My Accidental Marathon

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

― Dr. Seuss, Oh the places we go

I would like to propose another item to add to the infamous “death and taxes” list: the dreaded car service. But while the first two really are entirely dreadful and predictable, I have come to discover that there can be interesting and unintended consequences to the latter…

I had to take a day off work only to be stranded for the better part of that day in a town which I don’t like and wait for a certain car dealership to charge me a minor fortune before reuniting me with my vehicle. Sounds like a hoot, doesn’t it? Well actually, it was.

Rather than twiddling my thumbs all day over a good book and a series of lattes, I instead opted to go for a run. I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised that running has the power to make everything a lot more fun – even dull cities and waiting to be robbed blind by a corporate giant. I hadn’t planned the run in any way; I decided this morning that I’ll go for a run and just grabbed my trainers, hydration pack, £5 and some good tunes.

I dropped off the car and then I ran. And ran. And ran some more. I meandered my way around the city, following a vague path from green space to green space, hoping to find some trails in the urban jungle. After I had passed the imaginary 20 kilometre marker, I felt worthy of a reward and briefly dashed into the next bakery, bought some cake and nibbled away at this over the course of the next kilometre or so. Eating a slice of carrot cake on a long run was a novel experiment in running nutrition and as such had the potential to go very wrong indeed. However, although it wasn’t the most practical thing to eat while moving, it proved to be great fuel for even more running. But after another 45 minutes had passed I felt renewed prangs of hunger, and briefly contemplated more cake. A bout of soul (or rather, stomach) searching, however, revealed that what I really craved was something savoury, so I made a beeline for the nearest supermarket and acquired a bag of crisps – the second experiment in running nutrition, with results comparable to the carrot cake case study. I also picked up a tried-and-tested chocolate bar to avoid the need for further pit stops.

With no news on the car and my body willing and able, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and continued my quest as a seeker of green spaces in a grey city. When the call finally came to inform me that my car was ready I had run 45km. By Pheidippides!

marathon thoughts

Okay, I admit that I just love the fact that I accidentally ran a marathon and a bit. However, once the sheepish schoolgirl giggles calmed down, there are a few important lessons which I have learned from this particular run:

1)      Long runs are all about having fun and staying comfortable. Ok, this isn’t exactly an epiphany, but this particular run brought these truths home to me like never before. Long runs are most enjoyable when the pace is being kept to something that feels like a doddle and much time is spent simply enjoying the scenery. I just went for it and took care of my physical needs and – lo and behold – it turns out I continued to run strong for a very long time. I should add that I felt that I could have gone on for much longer and only stopped because it was time to get my car. And it’s a good thing too that I stopped before I did something seriously silly, as I still need my legs to handle the demands of an intensive half-marathon training schedule!

2)      I’m amazed that my body let me get away with eating cake and crisps on a run. It appears that I have been unnecessarily cautious with running nutrition in the past. While I’ve always believed that there’s no right or wrong when it comes to running nutrition, I’m realising now that I haven’t been as open-minded about it as I could and perhaps should have been. The bottom line is that on long runs, we need calories; and we need to get them in whatever form we can tolerate. Giving in to my silly cravings (aka listening to my body!) worked wonderfully for me; it turns out that my body can be bribed to go on forever as long as I keep feeding it calorific comfort food… I expect to get a lot more adventurous in future!

3)      I learned to not worry about long runs. Yes, they are hard, and when things go wrong, they easily have the potential to go very, very wrong. However, it’s not the end of the world.  Long runs are our chance to enjoy our hobby in all its glory; to see a lot of the world and reap the rewards of our hard-earned fitness. They are also a good opportunity to try new stuff.

4)      This particular long run has demystified the marathon, which is a great breakthrough after my meltdown in Athens. Running a marathon doesn’t have to be painful. It doesn’t even have to be particularly hard. Sure, when running to smash that PB, pushing the pace for such a long distance will always require a hefty dose of masochism. However, there’s a different way to run a marathon: it can also be run leisurely and genuinely enjoyed all the way. My whole escapade saw me out and about for 4 hours and 50 minutes, was a fair bit longer than a marathon and included two pit stops at the shops (really, you’ve got to laugh). Sure, it’s slow, but still far from embarrassingly slow. More importantly, it was so much fun that it’s left me wanting to do it all again. And after all, isn’t that one of the most important – but often overlooked – aspect of our training?

