Day 299: I’m ill

An old Jewish proverb says: man plans and God laughs.

Yesterday I decided to stick to yoga and dance and run the next day, aka today. Don’t get me wrong: the yoga felt great after a month’s break and the dance class was awesome.

And then today’s morning happened, when I woke up late for work with a slight fever, major muscle pain, a cough and a running nose. I can pretend to live in denial, but to everyone who can put 2 + 2 together that’s a flu. And a flu with a fever means no running.

To be honest, I have no idea what to do about it. I am going out there in the rain and cold as soon as I am better, but what about the training? Should I try to catch up some of the skipped runs, or just pick the plan up as it goes? There are three races I am looking forward to in October, and I am getting into some serious doubt I will make it through the first one…

How do you deal with running and training when ill?

Not yet dead

There’s no way to hide that any more: The last two months I have been struggling with running. Greatly. Partly because of how busy I was at work and during my amazing holiday in Portugal and Switzerland.

However, the half marathon in Amsterdam is in just 5 weeks, and I have 2 more races before that. It is about time to get back on track.

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Hereby I am making a promise to myself, taking you all as witnesses, to follow and complete my training plan and get ready for the big event. Maybe that’s going to help me keep myself accountable.

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At the same time, I have some holiday experience and recaps to share with you. Here is what you can expect the following weeks:

  • My subjective guide to running in Lisbon, Portugal
  • Tips on running while on holiday
  • Recap from my holiday
  • Product reviews of some of my running gear
  • Going back to my beloved tribal fusion bellydance
  • The recipe for the best pizza crust you have ever made (stolen from MRB)

In meantime, I would like to invite you to my instagram for a sneak peek of what’s to come and more frequent updates!

What have you been doing this summer?
Any plans for races coming up soon?

How to survive the bad times

Recently, I haven’t been writing much. The last weeks are difficult for me, and for some time, I couldn’t even get myself to do any serious running. But I am still running and I find it important to keep myself running. I think most runners will encounter a period when it’s difficult to run, due to external or internal reasons.

Therefore, I compiled a list of tips and tricks that have helped me to survive so far.

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How to run when you don’t feel like it

  1. Be prepared.
    Make sure you have clean running clothes, and that you know exactly what distance and what sort of run you want to do (or your training plan asks for). This helps me keep running more or less on schedule.
  2. Ditch expectations.
    Even though you or your training plan expects a 7km progressive run, you might end up doing a slow 10k or a fast 5k instead. And that’s OK. It is more important to run than it is to run exactly what’s in the plan. Even a bad run is better than no run at all.
  3. Entertain yourself.
    Run your usual route the opposite direction. Find a new one. Try to take in the surroundings and look for changes. Count all the people walking their dogs. Check out a new playlist, maybe a new music style. If you run by distance, try to run by time, or vice versa. Try running completely without any tracking device whatsoever. Try a type of run you didn’t before, like a fartlek or a hill run.
    For me, even the simplest changes can make the difference to actually enjoy my run even when initially I didn’t feel it at all.
  4. Keep your eyes on the goal.
    While some runners are lucky enough to just run without the need for training plans or goals, most of us have some sort of expectations from our running. It might be an upcoming race, weight loss, or experiencing the runner’s high on a sucky day. I find it easier to get my feet out of the door when I think about the big picture.
  5. Treat running as a hobby.
    Let’s face it, very few of us here can consider themselves professional athletes. Of course it’s fun and games to get faster, better, set PRs, etc. However, in the end, whether you finish as the runner #90 or #99 in a race really only matters to you and maybe the few of your close ones.
    There will be another chance, another race. Maybe your weight will drop slower than you expected. But don’t worry: you’ll get there, eventually. If you need some slack, give it to yourself. I know that runners spend majority of their time either running or thinking about running (I’m guilty as charged!), but it is still just a hobby of ours. We take it very seriously and that’s OK, but it’s also fine to let the priorities go somewhere else when necessary.

JustRunWhat are your tricks to keep yourself in the game even when you totally don’t feel like it?

June summary and the 500km milestone!

July

Look around, it’s July already! Time flies…

With the break of the month, I have broken the 500km milestone since I started running in November last year. That sounds quite impressive, doesn’t it?

June marked the start of my 20-weeks-long half-marathon training, and here is a short summary of the month:

  • a total of 14 runs, in 2 countries!
  • one race (5km in Fribourg, Switzerland)
  • a total of 86.5 km
  • Pinkpop!
  • Progressive runs are FUN and generally great, but running in the heat isn’t…

Through July I will increase my mileage and work a bit on the speed in the balanced training phase of the plan. The heat will make it a challenge, but I determined to get the work done.

