>Nearly there – it’s 3 and a half weeks till take-off. Suddenly, I’m in marathon month. One more 20 miler and the taper begins. Well – the sort of taper. A Pfitz-like taper – 3 weeks out from the marathon you still do a 16 miler and a have a 43 mile week, 2 weeks out you do a 12 miler and a 32 mile week and in the week running up to the race you do 22 miles. But it’ll be down from the past weeks, and the past month – in March I clocked up my highest mileage ever, reaching 209 miles. February wasn’t shabby either – 182 miles – and even in January I managed to pull in 133 miles which is good considering I didn’t start training till halfway through.
Overall, so far, taking “the opposite of me” to marathon training has really worked. I’ve talked about this before and perhaps it comes across gimmicky or glib. I suppose a less catchy way of putting it is that I’m trying to break some ingrained habits that have outlived their usefulness. I find that sometimes I get fed up with the predictability of how things don’t work in a certain aspect of my life. I find myself upset, angry and mostly bored with myself – here I am again, banging my head against that same old wall. So slowly what I’m trying to do is look at a situation that is frustrating me and trying to change what I do – trying to change my approach getting into the situation and my approach getting out of the situation..
Have I completely confused you yet? Well – take for example a course I have been contemplating doing. I am Miss Let’s-get-started. I love taking, and particularly, starting courses. And this course would be very helpful for my job. No question about it. So – in the past I would have taken it on. However, I would, more than likely, have found out 3 months into it, that the commitment was more than I could cope with. I would have found this out after a period where I shouted at my kids, shouted at my husband, gained weight, lost self-esteem – yadda yadda yadda. (See what I mean about me boring myself?). I would have finally triggered that the reason I was feeling so miserable was that I had too much on. I would then be all tortured about giving up the course, would have tortured conversations with my boss and my tutor and would eventually give it up.
What I am doing now is trying to break this habit. I’ve got a list in my notebook at work where I put down the pros and cons of doing this course. So far, the cons (missing out on family time, always feeling I should be doing more coursework, and not being able to run as much (!)) outweigh the pros (makes my job easier and gives me better career prospects). Moreover, by putting off the course until I can find more time in my life I am also giving the whole thing much more thought than I normally would – for example, although it would make me better at my job and make me more marketable, I am not sure I want to be in this field at all, in the long term.
See what I mean? Is anyone still reading this? I will get to the point – running-wise.
So I decided to shake things up running-wise as well. So I made the following changes:
- Normally, after a marathon I take time off running altogether and then start again from scratch. This time, after Chicago, I carried on running. Not necessarily high mileage immediately, but up until Christmas I made an effort to run at least one medium-length run a week (9-13M) and to try to get my mileage over the 20M per week at least. By early January, I was running 30M weeks.
- The Pfitzinger 12 week program is a much more aggressive program than I am used to. Higher mileage (particularly mid-week) and much more specific speed and interval workouts. But I’ve just knuckled down and done them. I’ve ignored the voice in my head that says “who are you to be doing intervals? who do you think you are? some kind of athlete?” and just got on with it. That’s not to say every session was beautiful, or went well, or that I always enjoyed it. But I just ignored the negativity and kept up with it. Bad runs are followed by good ones and I’ve kept my faith in that.
- Diet. Haha! I’ve been keeping something up my dri-fit sleeve my friends! Since early January I joined my husband on WeightWatchers. He is on a long-term weight loss plan and my weight had, by the end of December, crept up to the very top of where I wanted to be – 65kgs. This gave me a BMI of 24.2… So since then I have been focusing very much on eating for health and exercise. Wholegrains, vegetables, fruit etc. I have been trying to notice when the moments occur where I eat junk and then being conscious of them, so I can avoid them. In addition, I have really cut down on alchohol. That’s not to say I don’t ever have a drink – but now I try to be really aware of when I would really like a glass of wine, rather than having one as a matter of habit. All in all this has led to me losing over 5 kilos in the past 3 months, bringing my BMI down to a much healthier 21.9.
All these changes, together, are putting me in a very positive frame of mind. Physically I am feeling strong and healthy. I’ve had a few colds and sniffles but nothing serious. My knees are good – at my last visit to the osteopath he said he had never seen me in such good shape and he thinks the increased mileage has really strengthened my quads so that my kneecap is kept more stable. Mentally I feel I am getting ready for London as well. Ready – but not too ready. I am conscious of what I can control and I feel I’ve done a good job in controlling those things. But there are other factors – crowds, congestion, weather and last-minute hiccups – which could prevent me from achieving the PB I am seeking in London. And I am determined to accept that side of things as well – if I don’t PB this time, I will just have to keep on trying until I do. And either way I am really going to enjoy this race. Bring it on!