What does a runner look like..?

Over the last 3 years I’ve discovered a lot about myself, what a runner looks like and what a runner actually is.
In a nut shell, a runner is someone who runs. Fast or slow, smooth, elegant or like a baby giraffe. Large or small, it doesn’t matter. So long as they are moving forward in a running type gait, then they are a runner. You are a runner whether you do 5k in 15 mins, 30 or over 60. If you do it regularly, then you are a runner.

This is prompted by a conversation I had a work last week. A lady came in who does a lot of sports and is pretty fit, she coaches a netball team, all her kids are into sports and every year she tackles the infamous Point to Pinnacle half marathon in November.
My friend and work colleague had thought she was a runner we often see up and down the street early in the morning and I scoffed and said ‘no way’. I was right but what she said to us when I asked ‘are you a runner?’ blew me away.
She says she can do 10k but is not a runner.
You say what..?
I insisted that if she could do that then is most definitely a runner.
Her explanation for why not was because she is too heavy in the midsection – hello me, and so many other women – and that she goes so slowly.
I replied that no matter what she is still moving forward so a runner she is.
Then came the cruncher. The part that really got up my goat.
The part that screams why so many young (and not so young) women don’t start up the sport for health or fitness, or from lack of self-esteem.
“my dad was a marathon runner and said if I ever wanted to run them then I had to lose like 20kgs..” 
I couldn’t believe my ears. This is a woman is tall but not by any stretch of the imagination to be over weight or unfit enough to run a marathon.  
This one sentence perpetuates the myth that a runner has to look a certain way and run at a certain speed.
She may as well have said “..
that to be a runner, is to perform at the elite level. Anything less and you’re not serious enough…”
I couldn’t believe my ears.
There is only a tiny percentage of people in the world who are at that level, and an equally tiny percentage (I do believe it’s the 1-percenters) that have run a marathon.
How do we get across to people – including the donkey who scoffed at my hope of getting under 5hrs for a marathon one day – that a runner comes in all shapes, sizes and speeds.
Given that most of the general public couldn’t run 2 kms let alone 5, the woman above is most definitely a runner. Big hips or not.
I have had customers ask ‘was it you I saw jogging last night?’ or similar, and while the term jogging irks me, at least they are complimentary on the fact I am out there being active. Especially as one person put it ‘…after you run around in here so busy all day and then go and do that..’ My after work running is just like their trip to the pub. A routine that makes us feel good. Others have said, ‘good work out there’ and ‘you do a lot of running, I see you every time I go out’.  It’s interesting how differently people see the act of running compared to a team sport. Team sports are fun. Running is boring.  I see it simply as everyone is out there running around (after balls, with sticks or bats) and having fun, keeping fit.
We need to teach our kids that running (and all other sports really) is good for the soul, and body. Talk to any group of women and they will tell you that running is their therapy, it clears their heads, helps them be better wives and parents. I know that no matter how achy I feel the next day, running makes my day job easier and my head is clearer.
The important thing here is that while size is not and should not be a deterrent to exercising, the less weight you carry around makes things a whole lot easier. I know I feel the difference between now and when I started 4 years ago, nearly 10k heavier. I have more control over my body and can manoeuvre it in ways I never used to be able to.
So, no matter your size or fitness, get out there and give it a go.
If you say you’ll get fit before you go to the gym or start running then you have missed the point. How do you think those fit people at the gym started??
Getting out there are starting is the hardest part but also the easiest. Keeping on going when you want to stop is what sets us apart from everyone else.
Be fit, be strong, be You.
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Do you walk when you run..?

A quick question. It is asked all the time for various validation purposes.
If you walk during a running race does the distance still count?
If you want to complete a certain distance then you have to run the whole thing?
I’m not doing a marathon until I can run the whole distance.

Yes, No and if that’s what rows your boat.

Does it really matter if you take a short walk break?
Does it make you any less of a runner?

