Confessions From The Queen Of Excuses

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my running.  In a perfect world I would want and get to run every single day.  I would never get injured.  Every run would result in the elusive runner’s high.  Unfortunately life is decidedly not like that and won’t be anytime soon unless I win the lottery.  Of course, I would have to buy a ticket, but I digress…

The reality of my life is such that I should be able to run as often as I want/need to.  I’m a stay at home parent.  We don’t fill our days so full that there is no opportunity to run.

Recently, however, my brain is not allowing me to realize this.  Someone out there must feel that they identify with the following excuses at least one; please tell me I’m not alone!:
  • It’s too cold (seasonal – sometimes it’s too hot).
  • It’s raining too hard.
  • It’s too early/late/dark.
  • Spud is heavy in the stroller.
  • Spud will only sit still for about 20 minutes – if I’m lucky – before he wants to get out to run.
  • I just don’t feel like it.
  • I feel like I’m holding other people back since I’ve lost all my speed.
  • I’m self-conscious about the weight I’ve gained over the summer and how I look in my running clothes (I’m not overweight, but am not comfortable with my current weight).
I am stuck in a vicious cycle.  I make excuses, don’t run, feel fat and lazy, still don’t run because I don’t see the point, and all that serves to do is perpetuate those feelings.  I know that self doubt and a lack of motivation are my main issues.  If I don’t have a desire to haul my butt out the door I won’t go.  Eventually to get back on track I’m going to have to ignore the extremely loud voice in my head that is telling me I’m not good enough and that I should quit.  Short of a frontal lobotomy I’m still trying to figure out how to effectively do that.

There are excuses I need to tell to shove it right off the bat.  Weather can’t be an excuse.  I live in Vancouver, BC, for Pete’s sake!  It’s going to rain and it’s going to rain often.  My weight can eff off too.  Yes, I’m feeling bad about it.  Mainly because I am comparing myself to how I looked back in May after a full marathon training cycle.  I notice it far more than anyone else and am my worst critic.  I need to get back the mentality I had when I bought my first pair of tights.  I cannot see myself running down the road.  So what if things are moving about?  If anything at least I can say that I made an effort to get out and better myself.

The time of day is a huge issue for me simply because I can’t go out early or late on my own.  Neither Colin nor I are comfortable with it.  We don’t live in a terrible neighbourhood, but prefer that I don’t take the risk.  If any of my friends reading this are interested in either early, early or post-kiddo-bedtime runs message me!

My struggle really lays with the oft-cursed stroller, the expectations of a 4-1/2 year old, and my willingness to deal with both.  It is far too easy to say it’s too much effort to get everything together for a >1 hour run.  And yes, it is easier (and warmer, drier, etc) to stay home.  But I’m only doing myself a disservice.  In the long run – totally unintentional pun – no one cares if I run but me (well, maybe Colin, but that’s because he has to live with me).

What I need is to be held accountable.  Ask me how my non-training running is doing.  Come January ask how my marathon training is progressing.  Ask if I sucked it up, threw on the rain cover, and took Spud out with me.  Essentially, continue to give me the kick in the butt I so obviously am in need of.

The best I can do is try, but I know that I need to because, at the end of the day, it’s about taking care of myself and setting a good example for Spud.  It’s about what I do and about how I feel about myself.


Three Things Thursday

1.  I’m finally getting a run in tonight.  It’ll be my first since Sunday (shh, don’t tell my running friends…).  It’s not that I don’t want to run.  I’m a stay at home mum so I have the time.  I just have ZERO motivation to run when I have to do it on my own.  My running partner cancelled on Monday since her little guy was sick.  Totally understand that!  But I just couldn’t drag myself and Spud out in the pouring rain.  Tuesday… rain again.  Wednesday… no rain, but when I have a speed workout on the schedule I know it won’t get done if I’m pushing +60lbs.  Lots of self-defeating thoughts this week.  In case you’re wondering why I don’t just go out on my own in the evenings Colin was working late all those nights (I’ll spare you my thoughts on that).

2.  My final 32km/20mi run is on Sunday!  Hip hip hooray!  And Eek!  That means taper is just around the corner… oh, and a little 42.2km run too.

