Baby (running) steps

“How was your run?” 

It’s the same question KK asks me every time I return from my run. I’m so busy sync’ing my Garmin to my Strava that I often reply with, “Great!”. But this time, it was different. My run was fantastic and I could not get the smile off my face. Looking at my watch, I was asking, “What? A PB?” I had just run my fastest time on a regular 4km route from home. I was thrilled!

Strava

Strava details comparing my runs on the same route

It’s my last month taking blood thinners since my pulmonary embolism scare in December. Six months of rehabilitation and slowly getting back into running. It’s not the only excuse reason I have scaled back on my running. With KK’s femur stress fracture, we’ve both been living life in the slow lane this year.

But I haven’t been sitting idle…

  • I’ve been training regularly with a personal trainer (and friend) Super Stacey. The focus of my training programme has been on strength exercises, and especially targeting areas such as glutes and hamstrings.
  • I’ve also returned to following a more balanced eating plan *whispers: LCHF/banting*. More veggies, less meat. Cutting out dairy for the first time in my life. What an eye opener! Lots and lots of water. It’s made a huge difference to how I feel. (and yes, I keep promising to update you in a follow up blog on my diet.)
  • Shorter runs. I love heading out for a 4km run before the sun sets in the evening. My route is out, up, down and back in. Mentally, it’s easier to handle after a tough day at work. I keep the longer run for weekends. And when I say longer, I mean no more than 7kms.

Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 9.47.16 PMI’m unable to say what has made the difference to my progress specifically, but I’m guessing it’s all of the above. It’s a factor of quality over quantity in my running distances, proper eating, focused strength training all wrapped up in one, and time… in my case, 6 months.

You can’t just run. You need to strengthen and fuel your entire body. And sometimes, you need to stop thinking about half marathons and be pleasantly surprised by the joy and relaxation of a simple 4km run.

In other news, KK is ready to start running again. Baby steps….

Two days, Two Oceans, two races, this is how I experienced it…

So even though I decided not to run the Two Oceans Half Marathon, it was a spur of the moment decision to partake in the 5km race, held on the Friday before the big races. The weather in Cape Town had started to turn and so, instead of heading down to the beach, we went through to UCT.

At 14:30 in the afternoon, the race started and approximately 3 000 runners /  joggers / walkers / prams (and a Bokkie) ran out of the beautiful UCT grounds and down University Drive on what was aptly named the Two Oceans Fun Run.  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect! The vibe electrifying. The laughter contagious. What a fantastic afternoon and run! I had so much fun! My time: 39 minutes. I’m thrilled.

          

Turn the clocks a mere 19 hours forward and as majority of the field were approaching the half way mark of the 21.1km race, sheets of rain, mixed with nasty winds, started to pour down! 

I sat on the grandstand, waiting with clean, dry towels for KK and the rest of the running gang to come in. But as the rain came down harder, and the spectators scurried for shelter, I somehow missed KK’s finish and spent the next 45 minutes trying to find him. Drenched and freezing, when we did find one another, he proudly announced that he had managed to run a PB! 1:49 … Awesome babes! 

                      

I guess this year’s Two Oceans was one of those that runners will never forget. One that is so gruelling and tough for some (who really feel that they earned that medal) and yet refreshing and invigorating for others who sailed through and achieved fantastic results.

But between you and me, as we drove home in the rain, passing the unlucky few that had missed the 3 hour cut-off, in my heart I was somehow relieved that I did not run. My heart broke for those who did not make it as I’ve experienced that disappointment before. But I knew, with all that congestion in the E-batch, the rain and the lack of mental mojo, I would not have gotten over that finish line in time. 

I was thankful for the fact that I ran my 5kms, I enjoyed it. And I’m learning that with my runs, that’s what matters most.

But I will be back. I know I will…

What exactly do you mean by personal best?

Non-runners who read my blog often ask me what a PB is. I tell them that it’s a Personal Best – when you run your fastest time over a specified distance to gauge improvements. They look at me oddly as if, well, what does that mean?

Funny thing is that when I listen to my running buddies, it appears to me that most of them are on a sole (excuse the pun) mission to increase their running speed and get a PB. (Hey, wait a minute? So it’s not just me?)

Achieving a PB is the ultimate benchmark for most runners. It’s as if this is the signal that they are getting better as runners. But I do wonder sometimes if speed is the ultimate goal?

Is your best always measured in terms of time?

Here’s where I’m going with this …

I’ve been busy at work refreshing my Key Performance Areas (KPAs) for 2012. A new process has been implemented and apart from the normal ‘doing your job KRAs’, there’s a new section called “Stretch goals”. This is meant to be areas where I manage to perform additional tasks above and beyond the normal KRA’s. But the measurement required to see whether or not I have achieved this is the difficult part.

You see, it’s not like running where I am able to record PB’s which indicate ‘best’. I need something more concrete because I can’t just use a PB (time) to indicate greatness for everything I do. The measure has to be tangible and measureable and different for each task.

But yet, in running, it’s okay to just use time. It’s okay that getting faster and faster is the ultimate measure of improvement.

I think this is sometimes where running fails. Because runners have become obsessed with PB’s that even all their “Stretch” goals are based on time/pace/speed. Are runners also training for goals of fitness levels, endurance or overall post-race recovery…or anything else? 

I do realise that all these contribute to better times and faster running. But is there an alternative measure than the PB? *just a thought*…