At the moment it is very, very hot (36°C or 97°F), and, so far, I have failed my morning get-up-and-run-before-it-gets-too-warm two out of two times. It is so hot races get cancelled, so please remember: drink plenty of water, use sunscreen, and wear a hat.
This weather looks beautiful, but it can be dangerous!

Infused water

Make infused water to stay hydrated!

May Summary and a New Training Plan!

accomplishment

May was a very exiting month! A couple of highlights:

I also wrote an important blog post about food: my take on nutrition and making sure your body has what it needs.

Overall, I am very proud of this month, even though it might not be very impressive number-wise, it was still a very eventful month of constantly taking myself out of my comfort zone.

So, what is June holding for me? There’s only one thing which I do not like: my dance classes take a summer break and won’t come back until September or maybe even October. That makes me a bit sad, as I love dancing; maybe I should practice more at home. I still have my yoga, running and swimming, but dancing is very special in my life.

Other than that, there’s a lot of positive things: MRB and I registered for the Amsterdam Half-Marathon and we are starting a long, 21 week training plan for that as of today.
In meantime, we also registered for a smaller race which will be already this weekend!

I am super exited for the new training plan, and the new goals. At the end of June I will be volunteering at a local mud/obstacle race. And I decided to take on the Spartan 30 day push-up challenge – so far I can’t even do one, so let’s see how far can I go!

How was your May? What are your short- and long-term running plans?

Day 181: First post-race run and future plans

The weather is not spoiling us here in the Netherlands at the moment; even if it’s sunny, the temperatures barely resemble what I am used to in May. It’s a month till summer, and it’s difficult to leave your house without a sweater and a jacket, not to mention an umbrella… wpid-better-in-running-shoes.png

It’s been a couple of days since the Amsterdam 10K race. I know I have mentioned it a couple of times before, but I really love my asics training plan, and one additional reason for it (on top of its flexibility and diversity) is that the plan does not end at the race day. It also guides me through the recovery period, and, last Wednesday, I went for my first post-race run. And it was amazing.

One of the few moments when it did not look like autumn…

First of all, I had two sessions of yoga, netting a total whopping 2.5h of yoga (with a break) before I set off for my evening trot. It wasn’t very warm, but it was sunny and running felt so effortless, free and natural.

I am transitioning away from the heel strike, and I can feel that in my Achilles/calves, what means that I am not doing it properly, yet. But I am trying, and I’ll get there. I just need to find a good middle ground for a nice mid-foot strike.

Would be good to have it covered before the Amsterdam Half-Marathon in October! Yup, MRB and I registered for our first half, so from June on a long half-marathon training will start. I plan to stick to the asics plan again. I know June to October is a long time and one could get well prepared with a much shorter training plan, but I don’t mind adding a few extra weeks. Moreover, we also signed up for a local 4 mile run where I live, a week before the half. It might be less impressive distance-wise, but it is one of the biggest running events in the country.

It is a lot of time till October. Will there be some other races in meantime? Maybe, but I will certainly try volunteering at some local events, too.

Distance: 5.2km
Time:       32:56

What are your plans for the races in the near and far future?
Is there a particular race you have on your bucket list?
Do you have advice on transitioning away from heel strike?

Days 165-171: Week 8 of 10k training

11212611_10152886810022717_3959023713251531796_oHappy Mother’s Day to all who celebrate it today!

And, first of all: Congrats to MRB for his first race! He smashed the GP Bern yesterday and he told me he enjoyed it thoroughly. Can’t wait for the Amsterdam 10k!

The race is in a week. In a week! I am starting to feel weak in the knees for that. That’s a bit early, isn’t it? But there’s only two runs left, and then, hey, the R-day. I have been training really hard and I actually need to cut back a little bit, because the last week has had one major theme: cramps. I was certainly overdoing it.

Wednesday – slow 5k

Yup, two rest days to start the week! I only did some yoga on Monday. I also did yoga on Wednesday – a lot of it, actually, and I had a pretty nice evening run, concentrating on going slow. I noticed that, while going slower than comfortable place, my Achilles tendons tend to stiff up. I guess that’s because I tend to strike more on the heel when I run slower? No idea.

Distance: 5.7km
Time:       37:03

Thursday – fast 10k and bootcamp training!