NO and NO

I put these questions out there after a conversation I had the other day with some other runners and also reading about those who worry about whether they are real runners or not.
If you are out there running, slow or fast, then you are a runner.
If you want to take a short breather then go for it. It’s your body, you know how it feels and performs.

Kudos to you if you can run a distance without stopping – no matter how long or short it is. That’s called dedication and major stamina. I certainly don’t think any less of you of you walk sometimes, or can’t do a half or full marathon without the odd walk break.
Hell, my last flat half I walked each of the water stations and still got myself a decent pb. And don’t try telling me I am not a runner.

As for the comment about not wanting to do a marathon until you can run the whole distance – well, that’s entirely up to you. I find it’s putting too much of an expectation on yourself, and feeling the need to push too far. This is for the layman runner – the elites, well they run marathons in their sleep. I only mention about the expectations because you never know what can happen on race day. All your training might go super well and on the day it falls apart. You are then majorly disappointed in yourself instead of saying ‘I did it! I ran a marathon!’
I ran a marathon, even though the last 5kms were more of a walk-shuffle, I still did it. I never expected to run the whole way, I followed my body. I never once thought ‘I have to run the whole way’.

My thoughts on it. If you run then you are a runner.
Fast or slow, you are a runner.
5k or 100k, you are a runner.
Take walk beaks occasionally, you are a runner.

So, run or walk and have fun, as you are all lapping everyone on the couch.

Jennifer

City 2 Casino 11k (7k)

It was all going well until it wasn’t.
Sometimes it works.
Sometimes it all falls in a heap.
And sometimes it gets all muddled up.
Which is what happened for my last race.
I was all over the training, and then I was over the training.
Life and general busyness got in the way and my training fell somewhat by the wayside.
The plan was written up, the first two weeks went well and then I just got sick of it. I spose it got to feeling too much like hard work. My aim for any race these days is to have fun and finish the distance.
Now I know I can do a 10K distance, I’m not overly fussed about getting too much faster – because I am having fun at this speed – I want to just run.

I keep up with running several times a week and incorporating several stretch or gym sessions as well, and feel reasonably confident heading into Sunday’s run.
Then it happened.
Sunday morning started like any other race day, a few nerves, several trips to the loo and then settling in to the inevitable of what would happen.
We got to town and I randomly checked my phone only to have a message pop up from a friend.
Our race was cancelled.
A burst water main had exploded all over the highway where we were to be running.
……What was this… A bad dream, a sick joke…
I quickly got onto Facebook and… No, the same news was all over my feed.
11k cancelled and we are to do the 7k instead.
Holy Moses.
I wasn’t prepared for 7km.
Now you might think that being a shorter race meant it would be easier and all that. But I find it’s a whole ‘nother mind set. Seven is a squidge past 5 so I am more likely to run it faster. Ten is a long run and I work on the first 2-3k to get into a rhythm and settle into pace.  Now I had to push it quick and with an uphill start.
I told my friends – when questioned on my thoughts of time – I don’t really train this distance so I’d try around the 6min pace mark and go from there. Just play it by ear.

This was a tough one for me, I think I let the mental get a hold of my head and it put me off. Well, I put me off really.  I decided to ‘run to feel’ which worked for most of the way. I still pushed harder than I would on a ‘run to feel’ and I’m glad I did. I felt really good after finishing and was so proud of my consistent pace. I suppose it helps that I enjoy the 10k and it’s a comfortable distance. You need to train but not too much, and it’s over relatively quickly.

All in all it’s a good result and it now means I can wait another year or two before I do the 7 for real. While properly training for it.

Keep the training going, be strong.  Jen

2km to go. Getting tired.
Oh my, the last 50m is in sight, time to smile and actually look like I’m enjoying this.. I did, really.

What’s your exercise?

And why do you do it?

I got thinking about this at work today after a customer came in – Not wearing her active wear like she usually does – and we commented about the 3 sets of clothes we have. Work wear, gym wear and dressing up.

