The final (leg) stretch 

After months of intense training, KK is finally tapering for the Comrades marathon.

I wish I could sigh a breath of final relief but no, he’s still got a few more weeks to go. One month actually. 4 weeks. 30 days. 

Until then, we’re still avoiding sick people (ie.: all people), being in a state of hunger 24/7, sleeping as much as we can and being incredibly grumpy! I say ‘we’ because as the wife of a Comrades runner, you have no choice. You’re in it for the long run!

Race qualifying started last year November already. Then it was the UTCT trail run in December, a few marathons in the beginning of the year, followed by x4 (!!) ultra marathons, Two Oceans being one of them. In between that he’s been clocking over 100kms per week. And heading into taper, it doesn’t stop. Now KK starts with fartleks and short (that’s short?) 30km long runs. 

I’m tired. I’m not the one training but I’m tired both mentally & physically. I said to KK earlier tonight that a runner cannot run Comrades marathon every year. It takes so much out of you!
Not only for the runner but also family & friends along side you all the way. 

But for now, it’s taper time. Let’s do this! *cheers*

Tired legs resting

Improvements often happen behind the scenes

When I talk to people about my running, I always slip in the fact that I ‘walk run’. It’s as if I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that I’m actually capable of running non-stop for kilometers on end. My pace is slow so telling people I walk means I don’t have to explain myself. 

But I noticed something today about my running pace during the Alan Robb road race that I wasn’t even concentrated on training for. I managed to run almost the entire way for 15kms at a steady consistent pace! I hardly walked!

Pacing road race running

I stopped at one or two water stations and walked on the very big uphill (on a very flat route). Other than that, I ran! 

Late last year, I remembered trying to run 20 minutes non-stop. It took me over three weeks to get it right. But since then, I’ve forgotten about it. 

Something must’ve worked. Was it the exercises from bio Mari? The stretching homework? The weekly runs? Hell, whatever it is, I’m thrilled! 

Quite ironic, I’m happy about something I didn’t even realize I was working on! 

So true of life, we’re often so focused on things that we think matter and don’t realize all the positive progress were making in other areas of our lives. 

Go me! ^5

Here’s what I’m starting to realize about quality over distance

I ran a total of 17 races in 2015 and in between that, over 200 runs, either track sessions or runs from home. This is according to my Strava activity log. It was the year I ran 2:44 (my PB’s) for Pick ‘n Pay, Sarens as well as Kaapsehoop half marathons. By the end of the year I was exhausted. I was tired of running and when I started 2016, I couldn’t find that running mojo again. Hey, it happens and I did consciously decide that I would rest a bit and focus more on improving my form, as I’ve shared in my blog post about sessions with my bio, Mari.

One of the insights that came out of a session with Mari is that I should focus on shorter distances for now, while I strengthen my legs and core. As she put it, “There’s no point running half marathons every weekend, hating the run and not being able to walk for days afterwards.” She suggested that I rather run shorter, manageable distances, but use the run to focus on key elements of improvement. She was right.

I’ve realized that, for me, it’s not about the distances, but the quality of the run. While I don’t have any big distance running goals like KK to run Comrades, my running is currently for enjoyment and improvement. It’s taken a few weeks but when I was analyzing my Strava results, this slowly started to sink in. Here’s what I started to notice:

  • I am able to get home from work and run 3kms easily and still get  back sweating and bursting with those amazing feel-good hormoneseasy-run-3km
  • Running the shorter races requires less intensive road trainingkaapsehoop-10km-race
  • I am starting to see real improvements in the races I’ve runrac-5km-race

Seeing these results has made me feel excited and motivated and has also helped set proper goals for 2017, knowing what I need to do this year. 

Sometimes, we are too focused on the wrong things and before we look, we’re disappointed that we didn’t see the results we wanted to obtain. 

It only takes a bit of slowing down and self-assessment to get back on track. I’m also running more km’s under 8mins/km. Did you see that? *grinning*

Giving hot yoga a bash

I was quite excited to see that Planet Fitness in my ‘hood was offering hot yoga on Saturday mornings and decided I’d give it a try. I did yoga many years ago but wasn’t quite sure how different hot yoga was to the traditional one I did. I heard recommendations from friends ‘in the know’ to take an extra towel with me and a bottle of water. Having overdone it a tad last week in the power box class, I was worried that I was over my head trying something new a second week in a row.

The SMS alert said “Arrive early” which I thought meant 9:20 but when I walked into the class, it was already full! I managed to squeeze in a mat before the door was closed to the disappointment of quite a few people outside. Wow, popular class or New Year’s resolutionites? I wasn’t sure.

With a raise of hands, most people were new to yoga, including hot yoga, which was perfect. It meant the instructor spent more time explaining the moves and no one was made to feel too insecure not being able to do the moves perfectly. And so we started.

Boy did it get hot quickly! They weren’t kidding about “hot” yoga! The heaters above us kept the temperature quite warm and soon I was dripping with sweat. It’s apparently the best work-out for a hangover because of the detoxification. I was just hoping my muscles wouldn’t be too stiff for the 5km race I was running the next day so took each pose very slowly.hot flow yoga

An hour flew by so quickly. In between standing poses, sitting poses and the most incredible stretching of the back, we were done. Luckily I did not wake up with the DOMS and could easily run my race. But what I loved most about the class is that it was slow. Every move was according to my pace, my strength and my body. I was also made aware of my breathing and tightness in my shoulders. If anything, the workout is a fantastic stress reliever!

I have taken my running down a notch to focus more on core strength exercises, leg strengthening as well as correcting my running form. I’m definitely adding hot yoga to my list!

*Image credit: Lindy Geraghty @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/1696726923880804/)