3.  Spud made me this sculpture this morning:

He keeps making me “presents” for my birthday that I have to leave on my bedside table.  Unfortunately we have a bit of a timeline/3 -1/2 year old logic issue.  My birthday was on 17 March.  However, he keeps thinking that it’s coming up because my mum didn’t make me my usual birthday cake.  Yes, I have had the same 3 layer chocolate cake made for me every year since I was about 5…  I tried explaining that I won’t be getting presents again when we finally do have the cake, but he doesn’t really get it.  So, until we have cake, I have a feeling Spud will be giving me lots of hand-made gifts and yelling, “Happy Birthday Mummy!  Here’s your present!”

Head Meet Wall, Repeat.

I need to be more self-motivated.  I am perfectly fine to get in runs when I am able to join friends or my running group.  However, I am such a slacker when it comes to doing it on my own.  I can pretty much come up with any lame excuse to not do what’s on my schedule.  It sucks and is super frustrating.  I was so convinced that I was going to put more effort into this training cycle.  I have to a certain extent, but I know I’m dropping the ball on other things (hello, core).  I have less than 2 months until race day. 

Apparently my new mantra needs to be:

Suck. It. Up. Buttercup.

TMB Is A Genius!

I have been trying for a while to come up with a coherent post about my fear of getting faster. It’s not really that I’m scared – I’m just very reluctant to remove the “slow” and “back of the pack” labels from myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m nowhere near being considered fast. I still run a 6 minute kilometre (10ish min/mile) on my steady runs. However, I am faster than I used to be. So when I saw TMB’s post today over at Racing With Babes I thought, “She totally nailed it on the head.”

Here are the two quotes I identify with:

“I am starting to suspect it was because I “told” myself that that was the pace I could run.” Yup. Fear of change. I’ve always known that Colin will run at my pace (he’s obnoxiously faster). When we ran our last half marathon training he really pushed me to go faster and I must have dropped a good 30 seconds/km. But I haven’t had him running with me lately so I haven’t gotten that extra push.

“First, that if you want to improve, you need to be deliberate about your training. And second, if you want to improve, you need to BELIEVE that you can improve.” I’ve totally seen how training has worked for me in the past. I have improved drastically over the last year and a half. But I struggle with the second point.

So thank you Tonia. That second part of the last point is totally going on my fridge.

And if anyone wants to send me one of these, please do:

Hello, My Name Is Alanna and I Have PMD

That would be Post Marathon Depression. This post-race period has got me down. I ran my marathon on 10 October. Since then it’s been a downhill slide. Honestly. I’ve had one week since then that I’m remotely okay with, meaning I ran 3 times. Now I know that you can get post-race blues, but I had no idea that it’d be this bad.

There are a few contributing factors:

* No immediate goal. I am planning on signing up for the next marathon clinic however it doesn’t start until 30 December. So I’m in maintenance until then. If I had lots of money I’d sign up for the half marathon clinic that started last week (and overlaps for about 6 weeks) just so I would have something to be committed to.

* I have been “in training” for the last year and a half. I started running in May 2009 with a learn-to-run clinic, moved on to the 10km in September, the half marathon that October and ran my first half in February 2010. Then I trained for my second half myself – which sucked (the training, not the race – that was a PR) as I obviously need the structure of an in-store program – and started working toward the full in June. I really don’t think that it’s running overload or burnout – I don’t run nearly enough for it to be burnout. Apparently I just don’t know what to do with myself now that there’s no accountability.

* I have to take Spud with me. It’s not a selfish thing – I don’t mind that he’s with me (and talks non-stop for the run until he falls asleep). It’s that I mind having to push him. That stroller is heavy. With Spud in it it’s over 60lbs. And I don’t live in a flat neighbourhood. So, yes, it’s complaining a little – I know lots of you run with doubles! – I’m just not used to it and it bugs me because it makes me even slower than I already am. I get good workouts, but I don’t necessarily feel good about them (make sense?). Even if Colin comes with us I still have to push since it starts to aggravate his knee/IT band if he does.