My colleague asked what gym she uses and so it started. She goes to a F45 class. My colleague has started gym work as physio recovery and fitness after cancer treatment. I run.

I’m not sure why our customer does the gym, but I’m pretty sure with her job as a nurse it would help her with the strength required for certain duties at work. As a larger girl, she may not look fit but I could almost guarantee her strength would knock me out the water.

My college does it purely so surgery scars don’t hurt, and she can move the way she used to, or as close to as possible. From experience seeing other people with similar surgeries not doing their physio and how they are faring now, she is doing absolutely the right thing. She is pretty fit from all the running around and lifting we do at work, but her reasons for gym work are for something completely different.

Me. I run. My strength training is purely to help my running. Keep things strong. All the benefits of that are definitely a bonus and appreciated. While I know that to get a firmer midsection, or leaner arms I have to work certain exercises and do more of them, I am not in it purely for the aesthetics. That would take up too much of my time, which I don’t have.

Why do I run? For fitness and physical well-being. Because I like to eat. For my own future, and staving off the injuries I may get. Oh, and because I love to eat.

When a family member has had knee reconstructions, and other physical ailments like that, you want to help keep you body a healthy as possible.
I love running and it’s good for me. I love the pain I feel in the moment. I love the relief when I’m finished. I love the rush of endorphins, and how I feel afterwards.

What is your exercise?  Why do you do it?

Run the Bridge, Feb 18

The usual pre race nerves set in a few days before hand. The weather, my bib, clothes, food and hydration, getting there on time.

My training had gone well and I was feeling good, ready to start and finish the race – enjoying it all the way.

We arrived at the start with plenty of time and I did some stretches and chatted with hubby before he had to leave – making sure he got to the finish line in time.

I headed to my usual mid pack starting position and loosely jiggled on my toes.
The 4 minutes between the elites and us starting were painfully long.
The start of this race is always tough because the route turns the first km into a bottleneck where you have to jump and weave to not be tripped or trip anyone else.

I decided right on the start that I would not check my watch at each km notification, I would listen to my body and go with the flow. The km markers were pretty spot on as my watch buzzed almost exactly at each one.

I slowed for a drink at the first station then paced myself up the first hill. It’s a sharp incline that is worse than the main event (the height of the bridge), and I didn’t want to walk too much. A short couple of walks and I was at the top and getting into cruise mode again.

Coming up towards the bridge and there was a huge crowd – 5k walkers and runners and cheer squads – the place was pumping. People cheered us as we passed them making our way up to the crest. Just past the top and the next race started. They surged past us, sprinting down the bridge. It was most off-putting, after settling into a rhythm and then having it all go out of whack – I lost the runner I was following and felt a bit lost and slow in all the speedsters around me.

It was at the 7km mark that I saw the 60 min pacer and knew I was reasonably on target – I will admit, I had checked my watch one around the 5k mark.  Losing them while I grabbed another drink was no great drama and I continued on my way. I was  happy knowing I may or may not make the sub 60.

The next two kms were tough, the end is so close yet so far away. The last km is though a mass of support and cheers, and really keeps you going.  Five hundred meters away from the crown to mini incline and turnaround and then it’s the race to the finish.  Most of the time anyway. As I headed back down to the corner and finishing, I gave myself a talking to. “Slow down, don’t rush it, smile, relax, finish strong, finish smiling”. I loosened my shoulders and off I went. Smiling the whole way down the chute, no weird sprint and angst face, just smiling and feeling good.

There is 1 good picture – the other 2 I have my eyes shut. Go figure, I don’t even know where the photographer is and I still have my eyes shut.

Crossing the line I save my tomtom, only to discover is says 9.98kms – but the time, 57.57 is all I’m worried about. Woohoo, pb time, for both the distance and race.

