For the first time ever this week I spent more than 10 hours training, actually more than 10½! It sounds like a lot, but I guess if you consider that your average person probably spends a lot more than that watching TV each week, or that many people spend more time than that commuting to work, then I don’t think it’s that bad really.

However, one thing is what I think and another is the perception on the home front, so I did a satisfaction survey this week. Well, sort of. I asked my husband if he felt my training was encroaching too much into family life. He actually looked a little surprised that I asked him, but then said “no, not at all!”. So, so far so good on that front!

Typically in a week I’m running 4 times, swimming 3 times, spinning/cycling twice and doing strength training 4 times. However being my own boss and working from home I am able to spread this out quite nicely during the week including during what is, for most people, working hours.  So not only does my husband not feel that it encroaches into family life, I don’t feel it encroaches generally too much into my own life. Or at least not more than I think is manageable and fun.

What is even better though is that it doesn’t leave me totally exhausted. And that surprises me more! When I “only” ran I covered more or less the same weekly distance at the same intensity as I do now – that accounts for between 3 and 4 hours of the total training amount. So now I have added an additional 6 or 7 hours of other training and not only am I not MORE tired, I actually feel LESS stiff and sore than I did when only running!

There are probably experts out there who can explain why this is. My own feeling is that it is partly to do with the strength training which I think is helping make some of my vulnerable spots less susceptible to the stresses and strains of running. Mainly though, I think it is because that swimming and cycling on the days when I don’t run – or even on the days when I do, warms and loosens up all my muscles and joints so that they don’t get a chance to get all stiff and sore, but without stressing them more they way running does.

It’s going to be interesting to see whether the trend continues as the training increases!

Crazy? or Fun?

January 13, 2013

I’ve got used to people telling me I’m crazy when I tell them about  my Ironman plans and I even understand why people think it’s crazy. However the first time I actually have personally felt there was an element of craziness in it was on Friday: to be more specific on Friday at 5:10am.

I’ve been going to Friday early morning swimming classes on and off for a while. After the Christmas break the location for these classes had switched from a pool which is about 11 km from my home to one which is, according to Google Maps, 21 km from my home. On top of that it is now starts 15 minutes earlier so we have to be in the water at 7am.

That might not seem so bad, particularly to those of you who normally transport yourselves around by car. However, I don’t have a car so for me the choice is between public transportation or bike. Until now I’ve been cycling (except when we had a lot of snow and ice), but it is quite a difference between 11 km and 21 km (each way I might add). However when I looked at the possibilities it would take even longer by public transportation, so I decided:  bike it was. And anyway, I need to get more cycling time into my training schedule. That seemed like a very sensible decision while I was sitting at my desk in my nice warm office looking at the route planner.

A complicating factor to this is that I have a truly terrible sense of direction and I had no idea where this swimming pool was. On the map it seemed to be in the midst of a rabbit warren of small paths and local streets. This was a problem because 1. It generally isn’t easy to read a map while you are cycling, particularly not in the dark which it is at 6:30 in the morning here at this time of year; 2. Even if I did have a map in front of me, I can’t see a thing without my reading glasses and 3. If you do get lost there aren’t many people around to ask for directions at that time of the morning.

So it is not an exaggerating to say that, when I headed off to bed on Thursday evening, I was feeling somewhat stressed about the whole project.

So on Friday at 5:10 am when the alarm went off my reaction was “THIS IS TOTALLY CRAZY!” And when I looked out of the window and saw that it had snowed during the night my reaction was “THIS IS TOTALLY CRAZY!”. And when I was pedalling through the forest in the freezing pitch blackness without another soul, bike or car in sight my reaction was “THIS IS TOTALLY CRAZY!”. When I got to the pool at was taking a shower and the water was freezing my reaction was “THIS IS TOTALLY CRAZY!”.

But then we got in the pool and started the session I started thinking “this is fun!”, and by the time we finished it was starting to get light and although I had a headwind on the way home, it was still fun. And when I got home I changed into my running shoes and went for my run, and although my fingers were freezing and my legs were heavy from the swimming and the cycling, it was fun. And when I got back from my run I sat down and had a huge breakfast with delicious bread rolls and an enormous croissant and hot coffee: THAT WAS REALLY FUN!

And not only was it fun, I felt very smug and pleased with myself. And now I know: next Friday when the alarm goes off (at 5:20 rather than 5:10 because I found out it was only 17km each way and not 21 – Google Map fail) I expect that I will have a moment where I think that this project is crazy. But I also know that that it’s a passing feeling and the feeling that THIS IS FUN is the enduring one……

And so a new year begins

January 7, 2013

For the first time in many years I started 2012 without a specific running target in the form of a big race (e.g. a specific marathon). Instead I had set myself two exercise related goals:

  1. To see whether I could get      back to my pre-cancer form in terms of running speed.
  2. To learn to swim crawl.

In terms of running, the result is that while I am still not as fast as I was pre-2010, I am now at peace with that fact that I probably never will run a sub-3:30 marathon and that it is completely OK. I am a lot faster in my running shoes now than I was at the start of 2012 though. However the best thing that has come out of this year is that I have somehow fallen in love with running in a different way. I used to think that I needed a “big goal” for motivation and I have now learned that is in fact not the case and by removing the pressure of a looming marathon I can run just because I love it. A quick review of the facts and figures shows that I definitely haven’t been slacking in 2012! There wasn’t a single week in the year when I didn’t run (despite a fair bit of travelling). The least I ran in a single week was 15 km and the most was 51 km. With a total distance for the year of 1913 km (compared to 1422 in 2011 when I did run a marathon) that averages 37 km per week. That’s not bad!

The last time I wrote about the swimming in April I was still struggling, but I persevered and had a breakthrough towards the end of the summer. Michael Phelps I am not, and never will be, but I am now at the stage where I can swim crawl and enjoy it (can’t believe I wrote that – I honestly never thought I’d see a day where I would enjoy swimming!).  Looking back to how horrendous it was in the start, I find it hard to believe that I made myself go back time after time and kept on persevering for a whole year.  From the beginning of 2012 until it “clicked” for me around the end of August I spent a total of around 40 hours of total hell in the pool! But believe me, the level of satisfaction I have at finally mastering it is completely in proportion to what I had to go through!

The subtext on learning to swim crawl was of course, that if I could do it then I would set myself the goal of doing an ironman distance triathlon in 2013 and I made that decision at the start of October. The first months of ironman training have gone well. In fact I haven’t really noticed a big difference from before. I have been spending an average of around 7 hours a week training which isn’t much more than before. My focus so far has mainly been on swimming and running, but also strength training which I do at home in front of the TV. Cycling has been on a bit of a back burner, but I’m going to start working more on that now, which will of course increase the amount of time I’m spending training. But so far so manageable!

As 2013 starts, I’m feeling excited about the year ahead. There are 222 days until my big day (Challenge Copenhagen) and I’m looking forward to every one of them!