to burn fat as a fuel source when running at marathon pace; (2) practice running on tired legs; and (3) simulate the ‘dead leg’ feeling many marathoners experience after 18 miles (29 km). Likewise the goal of the 10 minute rest is to get your legs stiff, stagnant and uncomfortable to simulate how your legs will feel during the later stage of the marathon.
For most runners, not performing race specific workouts is the reason they feel like they are getting fitter and faster in training, yet fail to run their goal time on race day. Their training is getting them fitter, just not for their specific race. I have personally experienced this over the past few years that I have been undertaking endurance training and this is through no fault of my current running coach but mine as I have made all these fatal training plan mistakes.
FLAW 2: NOT ENOUGH EASY MILES
One of the most common problems that runners face when training is running the easy runs at the incorrect pace. I often hear comments like ‘how am I supposed to run fast on race day if I am running easy all the time?’ I am even guilty of saying this.
That’s because for most runners, about 80% of your training plan should be easy kilometres. But we tend to run closer to the moderate or hard for the majority of our training. This has a lot to do with runners ego.
These easy runs help target your aerobic system and aerobic development is the one true secret to training. It’s the key to unlocking your potential.
At the heart of aerobic and anaerobic training is the following science; to exercise, your body needs to break down sugar and convert it to glycogen, so it can be used as energy or fuel – like when you run easy miles with your friends and you can easily hold a conversation without feeling out of breath. Each time you breathe in, your body efficiently uses all the oxygen it needs to power the muscles, and you exhale out what your body does not need.
When the body has an adequate supply of oxygen for this process, we call it aerobic respiration. Aerobic exercise (also known as cardio) is physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process. Aerobic literally means “relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen”, and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism. Generally, light-to-moderate intensity activities that are sufficiently supported by aerobic metabolism can be performed for extended periods of time.
When there is not enough oxygen, for example when you are running hard at the end of a 5k, this is called anaerobic respiration. Anaerobic exercise is short-lasting, high-intensity activity, where your body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the oxygen supply available. Anaerobic exercise relies on energy sources that are stored in the muscles and, unlike aerobic exercise, is not dependent on oxygen from (breathing) the air.
Each of these have difference effects on the body.
Sure, track workouts, VO2 Max sessions and tempo runs will increase your fitness and are still important to racing faster. However, nothing will consistently help you improve like developing the aerobic system.
Why is this?
In short, during any event longer than 5k, the aerobic system contributes more than 84% of the energy required to run the race. In the marathon, that number is 99%. That means to run your best at longer distances from 5k to the marathon (or longer) you need to fully develop your aerobic system.
So how do you develop the aerobic system? With slow, easy runs. And that’s why your plan should have lots of them!
Now take a look at your plan – are you doing the majority of your mileage at your easy pace? If not, here’s what you can do …
How do you fix this?
The fix here isn’t quite as easy as swapping our race specific workouts. My recommendation is to remove the intense workouts from your week until your ratio is 70 – 80% easy kilometres to 20 – 30% hard kilometres. That is of course unless your coach has you running a specific program, so it might be worthwhile checking with them as to why they have you running a higher ratio.
Add up your weekly mileage. Then add up the amount of mileage that is easy pace. Divide your total easy mileage by your total overall mileage. This number is the percentage you’re running easy.
I know removing hard and fast workouts seems to be a recipe for racing slower, but science proves otherwise. Recent research from Dr Stephen Seiler et al from the University of Agdar, Norway, backs up this methodology, finding that high volume; low intensity training stimulates greater training effects for recreational runners, in particular when using the 80/20 split of easy/hard training.
A conclusion backed up by the 2014 Salzburg study published in the Frontiers of Physiology; found that the concept of ‘polarized’ training demonstrated the greatest improvements. After a nine week training period, runners using the 80/20 easy/hard split had improved their ‘time to exhaustion’ by a whopping 17.4% and change in peak speed by 5.1%.
If you’d rather not remove workouts from your plan, another option is to add more easy mileage. Now, you might be scoffing at me, thinking if you add more kilometres you’ll likely end up injured. However, it is a common misconception among runners that increased mileage has a direct correlation to increase in injuries. This simply isn’t true. Mileage alone doesn’t cause injuries. Intensity, mechanics, strength and unintelligent training are far more likely to cause an injury than running easy mileage. Increase the mileage the smart way and you’ll be totally fine.
FLAW 3: NO ANCILLARY WORK (STRENGTH OR CROSS TRAINING) INTEGRATED INTO YOUR PLAN
A training plan is more than just the miles you run and the workouts you perform. It should include everything you need to make you a better runner. Ancillary work, like strength training and cross training, can help keep you healthy and make you a better runner – but not if they are just thrown on top of your running plan without regard for intensity, the phase of your training plan, and your specific weaknesses. For example, the mistake many runners make is performing their strength workouts on their easy, recovery or off days. The thinking behind this makes sense – you’re the most tired after hard workouts, so why push yourself even more by adding strength work on these days? But, we’re forgetting about the recovery aspect and the training plan as a whole.
If you were to perform harder strength workouts, especially anything that involves the lower body, on your easy running day the added stress and shortened total recovery time between workouts would detract from your body’s recovery ability. That’s why a good strength training plan needs to be tightly integrated into your running plan. Otherwise, you might be doing more harm than good.
Some good exercises that suit running and don’t cost a lot of money or require specific equipment from a gym are as follows:
- Planks – Prop yourself up on your elbows with your feet slightly apart. Make sure your body is aligned, your abdominal muscles are tight, and shoulders are directly above the elbows and down and back, not hunched up. Hold this position for 45 seconds to one minute. Gradually add time as your core gets stronger.
- Variations include – side planks to target the obliques; single leg planks; spider planks; mountain climber planks; and supine planks
- Repetitions – 3 to 5
- Muscles worked – core, lower back and shoulders
- Russian Twist – Lie on your back with your upper legs perpendicular to the floor and your knees bent 90-degrees. Without changing the bend in your hips or knees, lower your legs to the left side of your body while keeping your shoulders in contact with the floor. Lift them back to the starting position, and repeat to the right side of your body. That’s one repetition.
- Modification – to make harder, keep your legs straight
- Repetitions – 10 to 12
- Muscles worked – core
- Scorpion – Get into push up position but with your feet on a bench. Raise your right knee toward your left shoulder as you rotate your hips up and to the left as far as you can. Then reverse directions, rotating your hips up and to the right, and try to touch your right foot to the back of your left shoulder (you won’t be able to do it). That’s one repetition. Continue for 30 seconds with your right leg, then switch legs.
- Modifications – to make it easier, do step one of the exercise, twisting in just one direction. To make it harder, instead of putting your feet on a bench, do the exercise with your shins on a stability ball.
- Repetitions – As many as you can in 30 seconds
- Muscles worked – Shoulders, Core
- Back Extensions – Lie facedown on a stability ball with your feet spread wide for balance. Your elbows should be bent with your hands lightly touching the ground for initial support.