* It’s dark out now in the evenings (and darker earlier once daylight savings ends on Sunday). This means that I can’t go out by myself at all. Both Colin and I aren’t comfortable with me going out by myself in the mornings – and, let’s face it, I love my sleep more than most – and the same goes for nighttime. We live in a suburban area, but there’s enough crime around that it’s really not safe. It’s pretty much a “better safe than sorry” attitude.

So that’s what’s wrong with my running life right now. I’m really not sure how to remedy it. I’ll go out for runs regardless, but there’s a part of me that thinks “what’s the point?” if I’m not really getting anything out of it. It’s more than the slight funk I thought I was in. I can’t give up on it. I won’t give up on it. If I want to do well at all in May then I need to up my game, so to speak. I can’t really cruise through training like I did this summer. I need to take it more seriously.

Any advice to help me get out of my head?

So I Went For A Run…

Thanks to Andrew‘s very blunt “get off your butt” comment on my earlier post Spud and I went out for a run this afternoon. It was great! Now, obviously, it’s in the eye of the beholder. I’m pretty sure all the people in their cars and under their umbrellas were looking at us like we were crazy. There was probably some pity thrown my way as well. That’s because it was raining (alternating between downpour and drizzle) and windy. At some points it looked like the stroller was trying to take off.

Things I learned (or remembered) on this run:
  • Running in the rain is fine. It’s not my favourite, but I trained for my first half marathon at this time last year and it wasn’t a problem.
  • Running during the day is so nice. I don’t have to have lights and reflectors. I can run by myself. I’m 95% sure that drivers see me when I’m crossing the street – though there were a few that looked surprised that I was in the crosswalk.
  • Spud likes the stroller. He did his warm-up stretches and run before we left the house.
  • Spud likes the rain! As in there was no way the rain cover was going on. We have a water resistant blanket that he’ll deign to put on, but that was it. For the first while he didn’t even want to have the pull down cover over his head. He’s 3 so I pick my battles. If I get to run he can get soaked if he wants to…
  • Stroller time = nap time! Yay! I think he only slept for about 20 minutes, but since he was up at 6am that’s fine with me.
  • One 37lb 3 year old + one 25lb BOB Revolution stroller = 62lbs to push up hills. I felt quite justified in walking up the second half of the hill to the overpass. And then I got a bit of a break so we could watch the trains in the yard underneath.

Rockin’ the drowned rat look!

Totals for the run: 6.25km in 44:52. Not a record by any means, but I definitely had a better run than expected. Now I just have to do this 3 more times this week!

Winning Stuff Makes Up For A Running Slump, Right?

So this last week has been a good week for me in the world of blog contests! As posted last Tuesday I won a Road ID certificate. I promptly “spent” it on new wristbands for me and Colin as well as a pair of reflective laces for each of us.

When I posted about that win Zaneta commented to let me know that I had won her contest. Here’s what I’m going to be getting in the mail soon! I’m very excited! I have never tried the Tri-berry GU and the chocolate ones look like they’ll be fantastic. I actually already have a water bottle like this one, but it’s over a year old and is due for replacement. Besides, the blue is far prettier than my black one!

Today’s good news was that I checked back on a Facebook contest that I entered and found out that I had won that too! I get a Nathan Hydration Quickdraw Plus water bottle. At 22 oz. it’s bigger than the one above (10 oz.). It should be perfect for my runs that are about 10km long. Another reason I like it is that it should fit in the cup holder on Spud’s stroller. Right now we just chuck a Nalgene underneath, but it’s really inconvenient to stop and take a drink. I’ve seen lots of other bloggers with this bottle and they all seem to love it so I’m pretty happy. I chose the green because I figured Colin might want to use it too (the teal was getting a little girly).

I’m really hoping that all this new gear is going to get me off my butt and out the door! Since the marathon I’ve run a whopping two times. Yup, that’s twice in two weeks. Bah! I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have the accountability of a clinic right now or if I’m burned out or what. Probably a little bit of both as well as the typical crappy Vancouver rain has shown up again for fall so my motivation is pretty low. I have a lofty goal list of working my way up to 4 days/week and 2-3 days of core work/week before the end of December. So far it’s looking like that might start in November instead. Thankfully I have a couple of awesome running friends from my marathon clinic that are interested in fairly regular runs so that should help me out some. We’re going for our first run tomorrow night and it’ll be nice to have to honour that commitment.