The official time was 57.54. I’m very happy and rest a few days before getting back into training for the next race. I think it shows what the plan can do, I was consistent and adding in the strength and interval workouts really helped.


Back to it. Happy training and finish strong.

Cadbury 10k – 14/1/18

After a month or more off and doing pretty well nothing since Point to Pinnacle I was sorely under trained for this race.
I made an effort to get a few runs in and mediocre strength training, at least so my joints would be able to manage to movement.
Each run was tough and wore me out, but I knew I had to get back into it somewhere – and the first race of the year is the best place to test the waters. Well, kind of.
I certainly wasn’t worried bout a pb, if it happened then I’d be happy, otherwise, finish the race was the important thing.
Start the race, finish the race. Smile and have fun.

We arrived in plenty of time to do the usual toilet line up and leave me with the RMA’s for a photo.
I positioned myself in my regular spot – middle of the pack – and once we started I kept my eyes out for the 60 min pacer. While the time wasn’t overly important I like to have an idea of where I’m travelling. I was ahead of him until just past the 7k mark then he left me in his wake. Each kilometre was hard, and I felt like I was wading through mud. Cumbersome and un co-ordinated.
Catching up again at 9k he paced me up the hill and was waiting to push us through the finishing chute.

The race as whole was tough, but I managed a smile as I passed the photographer – resulting in one of my best race pictures to date.
The rest of them…yeah, I really have to work on my Kenyan/finishing face. Better yet, figure out how to get rid of it, replacing it with a huge smile.

I’m super happy with result of sub-60, narrowly missing my pb by 23 seconds. That’s not an issue, really it isn’t. I ran, I had fun for the most part, and I finished. My bonus, finishing under the hour and still upright. Smiling and happy.

My word for this year is Stronger, my hashtag #believebefinishstronger and that is exactly what I plan to do. I have started well, and I want to continue on this way.

Run strong

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My Journey – the first 2 years…

In the two years I’ve been running ‘seriously’ – as in training and running events, not just running for the love of it – I’ve had one hell of a fun time.

There have been amazing highs and heart breaking lows.
I’ve had fantastic races and great times.
I’ve had bad runs, horridly slow runs and runs that felt like I was wading through quick sand.
There have been jumping for joy and feeling strong as an ox runs.
There were injuries that broke my soul, and jerked me backwards.
Many a finish with mile wide smiles and one that was an ambulance ride with my first DNF.
My first year was full of learning – testing all the races, running whatever and whenever I could. Burnt myself out.
My second year was frought with injury and near misses – Lessons on strength and how to look after my body.
Time to look at my third year…take all those lessons, all those races and make it bigger and better. Make it the best I can achieve. Be the best version of me.
All my races are #earnednotgiven.
Through hard work and determination comes success and results.
What they will be determined…faster, stronger, longer.

 

If you’d told me five or six years ago I would be on this road and wishing it never stop, I would have laughed you out of the room. Ridiculous.  This was a dream I had long given up on achieving, so when I started again it was purely for fun and exercise. Now the dream is well and truly alive and kicking.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of those 18 amazing races.

5 Km x 3 – PB 28.38
10km x 6 – PB 59.14
21.1 km x 5 – PB 2.16.58
42.2 x 1 – PB 5.08.38
DNF – 1 25.4/42.2 kms

Most enjoyable race – Ross half 2017
Hardest race – Ross Marathon 2016
Easiest race – Crank-E 5km 2017
Most punishing race – Point to Pinnacle 2017
Best all-rounder – City to Casino
The race to crack – Cadbury Marathon
Toughest race ‘personally’ – GCAM 2017
Distance I’d like to better my PB in – Marathon

I have one more race to end the year – I started this year on New Years Day and I finish it on New Years Eve with the same race. Not sure if I’ll get a pb, but it will be fun as hubby is running it with me this time. edit: no pb (3mins off my earlier time and hubster beat me which I am so happy about!)

I’ve learnt from the last two years and am looking forward to the new year and what amazing experiences it brings with it.

