Throw out, make a list and run less. 2018, here we come.

I don’t usually set New Year’s resolutions. I admit to starting off January knowing I’d take the rest of the year to lose all the extra weight put on from all the festivities during the holiday. KK and I typically map out the road races we’d like to run in the year and also book our holidays around these dates.

But in terms of actual goal setting, all I have in my head is a list of really bad experiences that I don’t want to repeat going into the new year.

I did make a few minor behavioral changes which I’m hoping make a difference.

Here’s five things I’ve changed going into 2018:

  1. Ditching the plastic

The new Woolies grocery bags. We just need to remember to take them with us shopping.

During our weekly grocery shopping, we collect around x10 plastic bags to carry our groceries. We use the excuse that “we use the bags for dustbin bags during the week.” But we don’t need to, so we swopped the bags for Woolies enviro-friendly bags. I must tell you, they’re huge and carry quite a lot of goods.

  1. Americano vs. Cappuccino

Confession: this pic was taken in December while we were in Cape Town. It’s a cappuccino. LOL

I know that diets don’t last but if I make small changes to my eating, then that alone should help. Those Vide ‘e cappuccinos are just mucho grande cups of frothy milk and when I’m having two or three a day, it adds up (around the belly). Americano is purely black coffee and while I know the best solution would’ve been to swop for water, one or two coffees with less milk won’t hurt. Baby steps.

  1. Getting organized

Labelling all our cupboards & drawers makes it a lot easier to pack items away too.

My sister stayed over in December and exposed just how disorganized we really were! She helped me re-pack my cupboards, throwing out old clothes, linen, pots and food. Oh gosh, my medicine cupboard was a mess! The trick is to keep it clean and organized.

  1. Making a list

I make to-do lists all the time at work. But I’ve never made a shopping list before. KK and I head over to Woolies and buy the things we think we need. It’s only by sorting out my cupboards with my sister that I realized that we had loads of food that was going old or duplicates of items that we were not using. Let’s not even talk about my freezer! Just by making a list, I’m buying less now too & saving money.

  1. Run less but more

I’m loving my new Garmin fenix 5S. With such a great strap, I’ve been wearing it to work. Hitting my 10 000 step goal is tough!

KK and I are both coming out of 2017 with injuries. KK missed Kaapsehoop, he pulled out of Otter, did not enter Two Oceans. With my pulmonary embolism recovery and sprained ankle treatment, my running has been slow & reserved. It hasn’t entirely stopped us. KK has been walking a lot and I’ve been enjoying the shorter runs. We’ve become Parkrun fans! But there have been discussions about whether or not 2018 is a rest year for us both and a refocus on strength training. (The verdict is still in the air at this point. Notice that KK still entered Comrades & Otter 2018).

I’m unsure how I feel about 2018. I’m cautious. Overall, I’d like to have a better control over my life and I suspect the only way I can gain this is by focusing on the small things.

The small things, the small differences which eventually are the big changes. I can only try, right?

Autumn arrives

And just like that, Autumn is officially here. Last week I was still wearing sandals and strappy dresses to work but on my run on Sunday morning, I could definitely feel that fresh chill in the air. 

In my mind, the only positive aspect that comes with a change in season, is well… change itself. It’s a time of reflection. A time to make decisions and do things differently in my life.

So three things come to mind: 

  1. I’ve relooked my eating plan and made a few adjustments. Smaller portions, more veggies and perhaps less wine on the weekends (for now).
  2. I’m starting off the month of May with a number of work responsibilities having moved out of my control to another team. That’s brought about huge changes to my day and a readjustment of priorities. Time to refocus on new projects.
  3. I’ve also been doing some assessments of my running and redefining my running goals now that Two Oceans has come & gone. If I’m enjoying the casual run, what am I still training for? 

I’m not a cold weather person. The dry skin, the static hair, the layers of clothing all irritate me. 

But the colder weather brings with it fleecy blankets in front of movies and soups with piping hot bread smothered in melting butter. (Oops, about that eating plan!)
Mmm, something I can definitely look forward to! 

