Sick of being sick

Day 25 of feeling unwell. Almost a month. Of snot. And phlegm. And coughing. And spluttering. Of a husky voice, and for six days no voice.

Three and a half weeks of feeling just off. Tired. Blah. Headachy.

And I am sick of it.

Most years I escape the general bugs and flus which go around. I am unlucky if I get more than one cold, and I usually throw it off without too much trouble. This year though it lingers. Each day I wake and it is just the same.

I had earmarked today as being the day I would feel better, the day I would begin my build-up back to full fitness. I would go back to the gym for my weight sessions, go back to yoga. Next week I would get back into the pool.

But I woke up feeling tired, coughing, and really unmotivated.

The day is dawning and it looks grey. Dull and grey. A lot like I feel.

At least I am still able to run. I did take a full seven days off and have not done any speedwork in all of August. But I did race on Saturday and it went well. It was not a PB but it was no slouch of a time either. I had had that event in mind all year for a crack at going under 20 minutes for 5k. I didn’t even try for it, just happy to run ahead of the competition to take out Canterbury Road Champion (50 years plus) for Canterbury.

Back to today. I will concentrate on home based jobs. Hopefully the sun will come out. I am meeting my running buddy just after lunch for two hours on the hills. It will be conversational pace.

Like I said, at least I can still run!

A fist pump sort of run!

It was one of those special mornings when all things felt great. I have been missing that lately, feeling like I was lugging around the world and all its problems. But this morning I remembered why I love running so much.

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I got out of bed about 8am. At 8:30am I was meeting my running club for a social run. In that 30 minutes I managed to get dressed, scoff two bits of toast with peanut butter and apricot jam, scull a cup of coffee, complete some quick ablutions, and at tempo pace cover the 3k to the meeting spot.

The still air was crisp with the scent of woodsmoke. The sun shone brightly from a clear blue sky. If I was to wish for a perfect autumnal morning this would be my desire. The trees in Hagley Park are saying farewell to summer, dropping multihued leaves and a multitude of acorns. I was not the only one out enjoying this Saturday morning.

My cohorts were waiting although I was not really late. Another couple turned up and we set off for a promised 11k around and about Hagley Park and Mona Vale. It was not going to be a slow run, with the pace quick from the start. We soon split into two groups. I was hanging on to the speedier front group. It is good for me to be pushed occasionally as it it easy to fall into the habit of plodding. Even though we were belting out sub 5 minute ks there was plenty of breath left for conversation. For some reason, maybe because we are all at that stage in life, the topic of elderly parents seemed to dominate. We went around both parks and then looped through North Hagley on our second pass.

Back at our starting point and I chose to run on to our coffee stop, adding another kilometre to my total. Other runners trickled in and we were joined by a couple of non-runners.

We have been having these monthly social runs throughout summer and they have achieved their goal – to keep us connected through the off season, and to keep us ft and motivated ready for the winter season, which opens next month. It also means we are much more in tune with each other’s lives. Again conversation was not stilted.

After a large bucket sized coffee I ran home. It was slower this time, even with 2 litres of caffeine sloshing around. By the time I reached my place I had run just short of 21k. I felt good. I felt strong. I felt better than I have felt about a training run for so long.

So what made the difference? I have eaten more this week, managing to put on about 1/2kg in the process. I haven’t felt so hungry. Consequently I might have more energy. I have also been a bit more diligent about having protein shakes. I didn’t have any pressure to achieve a specific workout. Or to fit it in before work or picking up a child. It was running for fun. And for most of the run I had company whereas usually I run solo.

Whatever the reason, it was a great run. A wow run. I know not every run will or should feel like that but when they do, yes! It is a fist pumping sort of feeling.

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Nailing a workout

Speedwork. It pops up on my training plan all the time. I dread the sessions and make all sorts of excuses to get out of them. If I manage to convince my body that it is going to happen, my Garmin will be flat. Or set wrong. Or the track is crowded. Or wet. Or I stuff it up and only do half of the required repeats.

For the number of speed sessions I have not done, I am surprised I run as well as I do.

Once a month I am supposed to do 5 x 1k repeats. I was given this back in November. I have done it once and not completely. My excuse that day was I had run 35k the previous day and hadn’t known I would be running 1k repeats until I turned up for a club run.

Through November my excuse was too much high mileage, no energy (mental or physical) left for speedwork. I would focus on it in the New Year.

Once a week. Speed sessions.

My coach wants me to do any one of three sessions once a week – the 1k repeats, 3 x 6 steep hill sprints, or 8-12 x 400m.

Today I attempted the 1k repeats.

I drove to Hagley Park and parked on Hagley Ave near the Carlton bridge. I turned my Garmin on and jogged to the “start”. My Garmin was having issues finding the satellite. I warmed up with my usual routine. Garmin still not loaded. I turned it off and on again. This time no worries.

I set off on the first 1k. Fast and strong. Thighs were high, arms like pistons, hands like blades. I was Usain Bolt – not a white woman twice his age! My mantra was focus. Fo-o-o-cus. Four strides, one breath. There was a headwind on the final straight.

I walked back to the start.

And again. Focus. Focus. Focus. It is really easy to get distracted. Focus. Focus. The last 100m were tough. Okay two down. Three to go.

I had told people I was doing this workout. A friend. My boss. By now I had worked out I wanted to blog about it. I was going to finish the whole session. Or look really stupid.

Back to the start.

This time I changed my mantra to the time I wanted to see on my Garmin. 3:55. 3:55. Focus. 3:55. I rounded the corner for the last straight – I was running two sides of a triangle – it was getting harder, that wind was strong but I was stronger and kept going to the end.

Walked back to the start. Over halfway now. Only eight more minutes of suffering.

Round four. 3:55. 3:55. Focus. Don’t think about the swim session coming next, or getting Robert to mow his grandmother’s lawn before the rain. The last straight. And the headwind was tough but Mt Hagley – that was even tougher. For those who don’t know, Hagley Park is in the centre of Christchurch which is flat. But there are little undulations in the ground which are barely noticeable unless you are running 5 x 1k repeats when all of a sudden you wish there was a chair lift to get you to the summit. I summitted. Knocked the bastard off!

One more to go. I can do this. Legs are still high and strong. Arms are still pumping piston.s Hands slicing the air like a Ninja warrior. I am focussed on my mantra. 3:55. 3:55. 3:55. I am passing people walking in the park who I have maybe passed once or twice before today. I don’t care if this looks strange. Last straight and this speed session will be logged.

I finish. What a great feeling. I check my Garmin. Damn. What I thought was 1k was only 940m. But the splits were 3:52 (4:08), 3:47 (4:01), 3:51 (4:05), 3:46 (4:00), 3:47 (4:04). The times in brackets are adjusted for 1k.

Coach Simon wants me to hit the 4min k mark. I am pleased with me effort – there is good consistency across the five splits and no fade at the end.

Yep, I nailed that work out.

And I feel confident having done it that i can now complete other speed sessions. Yes, they suck at the time but the feeling of accomplishment lasts so much longer than the period of discomfort.

For running geeks:
I use a Garmin Forerunner 310XT
I log my training with Training Peaks because that is the system my coach uses.
I am coached by Simon Huntly at Complete Performance.

Oh yeah, then I had to go and swim some crazy drills in the pool! But that workout too, was nailed!