- Squeeze your glutes and lift your torso up until your body forms a straight line. As you lift your torso, allow your hands to come off the ground, keeping your elbows bent. Extend your arms overhead. Hold for one or two seconds. Release your arms and then your torso back down to the start position. That’s one rep. Aim for 10-12. No stability ball? You can do the movement on an exercise mat: Raise your thighs and arms off the ground while your torso stays in contact with the ground.
- Modifications – to make it harder, hold light dumbbells or some books if you don’t have access to dumbbells
- Repetitions – 10 to 12
- Muscles worked – lower back, glutes, middle back, shoulders
- Squat to Overhead Press – Hold the kettlebell (or some other form of weight if you don’t have a kettlebell) with both hands in front of your chest. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Push your hips back, and lower your body into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Press the kettlebell above your head, and as you stand back up, return the kettlebell to the original position.
- Modifications – Do the squat without the overhead raise by just keeping the kettlebell in the centre chest position for the duration of the exercise.
- Repetitions – 10 to 12
- Muscles worked – Glutes, quads, hamstrings, lower back, upper back, shoulders
- Overhead Forward Lunge – Hold a pair of dumbbells (or some other form of weight if you don’t have a dumbbells) straight above your shoulders, with your arms straight and elbows locked. Step forward with your left leg, and lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees. Return to the starting position, and repeat with your right leg. That’s one repetition.
- Modifications – to make it easier, hold dumbbells at shoulder level
- Repetitions – 6 to 8 (each leg)
- Muscles worked – Quads, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, core
- Stability Ball Jack-knife – Get into push up position but instead of placing your feet on the floor, rest your shins on a stability ball. Pull the stability ball toward your chest by raising your hips and rounding your back as you roll the ball forward with your feet. (if you don’t have access to a stability ball you can use any other sports ball such as a basketball or volleyball)
- Modification – To make it easier, pull your knees as close as you can to your chest without lifting your hips into the air, and return to the starting position.
- Repetitions – 10 to 12
- Muscles worked – Shoulders, core
- Stability Ball Leg Curl – Lie on your back on the floor, and place your calves on a stability ball. Extend your arms to your sides to help support and balance your body. Push your hips up so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Without allowing your hips to sag (keep with your body at all times), roll the ball as close as you can to your hips by bending your knees and pulling your heels toward you. (if you don’t have access to a stability ball you can use any other sports ball such as a basketball or volleyball)
- Modifications – To make it easier, only do steps one and two, and skip the leg curl. To make it harder, do the exercise with just one leg, holding the other leg in the air above your hips.
- Repetitions – 6 to 8
- Muscles worked – hamstrings, glutes, core
- Rotational Shoulder Press – Stand holding a pair of dumbbells just outside your shoulders, your palms facing each other. Press the dumbbells overhead as you rotate to your left. Lower the dumbbells as you rotate back to the centre, then rotate to the right as you press the weights upward again. That’s one repetition.
- Modification – to make it easier, do half of the repetitions without the rotations.
- Repetitions – 6 to 8
- Muscles worked – shoulders, triceps, core
- Alternating Row – Hold a pair of dumbbells (or any other weight available) at arm’s length in front of you, palms facing your thighs. Keeping your back naturally arched, bend at the hips and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Keep your arms straight as you bend your hips so that the dumbbells hang straight down. Pull the dumbbell in your left hand by bending your elbow and raising your upper arm toward the middle of your back. Lower and repeat with your right arm. That’s one repetition.
- Modification – To make it easier, perform the move with both hands at once (using both hands requires less core stability).
- Repetitions – 10 to 12
- Muscles worked – middle back, biceps, core
- Calf exercises
- Skipping – Jumping rope builds muscle while providing a cardiovascular workout. According to Muscle and Fitness magazine, the main muscle you work in a jump rope routine is your calf, but the exercise conditions most major muscle groups. Start by jumping rope with both feet for one minute. Work your way up to three minutes. Mix up your jump rope workout by trying crossovers and double passes.
- Bounding on single leg – Stand on your right leg. Jump up, driving your left knee up. Use your arms to help propel you forward. Continue to jump forward, aiming to spend a very short time on the ground. Jump until you can’t maintain speed or distance, or no longer than 20 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
- Next level: Try the triple tuck jump: Do three single-leg bounds on one leg, then jump to bring that knee to your chest. Land softly, and immediately perform another series of three bounds on the same leg. Repeat on the other leg.
- Straight leg running –
- Step 1: Find a flat stretch of road, trail or grass with trustworthy footing.
- Step 2:Keeping your legs straight and your ankles dorsiflexed (toes pointing upward), run forward for 50 to 75 meters, landing on your mid-foot while not allowing your feet to come too high off the ground. Keep your torso straight, swing your arms to build speed and momentum, and focus on running with a quick turnover.
- Step 3:Following your first repetition, recover for 30 seconds before heading back in the opposite direction. Perform two 50-meter reps, progressing to four as you build coordination.
Do these drills twice a week after easy runs and as part of a comprehensive warm-up routine before workouts and races.
- Calf presses – Find a step 4 inches off the ground. Stand with the back half of your foot hanging off the step. Lower your heels 2 inches. Press up so that you are standing on the balls of your feet. Repeat 15 to 20 times to complete one set. Do two sets to complete the exercise. Personal trainer James “Flex” Lewis recommends pointing toes in to isolate the inner calf and pointing toes out to isolate the outer calf.
- Lateral jumps – Lower slightly into a squat position and quickly jump to your left side, aiming to cover as much distance as possible. Land softly on your left foot and immediately jump to the right side. Continue until you cannot maintain speed or distance, or no longer than 20 seconds.
- Power Mountain Climbers – Assume a push up position. Bracing your core, keep your upper body rigid while you alternate driving each knee forward as quickly as possible. Focus on keeping your core stable throughout the movement. Stop when speed decreases, or no longer than 20 seconds.
How do you fix this?
If you’re currently working from a plan that does not specifically assign you ancillary work in addition to running kilometres, my recommendation is to add to your training in the following way…
- Your hardest, most running specific strength routines (like leg workouts) after your hardest workouts
- Your medium effort routines (like basic core or hip routines) on your regular running days
- Any preventative routines on your off or recovery days
I know that’s still even a little general, but it’s difficult to get specific without knowing your experience level or what distance you’re training for. If you do want something more specific and created for you, I would suggest speaking with a Personal Trainer at your local gym. If you have a running coach make sure the Personal Trainer liaises with your coach to ensure the strength training program supports your running plan. That way you get an exact routine prescribed to you based on your race distance and experience level added to your plan on the correct days.
I hope this was a great guide to help you better understand the current plan you’re using and to help tweak it to better suit some of the other challenges I know a lot of runners face when it comes to their training plan and race day. It has helped me to refocus on my own training plan and the weaknesses in my own training.
