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, decluttering, cleaning, minimalism, work, changes, fibonacci, transformation, weight loss, health, happiness, sustainability

An Adaptive Spiral

Turning small efforts into daily habits results in beautiful things.

 

NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is the term for activity other than purposeful exercise. E.g. Walking, cleaning, trips to the fridge, playing with your kids, etc.

 

NEAT accounts for a higher percentage of your daily energy expenditure than intentional exercise even if you work out 5-6 hours a week.

 

Increasing your NEAT can make a huge difference to your health and environment.

 

  • Wear comfortable shoes: You’re not in pain or grumpy; better relationships; better posture; you can walk around without hindrance; more NEAT.
  • Bring your lunch to work: Saves money eating out, and you can spend the rest of your lunch hour walking / doing errands.
  • Wear a backpack rather than carry a shoulder bag: You’re more inclined to go for a walk; you walk more easily and quickly; you don’t hunch one shoulder to keep a bag on it (my physiotherapist pointed this out and now I see people with lopsided shoulders everywhere).
  • Bringing lunch and drinks to work means more trips to the office kitchen: Saves money; more NEAT.
  • Put dishes away one at a time: NEAT; and it also doesn’t increase power bills.
  • Put laundry away one item at a time: NEAT!
  • Walk your office mail to admin on another floor instead of putting it in your floor’s mail-out tray: Saves admin staff having to carry it or forget it, and I get more floors climbed.
  • Walk to the shops when you need something (rather than waiting till you have a long list then drive).

 

One of my realisations was to just stop whining to others to do tasks and just get off my butt and do them myself. No arguments; better relationships!

 

More NEAT meant decluttering, and more space!

 

All this NEAT led to feeling better, doing more purposeful exercise, eating according to my calorie limit, losing weight, running, feeling better, round and round…

 

An adaptive spiral.

 

Today I was thinking that NEAT is sort of like doing the “right” thing:

 

 

  • You walk to the bin instead of leaving rubbish on the table – more calories burned; tidy house.
  • I just walked two sides of a triangle along the path instead of taking the short cut across a carpark – safer; more calories burned.
  • I walk the long way to & from work – less carbon emissions; save money; more calories burned.

 

 

Doing the “right” thing has so many benefits!

Losing 80 lb / 35 kg using My Fitness Pal (easy calorie-counting app), running, and participating in community discussions led me to not having drunk alcohol since January 31 2018.

Not drinking meant not needing as much time in bed trying to sleep. Now I sleep more soundly and don’t wake as often, which means I have more time to do nice things.

On Thursday after my run, study, and drawing, I still had lots of time to spare before my last day of work for the year:

  • I put away some things I’d left in the hall after doing some rearranging around the house.
  • I walked to the hardware shop and bought some picture hooks and hung prints of my son’s artwork properly in my yoga room (his room when he comes home).
  • I tidied my room and wiped down all the surfaces free of dust.

And when I came home, it all looked lovely and I was facing 12 days holiday!

 

As each day passes, we can make appropriate and sustainable growth, change, and habits that beautify the overall picture. 

 

An adaptive spiral.

 

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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!

 

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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.

My First 50 km Run

My First 50 km Run – Sunday 10 June 2018 – Recap

I’d been planning it for 6 months. I have a spreadsheet I’d made with a Strava Premium McMillan marathon training plan in it, and the 50 km Ultramarathon training plan from the book, “Relentless Forward Progress”, and I basically managed to follow the distance of the long runs each week, while running 4-5 times a week as directed by what my body could cope with. Every day I would enter what I’d done, and tweak what I would plan to do.

I’d first thought I’d do the Canberra Marathon Festival 50 km event in April, but travel and accommodation were going to be too expensive, plus, events are stressful, so I decided I’d keep it simple: If I want to do 50 km, do 50 km. I don’t need to pay to run – just do it around home.

I chose this weekend, the long weekend in June, since I’d have more days to choose from if the weather was terrible, plus I could have time for recovery. Sunday was perfect. 5-15 Celsius (41-59F).

Started at 6:24 am

1-10 km (1-6 miles)

My usual morning run in the dark route on footpaths along the highway. I saw W and N who both knew what I was up to, and wished me luck. DK tooted her horn at me.

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I made sure throughout the run to only run at a pace that let me breathe easy. Early on, I had to keep slowing down, because I knew I’d need that energy later.

10-25 km (6-15.5 miles)

Uphill to the next town on a fine gravel path, then back down again. Saw G, which was nice. The fog was beautiful in the dawn sunlight.

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25-40 km (15.5 – 25 miles)

More hills. C pulled up next to me at 30 km, and I was happy to report I was feeling alright.

I did start getting slower gradually from there. Around 38 km my left lower back was starting to hurt and I could tell I was tensing up. It helped if I stretched my arms up and out.

Fuel: I ate yoghurt and a big muesli bar before I set out, and on the run I had 2 other bars, a donut, and 2 energy gels with caffeine.

Too much information: Loo stops were at 9, 18, 25, and 39 km. Didn’t “need” them all, but I’d planned the route to go near the loos in case I did need them, and then I used them so I was comfortable the whole time.

40-50 km (25-31 miles)

Mostly flat, on paths around the lake and along the creek. My body was running alright, if slowly, but it was starting to complain in places. It was also getting warmer in the sun. Had arranged for F to run with me for the last section. We chatted, and it helped distract me from the sore back. It was nice to have someone with me when I passed the 42.2 km marathon mark, and enter into the “uncharted waters of Ultra territory”, as F put it. Then it was a painfully slow countdown jog to the finish. I’d called my husband to meet me, and little did I know, my dear friend DB had arranged to be there too, with BB, AB, and G, and bunches of balloons. My own personal finish line and cheer squad!

Too long; didn’t read? Ran 50 km! Achieved my 2018 goal! Ran all the way, which was the cherry on top! Did it in 6 hours as I’d hoped! I have awesome friends.

Fun Stats:

My 40th run of 20 km or over.

12 month streak of running a Half Marathon or more per month.

(Started learning to run on Sept 22, 2015 when suddenly my usual walk wasn’t fast enough.)