zenmode running self-care anxiety sober quit alcohol marathon training work volunteering administration health medication

Self-care victory

Had two terrible nights sleep earlier in the week and was struggling a lot at work. Felt like people were demanding every minute of my time and I had too many responsibilities outside of work.

 

At 5:30 am I went for an angry, 80-minute run and thought of logical kick-arse ways to reduce a lot of time spent on administration, and implemented them when I got back.

 

This helped not just me but also others to have a limit set now on what we feel we can do.

 

I made it through the day without needing any sort of medication or self-medication, and only realised this when it was all over and it hadn’t even occurred to me to use any. Nearly 400 days alcohol-free. Not even any caffeine for over 4 months.

 

Instead of freaking out with anxiety I’d been proactive.

 

Proud of myself for not pulling out of any volunteer responsibilities completely, since I’m proud of what I’m involved in.

 

Thursday 28 February I realised I’d rather use the money I’ve saved for flights and accommodation (to do a marathon in April) on a faster computer for myself.

 

This will improve my quality of life immensely and reduce a lot of frustrations.

 

I also decided to build a stronger 30 km run base rather than max out my resources for 2 months yet again on a marathon that would mean my glute/piriformis pain would worsen just when it’s been a lot better.

 

This will mean regular, consistent running to look forward to and enjoy.

 

Feeling like I’ve actually won a marathon now!

goals, happiness, running, marathon, ultramarathon, learning, work. self-care, handstands, drawing, splits, yoga

Not my New Year Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions are for people who aren’t already awesome.

In 2018 I made goals that continued my “relentless forward progress” which started when I was 48 in early 2015.

 

My 2018 fitness goal: To run a 50 km run. Any other running achievements will be cherries on top.

 

Done! Ran 50 km on June 10, 2018!

 

 
My 2018 learning goal: To complete iPhone Photo Academy, a photography course I’ve started recently. This will help me with my recent achievement of being accepted to sell my photography at a local gallery.

 

Done! Sold photos, digital drawings, and cards.  Plus I did 5 other courses (below).

 
My 2018 personal goal: To stay as happy as I am.

 

Done, and happier – I seem to have quit alcohol and gone 11 months alcohol-free. So much more productive and creative!

 

Do more cartwheels. 

 

Lots done! And lots of handstands, which I’d wanted to improve since I was a teenager!

 

 

In addition to these goals I also did the following things in 2018 that made me happy:

 

  • Helped found our town’s Running Club.
  • 5 minutes handstands/stretching/balance/core daily since June.
  • 5 minutes learning Greek every day. 103 days so far.
  • Drawing every day since late September.
  • Created a blog and have published 26 posts about health, running, decluttering, quitting addictions, weight loss, and transformation.
  • Continued to love my job.

 

In 2018 I did the following FutureLearn courses:

 

  • The Science of Endurance Training and Performance (University of Kent) 6 week course.
  • The Science of Nutrition (The Open University) 4 week course.
  • Brain and Behaviour: Regulating Body Weight (Purdue University) 3 week course.
  • The Musculoskeletal System: The Science of Staying Active into Old Age (University of Sheffield) 3 week course.
  • Digital Skills: Social Media (Accenture) 2 hours.

 

2018 Running Events:

 

  • 10/06/2018 50.1 km 6:04:21 (Ran this on my own at home, but it was my feature run for 2018.)
  • 26/08/2018 35.0 km run The Bloody Long Walk 3:59:41
  • 16/09/2018 21.2 km Connor’s Run and a Bit 2:22:28
  • 14/10/2018 43.2 km Melbourne Marathon 5:28:36
  • 04/11/2018 21.1 km Portland 3 Bays Half Marathon (HM) 2:09:45
  • 11/11/2018 21.1 km Hamilton Fun Run HM 2:12:06
  • 25/11/2018 21.1 km Run with the Wind HM 2:35:38
  • 02/12/2018 21.1 km Carman’s Women’s HM 2:08:08

 

I ran 2,118.7 km in 2018.

I did 7,041,449 steps – a total of 6,237 km – averaging 19,291.6 steps a day.

 

 In 2019, after 4 years of relentless forward progress, I want to consolidate and maintain what’s made me thrive in 2018, and enjoy the Zen.

 

Things that will make me happy in 2019:

 

  • A marathon in a major city interstate.
  • 48 km on my 48th month running anniversary in September.
  • Run 2019 km in 2019.
  • Average 18,000 steps daily, unless I keep swimming more regularly as I did in December.
  • 12 months alcohol free – Feb 1 2019 anniversary.
  • Keep maintaining my goal weight range for another year (It will be 3 years in April 2019.)
  • 5 minutes handstands/stretching/balance/core daily.
  • 5 minutes learning Greek on Duolingo every day.
  • Draw every day.
  • 2 blog posts every month.
  • Paint the kitchen.
  • Invite someone new to parkrun & walk/run with them.