Two Nights, One Village

Considering that I’m a trail-running tree-hugger at heart, I never thought that I could enjoy spending wintry evenings running on the roads.

The fact is that I simply wouldn’t feel safe on the trails in the darkness, especially because I often run on my own. I still haven’t been able to move myself to head to the gym and revisit the dreadmill, so this week, in a somewhat desperate move, I’ve simply stepped out my front door and ran around my village.

Inspired by the lovely smallislandrunner, I decided to make a game out of it, and over two evenings ran along every street in my little village. I’ve lived here for a few years, but this still helped me discover a few nooks and crannies I have never visited before.

What’s more, it’s been really good fun – I enjoyed the silence of the streets at night, watching my shadow dance in the street lamp light and listening to my footfall on the damp sidewalks.

Isn’t it funny how things that we dread can turn out to be so good for us?

Pittenweem Night

The Greatest Metaphor for Life

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”

Never before have the lessons I learn from running and life in general been as similar as they are now.

In a previous post, I have marvelled at finding a renewed joy in running, now that the organised training for a marathon is behind me.

I’m discovering that with the loss of structure and no longer being committed to a cause comes a wonderful and delicious sense of freedom. And with freedom come new opportunities. I am free to run whenever I want, simply follow my heart to new or old places and do so for as long as I desire. I am learning that I am the type of person who is happy to take a risk and doesn’t get crushed by failure.

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It turns out that I quite like the thrill of being a little bit lost in the world. It opens up the possibility of finding new paths to travel, whether by running them on my own two legs or more an exploration of life in general.

And no, I’m not going to apologise for the positive and dreamy nature of this post, because that is who I am!

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We Learn From Failure, Not From Success.

“I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it, I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.”

–  Edna St. Vincent Millay

Prior to running the Athens Classical Marathon, I had contemplated a plethora of possible race scenarios: great run, good run, fun run, slow run, tough run, seemingly endless run, painful run… The one thing that wasn’t on my list of conceivable outcomes was the dreaded DNF. This post is not really intended as a moan about the first race I’ve not completed (ok, maybe a little); it’s mostly about accepting that stuff (and other things beginning with s) happens.

I’m happy to make a mistake. Heck, sometimes I go and make the same mistake three or four times, just to make sure that it’s definitely a mistake. However, now that I have learned that making a mistake in a marathon results in a long, long journey of inconceivable misery, which slowly descends towards a final destination in the depths of deepest despair, I have decided that there are some mistakes I’d rather not repeat.*

So what went wrong?

First and foremost, I simply wasn’t prepared for the heat on the day of the race. And to be fair, nobody was prepared for that, as average temperatures in Athens are around 14 degrees in November. On the day of the marathon, it was officially 26 degrees, but my watch clocked a scorching 31 degrees around lunchtime. To say that I didn’t train in these conditions is an understatement – living in Scotland, I never had a chance to do so.

Still, on the day of the race I did everything as I had practised during my long runs – which meant that after a mere 12 kilometres I was experiencing the first signs of dehydration.

At this point, my lack of experience with the distance and conditions meant that I never realised what was happening to me and therefore failed to do anything useful to remedy the situation. If I had slowed down significantly at this point in the race and re-fuelled properly, I believe that I might have drastically changed the nature of my subsequent run.

Instead, I just decided to do what every darn motivational message about marathons tells you to do; I kept going when things got tough. As it turned out, this was the single worst thing I could have done. (Oh, hindsight!) I’ve learned an important lesson about marathons (and life in general) and that is that there is only one rule when it comes to holes: when you are in one, don’t keep digging.

Ultimately, my marathon debut ended after 40 kilometres as a result of a rookie hydration and nutrition mistake, coupled with my complete lack of experience of how to deal with these issues.

However, it would be unfair to write the whole event off as a failure.

Head in Hands

Despite not crossing the finish line, it wasn’t all bad:

I ran 40 km in one go, which is further than I have ever run before. Okay, so it was two kilometres short of the finish line.  On a training run, that little shortfall wouldn’t even bother me. I still ran from Marathon to Athens, and the modern route is longer than that which Pheidippides ran all those years ago. Unlike the Greek hero, I survived the experience (barely). Hey, I even got further than Paula Radcliffe did on the same route in 2004.

Secondly, I absolutely loved the training. Not for a second did I think that it was all for nothing – nothing that happened on the day of the race can diminish the 1000 wonderful kilometres I have run in preparation for the race. I also believe that my training itself was good – my legs felt great on the day and my recovery was swift.

