See it, aim for it and do it. Stretch yourself and grow!

Archive for the month “April, 2013”


Oh wow! If you ever think you’ve got it hard as a runner have a read of this! What an amazing young woman! To rise above where she is and accomplish what she does….what an inspiration!

Irene van Niekerk is a 15-year-old runner who lives in a squatter camp near Pretoria, South Africa. She has won, in total, 27 gold medals, but owns no shoes.

Irene van Niekerk is a 15-year-old runner who lives in a squatter camp near Pretoria, South Africa. She has won, in total, 27 gold medals, but owns no shoes.

You can read about her story here.

Listen to your Body

Sometimes your running is not about running at all, sometimes it is a reflection of what is going on in your life.

I have just had a chat with a friend who has helped me clear up something that has been weighing me down. You see, today while I went for my run I felt heavy. I felt like I plodded, lifting my legs was hard, I felt about 10 kilos heavier than normal. It was supposed to be a short 6km easy run and when I looked at my time I was not the slowest I have been, but it felt really slow. In a nutshell, it felt laborious.

In our discussion it became clear to me that I am far too rooted in my space to allow myself to move on, and this is what I need to be doing. The interesting thing is that this rootedness stems from feeling extremely unsettled having had no clear direction for a very long time. The reasons for this are not important, what is important is that sometimes a run can reflect what is going on for you at the time, and I have been feeling heavy for quite a while, I just haven’t been listening.

So the message here is listen to your body, it is far more intuitive than you may think, and often the things you are feeling are not physical, but mental and emotional.


Never Play Catch-Up!

Today I learned a few things:

1) Listen to your gut

2) Stop when it hurts

3) Take some money with you when you go for an unsupported run


It all began when I decided to play catch-up…..

If you have been following my blog, you will know that this past week has been a bit hectic. We had two graduation ceremonies to go to in two different towns, it rained a lot, and these things led to my running schedule being affected. So I decided to cram 4 days of running at the end of the week. Thursday I ran just over 10km, Friday I ran just over 10km, Saturday I ran 6km in my new shoes AND did a strength workout, and today I attempted to run 21km. I ran 19.6km in the end….

When I was making the decision to do this catch-up thing, I had a gut feeling this was not a good idea. I did not listen – mistake number one. Then today after running about 3km my shin started to hurt. I ignored it – mistake number two. I continued running only to have to cut my run short, while I stretched, walked, hobbled and jogged my way home. I had no money to catch a bus back – mistake number three.

All things considered the pain did start to ease after I walked for about 5 minutes, and I could jog home on my leg. It is also not too sore at the moment, after I rubbed some arnica cream into it, and did the ice thing. It is simply a strained muscle brought on by too many kilometres in too few days so tomorrow is a rest day, no running, no strength training, no anything! It will be hard to sit still, but it has to be done. Lessons learnt though……NEVER play catch-up!

Out With The Old

Yesterday I clocked 500km on my old shoes. I use a programme called logrun for tracking my training distance etc., and it came up in red on the log, bang on 500km. Fantastic timing as I had another pair on hold at the running store which I was collecting yesterday as well. I have bought a pair of Saucony Cortanas which have a 4mm drop, much like my trail shoes. They are so comfortable as they are much wider at the forefoot than the Hurricanes. And they are very bright, people shall see me coming.


I had wanted to take them for their inaugural run today, but it is raining and I don’t like getting my new shoes wet and dirty. So I am wearing them around the house until it clears up enough to take them out.

It has been rather wet here this week. After months of nothing we are having a few downpours which the dairy farmers are loving. I, on the other hand, am not loving it, even though it is good for the garden and the land, it is playing havoc with my running schedule this week. My week has been a bit all over the place due to two graduations we have had to go to. One, my daughters, was on Wednesday in Auckland and the other, my step daughters, in Hamilton on Thursday. So two days of driving and much sitting. I had hoped to get a run in before we left, on the Tuesday, but it absolutely pelted down all day, and there was no way I was going out for a run. So later in the day I settled for a Tabata workout instead. At least I got some cardio that day!