If you are interested in getting something customized to you and your running goals, we do have training plans available, with coaching at an affordable cost. Whether you are a Master’s runner tired of working with ‘spreadsheet’ training plans that don’t take into account you’re not 25 years old anymore or a beginner who is trying to run their first marathon and don’t know where to start, we can help you out with your own unique plan. Just send me a personal message through Instagram or Facebook @Austgrizz_Running
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2017 was a year of amazing learning and realisations for me and the beginning of friendships that I know will last forever with some amazing people that are now considered family.
In 2017 I learnt that my legs, body and mind can run again. My own two feet can recover and run the distances that they were before anklegate and I now feel stronger than before. I learnt that I can train smarter and it’s ok to seek guidance, advice and help in your training.
In 2017 my one goal with my running was to simply enjoy it, stay injury free and get back to the distances I was doing before I destroyed my ankle and had the reconstruction at the end of 2016. At the start of 2017 I set a goal to run 1000km in the year… By the end of 2017 Mr Garmin tells me that I ran a total of 1,264.12km. I find that figure crazy, to just sit there and look at it knowing that my feet did every single one of those kilometres, some were easier than others, some were faster than others, but each on my two feet did, especially when I have only just started to inwardly call myself a runner!
I reflect on last year fondly knowing that I worked hard and feel so very lucky to have as part of that journey some amazing people in my life that are just as crazy as I am and that I can never see not being a part of it. There was real blood, sweat and tears involved in 2017.
There were more than a few times in 2017 that I was asked “what are you training for?” I always find this question strange…. In so many areas of my life I have set goals, I plan for them and make them happen. Running for me has never been about that. For me it is an escape, a de-stress, a timeout from the real world and my me time. I do it for me and only for me. I am not the fastest runner out there and I am very fond of my turbo turtle pace. My only goal with every run I have ever done is to finish and enjoy it (sometimes the enjoyment part doesn’t happen during the run, it is purely the fact that it finishes that causes the joy).
That is why this question puzzles me. I know the asker is expecting me to say a particular event or distance, but that isn’t my reason. My go to response now is “I am training for me”. In 2018 I plan to stop saying – scratch that – I will stop stating this as if it is an apology.
As my training approached the end of 2017 my coach (the poor guy, I think I drive Chris from Go Run Australia nuts!) wanted to know as always, if my goals had changed since the last training block. I normally state nope, goals still the same, enjoy it, improve and stay injury free. At the end of last year, I added another to the list. In 2018 I want to see how far I can run. Yes, I know this is open to interpretations and manipulations, but I want to see in one go how far I can safely and enjoyably run. I know it’s crazy and to be honest it scares the crap out of me, but it also excites the hell out of me, and isn’t that what all your goals should do???
I am excitrified (a mix of excited and terrified) about this goal. I do know that with Chris in my corner and the amazing mix of people that are now part of my family there is no doubt that I will be able to achieve some serious distance this year. As I begin the training a little part of my brain is starting to scream at me. This little part of my brain isn’t logical or even really all that nice….
My body has started changing along with the changes in training, and this makes that little nasty voice somehow stronger and somewhat meaner, and I am honestly not ok with it. I am not a skinny, tiny, petite or super feminine female (think the human equivalent of a staffy in the canine world) and when I feel good and strong I am totally at peace, happy and even proud of this and what my body can do! But, when this little voice starts to talk, and I am not feeling so on top of things it is hard not to listen and see the negative and that self-doubt and the dark and nasty body image stuff kicks in.
As my calf muscles grow and adapt so my feet can move me along the trail and the road for longer distances safely. As my quads and hamstrings increase in size and muscle mass so that I can sustain a pace and keep going for the distances I want to achieve. As my glute muscles increase in strength and consequently their size and shape changes to allow me to get to the top of hills easier and see the view and grin from ear to ear from the achievement and feel the crazy pounding of my heart as though it wants to climb out of my chest from the climb. As my core changes and adapts and its structure also changes to enable me to maintain a strong and stable base to move my legs from and carry a pack on back, this little voice starts to talk a little more and a little louder.
Because of all these changes my clothes don’t exactly fit like they used to. The logic part of my brain is excited by this. Logically it means that my body is adapting to the training and I can run further without feeling as drained as I once did, I am getting stronger!! The little dark and nasty voice though, grins at me sinister like from the dark recesses of my brain and makes me look at all these changes in a dark and shadowy hue. It makes me question my appearance and makes me feel uncomfortable about the way I dress and feel about myself, it even gets to the point where I look at my image and think to myself how the hell can I be a middle to long distance runner in this body….
So, what is MY goal for this year……
My goal for this year is to shine a light so freaking bright in my head that that little dark and nasty voice has no where to hide and do it’s bidding. This year I want to get rid of that dark, nasty twisted little voice and be so freakin proud of what my two feet and body can do and achieve REGARDLESS of what it looks like that I can’t help but wear the biggest freakin grin from ear to ear! If I am hot, you bet I will run in a crop and shorts. My promise to me is that I won’t hide anymore. I will not give that little dark, nasty, twisted voice a place to hide and gain power. I have always believed there is no such thing as a “runner’s body” I just need to shine it up in the biggest lights inside my head that I can so that little voice has no place to hide.
Here’s to 2018 being the year of the long run, the year of runner empowerment and the banishing of the little dark, nasty twisted voice and goals so big they are excitrifying!!!
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Tonight, in Melbourne it is a very balmy 35 degrees, or at least when I went for my run tonight at 6.30pm it was, the mercury is currently hovering around 29…. It makes for an interesting training session. On the plan for me, tonight was a 70-minute hilly trail or road set. I had my route relatively planned out, I was going to do a very similar route that I completed a couple of weeks ago in the same time set (notice that right here I am setting myself up to beat myself up as I can compare tonight to the last time which was in totally different weather!!).
The temperature made tonight’s run interesting. Given the heat I felt I had a few options:
- Stay home in the air conditioning and stretch or simply state it was too freakin hot to run (tempting, but I also knew that I would not be very happy with myself if I took this option)
- Head to the gym to run on the dreadmill in the air-conditioning (honestly, I seriously considered this… but getting my pace just right on the dreadmill sucks and it is so freakin booooorrrrrring!!! Besides I just wanted to be outside if I went, not stuck on the darn gym equipment for 70 mins tonight.
- Run the entire way and kill myself or worse collapse and end up in hospital – no thanks
- Trian smart – guess this was the best choice!
What did training smart entail for me tonight? Simply put, I dressed appropriately. I am not a skinny athlete. I am strong and robust, I refer to myself as a staffy, strong and powerful but certainly not svelte. I am ok with that, my body has achieved some amazing things and my body type is never going to look like the marathon runners you see on TV, so be it. I refuse to get caught up in that anymore I am going to celebrate what my body can do and what it can achieve. Keeping this in mind I dressed in my runners, socks and bra with a crop. I set my middle free and to be honest I only started doing this last year and it really is empowering to join the #sportsbrasquad. It should NEVER be about what we look like, only what we can do, regardless of what “society” thinks we should look like to achieve this!!! I am so very sick of that attitude!!
