Monthly Archives: September 2015

Race Recap: Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Run Series XC Meets 1 & 2 2015

Once again, I had the pleasure of taking part in the Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Run Series Cross Country Running Meets. One of them took place on September 19th and the other on September 26th.

Although these events are smaller, they are still a lot of fun. Since there are not that many people, I find that I get to know everyone better and it makes for a very fun and social experience.

September 19, 2015

It was approximately a 6.5km mixed cross-country race. I had a lot of fun and ended up being the 3rd female across the finish line and 6th overall. You can find the full results here.

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Above: My friend Alistair and I showcasing our Bronze Medals. Good times!

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Above: This shot says it all. Thanks to Chris Kelsall for this photo. It clearly indicates that I’m just there for the “cardio party”. Running always makes me smile. It’s all about the experience.

September 26, 2015

It was another fun day at the office. I definitely enjoyed the run, despite the fact that I didn’t end up with a podium spot this time around. I was the 4th female overall. Full results are HERE.

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Above: Clearly someone is having way too much fun. 😉

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Above: Going for my next lap.

I always do the cross-country races for fun. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should do it. This is a good way to meet friendly people who also love to run.

Understanding Overtraining

People sometimes get so caught up in “training hard” that they ignore all the warning signs of overtraining.

Truthfully, “invisible training”, also known as “recovery” is a vital component of your fitness journey.

It literally is the thing that will make or break you, when all other things are kept constant.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t work hard. Of course you should.

What I’m saying is that there is a point where training more and harder will not help you reach your goals faster. There is a point where training more and harder will lead you to injuries and misery.

The good news is, your body is very good at giving you signals before you truly experience the negative effects of overtraining, if you know what to look for.

So, how do you know if you’re overtraining?

You’re tired all the time. If you’re eating properly, staying hydrated and sleeping enough, there is no reason you should feel tired all the time. Chances are, you’ve probably been training too much, too often and your body is craving a few rest days.

Your heart rate is consistently higher than normal. If you’ve been tracking your resting heart rate (in the morning) and notice that it has been 10+ BPM higher than before, chances are you’re fatigued from the cumulative effects of your workouts. Add a recovery week to your training schedule where you do easier workouts or even take a few more rest days than you normally would.

Your weight. A sudden drop in weight can be a sign of dehydration, which compromises recovery. Dehydrated blood makes your heart work harder to move it. A sudden increase in weight can be caused by sleep deprivation because lack of sleep affects glucose and fat utilization in your body.

Your sleep pattern analysis. How many hours do you consistently sleep? Ideally, you want to get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep increases cortisol levels (stress hormone). Having too much cortisol in your system is not good for training nor performance. The number of hours you sleep before midnight is very important.

You feel an injury coming on. If you’re training hard for a long time and then you feel unusual aches and pains, which are different from “workout soreness”, then it’s time to back off for a bit.

 You’re easily irritable. When you’re over tired, you’re more likely to be moody and irritable. Therefore, it’s time for some much needed rest and relaxation.

Keep in mind that these are just a few of the more common signs that you are overtraining.

Take a look at your training log and be honest with yourself: Have you been pushing your limits too far for too long?

If “yes” and you’re experiencing the above, then it’s time to add recovery to your schedule. If you have not been training that hard and you’re still experiencing the symptoms, you should see a doctor because they could be signs of an underlying health problem.

In it to Enjoy It

Many times, we are told that no matter what we are doing, we should be “in it to win it”. We must always give it 110% or not do it at all.

After all, if you don’t win, then you really don’t matter. If you didn’t win, then that means you didn’t try hard. If you are not planning to and striving to win, then you really shouldn’t do whatever it is that you’re doing.

No, you’re not allowed to have fun. Fun is for “losers”. You must be serious all the time if you want to get anywhere and achieve anything.

Truthfully, the aforementioned thought process removes joy from your life and it really does not get you any closer to actually winning. What it does is it puts unnecessary stress and pressure on you-the kind that you don’t need.

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It’s the kind of stress and pressure that cripples you and prevents you from actually performing your best.

Many studies show that if you genuinely enjoy what you are doing and are actively seeking to improve, then you will continue your upward trajectory.