Thursday morning I managed to get in my first run since Sunday and I am having to play catch-up to get my mileage in for this week. I am going to fall short though, not by much, but I always feel bad when I do. In the big scheme of things, it is all good. My training for the Gold Coast marathon is going well and I am enjoying the long Sunday runs.

It has stopped raining….perhaps I shall head out now….

A Sad Day

My heart and thoughts go out to those affected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon. To those who lives were lost, to those who were injured and to their family and friends.

Today when I heard the news about the explosions going off at the Boston Marathon finish line, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. Even though this is not the first time a sporting event has been targeted, I think it hit me harder because I am also a runner. And even though I don’t know anyone personally who has been affected by this day, it feels as if I do, for we are all running family.

You see it when you are out on the road, random strangers waving hello, or grunting “Good Morning” in between puffing along. Sure, there are some who don’t acknowledge you directly, but I always think “there’s another runner” with some sense of satisfaction, and I like to think they are thinking the same thing. So when something happens to one of my “family” it hurts, and today I hurt.

It brings home the message that you need to enjoy your life, do what makes you happy, have fun, hug someone every day, be grateful for the things you have, smile at strangers, and above all don’t let other people rule your life, no matter who or what they are.

So to all the other runners out there…keep strong and keep running.


Pat on the Back

Last week I clocked 47kms. I have a programme I am following for The Gold Coast Marathon so I did the mileage I was supposed to do. By the time I reached Sunday after having my mid week grump session, I was in a better frame of mind which made the second half of the week feel much easier. I set off for my long run on Sunday morning feeling quite alive and ready to tackle some hills. I had chosen a route that is hilly (some quite steep) for the first bit and then a flat return journey. All in all the 16km took me 1:45 and felt like a bad session at the dentist by the time I was nearing home!


As I finished I started to think of reasons why I would be feeling like this. Too little sleep…not that. Didn’t eat well the day before…..wasn’t that either. Bad mood….no, that had all cleared up. I have no idea why I flagged so badly towards the end, and there you have it! Sometimes these things happen.

It got me thinking that the point is not to let it get you down. Some days you will feel strong all the way through and have left over energy at the end of your run. Some days you will start like I did, and finish up feeling like you went 10 rounds in the boxing ring. And some days you won’t feel like doing it at all and the whole run feels like hell, but you do it anyway because you know at the end you can pat yourself on the back for getting out there and sticking to your plan.


I have done just that….patted myself on the back!

Just for fun!

I know this has nothing to do with running, or health, well maybe mental health…..but I saw this today on Facebook and had such a laugh I had to share it here as well.


Grumpy Slug!

This week has been a busy running week. I am fully into my marathon training schedule now physically, but my motivation on some days is lagging. I guess some weeks are like this….

Last Sunday we went out of daylight saving, and I find that when that happens, while I welcome the lighter mornings (as this is when I do most of my runs) the longer darker evenings make me feel “bearish” and that hibernation mode starts to kick in. Coupled with the cooler weather it now definitely feels like Autumn, and that means Winter is on the way, bringing with it colder temperatures, rain and frosty mornings. So I am feeling sluggish.

The best thing for me is to get out there and do some exercise, I need to keep active. If I don’t keep going, I get grumpy and very unpleasant to be around. I don’t even like myself if I miss a workout. So I have to motivate myself to get moving. The best thing for me is to get my training done at the beginning of the day, something I can’t always do given the nature of my job, and I then find it a chore to get out later and do that exercise. But I force myself, grumbling about it at the time.

The great thing about it is though, that I know I will feel good afterward and that keeps me going. Once I start moving and have warmed up, those feel good hormones kick in and I’m away! And then for the rest of the day I can have that sense of accomplishment of a job done and stave of the grumpiness.