As I step down from my soapbox and get back to my original point….
I dressed appropriately, including a hat and buff to keep the sweat out of my eyes and mop it off my face. I waited until the real heat of the day had passed. I also made sure I had all the nutrition and hydration on board I could through the day to keep my safe. While I ran I took my vest with 2L of ice and water in a bladder, 1L of ice and electrolyte and chews and some baby food as well (yep I am trialling this as nutrition as I run, so far it’s working great! But more on that another time!!).
Yep, the pack was heavy, but I knew that no matter what I would be cool – the ice in the water helped keep my body temperature down – and I had hydration and electrolytes as I needed them.
I took off at super turtle pace and just took my time. Kept plodding one foot in front of the other. I took the first couple of hills at a super slow run pace and then I started to feel the heat getting to me. Instead of panicking and freaking out I just slowed it down. When it got to the hills I fast walked up them as much as possible and ran the flat bits and the downhills that I could. I kept up with my hydration and electrolytes and kept my body temperature down, so I didn’t overheat. I paid attention to my body and what it was telling me!!!
When I first started running I would have panicked and pulled the pin super early, so early in fact that I wouldn’t have even gone. Granted running tonight in that heat would not be the safe thing to do for everyone, I fully acknowledge that! I am just talking about me, my tactic and how I got through it. When my 70 mins were up I called hubby and he came and got me with an iced water face washer to cool me down and an air-conditioned car.
I played it smart tonight. I got the distance and time in my legs in tough conditions. I paid attention to my body and what it was telling me. I also had a contingency plan in that I knew I could call my pit crew at any point if I needed too. I dressed for the conditions and knew how to keep my body as cool as possible. I took more than I knew I would need out on my run with me in regards to hydration, electrolytes and nutrition in case the worst happened.
I want to be clear. I am NOT recommending that everyone trains like this! Today this is what worked for me and me alone.
My take away point from this is train smart!! Yes train hard, but don’t hurt or damage yourself in the process. You need to be smart about what you do. This includes having a plan but also being adaptable within that plan, something I am getting much better at!!
Take care out there this summer you awesome Glimmer Family. As a trail runner, there are so many hazards that can cross the path, from the need to carry hydration, nutrition and compression bandages, right through to sunstroke, heat stroke and the dreaded live sticks. No matter what the situation, be prepared for it, have a backup plan, be smart about the situation, listen to your body (some days are good, some just suck), but most of all be adaptable!!
Trian Hard, Train Safe,
Sa xFollow us here:
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As I sit to write this post I wonder how many of its readers will relate and how many will just fob it off? That is a rhetorical question, but it is one of the many thoughts running through my brain at the moment.
There was a new addition in my last four week training plan that my amazing coach provided me and it is one of those things that fills a lot of us with dread…. To my horror and astonishment there in big letters on the Friday’s were the words “Rest Day”. This was noted with a statement of how important rest is as part of the plan, and honestly in the logic part of my brain I wholeheartedly agree. I fully believe that recovery and rest make up the vital part of your training. The rest of me though actively went crazy and stressed, but at the end of the day coach really does know best.
To really understand my inner turmoil at this ghastly Friday proposition you really need some background on me and my internal state, strap yourself in, it may not be pretty….
I have what people like to categorise as a Type A personality…. Outgoing, ambitious, rigidly organised, sensitive, impatient, anxious, proactive, overly concerned with time management and a workaholic. Team with this a super dose of perfectionism, clinical depression and anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, food issues, body image issues and an interesting childhood with a returned serviceman father with PTSD means my brain is generally a little on edge to begin with.
That’s great and all (well it isn’t really when things are bad, but you know what I mean), but what does this mean in regard to the rest days?
I use my running, my training and my work to escape all the inner demons, they help to burn off the crazy and control for me what is going on, they add a sense of calm to times that don’t feel so calm to me. I honestly can’t say if it is the endorphins, the routine or just the pure fatigue of the process or physical power that enables this to happen and honestly, I don’t really care, all I know is that it works and it helps and I LOVE my life, I LOVE who I have become because of it and who I will be. In refusing to allow my life to go backwards to the point where I am far too close to a very unhealthy for me 100kgs again or to the point where I am holding a scalpel in one hand and suicidal thoughts in my head, or the point where I feel utterly helpless and powerless over anything, I really struggle during “rest days” or down time. I am not good at it. If you have ever seen me on holiday or on a rest day, or worse, when I have been physically unable to do anything you can see how edgy, restless, angry and frustrated I get. It really isn’t pretty, it makes me cranky and lost and I really hate it. I do not do holidays, rest time or enforced down time very well at all, in fact during these times I almost need a sign above me that sates “CAUTION: In current state does not play well with others”. It is like the worst case of the Hangries you have EVER seen.
I can say now looking back that the Friday rest days were a good thing. It helped my body and my mental state just dealt with it, because it was in the plan. It didn’t mean I couldn’t be productive it just meant that I wasn’t actively training my body as demandingly as I had been. It turned into a really positive thing.
Why the turmoil now?
Given all of the above I hit struggle street when the “real world” doesn’t match up to the world inside my head. This includes things that I have been really looking forward to not happening. Last weekend (the AFL grand final weekend, yes we are Victorian, but no, I don’t even follow the football), was the Trails Plus Surf Coast Hell Run. This single event was one that I was so very excited about and looking forward to for months. The fact I was going to get to spend the weekend with my Trail Family down by the coast doing what we love just means the world to me.
What ended up happening though is a delightful virus totally kicked my butt from Thursday, I spent two full days in bed, one out of bed and even now am still not back to near fully recovered, needing to sleep multiple times through the day.
Safe to say I was and still am gutted. It fully created the inner turmoil that I hate and know so very well it stirred most things up again and I hate that one little thing can do that.
However, the worst part is that because I am not well, still, I am not training, I can’t work or even fuel effectively or efficiently and that is not good for me on any level.
I sit here (even that hurts more than it should, I never sit to work normally), writing this trying to get logic to rule my head and not the turmoil, but I am struggling. I don’t know when I will be well enough to train again. I am honestly hoping I can pick my plan up again on Wednesday but I just don’t know for certain, and that makes me edgy. This means that the inner issues and voices start to creep in and the fear that I will lose all my fitness and condition come along with it. It terrifies me to the bone. I am no elite athlete, I have no ambition to be, all I want is to be the best version I can be given my restrictions, but again that is starting to feel so far away…
Because of this my body issues are poking their head around the door as well, which sends a cold shiver down my spine. I want logic, reason and love to win the round here so badly. I want to be proud of what my body can do, it shouldn’t matter what it looks like, but my head is struggling to see that now.
