Saturday, July 20, 2013

Back in the land of the living

Iiiiiii'm back! 

This morning I had my first run in nearly a week, after being out of commission due to
- your everyday garden-variety generic cough/ sore throat/ cold that would not go away
- a wonky knee
- a janky hip

And. It. Was. Fabulous.
I didn't take my phone with me and still, after a decade of running, own no Garmin. But it was about 15km at what should be roughly marathon pace; I quit while the going was good. But it's too soon to celebrate. Let's get another consistent week or two of runs in and then talk.

I do a lot of runs, or sections of runs, on a canal path near my house. If I cross the road to run along the canal further down, and come all the way back to where I started, it's about 10km. The sun was shining, the birds were singing. I felt like singing and skipping down the path but didn't want to inflict that on anyone else. And I was - and this is very important when your run is at 7am in Singapore - in the shade much of the way.

After the 10km canal section I turned out and ran to the Botanic Gardens - another 5km or so. After which I came home, showered, did some work, and went to the Botanic Gardens AGAIN - this time for lunch at Food For Thought  with Mr GCA and a friend. I love FFT - it's down-to-earth and decidedly unpretentious and just has really good food. They must be doing quite well because they just opened a new outlet at the National Museum - so now there are three.

We had:
- mozzarella-stuffed meatballs with linguine and roasted tomato sauce (someone suggested an alternative. 'Does it involve cheese?' 'No.' 'Then you know which one to pick.')
- two orders of fluffy pancakes (mixed berries and dark chocolate raspberry, with fresh cream and gula melaka syrup)
- bacon
- garlic mushrooms

Marathon training

Today is all about lists, and I might as well share my weekly training for the Perth City to Surf Marathon (in five weeks!) as a list.

- One to two strength and core workouts a week
- Two to three times: 6-10km
- One Tuesday night speedwork session (about 6 km)
- One to two times: 10-15km
- Once a week: 16-25km
- Total mileage (ideally): about 70km
- Total mileage (realistically because let's face it, I don't have the most elastic schedule, or rather it's stretchy but only elongates): 50-60km
- About a cumulative half hour of stretching, tennisballing, and icewaterbottlerolling (WHAT. Those ARE verbs) each week
- If I find myself feeling under the weather from lack of sleep + stress + running, I have a multivitamin and more fruit and veg
- If I find myself tweaky, or injured in any way, I head straight to the pool and swim, about 1-2km at a go (hey, cross-training)
- This regime takes me way too long each week

Surviving the long run 

Now, even though what I did today wasn't, strictly speaking, a long run, I did think about ways to survive a long run. My long runs are up to about 25km, which sounds short for marathon training, but the whole weekend usually involves 35 to 40 km (it's all about tiring your legs out - and I am a wimp. A tired wimp).

Sometimes I have a really good long run or the beginnings of one - like this morning, when I could probably have run another hour and been quite happy about it. But more often than not, I barely want to get out of bed; when I do I barely want to get ready; when I do that and start running I'm tired when I start, or bored in the middle, or tired and slowing down near the end.

So here are my favourite strategies for surviving the long run:

- Call a friend. Someone to run with you for a section or two. Better if they live near you and make you laugh.
- Mantras and head games. Train hard, race easy, right? Or, when the going gets tough, 'you have to earn it'.
- I like the canal path, as routine and boring as it may be, because I don't have to stop and cross too many streets. If I stop I have a hard time getting going again. So my long run has sometimes been a couple of laps on the double canal - 2 x 10km. Treadmills are also good for this. If you stop you fall off.
- Distract your body. When I did that long treadmill run I had a Shot Blok every few km in the last hour and a half, simply to keep my mouth sufficiently distracted.
- Play head games: what is the most ridiculous thing you can see on this run? I have seen the same older gentleman on a unicycle at least thrice. I also once saw a man out walking his African Grey parrot (no, he did not have an eye patch and a peg leg). And the other evening I saw a car drive past with a bunch of balloons sticking out the back window and flapping merrily in the breeze. I must live in an odd neighbourhood (clearly I fit right in).

What are your mantras for getting through a tough run or race?
What, indeed, is the most ridiculous thing you have ever seen on a run? 


  1. Those are great! I don't have anything to rival an African Grey parrot out for a walk. I did once see a woman with a saw cutting a (small) tree down, though. She saw me coming and yelled something about invasive species. It was definitely native to the area, though, so I don't know what she was on about. I probably saw really crazy things when I lived in New York, but that was a whole 12 months ago so I can't remember any of it. The hasidic Jewish neighborhood I sometimes ran through was always a kick.

    I'm not really a mantra person. I can usually be found muttering a string of cuss words when the going gets tough, though. That seems to work.

  2. The mantra I used for Sunday's half (the last 5k when I wanted to die) was 'it's only about 30 minutes more pain - you were in labour way longer'. Seriously it didn't help much so I wouldn't advise using it.

  3. Great, so we've got 'words that would make my granny blush' and 'being in labour will be longer' (which is not encouraging, I want to have kids someday). Love you guys!

  4. Uh, totally late to the party here. Marked this to 'come back to', and it got shuffled way down in the Feedly Feed. Anyway, I don't usually mantra much, unless "First to the corner, then over the bridge, then across the street, then up the road" is a mantra. I'm usually too busy chunking whatever's left to mantra. Although when it comes down to it, I probably mutter (if talking in your head can be considered muttering), "You can do anything for a minute" more often than is healthy during tempo and speed work. Even if speed work is on the spin bike these days.

    1. Aha! I can't chunk things. I know it's supposed to make it easier, but when I get to the bridge or across the street or to the next lamp-post I just want to stop....I just have to remind myself that I want my sub-5 more than I want to stop. (Yeah, strings of cuss words in my head work too.)