On the day, I handled the tricky start of the race quite well, in that my pacing was steady and appropriate. I have some fantastic memories of locals handing olive branches to the runners around the tomb of Marathon and even brought one home with me. I loved seeing hundreds of children standing by the side of the road, watching the runners fly by with big, admiring eyes and outstretched hands waiting for a high-five. I was happy to oblige, as often as I could.

I actually ran a pretty good and well-paced first half of the marathon. I should add that I’m reasonably familiar with racing the half-marathon distance. Although I have never before run into trouble as early as 12km in a race before, I somehow can’t help but think that I subconsciously went into some half-marathon survival mode which I didn’t even know I possess, but which could nevertheless come in very handy in future races.

Finally, I’m genuinely glad that I stopped when I did. Pulling out of the race was not easy, but it has taught me a lot about myself as a person and as a runner. Some runners drop out of races the moment their goal time becomes unattainable while others don’t drop out until they literally collapse. I was physically unwell when I stopped; shaking and weakened by severe cramps. Clearly, I’m not a runner who will run myself to oblivion for the sake of a medal. I’m cool with that. I am grateful for the moment of clarity I had during the darkest moments of the race: I run for fun, because I enjoy it and because it’s good for me. Ok, so I won’t be an Olympic runner any time soon. I’m glad I’ve cleared that up for myself.

And now the rant – I’m sorry. (I’m not sorry.)

Sometimes, dropping out of a race is the right thing to do. There, I said it. I know it directly defies the countless pictures, articles, motivational slogans, mugs, t-shirts, and whatnots which suggest that running is painful but that true runners are so awesome they rise above the pain and keep going anyways. I’ve learned that this can be a dangerous message. Running on tired legs and fighting fatigue is one thing every runner needs to face at some point. However, this should not be confused with running through an injury or genuine physical distress, which is just silly, self-destructive and dangerous.

I’m not trying to justify my own actions; I maintain that I am glad that I dropped out of my first marathon. Sure, a DNF is a nasty blow to the system (not to mention ego), but I’d take it any day over a medal presented in conjunction with an IV drip in the back of an ambulance on route to the nearest A&E.

Because I dropped out, I was able to run again in the days that followed the race. It also meant that despite everything, my first marathon has been a positive experience for me, and one which has taught me so much!

forward

*Naturally, I’m already planning my next marathon.

Marathon Madness is (Almost) Upon Me

My bags are packed, my animals have been delivered into the care of trusted friends, my plants have been generously watered and my travel documents have been checked and double checked. Tomorrow I will board the plane to Athens and begin my much-needed ten day vacation on the Aegean shores.  Oh, and then there’s that little excursion to Marathon on Sunday morning.

what could go wrong

I’m 5 days away from running my first marathon, and I feel like a child who is counting down the days until Christmas… Someone once said that the marathon race itself is a runner’s lap of honour to celebrate all the hard training, which is a great way of looking at it I think.

During my taper, I had plenty of time to reflect upon my training. I hope I don’t sound arrogant when I say that this has gone a long way to soothing my pre-race nerves. For one, my training has gone genuinely well – I’ve hit all my weekly targets, while remaining flexible and sensible during individual runs. Tallying up the total number of kilometres I’ve run in training over the past 16 weeks, I realised that this number will cross into four figure territory during the marathon on Sunday. Regardless of what happens on Sunday, it won’t change the fact that for the first time in my life I have run 1000km in four months!

I’ve even been uncharacteristically well behaved during the taper itself (so far!). Only once did I run significantly longer than I should have done and I didn’t sneak in any extra runs or naughty cross training. Bashing out two tempo runs on consecutive days was the only genuine act of idiocy I own up to.

I’m fairly certain that this act of self-restraint was only possible because I kept myself occupied with other marathon-related tasks during the taper. My mp3 player is now loaded with a carefully assembled marathon soundtrack. My poor muscles have been stretched and stretched some more. The sports massages were amazing and I’ve discovered foam rolling (seriously, it’s something else!). Finally, I think my podiatric tlc might have rescued a toenail I had already written off long ago.

So now there’s not much left to do but to get on that plane and keep counting down the days until I get to run my lap of honour!

Dreadmill Revelations

Today, the inconceivable has come to pass. Snowballs are flying in hell as I write this. Rome is burning. Yours truly had a good run on the treadmill.

