3 years a runner

It’s hard to believe but it’s been 3 years since I went for my first run. Nervous, self-conscious, unsure; what got me out the door was a sense of now or never. ¬†I had to at least try running; and in trying discovered I love it.

I love running. I love the sense of achievement it gives me. I love how I feel so strong and capable when I’m running. I love pushing myself in a race; and I really love getting a PB in a race. I love the community I’ve discovered and the friends I’ve made.

Running is such an important part of my life now, I can’t imagine being without it.

If I could go back to this day three years ago, I would give myself the biggest ‘thank you’ possible. I would tell myself that it will be hard but it will be so, so worth it. I would tell myself to never give up. I would tell myself…

Actually. You know what…I did tell myself all these things. I still do.

Da do run run! Gait analysis with Brooks Running

On Thursday I went over to Run Logic for a free gait analysis with Brooks Running. They were offering a new kind of analysis on the day, and I wanted to give it a try and see what came of the results.

I got there, a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect; and I’m also shy so meeting new people was daunting! But I got over that, changed into my running gear and hopped onto the treadmill.

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I would run 500 miles…

Today I ran my 500th mile of the year. ūüėÄ

I’m really happy with my progress with Project Speedy, and part of that includes some pretty decent mileage every week. It’s possible that I might hit 1000 miles by the end of the year, particularly as I’m training for a 10 mile and half marathon later in the year. It’s not the be all and end all goal but it would feel really awesome¬†if I could do it.

Anyway, I just wanted to share the milestone!

500miles

Shoevolution

I just realized that I have more running shoes than I do regular shoes! I recently bought my 4th pair of the same kind of running shoes (I have 2 others that I don’t wear anymore) and when I lined them up together I thought it was interesting to see the various states of wear and tear on them. From the oldest to the newest the differences, especially on the soles, really shows¬†the amount of running I’ve done in them.

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Meep! Meep!

I am a road runner. ¬†No question. I kind of already knew that, but this past weekend’s experience with treadmill running confirmed it.

I live in a city with plenty of footpaths and a nearby park with lots of great paths and trails. ¬†I’m a little spoiled for choice when it comes to running routes. I’ve always enjoyed being able to get outside for a run and when I stopped running to music I enjoyed it even more. So much to see and take notice of; so many interesting things and sounds and people surrounding me.

So what happens when you take an outdoor road runner and put her indoors on a treadmill?

Misery.

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The tortise and the hare: when comparing can be a good thing

I know I’m working on my speed this year, and am making good progress with Project Speedy; but I’m still a pretty slow runner. Not that I mind; I’d rather run slowly than not at all!

Over the last year I’ve met and made a number of running friends. One guy I know, Brian, is really fast. If I’m a tortise, he’s a hare. He ran his first marathon in three and a half hours…that’s half the time I finished mine in! (Unlike the hare of the fairy tale, he certainly did not stop in the middle for a nap!)

But yeah, he’s that fast. I could look at him and other fast runners like him, and get de-motivated because I’m not as fast as they are. I could look at his race times and sigh and decide I’ll never be that fast so I won’t even try. I could look at his training paces and despair that I didn’t discover running when I was younger and skinnier and fitter when I could have expected to be fast.

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‘Project Speedy’; full steam ahead!

Last December I started a new running project; my plan to work on speed and time over shorter distances. As I said in my previous blog post, 2015 was all about the distance; 2016 is all about the speed. My ultimate goals for the year are three-fold:

  • To run 5k in under 30 minutes
  • To run 5 miles in under an hour
  • To PB a 10k race this summer

Today I finished week 19 of Project Speedy and thought it was high time I posted an update here on how things are going.

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Looking back to see ahead

January (Total miles: 19.40)

I woke up to 2015 knowing this was my year. ¬†The year of the Marathon. ¬†My plans from 2014 had all been about building up my strength with Michael, my personal trainer and gaining a running base to take on training for Dublin City Marathon later in the year. ¬†In January it was a long way to October but I was already excited for the year ahead! My marathon plans were still a secret though so I had to carry on as usual! I didn’t run much in January, what running time I did have was devoted to getting ready for and running the Raheny 5 mile, where I PB’d my previous 5 mile time by 3 minutes!)

February (Total miles: 26.91)

Nothing much going on in Feb, just more running. I wasn’t even running 10 miles per week! That sure changed later on in the year!

Highlight of February was visiting a friend in the Netherlands and going for a run in Utrecht! That was a great way to see some of the city!