Going forward this evening, my word for the new year is Stronger.

The toughest race is ahead….

Yep, it’s that time of the year again. Point to Pinnacle is coming up in just over a week (not 4 days like I thought) and I’m starting to get those nervous feels. The everyday regular nerves that come before something big happens. Nerves that happen in various degrees before a race – the bigger the race (or the first timeI do a particular race) the bigger the nerves.
I’m pretty confident of my chances in making it to the top despite several hazards along the way this year.  I’ve had numerous injuries and my training has been all over the place.  My mojo has come and gone and I’ve had moments of ‘negative Nancy’ being all over me.  The distance is not the issue, it’s the incline that scares me.

Make it to the top!
Training – I am both excited and apprehensive about the coming week and my last few workouts. My incline training has been non-existent for a good month so I know, should we get to go all the way up, my legs are going to kill me the next day. The thought of being able to say ‘I did it!, I conquered the Mountain’ is what will keep me going, that mind over matter. The challenge to push myself to the limits. The weather has been good so the odds of getting to the top are in our favour.
Weather – I am in two minds about this – do I want it to be wet and miserable like last year, or fine and sunny.  Wet and miserable means we will be taking the alternate route and doing 21kms to the Longley Pub, which would be a beautiful run up and over the hill, which would be an awesome and non stressfull finish.
Sunny, of course, means a trip to the top. Which I really want to achieve.
PB? – This of course, will happen if we get to all the way. Should we go up and over and finish at the pub..? then I will trot along like I did last year, and hope for the best. Running in that sort of rain, I am more worried about falling arse over and doing serious injury than making a PB. Like I said to a lady at work today, I don’t care if I come last, so long as I make it to the top before the bus has to pick me up. My goal is simply to finish.

Get to the start line.
Run the race.
Have fun.
Cross the finish line!

Getting to the start is half the battle.  I will be reading over and (loosely) following my plan from last years run (even though I didn’t need it in the end).  My splits for last years run was around the 70 min mark for the turnaround at 10k. That was right on time, about 35 mins per 5km. If I can manage that this year then it gives me 2 hours – another 120 mins to get 11 more kms under my belt. Doable..? I think so.

Train well, be consistent, Enjoy the run.
Jennifer

Ross 2017 – 21.1km

After a rocky training schedule I started race day with one thing in mind. Finish the race.

During my interrupted training I knew I was good for the distance so decided to continue as I could with whatever strength and stretching routines I could muster up.

On the day I drove to Ross with a friend and we arrived early enough to pic up bibs, take a walk, stretch and make the copious toilet stops before the start. I was feeling good and had made the last minute decision to run naked – no hydration. The weather was looking ok, not much sun, dark clouds promising rain and the usual Ross wind.

As we started off I made sure to keep my pace slow, purposely bringing it back down. One of my many running faults is to start out too quick and then die in the back half. I didn’t want that to happen this time.
The first drink station is around the 4-5km mark and by then I was ready for some fluids. And a lolly or two. Imagine my horror when I see no lolly bowls at the ready. Nothing, nada, zip. Oh well, they might be at the next one. Nope, no such luck.

Walking through with my drink I sipped a bit then continued on. The infamous Ross headwind started just past the tree lined part on a long 3km section of open road and that set the mood for the rest of the run. Tough.
Ironically, it was this section of the road on the way out I started my music with the first song being ‘Road to Nowhere’ from the Talking Heads.

I pushed along the long and lonely road, by this time I was pretty well on my own. A few half and full marathon runners passed me. As I got closer to the turn for That Hill there was a little congestion but nothing too bad. Eyeing off the hill for the first time in 12 months was weird. Knowing I only needed to do it twice gave me comfort, as did the size of it, I had remembered it as something that resembled Everest (or for Tasmanians, Mount Wellington). I powered up it and got close to half way before the steep kicked in and I shuffle/walked the rest. Near the top I picked up the pace and continued on down the other side.

