Thursday, June 21, 2012

Running on Air

Anyone that has read my blogs will know that I haven’t been a fan of running. At times I have downright hated it and myself whilst doing it. I begrudged every single step. Kilometre after kilometre was filled with tears and mental arguments. I entered events and was dreading the day coming around.
I ran because I felt like it was what I had to do. Everyone else was doing it. I wanted to fit in with my friends and with the wider group and also everyone I looked up to ran. My goals weren’t really things I felt passionate about achieving, they were things I thought I should do.
I had to do most of my running training alone. I was 1000km from my trainer and we rarely ran together even when we did catch up.  I would go out and do the training I had to do and gradually built up my distances but it gradually wore me down. I joined a run club when I moved to Sydney, but I felt like a fraud and that I didn’t belong there. I was the slowest of the slow group and no matter how hard I tried I never improved.
It got to the point where I had enough and was over it so I decided I wasn’t going to run anymore. No more events, I would keep doing run club as a training tool and that was it. Then things in my life changed and I wasn’t part of that anymore and withdrew from the run club. Apart from everything else and how hard it was during that time I was relieved about not having to even train at run club anymore. I could just stop running.
Now herein lies the flaw to my carefully crafted plan to avoid running……………..Crossfit. Yes good ole Crossfit had other ideas. Just about every day there is a run of some sort. Whether it be a 400m warm up run or runs as part of the WOD.  I am the slowest in my box, hands down.
And it has begun to frustrate me and I hate arriving back after the warm up run miles behind everyone else or if there is a run in the WOD either being scaled or again miles behind everyone else. So I made a decision. I had to work on it.
This round of 12WBT for me is about consistency and working on things I suck at. Top of the list running.  But I felt like there was no pressure because after all I wasn’t going to be entering a marathon or running up a bloody big mountain again.  I just wanted to improve over short distances up to maybe 3k. Get my speed and also confidence up. Simple, clean & easy goals.
I needed help with this because I wanted to do it right and I also needed to feel accountable to someone. So I contacted a friend who is a PT & a very talented runner and asked if they would train me. Took me a few weeks to build up the courage to send the email, I kinda felt that my goals were a bit silly and really anyone should be able to run 400m. But I sent it and I am glad I did.  Tash replied enthusiastically and we arranged a time to sit down and chat about what we could do.
She reassured me that what I wanted was more than reasonable and achievable and certainly not unimportant. So we started working together.
We train together once a week and she also sends me through programs to complete in-between our sessions. Our first session together was sprints. Now I consider myself very much built for comfort and not speed so I found this session a challenge. But to be honest I loved it. I loved pushing hard and getting feedback & support from Tash as we went.  Unfortunately my body didn’t love it as much and it took me a few days to recover. Some biomechanical imbalances i.e. I have a lazy butt literally, caused some issues but after a few days rest and rehab from my physio I was back up and, well, running.
In the days where I could not complete the sessions I found I really missed it. I wanted to get out there and get through them. I wanted to work hard.  Every day this week I have powered out of bed and been keen to smash out the programmed session. This is not me when it comes to running. But I like it.
I have to say on not one occasion last year when I was running did I ever experience the much talked about runners high. I didn’t feel great after any session. I picked apart my efforts, I compared with others, I tortured myself.  Never did a run and felt pumped or ready to take on the world. I was usually sore and tired and just plain miserable.  I never looked forward to a session with excitement, more so with dread of how hard it would be.
Yesterday for the first time ever I think I had that good feeling. I actually honestly also felt a sense of achievement as well, which is rare for me to allow myself to feel. The closest I have come is with my achievements at Crossfit because I recognise I have had to work hard for all of those gains.
Tash & I met up for our session, and as usual I had no idea what was planned but trust her so am prepared to do whatever it is she asks.  She said we’d be doing a longer slower run and just see how far we went. The first part of the loop was about 1.2k so in my mind I figured I’d be lucky to do 1k and we’d probably do intervals. Off we went.  I have been working on improving my breathing when I run as to be honest it’s usually like the sound of a mongrel dog panting on a summer day lol
I can’t breathe through my nose so means I can’t do what running people traditionally tell you to do. A couple of weeks prior Tash had suggested a different technique she had been taught so even when I am just walking I have been practicing it. So during the first part of the run I was thinking about how I should be breathing. We chatted occasionally but it’s hard for me to talk much when I run.
Soon enough we’d done the 1.2k loop and I was still running. The body felt good and my mind was just chilling out. I was worried at first during our early sessions that I would feel self conscious running alongside Tash as she makes running look so easy. But I don’t and I actually enjoy the experience.  We kept going along the loop and I clearly remember when Tash asked had I guessed what distance she had in mind for me. I kinda sighed and hoped I was wrong when I answered with 5k lol She replied Yep with a big smile and we kept going.  I think I said at that point what part of my goals about only wanting to run 400m did this fit into lol. But we kept going.
When I got the confirmation that it was indeed 5k immediately my brain woke up and was like ‘hell you can’t run 5k’. I wouldn’t have ever thought I could or would. I hadn’t run that far continuously since C2S last August.  I knew there was no pressure on me to run the 5k. If I had been under physical stress and my body quit could have stopped and walked and would have been fine. That’s the one thing I am finding it that it’s ok to be me and do whatever I can.
In a rare event for me I managed to shut my brain off. I thought to myself just keep going. Do what you can. I sent my brain back to work thinking about my breathing and I kept running.
As we got closer to the end I realised that I could get an great time (for me anyway), I said to Tash I would tell her something when we finished (didn’t want to jinx myself re the time), and so with a couple of hundred metres to go I picked up my pace. Tash said that I could finish sub 40m and I replied well I’d better leg it then and sped up some more. Stopped my Garmin at 5k and 39:56 on the clock.  I was stoked!!  Told Tash it was a pb by 5mins and first time sub 40. Big smiles and big high fives followed.
I was tired but oh so freaking happy!!!  For me this felt like a marathon and to get that time was awesome. When I was doing my stretches beside my car to cool down I had a few little happy tears roll down my cheeks as I just couldn’t believe it.   I had such a feeling of confidence and achievement.
Had the stereo in my car cranking and yes one of the songs was Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen which I sang loudly. Might be dorky but it made me feel good.
No running scheduled today and I kinda miss it lol. But will have one scheduled for tomorrow and I can’t wait to see what it is.
I used to run to get away from things and to fit in with the crowd. It didn’t work because the stuff I was running from kept up with me & tortured me, and I never really felt like I fit in. Now I’m running for me, because I choose to, for my goals


  1. Woohoo Lisa, congratulations on running that 5k and getting the PB. Running is something I want to be able to do easily and not struggle to do it. it is a slow process. But one I am also
    working on.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. bloody fantastic! Nice to see you are running towards something rather than away from something!
    You rock!

  4. Tears. You are speaking directly to me. Thank you.