The big one…. Is my fear that this virus has flared my Chronic Fatigue so badly that it will refuse to settle again. That everything I am working for both physically and with this amazing family as part of Glimmer Gear Australia and my rocking Fit Chicks Australia will stall because I can’t achieve what I have in my head in the real world. This saddens me deeply and scares me, no scratch that it terrifies me. I am working so hard to make these things amazing for all involved, but I am afraid my history will work against me here. Currently I am feeling pretty dark, terrified, anxious, negative and not in a great place.
I am lucky, I have amazing employers and clients that understand. I have an amazing coach that will work with me to get be back on track (thanks Chis from Go Run Australia from the bottom of my heart!). I have brilliant colleagues and running buddies, and the Glimmer Family and Fit Chicks Australia make up a big part of this. I have Mr Glimmer Gear Australia who is just amazing and puts up with all my crazy on all levels, and he needs a medal sometimes for that (not that I would ever tell him that out loud, can’t have him getting a big head).
The big thing now is rest. My body and clearly the universe is screaming at me to rest. I am trying and resting when I can. So, my message to you all is don’t ever think rest is a dirty word. Yeah there are demons and some of us have more than others, but each of us has our own demons. I am resting. I will get better.
My final parting words to you amazing people, if you have managed to read this far is know you are not alone, no matter what. This business is all about safety. It is about you being able to do what you love, be supported but most of all make it to the end safe. That is why I share this with you all. We are here for the long term, of that I am certain. Know that you can always come to us at an event and talk to us about your safety training needs. ALSO know that your emotional and mental health and safety ARE part of this. We will always be honest with you, if you are nervous, anxious or terrified about your event, that is ok, it is a sure bet we will have some strategies we can talk to you about to help you feel calmer about it. Know that no matter what this amazing community of people our all-encompassing Glimmer Family and Fit Chicks Australia are here to support you.
I am going for another lay down, so that I can be more productive later on, take care you amazing people, thank you for being part of our family.
Sa xFollow us here:
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I want to say a massive thank you to Chris for sharing this honesty. Some of us know this feeling better than others and we each have our own strategies to deal with it all. I honestly just want to share this with you all so that you know you are not alone. Every single one of us has our own funk monsters that we deal with, and we each deal with them differently.
I do very much agree that Chris is not alone in the way he copes with his.
I can honestly say Chris has been an amazing coach to me and helped me deal with my own issue regarding running and events etc and he is really doing brilliant things int he running world. So please don’t be afraid to head to his site: www.gorun.com.au to send him some love!
Thank you for sharing Chris!
I’m nervous about writing this post. I thought about not typing this up or waiting until I felt differently. I even started a different post to reflect on Sydney Marathon and the weekend that just past, but this is how I have been thinking and feeling for the last couple of days.
I feel fat, unfit, injured and well…down. I can barely listen to any semi-emotional music in the car, have any sentimental conversations without wanting to cry or shout at someone. I just beeped the car horn at the builders in our street because they are taking up the whole street and all the parking spaces. That’s Kath’s territory, not mine. I’m telling you that someone is going to cop a random outpouring of emotion soon. Who will be the lucky winner?? This is the part of the 17 marathons challenge that really sucks. The downer. The post marathon blues. The supposed calm after the storm of the marathon a few days ago.
I knew this was going to be an issue for me this year and that I would have to work to ‘protect my down side.’ This is something businesses do. It’s a bit like risk analysis and predicting the worst case scenarios, then trying to prepare and protect for that. Writing this post is part of protecting my own down side. Its an outlet for me and the idea is that I feel better after doing it, get it off my chest and can then move on and function again. Normally I take the time to sit with the laptop but all I have now is a couple of pieces of paper and a pen and I just need to get this out of me. I don’t really care how it comes out at the moment, as long as nobody in the cafe where I am sat reads it.
Sydney Marathon actually went well on the surface of things but dig a little deeper and there are a few issues that I need to deal with one of which is actually getting fit. The perception is that if you can run a 3:12 marathon three weeks after running a 3:14 marathon and that was only one week after a 3:22 marathon, that all is going well, and your fitness is fine, but this one I had to work hard for. This was the first one where I genuinely felt unfit and that the lack of ‘training’ in between marathons was catching up with me. At 25km I just wanted to go to sleep. That’s not me, that’s not normal. I have been managing a few lower leg injuries over the past couple of months which have really limited the amount of running that I can do. I still do pilates, a bit of gym work and the occasional swim but I’m finding it tricky to balance the differing needs of improving recovery / increasing fitness and working on my business (which involves more running) all at the same time whilst running a marathon every few weeks.
Generally speaking, I am usually just about ready to run again by the time each marathon comes round and this one was no different. I started this run tentatively and after 15km knew that I was going to have to be careful with my right achilles. Gradually everything tightened up in my right leg and I slowed down as I went round the hundreds of cones, barriers, switch backs, ran up steps, ramps, boardwalks, pavements, dodged tourists, screws and street furniture. My aim for this run was to simply stay ahead of the 3:15 pacers and for two thirds of the run, I had the feeling of being chased, but ended up pushing home in the final km to clock 3:12:15, which I am actually really pleased with. I can’t say that I overly enjoyed the twisty, turny nature of the course but finishing in Circular Quay at the Opera House was really really awesome and definitely iconic. The crowds at that point were great and I felt tired but pleased with a job well done. Now to deal with the mental and physical aftermath…
Ali, my physio said to me yesterday “do you think that you have actually realised the magnitude of what you are trying to do?” I kind of lay there in silence whilst she jabbed needles in my legs and answered “probably not.” You see, I live in Melbourne, the sporting capital of the world and in this amazing environment we are exposed to (and compare ourselves to) awesome athletes, amazing facilities, great races and more. The standard in my opinion is incredibly high. I have certainly never lived anywhere like it. In fact, as I sat having a beer with three friends last night, it occurred to me that between us we had done a significant number of the half marathons, marathons and ultra marathons in Australia. I have friends who are professional triathletes, exceptional sports coaches, and mates who are just downright amazing. When did all of this happen!? Couple that with the constant exposure to all the awesome, positive posts on social media with people achieving their lifelong dreams, personal bests and just being awesome, all this achievement can be pretty full on if you aren’t in the right head space to deal with it all.
Trust me, I really am happy for everyone who works hard and achieves what they are after. I find that inspirational, admire it and I get my kicks out of being witness to that journey, but sometimes I don’t want uber positive or happy-clappy. I’m from the North of England and ginger for Christ’ sake, we are the best at being dour, sarcastic and occasionally grumpy, so give me some of that this morning. Let me be negative, whinge and get it off my chest. I will break out of it. I usually do by Thursday or Friday after each marathon. This is the 13th time I’ve done this in 2017, so I should know by now shouldn’t I?
So… I need to snap out of these blues. What am i going to do?
EAT, MOVE AND DO.