 

These will mean I get outdoors, travel, keep running, keep strong, be creative, and keep my flexibility, strength, and balance, and stay happy.

walking, australia, endurance, jacaranda, walk,

I Walked 51 km (32 mi) on Boxing Day

I wasn’t even scoring bargains in malls!  I wanted to walk for 12 hours to see how far I could get, but after about 9 hours, during a fuel stop at McDonald’s for a chocolate frappé, I broke out in a sweat and felt dizzy, so I decided I should stop. It was 30 Celsius (86 F) at that point. Happy with that effort.

 

I started at 5:33 am by walking around our town’s lake. I thought I might end up doing that a few times on the day, but there were so many bugs in the air and I kept getting stones in my shoes, so I decided to stick to roads if I could.  I needed to do the walk in loops so I could come back to where I could make a toilet stop.  I went to the outskirts of town on 4 different loops, which required walking on the side of roads.

By midday, it was 26 Celsius (79 F). In the last few hours of walking my mission was to try to go where I knew there would be a bit of shade, and the last 3 loops were shorter ones on footpaths nearer the CBD.

 

Before I started: I had high protein Greek yoghurt, 3 oat breakfast biscuits, juice, decaf coffee, water.

I was drinking water from my Camelbak throughout the day.

Food:

9 km: Oat protein bar

15 km: Jelly babies

22 km: Egg & bacon McMuffin, orange juice

33 km: 350 ml lemon squash

37 km: Cheeseburger, fries, lemonade

50 km: Ordered a chocolate frappé and drank it before/after stopping at 51 km.

Dinner: Chicken & veg sweet & sour Hokkien noodles, prawn crackers, crisps, icecream, fudge, and chocolate.

 

Looking at that list, I think I should have eaten something else at about 45 km then I wouldn’t have felt like I was going to pass out at 50 km.  But when you’re feeling tired and crappy but want to keep going, eating sometimes seems like it takes too much time and energy.  Stupid “exercise brains”!

 

 

Random info:

 

 

  • I saw two hares and a mouse/rat.
  • At 32 km I ran into a good running buddy who was walking her dog and we walked about 1 km together which was lovely.
  • I applied 50+ sunscreen beforehand, and twice during my walk, and wore a wide hat and sunglasses: no sunburn, slight tan.
  • My Garmin Fenix 5 still had 58% battery left.
  • Sore thighs.
  • Hotspot or blister on my right heel sole.

 

 

McDonald’s is near home. While I was waiting and starting to feel terrible, I didn’t think of calling anyone to come and get me because I didn’t think I’d have to wait long for the drink. I had to wait 10 minutes for my frappé, but I felt a bit better as soon as I had some and started walking home.

 

I actually got outside our house and my watch said 50.7 km so I went round the corner and back to make it 51 km (32 mi).

 

This meant it was my walking distance personal best by 1 km, and quicker than my first 50 km walk by 30 minutes.

How do you remember your Personal Bests stats?

I got frustrated with not being able to remember my Personal Bests in running, and having to look them up on Strava and/or the race website each time.

Instead of writing them down then inevitably losing the list, I decided to make a display.

I found photos from them, and cropped them all the same dimensions.

Then I added the stats, then printed them.

I half-thought I’d pin them to a pinboard, but that wasn’t very original.

I hadn’t decided how to display them until an idea hit me to peg them to a banner.

I found a nice white banner to match my room, and this is the result.

Melbourne Marathon 2018

My first marathon (Aug 2017) and my 50 km run (June 2018) both went without a hitch. Melbourne Marathon Sunday 14 October 2018 was a bit more humbling.

The bad:

  1. At 25 km, it was hot and my throat felt like it was closing, and I had trouble getting enough oxygen. I had chest pains for a minute, with a heartrate spike of 195. I had to do walk/run/walk/run to finish the marathon, and couldn’t talk without the throat constriction happening.
  2. I had to walk in an event and I’ve always prided myself on never needing to walk.
  3. I wanted to prove in an official, big marathon, I was better than average, but I finished 1552 of 1826 women. 114 of 145 in my Age Group.