The finish line. Are we there yet? 

KK has run his last race for the year and instructions from his coach are that he needs to take a three week mandatory rest period before Comrades training starts in January 2017. Three weeks? He’ll never last!

His last race for the year was the 35km Ultra Trail Cape Town. It was a technical and nasty course with lots of tough uphill climbing, hikes and steep rocky downhills.

There are just so many thoughts that go through my head while waiting (im)patiently for KK to finish the race. His time 7:17!

When he woke up on the morning after the race, he had a stiff body with sore bruised feet and toes and vowed never to run #UTCT2016 again. *famous last words* As for me, I managed to get horribly sunburnt with ugly patches of red all over my body.

I was wearing sandals so my sunburn is all patterned. Bloody marvelous!

The race day summed up 2016 for me. An entire year dedicated to early mornings, heavy training sessions, races, track sessions, eating healthily, sore muscles, strength training and mild injuries. Only runners can relate to the amount of sacrifices made. And then it was all over leaving us both battered and bruised.

There were some good races and then some you know you never want to enter again because you hated the experience so much. That was 2016…

One of my Pinterest boards showing photos of the medals from all our races this year.

We lost some running friends along the way. Those that chose to move away to start exciting new adventures, and others who decided to focus on other sporting events. We miss them.

When people say, ‘running mirrors life’, I found the balance between work life and home life may not have been as “balanced” as I would’ve wanted. I sacrificed too many afternoon runs in favour of meetings at work. I skipped loads of track sessions when I claimed that “urgent” emails needed to be answered immediately. What rubbish! What I regret the most was allowing work stress to get the better of my eating program. I will enter 2017 heavier than I’ve been in 4 years.

Was it worth it? Some days, most definitely. But in the long run, I’m at the end of 2016 exhausted, demotivated and unsure of what 2017 holds. Does anyone know?

A good friend of mine Whatsapped me with this quote: “Keep the positive attitude and stay motivated. Remember, Donald Trump is fucking president! The whole world has gone mad!”

My running goals are clear! Shorter distances and an increased focus on strength training. If I allowed 2016 runs to take a back seat, that won’t happen next year. The balance (although only mentally for now) has shifted. Even if it’s only 3kms on a lovely afternoon when the sun is setting, I must commit!

Here’s to a fantastic, rewarding and exhilarating 2017! You never know quite what to expect but at least line up at that starting line.

Losing focus in order to refocus

On the eve of the Sarens half marathon, I lay wide awake in bed knowing something was gnawing at me inside with regards to my running but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I was unsure if I was over-training, if I was mentally or physically drained but something wasn’t right. After an hour of over – analysis, it suddenly dawned on me what was wrong. Here’s what I realised:

  • I keep comparing myself to other runners I follow on social media instead of focussing on my own running journey. In my mind, everyone seems to be running faster times and improving a hell of a lot quicker than me. (Really?)
  • I’ve constantly been improving my PB, yet after 7 months with Coach Dave, I am still slower than some of the familiar faces I see at the races. I can’t keep up with runners that I used to. Why not? This bugs me.
  • I am trying to keep up with my Running Junkie Two friends and frustrated that I can’t.
  • Once again, I am caught up in that mad whirlwind they call “Two Oceans” and desperately wanting to run a good time down in Cape Town in a race I really hate.

You see, it isn’t just one thing. It is a few things that added up to one major issue: I have lost sight of my goals. I have started to look around at everything else except at my own running journey and the progress I have made since August last year.

But it’s even more than that. Lying in bed at 00h35, I knew that I wanted to run Sarens faster than 2:46 but I had no race plan. No strategy. I didn’t even know what my average pace should be. How crazy that after so many months of running, I had not worked this out in my head!

Surely no runner should go into any race so unprepared. Surely it’s the same with life? With no plan, no vision, do we really know how to reach our goals and how to measure success? set goals

I need to go back to the drawing board. I need to reset some of my goals because the goal posts have shifted. And they should shift as I improve, right?

Sarens was a great race, by the way. I ran it in 2:44.