First stop: EAT. To the shops, to get some decent food in the house. I am an emotional eater and need to eat well to feel good. The salted caramel Lindt balls I am currently tucking in to are not going to cut it for much longer. The bag is nearly gone. Bugger.
Second stop: MOVE. I need to move but I can’t even walk the dog properly because this achilles is so swollen and tight. I think the plan has to be to get to the pool and the gym over the next couple of weeks and do what I can.
Third stop: DO. Just being productive is difficult in this type of head space, but working on my business and creating new opportunities, helping my runners and being useful helps me to feel better.
I don’t want to finish this post on a downer. In the time since I drafted this on paper earlier today, loads of good things have happened and I now feel completely different, but I know these emotions will come back after the next marathon, and the next one, and the next one and the next one, so its worth writing about and sharing I hope.
I feel better for writing this and as a bonus I can hear that the Council have just asked the builders to move their enormous truck from the middle of the street outside and that has pleased me no end. I also know that tomorrow is Thursday and in my experience, I go through this dip each time and that I come out of it by Thursday feeling way better. It’s just this time I have put it into a blog and shared it with you.
Sorry for being a bit random in this write up and thank you for listening to my s**t. I’m going to have one more Lindt ball then head to pilates.
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Our awesome Ambassador Bron has written about how much having an injury sucks. Some of us know this feeling some lucky members of our Glimmer Family don’t. Bron, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for sharing this and we KNOW you will be back out there at full capacity asap. We do 100% know that you have the best team behind you that anyone can have and we are proud to be here to support you through it all!
Injury really sucks, and it can be really hard to stay positive in the face of adversity when told you can’t train, or do the things you want to do. I’m definitely no stranger to injury, but every time something new happens, it feels like a massive kick in the guts.
I have hyper mobility syndrome, which during our stretching sessions earns me lots of comments like “Wow! That’s freaky!” and “Holy moly you’re flexible!”, because I am super, super flexible. But it also means I’m really prone to injury – when ligaments and small muscle groups don’t cooperate, it gets left to the big muscles to do all the work. That creates problems…
But this isn’t new information for me. I’ve known for ages that I’m hyper mobile, and I’ve known that the only way to ‘treat’ the condition is by ensuring that all those small muscle groups maintain their strength, and activate when needed. This means lots of core strength classes, trying to get those lazy muscle groups working. So that was my plan, build strength in those key areas and remain injury free in the lead up to my first World Championship qualifier in October.
But right now? Things are not going to plan. The past few months I’ve had a niggling pain in my left quad. Best way to describe it is that someone is stabbing a sharp knife directly into the middle of the muscle. Not fun. It started as I was doing our regular sprint session on the treadmill, attempting to build some speed. So it was off to the physio for me, and Felicity at Inspire Health Services in West End is the one to see. She identified that the problem in my quad is actually arising from my glute and back. Basically, they are both super weak and not doing their jobs, which means my quad has to take over and do triple the work, resulting in over-use stress pain. Nothing actually wrong with the quad, it’s just tired. But my glute and back, they were a mess…
So Felicity did some needling, I screamed in pain, she gave me some exercises to do that would isolate those muscles, and recommended I take the Pilates reformer classes they hold at Inspire Health. Yay, problem solved! Pilates is amazing, it really isolates those small muscle groups so they have no choice but to work! And I could definitely feel it working. But I was still getting that pain in my quad when doing the sprint sessions on the treadmill, and then last week, it started hurting on the wind trainer as well. Not good, problem not solved. My coaches laid down the law – no training until I saw Felicity again.
The earliest I could get in to see her was a week and a half later, and during that time, I could feel my back, and my quad, getting worse and worse, to the point where it was painful to stand, sit, lie down, walk, bend over, or anything really… But I was still optimistic that when I saw Felicity last night, she would fix me up and I’d be on my way back to training.
But again, that didn’t go exactly to plan. It had gotten so much worse that by last night I couldn’t bend more than about 30 degrees, and that’s coming from someone who usually can put her elbows on the floor… The discs in my back are really, really inflamed, which is not only causing pain there, but also down my glute, and the usual quad pain. After the usual needling and massage, it was obvious that it is going to take a lot longer to heal than I thought, and that the injury was a lot worse than I thought. And the killer… No training. No running, no riding, no Pilates or core even, no walking the dog. All I can do is swim with a pull buoy… Great. I don’t even like swimming that much.
As expected, I was pretty upset, and my mind went into that catastrophizing downward spiral that it does so frequently. How was I going to improve my running before my race in Yarrawonga? How was I going to learn to draft if I can’t ride? How was I going to function without being able to do the one thing I really love doing?
For me, it really does seem like it is one thing after another. Last year I had dreams of qualifying for the 2017 World Championships, but then I tore two ligaments in my ankle and was out for 9 months. So that didn’t happen. And then now, I’ve got that dream back for the 2018 World Champs, but this happens? How do I get past that and remain positive?
I’m really, really lucky to have such great coaches and team mates at SBR Triathlon. Michelle Cooper is amazing – honestly. She sat me down, we talked it through, she was honest and said yep, it sucks, but we can get through it. We talked about how we have a great team at Inspire Health to work with, and I know that they’re the ones who will get me on the road to recovery. We talked about different strategies of what I can do instead. Focusing on the can instead of the can’t.
So this is what I can do. I can swim. And Yarrawonga had better look out, because by the time 21st of October rolls around, I’m going to be a shit hot swimmer.
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The amazingly awesome Triathlete Megan Nikakis wrote a review on Safety Skin as part of ATEC, which unfortunately won’t go ahead this year, BUT, that doesn’t mean you can’t read the review 😉 . Megan is also an ambassador for Skin Strong as it turns out, a product that I LOVE too and as you guys know I won’t sell anything I don’t use and love! Without any further preamble have a read of Megan’s review below.
PRODUCT REVIEW – SAFETY SKIN REFLECTIVE SKIN SPREAD IMPORTED AND SOLD BY GLIMMER GEAR
In the past couple of months I have been following the Aussie company Glimmer Gear on Instagram @glimmergearaus and admiring their safety gear, especially the numerous options for running or biking at night.
When I found out that as part of my duties as an ATEC Ambassador I would be testing one of their products I was super excited. So let me introduce you to Safety Skin Reflective Skin Spread. Its comes in an easy to use stick roll on and the substance inside has a chalky but smooth texture and is grey in colour. I must admit looking at this peculiar substance I started to have some doubt as to whether this product was the real deal.
But I pushed on and started rolling the skin spread on my arms and legs. It went on super easy and I could see grey parts all over my legs and arms. However, I was thinking “ok this is not working” and I haven’t put enough on” but then when the lights were off and the camera flash went BAM!!!! I was a Christmas tree!
So out the door I went off on my first night time run with my reflective skin spread. While I couldn’t see the skin spread lighting up myself, I am sure every car, cyclist and pedestrian saw me coming and probably thought to themselves….what the? Her skin is glowing!