When you are having fun and enjoying the process, you will without a doubt continue to improve.

When it comes to running, if all you’re doing is obsessing over PR’s and your pace, you will miss out on the opportunity to enjoy the mental benefits of the activity.

You will also miss out on the joy that a PR brings you because you will be too stressed out about it being a bit too slow, despite the fact that it’s your PR.

Yes, time trials, tempo runs and speed work are beneficial for improving your performance in future races.

However, constantly worrying about how your tempo run wasn’t fast enough and how your time trial didn’t go the way you wanted it to will ultimately not help your performance. Instead, you will psych yourself out and most likely do even worse. This, in turn, will lead you to further dissatisfaction.

There was a time when I was so focused on numbers and personal bests that I stopped having fun running. Every time trial became a race against myself where I wasn’t satisfied unless I improved by at least 20 seconds.

What I came to realize is that if I continued doing it that way, then I would not be writing this post (probably because I would have quit running altogether a long time ago).

The bottom line is, we must enjoy the process. When we celebrate minor improvements, we experience the true joy that running brings.

As soon as I started having fun running, my times improved and I actually started to look forward to every run rather than dread it.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving it 90% while at the same time maintaining your sanity and life balance. Even if 70% is all you can put into it, but you still love it, then no one has a right to call you a loser because your times aren’t fast enough.  If you’re not a professional runner, then don’t worry so much about your race times and go out there to actually enjoy the run.

The truth is, you’re getting out there. You’re having a good time. You’re taking part in an activity that’s healthy for you. Improvement will come in due time.

 

Why I’m NOT Running Boston Marathon 2016

When I ran the Boston Marathon 2015, I re-qualified to be in the 2016 race, if I wanted to do it again.  I finished the 2015 Boston Marathon in 3:23, which means I was over 10 minutes faster than the qualifying time for my age and gender.

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However, I don’t want to be in the 2016 race for a really good reason…

No, this year’s bad weather did not scare me from doing it again next year. No, I’m definitely not angry that I ran slower than I would have liked and did not get a personal best on the historic course.

When I registered for the race back in September of 2014, I was shocked at the number of people who ran a qualifying time and did not get accepted into the 2015 field.

An astonishing number, nearly 2000 people, worked so hard to run a qualifying time and they did not get to go. For some, that may have been the only chance they had to run the race.

Many runners dream of finishing the Boston Marathon. It’s a huge accomplishment and finishing it, to the average runner out there, feels like you just went to the Olympics. It’s a bucket list item for many runners.

Finishing the Boston Marathon was my dream too. Ever since I was 15 years old, it was my life goal to proudly wear the beautiful and coveted finisher’s medal.

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I feel so fortunate that it finally came true for me in 2015. I overcame quite a few setbacks, from past injuries to financial difficulties while I was a student, but in the end, despite the fact that I didn’t break 3:10, I still emerged victorious across the finish line.

I didn’t need to win that race (especially given that the elites run it about 45 min faster than me)or break 3:10 for it to be called a victory. Finishing was a personal victory and it was a good stepping stone for what has to happen next.

Since many runners dream of finishing the Boston Marathon, I felt that if I skipped the 2016 race, then it will allow another runner to achieve their dream. I wanted my qualifying spot to go to someone who hasn’t done it before.

It could be someone’s first and last chance to race the Boston Marathon and I don’t want to be greedy and take that away from them. If every Boston Marathon finisher thought this way, then maybe more first-timers would get a chance to check this item off their bucket list. Every runner who worked hard to qualify for Boston earned every right to be there.

I can always re-qualify when I get faster, which brings me to my next point. I feel like I need to get faster before I attempt the course again. It’s a very technical and challenging course. I’m also going to be racing in a different part of the world in 2016, focusing on a different kind of racing challenge (more on that later).

I hope that every person who dreams of finishing the Boston Marathon gets to experience that joy so they too could celebrate their personal victory. THAT is why I gave up my spot in the 2016 race. I know that it probably won’t make a big difference (or any at all) in the number of first-timers that get to go to Boston, but it’s the least I can do.

Thank you for reading.

 

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