So if like me you suffer from change of season scratchiness, just get out there and do it! You’re sure to feel better….

Up and Down and Lower Back Pain

I did a hill run this morning. It was 10km of up and down, some steep, some not so steep. I got to thinking, during one of my pelting, hurtling, downward dashes on a steep descent that often an area of niggle to strike a runner is the lower back. Often an injury occurs when running downhill. Often this injury is caused by weak core and stabilising muscles. Which made me start thinking about how important these muscles are when running.

Often people take up running and omit to do any other type of exercise. It is vitally important to work on core strength and stability in conjunction with your running programme. Through my work I have come across many people who have a weak core area from spending their days hunched over a desk, on a computer. The first thing I do is assess their core strength and programme core activation exercises to strengthen these areas. We all have a transverse abdominis (TA), and a lot of our bodies have forgotten how to use it. So our erector spinae (the long muscles next to our spine) take over and they’re not supposed to be doing that job. So it’s no wonder they get fatigued, grumpy and injured. Add to the mix some crazy downhill running and bingo! Ouch!

If you have found yourself plagued by a grumpy lower back here is a simple exercise to do. This can be done anywhere so you have no excuse. Take a big breath into your belly (it must inflate) and then exhale until you have expelled all the air. The TA will then activate at the end of the breath. This is called diaphragmatic breathing and will teach the TA to once again remember what it is supposed to do. Do this a few times, several times throughout the day.

There are many exercises that can assist with core strengthening, so once you find where your TA is and you feel stronger, you can start a progressive core strengthening programme. Always remember to take it slowly, because if your body is not used to utilising the correct muscles for a movement, the other muscles may take over. Sometimes you have to go back to the beginning and retrain them. And while you are out running and you start heading downhill, make a conscious effort to activate that TA, so you hold your core strong while you pelt, hurtle and dash down that hill!

Women, Knees and Creative Brains

I have settled into my marathon training programme well. The fitness I built up and the kms I ran training for the Colville Connection have sustained my fitness levels and it has been no problem to ramp up the weekly totals again. Last week I ran 44kms and have been feeling great this week. While I was doing my long run on Sunday I started thinking about knees (I always get ideas while I run, I figure I get creative….more on that later in the blog). I was thinking about women’s knees in particular. You see we are a bit more at risk because of the way we are built, and running can get blamed for all sorts of knee evils that it actually isn’t to blame for.

Women have a bigger Q-angle than men. That is, our hips are wider and the line that goes from our external hip to our medial knee is more pronounced. So therefore we are more at risk for our knees to track outside of the line they are supposed to track in. So it becomes even more important for us to have strong, and most importantly, well-balanced quad muscles. Often the VMO becomes weakened through lack of strength training, bad gait, bad squatting technique and imbalances in the muscles around the knees. On top of all of that, us women tend to not bend our knees when landing after jumping off a raised area, so all you women trail runners out there, watch what you do next time you land from a height, no matter how high, make sure you bend your knees to absorb some of the shock and also make sure your knees are tracking over your foot, and not collapsing inward as a lot of us do. Get your technique checked when strength training, and ask someone to watch you running so you can get feedback as to what your legs are doing. We have to take care of those knees so they can go the distance.

And so back to the creative bit…..

I am reading a book at the moment called Spark written by John J Ratey, MD and Eric Hagerman. It is all about a revolutionary new science of exercise and brain, and how they fit together. I would recommend getting your hands on a copy and having a read, it is fascinating! Apparently when we exercise we create proteins that are then able to cross the blood/brain barrier and allow more connections to be made. Amazing results have been seen in children in school, increasing their test scores in academic areas, and also with patients suffering from anxiety and depression.  Now every time I head out for my run I am thinking “I am developing my brain”, and I am chomping through the book with eager anticipation of the next great thing!

So get training, you have everything to gain!

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