It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on this blog. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything at all. I needed a break from the rigid timelines I had self-imposed, and once I stopped I found I didn’t really want to start again.
This year got off to an interesting start. Various things happened which I’ve been trying to understand better, because I’m an analytical person and so can’t just accept that things occur and let’s move on. I need to understand why, to try to grow and learn from them – and yet inevitably I keep making the same ‘mistakes’ over and over again. One thing that’s come out of this month is a realisation that perhaps they are not mistakes as such, but rather just natural parts of life and I don’t need to constantly be psychoanalysing (although I’m still getting used to this revelation).
I stopped writing on this blog at the same time I stopped posting to Instagram in the second week of January. At the time I had some personal uncertainties going on, and my pot bubbled over. For one, I’d been struggling to understand why I was so adamant about the need to constantly create content: posting a training blog + another blog, plus 6-7 Instagram posts and daily stories every week had turned into an overwhelming pressure. So I stopped creating for a while, to give myself space, let my life-pot simmer down.
After two weeks I was ready to get back to sharing some images on the ‘gram, but sitting down to write still felt too difficult. But now with January 2019 closed off, I feel I have lots to get out of my brain which is exactly why this blog was started in the first place. Carbs and Kilometres is my little corner of the internet, and going forwards it will be filled whenever I feel like, with whatever I feel like. If you’re reading this, please say hi – it’s nice to know you’re here with me.
Yes, I’ve been running. Boston Marathon is just over 10 weeks away, and those seem to be ticking by quickly. It hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing though this month, and I’ve ended up with less kilometres than I wanted/expected, but I’m trying my best, as much as I can.
Honestly when I started the year my fire wasn’t lit. Sure, I was keen to get into a proper block of marathon training, the first one since 2016 (?!), but I didn’t know why I was training for Boston. After 25 marathons, completing the event is no longer an unknown. The main chase would be to improve my PB, but that wasn’t exciting me.
In fact, I was barely thinking about Boston Marathon. Instead, I had my mind set on the EcoTrail de Paris 30km in mid-March, and had grand plans of heading out to the trails each weekend in preparation for that… and that Boston training would sort of just fit in around it all. I wanted to train for two events simultaneously – aka, what I’m used to doing.
But after a chat with my coach, I realised that this is not the point of the next few months. The aim is Boston: I worked hard to qualify for it, and so now I’m going to work hard to run it well. The PB or sub-3:XX time is somewhat irrelevant, it’s more important to give my all to this training block, so that I arrive on the start line in the best shape possible. This race is about giving myself the opportunity to discover what I am capable of, without other races or focuses getting in the way.
We got back from Australia just in time for the New Year, but it took a good ten days to get over the jet-lag. I was tired all the time, trying to increase my running while also dealing with the change in weather conditions (snow after 30+ degrees is a shock) and the fact that it is dark. all. the. time.
And then I got sick. Proper sick, where each day brought with it a new wave of symptoms. On one of the days, I was only awake for 6 hours total. I took four days off from work, more time than I’ve ever had off sick from anything (school, work, …life), ever. It knocked me clean out.
Running took a back seat to getting better. I tried an easy half-hour on the second day because I was feeling so guilty about missing training, and then was worse again the next day. I had to accept the fact that my body needed rest to fight against this virus, and that the time off wouldn’t reduce my fitness too much. Better to happen in these first few weeks of January than towards the back end of March.
I went back to work the next Monday with a nasty-sounding cough, but thankfully it got better from there. Running started again slowly and last Sunday I did a 120min long run, with a 135min one planned for this weekend. I’ve been doing most of my mileage on the weekends and only a bit during the week, so I’m hoping to improve that balance next month.
January in kilometres:
1 Jan – 6 Jan: 56.2km (+ 6km on Mon 31 Dec)
Best run: 45min steady run to-parkrun and then parkrun itself (22:34)
7 – 13 Jan: 65.2km
Best run: 90min long run at sub-5:00/km pace, the stuff dreams are made of!
14 – 20 Jan: 5km
21 – 27 Jan: 57.5km
Best run: middle 10km of the long run which I shared with my friend Pippa
28 – 31 Jan: 26.8km (Mon – Thurs)
Best run: morning run-commute in the daylight!
Actually not that bad a start to this training block, especially given I had to take a week out for illness. I had thought it was less and got concerned, but it turns out some of my runs had turned private on Strava, and therefore weren’t included in the total I was looking at. Phew!