March (Total miles: 13.65)

March was a pretty hectic but amazing month. Not only did I get to go to London (and see my favourite band play live!), but I got to meet ASD & Si, two twitter runners who were a big part of what inspired me to train for a marathon.  They were the first people I told about my marathon plans and they helped me with my big reveal!

I didn’t run very much in March and this was a last minute sort of decision. I knew that when I started marathon training in April, my year would be tough, tiring and busy. I took the time in March to rest and relax.

April (Total miles: 51.78)

So marathon training officially begins! It was quite the jump in monthly mileage! But this was the start of my marathon training, so it wasn’t surprising! None of the runs were over 5 miles though, and I was building in warm ups and cool downs into my runs. ¬†It was fun too, to finally be able to talk about my goals and dreams. My decision to run a marathon was a little controversial in some quarters, but everyone has their own reasons to run and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me.

May (Total miles: 76.22)

May was about starting building up the mileage. I wasn’t training for speed, I was aiming for distance. I started marathon training with a 30 week plan in mind, a lot more than the usual 18 or 20 week plans that are out there. I knew it would be safer to increase the miles over a longer period of time. That’s why I had a coach, Shona Thomson, to write my training plan for me, with my specific goals and current abilities in mind.

May was also a tough month for me mentally, and I learned some valuable lessons while out running. Lessons like knowing when to fold ’em, whose voice I’m going to listen to and that I am the meanest person I know. ¬†Looking back over my posts, I am glad I persisted in battling the mental negativity and kept on going.

June (Total miles: 93.82) & July (Total miles: 105.25

Ahhh summer! What a great time! Nice long evenings to go running in! And in 2015, two lovely shiny PB’s to celebrate, including PB’ing a 10k race.

Other than that, not much to report. Just a lot of running at I prepared for my first half marathon. A scary but exciting prospect as I continued to build up the miles!

August (Total miles:121.47)

The Rock ‘n Roll Half marathon. Wow. What a rush! It was a great experience and I was really happy to have run and finished it. But afterwards as I reflected on the race and thought more about my performance, I was feeling more and more dejected over it. ¬†I just didn’t tell too many people about it. I told only 3 people in fact including a woman who became a mentor to me over the course of my training. ¬†We met for lunch and I confessed I was thinking that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew, maybe I shouldn’t try for the marathon after all. The half was HARD. Really, really hard and I was nowhere near my target of under three hours, finishing in 3.09.08. ¬†I started to question my capabilities, and wonder if I should put it off and wait a year.

But as I talked with my friend, I was gently reminded of my reasons for running in the first place and my reasons for wanting to run a marathon. I was reminded of how far I’d come, and how strong I really was. It was just the words I needed to hear and I went back to my training with renewed determination. Before the end of the year, I would be a marathoner.

September (Total miles:153.79)

I remember September well for three different reasons.

  1. It was the peak of my training and I racked up an astonishing amount of miles (astonishing for me I mean, it was the most I had ever run in a month!). I ran my longest run of 18 miles, which was the farthest I would be going before the marathon.
  2. I got to meet and make a number of running friends through an Irish forum, and cheer them on at the DCM Half Marathon. You guys know who you are and I can tell you now, looking back, that having you in my life during marathon training was a pretty big factor in my success.
  3. I had one of the biggest mental battles of my training that I had ever experienced. It hit me so hard I was breathless but I battled the negativity and regained the confidence I had lost. It was tough, really tough, but in hindsight I think it did me good.

September was also the month where I was able to say ‘next month I run a marathon’. ¬†I was a bundle of nerves and excitement as September drew to a close!

October (Total miles:112.24)

‘I’m running a marathon this month!’

Taper time. Fundraising. Sport massage. Reflecting. Planning. Waiting.

And then the marathon. The buildup, the day, the aftermath; it was unforgettable.

Wow. October was beyond amazing; on so many levels. There just aren’t enough words to really express what this marathon meant to me. I don’t even want to try except to say that I am incredibly happy that I did it, that I stuck with the training and finished the race.

The friends I made, the support I received, the money donated to my charity (over ‚ā¨1500!)…all because I decided one day to run this marathon. ¬†Run it I did, with all my heart and soul.

November (Total miles:66.78)

A very difficult month, after the high of the marathon I hit the post-marathon blues big time! Luckily I recovered quickly enough that 9 days after the marathon I was back running. It helped a lot to be able to run, even slowly.

November was an easy recovery month, with me just getting used to a different schedule and a variety of training runs. I started working with a new coach, Luke Coleman, who would be helping me with speedwork training.

I never quite pulled myself out of the depression, but then winter always affects me badly so it was a double-whammy for me this year.