Wait, what? I must admit that I’m still pretty shell-shocked myself and am trying to figure out how that could have happened. Perhaps it was just one of those days when Venus and the Moon aligned on some celestial plane, meaning that any run was destined to be awesome, regardless of the conditions. I also haven’t discounted the possibility that I may have just been temporarily possessed. The fact remains that the girl who lives by this motto

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actually had a good time running on the spot in a sweaty room full of strangers for more than an hour.

So what exactly did go, well… right? I can think of a whopping three reasons:

Firstly, I had a terrible run last night, and by terrible I mean dreadful. I joined my athletics club for a workout, not appreciating that they have moved to the winter training schedules, which means running in packs around village roads by night. (I’m still trying to simply ignore winter, so it really did take me by surprise). To make matters worse, the coach promptly sent me off with the fast paced group. While I’m glad that he has faith in me, it meant that I spent the better part of a nightly hour chasing a group of super athletes around dimly-lit streets. In the rain. They were casually discussing their sub-three hour marathon plans while I was basically fighting for my life. I never knew that my lungs were capable of generating such pain. I was roasting beneath the water-repellent-my-ass layers of my reflective rain coat, but unable to take it off lest I wanted to become a target for approaching cars. Trust me, that particular thought did not go uncontemplated throughout the evening. When the ordeal was finally over, I barely managed to stagger back to my car and the dry heaves lasted all night. But because all runners share a bit of a masochistic personality trait, today I was naturally raring to go again, keen to redeem myself. It was dark and wet yet again, so I jumped on the treadmill with a most primal “bring-it-on” attitude, knowing that whatever torture it would fathom, it could never rival last night’s agony. As it was, I found immense satisfaction in watching the rain tickle down the outside of the window in front of me. Therefore, revelation number one is that a positive attitude really helps. Who would have thought?

Secondly, I never run with music – until today. When I’m outside, I quite like listening to the wind, the waves, and the chirping of the birds (yes, I’m a treehugger). On a more practical level, I also consider it a perk to be able to hear approaching cars, wildebeests and chainsaw wielding psychopaths before the point of impact. However, earlier this week I purchased a little mp3 player and have started putting together a soundtrack for the looming marathon. Today I took the musical set-up for a trial run. I’m happy to report that the headphones are comfy, the sound is clear, the mp3 player didn’t drown in my sweat and the whole thing had the nifty and unexpected side effect of making my time on the treadmill infinitely more interesting. Revelation number two: the next time I will find myself facing the dreadmill, I shall again be armed with my loaded mp3 player.

This brings me to my final point about the joys of running on a treadmill. My training schedule demanded a threshold run from me today. My initial plan involved hitting the track (another once-in-a-very-blue-moon occurrence with me) for some good old “Yasso 800s” – I know, I know, not quite a TR but still speedwork. But due to the darkness and the rain, and mostly not wanting to repeat last nights torment (oh dear God no), I took the workout to the treadmill. And oh boy did it spice things up… the miles flew by and for the first time I know for a fact that I completed the whole workout faithfully and at the correct pace. There’s huge satisfaction in that. Revelation number 3: treadmills are great for structured speedwork; and running hard intervals makes the time pass much, much faster!

Today, the girl who runs wild has stepped upon her arch-nemesis. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’ve found an ally against winter in the treadmill, but I think it is fair to say that I have at least taken the first few steps away from the warpath. I’ll always prefer running outside*, and the wilder the trail the more I’m likely to enjoy it. However, after today, I must concede through gritted teeth that running on the dreadmill can certainly be worthwhile, bearable, and dare I say it, fun.

*Last night excluded

P.S.: I can confirm that this is also true:

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A Tale of Twenty Miles

After a very misty but very awesome autumn trail run this afternoon, I’m spending my evening tabbing between the Met Office website and Google Maps in an attempt to decide where to head for my long run this weekend.

My training schedule calls for another 20 miler; the last one before the actual marathon. (Hang on, did anyone else just hear Beethoven’s Fifth ringing in the air?). I could just re-visit the trails, which will no doubt make the run a lot more interesting, not to mention more challenging. As it is, I’m contemplating an excursion to the Hermitage in Dunkeld:

hermitage

On the other hand, it would probably be wiser to just hit the local roads – I do most of my running on trails and my legs could probably do with the pounding on concrete before the actual marathon. Besides, it’s not as though the roads around where I live are bad either:

Pittenweem Aerial

But while I’m trying to decide where to run, I’m actually finding myself feeling a little apprehensive about this particular run before I’ve even laced up my trainers. I usually love my long runs, so I’m not exactly sure what has brought about this emotional dragging of feet.