At the same time, what do these numbers mean? By themselves not a whole lot, so why do I get stressed about things like hitting a ‘magical’ 200km for the month, or not being up to 70-80km weeks yet? It’s easy enough to run a lot of junk miles, but they’re not what will help in the long term. Quality sessions, enough rest, good food, some cross-training, that’s what the focus should be.
My enthusiasm for sports/exercise-activities outside of running tends to wander with no fixed point. At the end of last year I was loving Body Pump, yet have only made it to one class so far this year. Instead, I’ve been enjoying the convenience of the Nike Training Club app, which has a number of body-weight conditioning sets which I can do from the comfort of my lounge-room (and not have to brave the cold outdoors). A particular favourite is the ‘Runner’s Stability’ one, which runs for 20mins and specifically targets all the body parts we runners need to strengthen most.
I’ve been for a swim, did one spin-cycling session, the one Body Pump class and a little bit of yoga. At the back of my mind I’m conscious that I’ve signed up to a few triathlons for this summer and it would help if I could work on the other two disciplines, but it’s not my priority for the moment. All eyes on Boston.
Typically the start of the year is when you outline your Big Hairy Ambitious Goals, and then kinda-sorta-maybe work towards them for the next twelve months. I’ve fallen into the trap over the last few years of writing down a long list of goals which I then mostly don’t achieve, so I wanted to do it a little differently for 2019.
I’ve written down four running things I’d like to aim for this year, but I’m not ready to talk about them yet. They’re also not stuck in stone: one may already not happen, the others I have no idea if they’re even possible. I’m toying with focusing on one at a time rather than making attempts at all of them simultaneously, but I can also change them later down the line if I want.
In addition, I gave myself some fun activities to throw in here and there in the year. These include things like running a parkrun in Germany, going on a running camp and doing a handstand! – all things I’ve wanted to do in the past but haven’t got around to. They’re not goals, but new ways to experience running or move my body.
But with the start of 2019 I did make some minor daily changes which I’ve found are quite satisfying. For one: I have yet to catch an elevator, and instead have been walking up the seven flights of stairs to our apartment every day (sometimes several times). This has become easier and easier with each week (minus when I was sick), and is just a normal thing now.
I’ve also stopped drinking alcohol, and am eating much more healthily than I have in the past. Sure, there have been a few nights where we’ve had ice-cream or dessert, but it’s on a much less frequent basis and I feel much better for it. I’m enjoying the way my body feels on improved nutrition.
Beyond just what’s going on in my life, there’s been plenty of other interesting things happening this month. I’ve found myself drawn in to many different stories (not all running-related) which I think are worth spending the time on. These are some of my favourite pieces from January:
Courtney Dauwalter and Jim Walmsley were announced as ‘Ultra Runner Of the Year’ for their epic achievements in 2018, which for both included winning the Western States Endurance Run 100 miler, during which Walmsley set a new course record. The more impressive thing to me is that he then turned around and ran a 64-minute half-marathon in Houston, qualifying him for the US Olympic Trials in 2020. The feat shows a remarkable range of ability, and I’m in total awe. There was a great piece in Citius Mag on why Walmsley’s 64-min half matters, and I also enjoyed his interview on Ultra Runner Podcast.
“Endurance sports offer something that most modern-day knowledge economy jobs do not: the chance to pursue a clear and measurable goal”. Not a recent article, but I was sent a feature in Outside Online about why rich people love endurance sports which is worth reading, in part for the reminder that we are privileged to get to run and compete as and when we want.
I’d never heard of American author David Sedaris, and yet twice in one day ended up coming across works of his. First was his article Father Time in The New Yorker, which is a touching look at his aging father, and the other was his hilariously dark stories of working as an elf at Macy’s in the Santaland Diaries, aired on an episode of This American Life.
Speaking of This American Life, their recent show Rom Com (all about real-life scenarios which mimic romantic comedies) had a story in it which had me laughing in tears on the sofa. Skip to 43:03 in the podcast to hear ‘You Had Me at Hello’ , hopefully you find the twists and turns as hilarious as I did.
And of course this list of interesting events/articles wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Jasmin Paris. 12-hour course record for a 268-mile race, winning outright by 15-hours… hero!
Goodbye January, I’m glad you’re done. I hated your lack of sunlight, my inability to dress correctly for the cold and all the emotional ups-and-downs you threw at me. Onwards and upwards into Month Two.