December (Total miles: 45.7)

December was the start of what I call ‘Project Speedy‘, my attempt at improving my times and paces. ¬†Now that I had gone the distance, I needed to increase my speeds. ¬†December was going well, right up until I got sick with my usual Christmas flu/cold. I was down for 11 days which is why my mileage wasn’t where it should have been. ¬†But, my body needed the rest. It had been a long, intense and difficult year so it’s no wonder!

Final thoughts

Last year, the year of the marathon, was a year of self-discovery.

As I sit here and type out what I did and thought over the last year, I’ve been reading my old blog posts. I have to admit, I’ve been crying as I relive the year, the training, the marathon. Training for and running the marathon brought me so much; new friends, new confidence, new experiences. It taught me that I can do what I put my mind to, and that I have support along the way no matter what. It taught me that I’m not alone. It taught me that I am a better runner than I think I am. It has taught me that I am strong, capable and determined.

I love running. I love the challenges and opportunities that come from running. I love pushing myself, demanding more of myself every time I go for a run.

I’m already a month and a half into 2016 and have PB’d two races. ¬†Project Speedy is working and I’m excited to continue my training and see what else I have in me to give. My goal for the year is to run a 5k in under 30 minutes, to run 5 miles in under and hour and to PB at a 10k race this summer. After writing this blog post I know I can do all three.

After all; I ran a marathon. I can do anything!

When confidence gets shotted*

When I was a kid I went on a fairground ride with my sister. I can’t remember how old I was, maybe 12 or maybe younger. The ride was called The Zipper and from the ground it looked like a lot of fun. ¬†There were these buckets spinning around this long oval wheel which was also spinning and the whole thing didn’t look too bad. I was tall enough to ride it and my sister was older than me so into a bucket we hopped.

It wasn’t fun; it was terrifying. I was terrified. We were being spun around and around and up and down at the same time and it wasn’t stopping, it just wasn’t stopping. The bucket spun around without warning and without any rhyme or reason. It flipped every which way while spinning around and around. The sky and the ground rushing towards and away from me, the screams of other people on the ride. It was terrifying.¬†It seemed to go on forever. I screamed and screamed for the ride to stop but of course the only person who heard me was my sister and she couldn’t do anything about it. ¬†I don’t remember getting off the ride but apparently I was crying and I yelled at the ride operator because he didn’t stop the ride. I was so scared and upset at being so scared.

What scared me the most was the complete and utter lack of control I had. Fair rides were never the same for me after that!

I’m sharing this story because it’s the only way I can describe what happens to my thoughts sometimes. It’s like my brain hops on a certain thought bucket and then this thought just spins around and around in my mind, always spinning, this way and that with no control. Sometimes I can take hold of these thoughts and stop the ride, other times I just can’t. Sometimes the thoughts are benign, sometimes it’s an idea or a question or a plan. Other times, it’s a dark, nasty and negative thought; usually about myself.

What does this have to do with running? Today; everything.

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Marathoner in Training!

So…this happened!

secretsout

Si, me and ASD in London

confirmation

Yes, it’s true! I’m running the Dublin Marathon this October 2015. ¬†EEEEK!

Big thanks to ASD & Si from @100kmtoBrighton for helping me with my reveal! They were the first of my twitter friends I told (when I met up with them in London) because they have played a big part in inspiring me to run a marathon!

So this is why I haven’t been running this month! It’s going to be a long, tough, crazy year of running ahead and I decided on this impromptu break so that I’d be fresh for training to start in April. I didn’t want to burn out before I even began!

You see, I’ve known I was going to run a marathon for a long time now, well over a year in fact. ¬†Everything I’ve been doing the last year has been to prepare me to start training for a marathon. ¬†I started going to a personal trainer, Michael from @myptdotie¬†to help me get in shape so I could tackle the training. ¬†I also hired mentor/coach @Shona_D_Thomson¬†to help with putting together a training plan and to support me during the lead up to the marathon. ¬†I know that with these two on my side I cannot go wrong with my training! So long as I follow all their advice, which I will!

Why keep it a secret for so long? Mostly because I wanted to be in the right head space and be absolutely 100% certain that I was prepared to take on the training! I needed this ‘dressing room’ time before ‘running onto the pitch’ with it!

In the coming weeks I’ll be writing more about my decision to run a marathon and the lead up to my registering for it¬†but right now, I just want to say how excited and nervous and terrified I am but how confident I feel that I’ve made the right choice. ¬†In my head, I’ve already crossed that finish line!

I could use all the good luck and positivity I can get so please leave some in the comments below!

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