 

The good:

  1. Digestion was fine beforehand, and then only needed the loo at 20 km.
  2. Fuelling and hydration were great. Also tipped water on my head every 3 km drinks station.
  3. I knew when to walk when necessary.
  4. I took a nice photo of my club friends, Caroline and Carolyn.IMG_8084
  5. I got to run the F1 Albert Park circuit and take a selfie in pit straight.
  6. A man with a below-knee prosthesis passed me after that and I thought it was so cool l quickly took a picture.IMG_8068
  7. I had an awesome weekend away in the city on my own with only a couple of anxiety pains, when a few years ago I’d never dreamed I’d do anything like this.
  8. I was a 29-year smoker and 35 kg overweight 4.5 years ago, and have come a long way.
  9. Met up with lots of running friends I’ve made since starting running & parkrun 3 years ago.
  10. Ambrosia-like handful of jelly beans from a spectator at 26 km that kept me amused for 4 km.
  11. There were all ages, genders, and sizes around me near the back of the pack.
  12. 13% didn’t finish at all! I feel sorry for them, but that makes me feel luckier.
  13. Talked with a Spartan at 36 km (he’d run MelbMara 10 times) and he was saying we were doing well in the heat.
  14. At 32 km, a spectator offered me Minties. The motto is “At moments like these, you need Minties”. Of course I said yes. And I enjoyed that Mintie till I finished it just before the end.
  15. I didn’t need First Aid!
  16. I f*&%ing finished my third marathon!

 

IMG_0578

The doctor I saw about my marathon “episode” said she didn’t think it was exercise-induced asthma / bronchioconstriction. Probably just one of those things in marathons when you push your body to its limits. Long run, high heart rate spike, needing lots of oxygen, hot conditions, no shade. She said to just see if it happens again on a 30ish km run in the cool, and if so, she’d refer me to a sports clinic.

But a once-off like this sounded like my body’s fairly normal reaction to tough conditions at the time. If it was asthma, I wouldn’t have breathed easier after walking a minute or two.

 

I learned a lot this time. Looking forward to doing a Winter marathon next time!

 

The final words go to mention that through all of this, I knew I was kicking off a 24 hour relay “Run For Dennis (aka KeepRunningFatboy)” with My Fitness Pal friends and needed to run for about 5 hours to fill my slot. Dennis Ley ran over 25 marathons in his inspiring life that was cut short in August.

 

I had to keep running.

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Reasons to run

If you make comparisons, you might feel inadequate for being slower than another runner or you feel empty with no goals if you’re ahead.

If you find and know your own internal reasons why you run, others can’t stop you from enjoying running.

My reasons may or may not intersect with yours.

  • It all started with going faster than a walk.
  • To find beauty in nature.
  • To find beauty in strength.
  • Art. Taking photos, writing and talking about insights from running.
  • parkrun. Where do I begin?
  • Big-ass goals. Striving for achievements, and mini-goals and daily achievements along the way.
  • Curiosity, learning, data, statistics, science.
  • Friends. I’ve made more real friends in 3 years of running than I have in a lifetime.
  • Endorphins, and the runner’s high.
  • Weight management and earning more calories for yummy food.
  • Health. Blah, blah, blah, yes, it’s almost a cliché that running’s so good for you, but deep down I ecstatically love those annual “clear health” check-ups that ease many fears.
  • Aspirations towards Sisu. In Finland, Sisu is a unique trait that means consistency and resolute determination. It’s an epic quality of stamina and perseverance, of courage in the face of extreme hardship.
  • Zenmode.

Know your reasons and know they’re yours and you can run happy.

The psychology of running

They say, “Dig deep” on a tough run, but how do we do that? Here are strategies for dealing with critical situations.

You can use these for yourself or alter them to suit your method.

  • If I get too breathless, I will run at a pace that feels like I can run forever.
  • If I’m staring at the ground and feeling weighed down, then I will look up to try and find a nice photo subject.
  • If I want to quit early, then I will focus on completing a mini-goal or route section so I feel hopeful.
  • If I worry about my time or pace, I will remember my fundamental goal is to stay healthy so I can keep running.
  • If my shoulders get tense, I will rotate my arms to ease the ache.
  • If my legs/hips/calves hurt, I will count to ten and practice good form.
  • If I am really struggling, I will “Embrace the suck”.

We can face That Dark Place on a tough run, as I’ve seen someone call it. We shouldn’t be going there every run. It’s probably best to only do it every couple of weeks to avoid burnout. Most training runs should be run easy.

But when you expect a run to be tough and you have contingency plans and strategies for critical situations, you create psychological endurance.

You will probably think negative or defeatist thoughts. Here are ways of digging deep when that happens.

  • Wear a symbolic item that reminds you of your strength and/or why you run.
  • Visualise completing your goal.
  • Remember friends’ compliments about your determination/commitment.
  • Use your senses: Hear the crowd’s encouragement or nature; see the interesting route; taste/drink some water/fuel; feel your skin to make sure you’re sweating and not dehydrated, feel the breeze.
  • Remember overcoming a great obstacle in your life. Think outside the run – remind yourself you can do this, you’ve done other hard things.
  • Swear, and let your monkey feelings out.
  • In a training session, remember the purpose of the workout and remember that performance is improved by trying hard.
  • In a race, remember your training, and how you’ve built up to this. Let it all fall into place.

Being prepared to face That Dark Place can help. Visualise a certain point in the route (e.g. 32 km) and rehearse seeing yourself overcome negativity at that point by remembering these strategies.

You don’t need to leave it all up to luck on the day.