Could it be the fact that the met office is promising a type of weather for the weekend which lends itself to little other than curling up in front of the fire with a hot coco? While I’m not exactly a fair weather runner, spending the better part of three hours running around in freezing, horizontal rain will no doubt complicate my strategy for coping with winter (which currently involves simply and stubbornly denying its existence).

I might also just be getting a little twitchy because this long run will be my last run before I cross the all-important boundary into taper territory. If you must know, I taper about as well as a lumberjack would dance the Swan Lake.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I just can’t shake off the feeling that this last long run will have a disproportionately hefty impact on how I’ll feel during the actual race. Sure, I’ve run 20 milers before and have even felt good doing so, but it somehow seems that all good training would be eclipsed by a lousy, final long run with no further chance to redeem myself before the big race. This may not sound very rational, but since when do hearts obey any rules of logic?

I think the best way to handle these feelings will be to drown them in copious amounts of hot coco (hey, the Met Office practically prescribes it!), which I shall see to tomorrow. Once I have selected the scenery for my long run, I shall approach it with my usual curiosity and forward moving strategy (no pun intended). In any case, I think that there is a high probability that I’ll have heaps of fun once I get going, as running in punitive conditions tends to expose a perverse part of my personality which actually revels in the ordeal.

But if, on the other hand, the whole run ends up assuming the shape of a pear, there’ll always be more hot coco when I get back.

awesome run

Challenge Accepted!

This week I’ve been feeling pretty tired and I place the blame for this squarely in the court of the approaching winter. It doesn’t help, then, that my marathon training plan demands that I run more miles this week than I have ever done in the space of seven days. The fact that I spent last Sunday morning hammering out 32km on some very hilly trails almost certainly also has something to do with my slump in oomph. Still, I keep pointing the finger of blame primarily at winter and its knack for stealing away a little bit of my precious zest with each passing day, especially when each of these days is a little darker, colder and gloomier than the one before.

For the moment I have decided to simply ignore winter and am keeping my eyes firmly fixed on the 10th of November, when the sound of a gun in Marathon shall unleash me upon my first ever 26.2 mile journey. To keep me entertained in the meantime, my emotions accompanying the event have all gathered at a theme park and are hanging out in the creaking carts of the good old rollercoaster. Whenever I think about the race, any sentiment on the long and colourful spectrum from blissful excitement to sheer terror can temporarily possess my heart. The only thing that remains constant is my stubborn determination to see this journey through.

So far, winter hasn’t stopped me from training, but I admit that this week it has been starting to get a little rough. Yesterday, I willingly sacrificed my lunch break to run ten kilometres around a lake, incorporating a few playful strides into the run, which was all good fun. Today I was supposed to do a tempo run, but when I had finished work and other obligations, it was already dark outside. Damn, how did that happen? Winter 1 – me 0. I decided to hit the dreadmill and faithfully complete my 10 kilometre hill run (yes really, I’m that stubborn). At the moment, I’m calling it a 1-1 draw. Tomorrow I’ll rest; on Friday it’ll be proper speedwork and Sunday calls for another 20 miler. Naturally, the forecast for the rest of the week is solid rain. Excuse me for a moment while I go and contemplate my imaginary emigration to Antigua.

However, in a mere three weeks I’ll hop on a plane to Greece, escape the northern winter entirely and embark on 42.2 km Sunday morning stroll in the footsteps of Pheidippides. Right now, I really can’t wait to do just that!

If all of this sounds like a struggle, just wait until Monday when my taper officially begins. That’s also promising to be jolly good fun, in the nail-biting and hair-tearing-out kind of way.

Bring it on!

gloomy rainy night

A Rendezvous with Winter

weather-winter

These days, everywhere I turn I feel as though the world is trying to tell me something. It’s written on the autumn leaves, which are blown from the trees in a breeze that has turned from warm and comforting to distinctively chilly. Dusk is beginning to resemble a distant relative with an annoying habit of always showing up early and uninvited, and with each passing day and I am finding myself progressively more drawn to the concept of hibernation. And just in case I was still trying to don a clever costume and hide in a crowded place, this morning the message was written in black ink on the white pages of my diary: October. Even I, a self-proclaimed sensei of avoidant coping, can no longer deny the fact that winter is coming.