My first morning run in ages! I knew how busy would I be, so I decided to get up earlier and run before work. And it was great. It started sunny, then it started to rain – hooray rainbows! – and it finished pouring. I ended up soaked, but it was really nice anyway. Not to mention that the park is so empty early in the morning when it rains. Nevertheless, I still met some other runners. So great to see dedicated people.

Bootcamp, people!

In the evening, I went to my first bootcamp training! It was great fun. I really liked the social aspect of the training, and even though I am still not the strongest person out there, I am managing far better than I used to. I was on the winning team in the plank challenge we did! Maybe I should enrol for regular bootcamp trainings? Once or twice a week? What do you guys think?

Distance: 10.1km
Time:       59:30

Saturday – slow 5k

And slow it was, but mostly because I basically walked half of it. I had incredible cramps in my calves. The whole run was run-cramp-walk-repeat. I hydrate a lot, I slept quite well, I went to yoga before running, I try to eat enough protein and I even eaten some chocolate to replenish minerals (I am one of the few weirdos who isn’t crazy on chocolate; I know, I know, it’s strange), but I think I simply overwork myself and my body is not yet used to such training intensity. My guess is that I got a prime example of too much, too soon.

To relax and train differently for a bit, I went for a swim. The open air swimming pool is now available and I love that place. I will be going more often. I love swimming, and even though I am not a fast swimmer, it was so enjoyable! I lost count of the number of laps, but it was a solid 1 hour in the water. Splendid.

Distance: 5km
Time:       35:32

Sunday – “race pace” 5k

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This was a very interesting run. I started out bit too fast, but paid attention to my form and breathing, and I was flying (Lap 1)! It felt pretty good actually, and I didn’t have to push too hard, but somewhere halfway my right calf started to cramp up, so I took a walking break (Lap 2). After I felt better I picked up a bit slower, but with a still nice tempo. The run itself felt really good, I was bummed for the walking break in the middle, but I am not going to push myself too hard a week before the race.

Distance: 5km
Time:       29:04

I can’t believe that it’s almost race day! 

Days 130 – 136: Week 3 of 10k training

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The second and the third week looked exactly the same in the training plan, so I hoped that I would be able to see improvements from all the speed work I had been busy with in the last weeks. However, that proved to be more difficult than expected. I went home to Poland for Easter (yay!) and had to alter the plan and reschedule and re-purpose some runs, making it less clear to see my progress, if any. Also, the weather hasn’t been great at all, so my running shorts are still waiting for their turn to shine…

So, here’s how my week looked like!

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Day 131: Oh dear intervals

Remember what I was talking about last time about the ugly side of Dutch spring weather?
Well, today we got a storm. A STORM. With rain, hail and 8-strength wind. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Perfect running weather! Well, the trains didn’t run… but I did. Please appreciate this beautiful picture made by @NoortjeArtz on twitter of how it looked like a bit south of where I live.

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Actually I was lucky to manage my run in between the heavy bouts of rain and only some strong headwind got in my way. Nevertheless: the intervals are difficult. It was supposed to be a 3x1km run + 2-5 minutes of jogging breaks in between (mine were closer to 5).

I warmed up first with the Spartan WOD (or as much as I could from it) and headed off to run. Despite the strong wind which was completely in my face at times, I managed to get 5:11 mins/km for the first km. The second interval, however, didn’t go well at all. I only covered about 600m at the same pace before I called it quits. Third interval I felt much better, but I also ran considerably slower – 5:42mins/km. In general I managed to run 2.6 km instead of the planned 3. The middle interval is my enemy at this moment, so I will have to concentrate to improve on that. In general, it went pretty similar to last week. The average pace was slightly faster, so I count that as progress!

Distance: 2.6km intervals
Time:       13:44

What is your strategy for interval training? Which part is the most difficult?
Do you have any advice on how to run intervals?

Days 123-129: Week 2 of 10k training

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This was a busy and eventful week. I bought some gear. Ran my fastest 1k. Yay!
Ran my fastest 5k. Double yay!

The weather was… very Dutch. Remember all the beautiful pictures of last week and even before that? Well, spring is in full swing here and showing its more ugly face: the rain. Raining cats and dogs with strong wind on top. But I run anyway. I ran though rain, wind, stomach cramps and sneaky puddles this week.
My eating experiment seems to be successful, too. I eat more and I try to fit in more protein in my food, and I feel generally more energetic. I also seem to be less fatigued from the exercise, what was my main goal with this idea.

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