I felt really safe running in the dark on my own and honestly believe this product is the best invention ever. Not only does it keep me safe but you cant even feel that you are wearing it. Sweating wasn’t an issue either.
The skin spread has certainly given me the confidence to train more late at night or early morning. I’ll even be wearing it on my calves for my rides now as you can never be too careful on the roads.
If you train in the dark, this skin spread needs to become your new best friend/protector! Its now mine!
Thank you Glimmer Gear for stocking such an innovative product that keeps us safe.
You can follow Megan on Instagram here
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Most of you know that I am a Pilates Instructor as well as an avid and crazy runner, business owner and motivator.
At the Pilates studio that I teach at we have a fortnightly staff meeting where we talk through issues related to our clients, updating admin procedures and continuing education. Just recently each staff member had to take it in turns per fortnight to present a mini seminar for want of a better term on an injury/pathology or activity and its relationship with Pilates.
Firstly, I freaked out, because everyone else had AWESOME presentations and little old me didn’t have squat. Eventually I decided to do a talk on the types of running and how that relates to what we do with runners in the studio. We all run yes, but there are many types, you have your short, middle, long and ultra distances, your sprinters and slow and steady runners and you have your trail runners and road runners. It was while I was going through all the different types of runners that my boss asked me what type I felt I was.
3 years ago, hell who am I kidding, as recently as 18 months ago I wouldn’t have even been able to call myself a runner let alone place myself in a category. When I was asked this question, I was able to call myself a runner, but I was still unsure as to which category I was in. I knew that I wasn’t long distance I enjoy the steady pacing of the middle distances, but I couldn’t tell you whether I was a road or trail runner.
It is now a few months later and I can whole heartedly say I am a Trail Runner through and through. I have always loved being out and about and active and give me a run outdoors any day than being inside on a dreadmill. I still run on the roads and partake in the big road races, Run Melbourne and Gold Coast Airport Marathon for example. However, my heart belongs on the trails and in the mountains, even if I must hike the hilly bits.
I am more thankful than I can say in words that our relationship with Trails Plus has enabled me to meet some very awesome Trail and Ultra Runners that have opened my eyes to what can be achieved by the human body. It isn’t just this though. There is something special about running out in nature, about the people that you meet on trail. I have never been in an environment that every single runner, faster, slower or the same pace as you says hello and offers encouragement and a smile (even if it is through the pain of gritted teeth). There is something very humbling about the terrain that you run on and through. A lot of course descriptions will say gentle hills, trust me on a trail this is lies, they are mountains, but you know what I LOVE IT!!! Even if I hike the hills it is all good. This is one of the super awesome things about the trails is it is perfectly acceptable to hike the hills, no one thinks twice of it, you are encouraged to challenge yourself but it’s in the most supportive way I have ever come across.
It’s the people that I have gotten to interact with both at the start and finish lines and out on trail that make it what it is and words can’t describe just how amazing it is and how welcome you will feel, it is like being home. I have come to think of these people as part of our family and whenever we are going to another event I get so very excited that we get to catch up with them all again!
I have made friendships in this short time that I know will be forever lasting. The S Team in particular, have a big place in my heart and we have helped get each other over the finish line more than once!
I must also mention that on the trails is it all about the food and what we fondly call the party table, think of the best aid stations you could ever see!! If you are a road runner you are seriously missing out! You will be very surprised to learn that a lot of trail running is about the food.
Runners in general, myself included, are a crazy bunch. Trail runners in particular are a special and unique kind of crazy. To love the great outdoors and want to tackle and run terrain that most people struggle walking makes every one of us unique. I am so very happy to be part of this world, it fills my heart with happy to be able to be out on the trails with my trail family. I urge all of you to go out there and have a go, you just might find your new favourite activity and your home!
I will always do some of the road runs, but I can honestly and safely say that my heart and soul is on the trails now and that when I am asked the question of what kind of runner I am now I can eagerly say with a huge grin that I am a trail runner!
See you out on the trails,
Sa xFollow us here:
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Let’s face it us women are pretty bad ass, however sometimes we are not as bad ass as we like to be especially when we get our period. I can honestly speak from personal experience when I say that there is nothing worse than having your period and being an athlete at any level. Let’s face it chicks, female sanitary products are not always our friends, they are bulky, irritating and you need to super regularly change them and NOONE wants to do that on trail! Let’s not even talk about the landfill involved.
I want to introduce to you something that will keep you being totally bad ass even when you have your period and best yet you are going to love it as much as I do!
Most of us that train hard are pretty in touch with our bodies and respect what they can and sometimes cannot do. Trust me when I say a Lunette Menstrual Cup is going to help you do that.
I came across these awesome products about 10 years ago and as I always did I researched all I could on them for about 12 months (also known as procrastinating ????). I learned all about the ins and outs, the dos and the don’ts. Suffice to say I felt confident when I finally took the plunge to purchase my first cup, even if a little apprehensive about how it would all work.
Looking back now I can have a good old giggle about it all. I can also look back now and say it was single handily the best decision I ever made regarding dealing with my period. I can hear you ask why. Yes there is a learning curve at first, but this is no different to the first time you used a pad or a tampon, trust me on this. With a little bit of practice (and I guarantee you will have it down pat after your first period) you will get a leak free fit. What does this mean. It means you can continue to be super bad ass on trail, in the pool, on the road, where ever your outdoor adventures take you!
Why I Love My Lunette – No Strings Attached
What are my favourite things about it? I love that it is a soft medical grade silicone. This means it conforms to me and my body without digging in or poking me. In addition, there are no messy fibres left behind or introduced into a space that they shouldn’t be and no worry of chemicals or bleaches etc. They collect rather than absorb, why is this great? For starters, it won’t dry you out and drive you crazy. It also means that it won’t interfere with you and your body. There is no landfill needed. Think about that for a moment. There is nothing when you use Lunette that needs to go to landfill. It takes 500-800 years for each individual sanitary pad to breakdown in landfill. This doesn’t even include the wrapper that it came in! Even the packaging that Lunette comes in is recyclable. There has never been a case of Toxic Shock Syndrome associated with a cup, ever. It is completely smooth on the inside and nowhere for bacteria and yeast to hide. You will get 5 to 10 years of use out of a single cup. Yes the upfront cost is a little more expensive than your average sanitary product, but I think you will agree with me this is no average sanitary product ????. This means that within three periods it has paid for itself!
I love that you can get 12 hours of use out of it without the need to change it or empty it. How awesome is that for that long trail run or marathon run? In addition to that you know those days where you are pretty sure you are getting your period but it hasn’t started yet? Well this is where the cup beats everything else hands down. You can pre-emptively use it and not worry about any side effects because of the awesomeness I mentioned earlier. I am also a swimmer and any of you brilliant chicks that swim also know what it is like to swim with your period and using a tampon. Those strings are brilliant at acting like a straw and sucking up all the water you are swimming in too. With Lunette you don’t need to worry about that at all and best of all no leaks and no strings attached!