The rest of the run went smoothly, walked through the drink stations, sipping then emptying the rest over my head, and moving along, doing an occasional walk as I felt it.

At 17kms I was feeling good, running alongside another RMA and checking my watch saw that if I kept the current pace I could get a pb. Woohoo! I was still aiming to finish so just kept moving. A  friend was approaching on her second lap and I ran in front of her attempting a couple of jumps. We high fived and continued on. Boy, that wore me out, I shouldn’t do that again mid-race. Walked most of the hill and kept on moving.

The last turn was in sight and my watch said I was going to get a good time. Pushing on, looking at the mantra on my shoes – Finish Strong – and ploughed down Main Street. A surprise, and awesome support, came from car on the side  door opens and a voice calls out “Go Jennifer!!” I look around, wave and grin like a Cheshire, then pushed on harder. The little things, running side by side not talking, a shout out from a car, high fiving friends, saying ‘good luck’ ‘well done’ ‘keep it up’ are all welcome as it gives a boost we may not realise we need.

I approach the last corner and check my watch – omg! – vere to the right as I hit the finishing chute, grabbing the pb bell and giving it a good ring.

This race was one of my best. For numerous reasons. I wanted to finish, I wasn’t fully worried about a pb (always good, but now, not essential) and feeling stronger due to my regular strength workouts.

Beating even my wildest dreams for this (or any) race and gaining two personal bests over two consecutive years at the same Race location. First my marathon, now the half – wonder if I could make it a trifecta when I return to do the ten k next year?

A huge smile and absolute relief. Finished 21.1km in 2.16.58.
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We started the half as the clocked ticked over 1.30 from the full marathon start.

Train well, train with fun and keep working on being the best version of you, Jennifer

Half training, motivation

I had a short break (like a couple of days) upon returning from the Gold Coast and then jumped straight back into training, this time for Ross.  I’m now wondering, with my motivation waning, whether I should have taken a longer break. I have moments where I run simply because I have to, not because I want to. I make excuses, I slack off. I’m not running because I really can’t be bothered.  When I’m in the mood I go crazy, I can run, do my gym and eat well without missing a beat.  This as been hit and miss for a few weeks now.  I’ve got three weeks til Ross and while I know I can do the distance without too much issue,  I have moments of thinking I’m not prepared enough.  Then there’s the fuelling issue – do I take my hydration belt, my new jetpack backpack or do I go with nothing but my watch. The option to do a long run with no hydration is very tempting. The feeling of freedom, lightweight, nothing bogging me down so to speak. But then I know I like to have a drink whenever I feel like it. On the other hand I know the course from last year and where the drink stations are. Including the one at the start/finish there are 3, plenty over the course of 10kms.

How do I work my training after this race  Do I follow my own plan after this, or give it two weeks between race and plan commencement?  Right now, I’m thinking my own plan. Work on the strength and aim to do 2 or 3 runs per week. A long run on the weekend and the others where I fit them in. I know when I was being more consistent with my strength the runs were easier, and I felt better when doing them. Ah the  problems. First world ones at that.  I am grateful that I can run, despite my few injuries this year, I am still going, still moving forward.

I realise as I write/fumble my way through this, why I am feeling this way. There are stresses at work, and I’m doing 10 hour days for the next however long, which at times will feel twice that, my husband is going through some stuff, and I’m tired.  I need that one sleep in a week (preferably not on my long run day), to stop doing too much,  working on being the best wife and mother I can, and the best employee I can be. I don’t like to be doing nothing, or letting everyone do things for me not when I know I can do them myself.

So after that little bit of nonsense, I think I will take a longer break after this next race before I start my planning for Point to Pinnacle. It doesn’t mean I won’t run, jus  that I won’t have a plan to run to, just strength and run, nothing more, nothing less.

Train as you feel it, don’t push it, your body will know what to do.

jennifer