Turnaround Tuesday

The last couple of weeks have been an almost, but not quite, write-off for me in terms of running. I’ve hit a slump in my training. Since 22 August I have run a total of 4 days. That’s right. 4 days. I can’t say that I’m thrilled with myself for this lack of motivation.

It all started on 22 August when I ended my 29km long run with a couple of awesome blisters. I made them a bit worse by doing hill repeats on 24 August (yay ripped skin) so I was under self-imposed rest until that weekend in order to get my 32km run in.

On the 29th I had a great 32km run – see how far I’ve come to be able to say that – and then… nothing. I backed out of my tempo that Tuesday due to a torrential downpour, skipped 10 x hills on the Wednesday since I would have had to do them myself, and didn’t run Thursday either. My last “run” was on Sunday. I was scheduled for 23km, but couldn’t get my butt out of bed decided to run with Colin (who’s been having IT issues of late) instead. Unfortunately that meant that we ran for about 5km before he was done and then walked 5km home.

So my training/distance for the last two weeks has been crap.

Today is the day I start fresh. No looking back and feeling guilty (well, not too much). Just moving forward and getting back on track. I’m starting with a lovely, hilly 6km tempo tonight. I had plans for speedwork tomorrow, but Colin’s able to make a few extra bucks working for a friend so I’ll try to get it in later this week.

And when I opened my mail today I found this lovely surprise inside:

Nothing like having the local money pit running store send you a dividends certificate! That’ll pay for my GU for this weekend’s long run.

One Thursday Down, 17 More To Go

Today was my first marathon clinic night. I was anxious, jittery, and basically felt like I was going to throw up. I showed up 15 minutes early just to make sure that I wasn’t the last one there. When I got there I got my name tag, sat down and waited. A few more people arrived up and then we started with the introductions.

I’m very thankful that I was one of the first ones to say hi. My goal – to finish The Marathon, time TBD – seemed a little sad after hearing everybody else. Now I know that I can’t compare myself to men and women that have run longer races. It’s just very hard to sit there and think you have an attainable goal when 4 out of 12 in the group have BQ’d.* It’s also hard to hear that some of them have run 10+ marathons. I can’t help but feeling extremely intimidated, even if the more experienced runners are the pace leaders and they are there to help the rest of us out. Now it’s not that I don’t think I can do it. I do. Everyone is really nice and I know that they’ll be supportive too. But really. How can I not feel a tiny bit discouraged if I’m one of the only ones running their first marathon? It seems pretty far away still. (And, Mum, even though I say this I won’t drop out…)

The good thing about the night though was that I’ve slotted myself in with a pace group. We did a 6.7km (4ish mile) steady run and I totally kept up – about 46min total. As long as everything goes well during training my goal at the moment is 4hr 15min. So I’m happy with how things went and am looking forward to doing my training runs. Everything starts off nice and slow for the first few weeks – but since I’m training for a 1/2 I kind of miss those runs – and then we get into uncharted (for me) territory. It’s not too long until I start long runs that are past the half marathon distance. I’m still a little out of my element right now, but after meeting everybody and going out tonight I’m a lot calmer and, dare I say, a little more enthusiastic.

*For those of you who aren’t up on the lingo (and I wasn’t a month ago) that means they have qualified for and have run or are preparing to run the Boston Marathon, the Holy Grail of Running. I’m just looking for a PR (personal record, also known as PB or personal best) which I will have even if I have to crawl across the finish line.

4 Days Until My Marathon Clinic Starts!

My marathon training clinic starts Thursday! I’m not sure if I should be excited, anxious or sick to my stomach… I think I’m all three, but right now more anxious than anything.

However, I came across a quote today on another runner’s blog (thanks Mel @ Tall Mom on the Run) that I’m pretty sure will be my inspiration for the next 18 weeks:

Don’t let what
you cannot do
interfere with what
you can do.
– John Wooden

I think this will help me get through all the fears I have and hopefully overcome the mind-games I’m sure that I’ll play with myself. It’s getting posted on my bulletin board and anywhere else C might let me put it up as soon as I’m done here!