Like so many others, winter after miserable winter I have struggled to keep exercising regularly. Year after year I have resigned myself to the idea that slowing down in winter is natural and that spring will bring with it the urge and energy to reclaim my usual fitness levels.

It’s not even so much the dreary weather that tempts me to stay inside, on the couch, with a hot cup of coco and a good book. – Hmmm, coco! – My mother raised me to believe that there is no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing. (Incidentally, whenever it rained, she also used to tell me that I wasn’t made of sugar and was therefore not going to melt, which turns out to be a great way of giving a five-year-old the hibbigibbies.)

I can handle the cold and wet days, or should I say, my wardrobe can handle them for me. There’s even something rewarding about running though a winter storm when most sane people are behind closed doors. It’s a very satisfying way of giving the inner pig-piñata a good old whack. But at the end of the day (no pun intended), it’s mostly the lack of daylight and related energy deficit that keep me snoozing in bed, soaking in the bath, curled up on the couch, or seeking the comfort of other soft and warm places for most of the winter.

Still, this year, I have decided, will be different. This year, I will take a stand against winter. Or rather, I will join forces with winter and declare war on the real enemy (that is, my couch-surfing, bubble-bath soaking and coco-slurping alter ego).

I have therefore formulated the following strategy for the conquest of winter:

1)      Sign up for a big race in spring. Nothing gets me moving like the terror of the thought of a finish line I won’t be able to reach. Moreover, like the unabashed geek that I am, I get great joy from keeping a training diary and piecing together a sensible training plan which I can then obsessively overshoot. At this moment in time, I am flirting with the possibility of signing up for the Maratona di Roma at the end of March. A spring weekend in the eternal city, anyone?

2)      Map out winter. As an aficionada of my running diary, I will wield the latter like a weapon and map out my opponent ahead of time. This time, I will use my running planner to plan winter itself. Just like any race, I will break it down into manageable chunks that will pass before I have really noticed them and keep my eyes firmly on the finish line.

3)      Invest in some awesome winter running gear. Before this month is over, I’ll treat myself to a new pair of trainers and fork out on a few additional pieces of running gear. I mean the type of gear that will make me get out the door for a run just to have an excuse to wear it.

4)      Join a spa (with gym). I hate gyms. I really, really do. They are smelly, tense and crowded and I always leave them feeling tired. I do, however, love swimming and have yet to find something more relaxing than lazing about in a sauna. I’m pretty sure that when I make the effort to travel to a spa (which I assure you will not be a problem), I will be able to convince myself to spend at least half an hour doing some form of cardio workout before taking a splash.

5)      Join my running club more often. My athletics club is awesome, and it’s big enough to have lots of training sessions each week and frequent cross country races throughout the winter. However, one of the things I love most about running is the freedom of being able to do it almost any time and anywhere. Because I tend to run when I where I like, over the summer months I only joined my club for a structured training session once a week. Having said that, the workouts were always fantastic. There’s certainly something about the presence of other people that makes me push myself that little bit harder. I’m therefore hoping that over the winter months, that same presence will also help me push myself out the door a little more often.

6)      Learn to do a handstand. Yes, really. It’s something that requires excellent core strength and balance, and which runner wouldn’t want more of that? It’s also something I can practice indoors, and having a measurable goal to work towards will hopefully make the required core strength and balance work more entertaining. Besides, a handstand is just a bit random, sounds amusing and has the potential to impress tipsy party goers for years to come!

This year, rather than simply surrendering to winter, I shall do my best to embrace it. More to the point, like any worthy opponent, I think it will be best if I keep a close eye on it. And that is, after all, a tricky feat to accomplish when one is stuck in front of a television screen.

Now, where’s that hot coco?

A Tough Run

Forgive me for starting by stating the obvious, but every runner has them.

Sometimes, I think it’s best to just leave the objective measures behind and follow my heart on a run. Sure, there are days when it’s obvious from the outset that the best I can aim for is a personal worst. I simply accept that my splits shall be horrendous, my pace will be so laughable that it might just have entertainment value and my legs feel like bloated slugs at 5 km and my feet will have turned into dumbbells by the time I finish.

But it always helps me immensely to remind myself that as long as it’s tough, whatever the reason, the workout will ultimately only serve to make me stronger. And that, after all, is one of the reasons why I train in the first place.

Besides, any day on which I run is better than a day on which I don’t run.

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