I was and still am so very excited that I have been able to add Lunette to our range of products. I believe that personal health is important and periods are not something women should be embarrassed about EVER! I love that Lunette are on a mission to empower women and I am very happy that I get to help do that.
I also want all of you amazing chicks to know that I am here for you and I want you all to be able to be permanently bad ass, hassle free and safe! That is one of the main reasons I started this company, to make sure people could train hard, train safe and make it home again. I firmly believe that for us female athletes a Lunette Menstrual Cup is paramount to that.
I also want you awesome chicks to know that I am always here to answer questions you may have, you just need to get in touch with me. If you are thinking about trying Lunette but you want to ask a question or two first, please do (just head here 😉 )!! I promise you I am super friendly and always happy to answer any questions you have either on Lunette or any of our range! If you are ready to take the plunge into super woman bad assery (if that is even a word!) you can head directly to our Lunette’s on our online store here.
Keep training safe you amazing people, and you rocking chicks make sure you stay bad ass!
Sa xFollow us here:
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You can read Michelle’s awesome blog directly from her site too if you like, just click the link here 😉
Michelle I think you smashed it out of the park and I can’t wait to be there next year in person to cheer you on!!!
Here is Michelle’s Race Report. I love that she is honest and human, thank you for sharing, Sa x
Race Report – Ironman Cairns 2017
The truth is, I found it hard to get excited about this race until right up to a few days beforehand. I’ve been to Cairns a number of times before and each race had its own challenges. That did not then fill me with inspiration to tackle the course again. But, in the back of my mind I knew there was serious unfinished business to be taken care of.
After the typical race morning start we arrived in Palm Cove ready to roll, literally. I have to admit that I am not a fan of the rolling start. The mass start is such an iconic and incredible experience to be part and I miss that in the new format of Cairns. Dave and I seeded in group 2 together with our athletes and slowly crept our way towards the start. We crossed the timing mat almost together and hit the water. Palm Cove has yet to deliver on the postcard images we have all seen and was once again dirty brown, choppy and tough. Swim times were much slower across the board and within 50m Dave knew I was not going to have a happy time. I find choppy conditions very difficult and this hit me early. Given he wasn’t feeling particularly confident in his own preparation for the race, he made a quick decision to just swim next to me and make sure I was ok. It certainly made me calmer knowing he was on my right the whole time. Sighting was tough and the chop disrupted my stroke constantly. It was a very long haul into the swell on the way south but when I turned for home, things got a little easier. On the plus side, my Dare2Tri wetsuit was fantastic in the cooler, choppier water and I felt comfortable the entire time. No chaffing in sight! Overall my swim was about 10 minutes off my estimate – turns out nearly everyone’s was slow so I felt a lot better about that despite being disappointed in my own time.
I am normally really quick in transition but as Dave had waited in the swim for me, I waited in transition for him to get changed. As we left transition on our bikes we agreed that I would take the lead to set the pace and Dave would sit the legal 12m back and we’d meet at special needs around the 90km mark. I was riding my 81 Metron front wheel and Metron disc wheel set up and all week had been worried about the predicted winds that can be pretty fierce along the coastline. I needn’t have worried as despite a few gusty moments, I felt in control the entire time. I had a number of goals after a disastrous ride leg in 2015 – check my bike thoroughly in transition to ensure the gears and derailleur were working; calmly approach the hills; recovery quickly after the hills; push hard on the flats where I am stronger. As we headed north I felt fantastic, pushing along nicely and passing dozens of other cyclists on my approach to Rex’s Lookout. This was the point of no return and as I picked a lower gear, took a deep breath and began the ascent, Dave rode up beside me to check in. He passed me and stayed just ahead as the athletes began to bunch up on the slow climb. As I reached the top I was stunned to realise it was about 1/3 as hard as I remembered it. Clearly all the hill riding on my new Boardman had developed the strength, skills and confidence I needed to tackle this demon. It was literally over before I knew it.
As I hit the lead again into Port Douglas, the body felt pretty good as did the bike. I had forgotten how rough the road surface was and on the harder tubular tyres, I noticed the difference on the body. Maintaining a still position on the bike to avoid chaffing became even more important. It is pretty narrow coming in and out of Port Douglas so Dave was now on my wheel and we could chat a little, although it’s more of a yell when you have an aero helmet on! We were both comfortable albeit getting hungry and agreed to still stop at special needs for some refuelling. As we pulled in and grabbed our new bottles, can of coke and some salt and vinegar chips, we quickly discussed the back half of the ride. The plan was for me to stay in the lead as long as possible while Dave kept a legal distance whilst keeping me in sight. Pretty easy given he is a faster rider than me and had he been in front I may have quickly lost sight of him. As usual on this course, the return loop to T2 was much tougher with the winds picking up. This was the best weather we had ever had for this race but it was still challenging. A headwind the whole way home and many gusty sections along the coast dropped the speed considerably but I worked on effort rather than speed to manage my energy levels before the run. By the time we reached Palm Cove, things were getting tough and the road narrowed making it impossible not to draft. There was no passing space and the athletes bunched up quite a lot. I had moved up to 14th on the bike and was pretty happy with that position heading out to the run.
Given we’d spent this long within eyesight of each other, we made the decision to complete the race together too. I felt amazing heading out on the run and we maintained a good pace for the first 18km before it started to fall apart. The run has been such a challenge in the last few years as I battled stress fractures but my long-term return plan of building strength, correcting form and coming off the bike stronger has paid huge dividends. Stomach cramps, fatigue and general discomfort set in for both of us and we slowed the pace whilst maintaining the strategy to run between aide stations, walk through and get going again. My form held together really well and I am confident that my goal time is in sight next time around.
It was fabulous being able to see all my crew out on course and to have such incredible support from the crowds. Running into the chute is a buzz like no other, no matter how many times you do it. I threw my arms around Dave and thanked him for a fabulous day. Peter Murray gave us a huge wrap and an even bigger group hug. What a way to finish the day.
Some things didn’t go according to plan starting with the choppier swim and tougher road surface. The latter meant it was challenging to get my fuel in but I managed to cover most of what my sports dietician had set me. My stomach didn’t enjoy the run but it wasn’t enough to stop me.
Some things went really well. I took an hour (yep an hour) off my previous bike time here and came in 10 minutes under my guestimate. My run form was strong and confident and felt great. Despite it not being my fastest Ironman, it was still a new personal best for that course.
But the thing I enjoyed most was hanging with Dave all day. We raced legally but were around each other the entire time. It was just a relaxing, fun day talking to each other, helping each other and encouraging each other. Ironman is such a tough day and although we have raced at the same time as each other many times before, this was a day where we truly got to do it together. Running down that finish chute, filled with emotion was the culmination of many hours spent dedicated to our sport. We may have had many friends around us, but in that moment, there was just us. Magic.Follow us here:
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