Friday, 13 January 2012

False Start or Trial Run?

Throughout my entire adult life I have carried two dominant traits; the need to constantly be in a rush and yet somehow to always be just a little bit late. You’d think one would cancel the other out, but it doesn’t seem to happen that way!

 In keeping with my promise to make the blog a personal, honest account of the lead up to the big Ultra event, I decided in true Helen style to blog a day late this week. I take no responsibility for my lateness, or the rush in which I type so that I can begin my weekend / go on another training run / train my client / catch up on some zzzzzz’s and meet my friends.  Not too much to fit in then!  You see it’s all the fault of my parents. My Mother is constantly in a rush and my Father always late, thank god I also got his little feet gene rather than the one which accounted for his youthful baldness and therefore my lasting memory of the comb over!

Anyway, my introduction leads me straight to the conclusion I’ve reached this week. Getting fit for 5th and 6th May is all about taking responsibility and not shifting blame.  It’s about preparing, slowing down the rush, and not leaving it too late.  Thank goodness it is still 16 weeks away.  That leaves me plenty of time to recover from this week’s ‘false start’, or ‘trial run’!

 I have been reminded that if you fail to plan, plan to fail.  This week, like every other week, has gone so fast, and had I approached it without at least a semblance of a plan, I could have easily arrived at ‘blog date night’ having not achieved a single run!

I certainly haven’t achieved what I would have liked – and much as I’d like to put the blame on the number of hours there are in the day, the busy ness I like to create in my life and the odd unplanned for events of the week, the real blame comes down to the fact that although I wrote the word RUN in capital letters in various places in my diary, I didn’t set SMART goals – until now! However, the event is 16 weeks away, and for me, for once, beginning this early is planning.  So my failure to set SMART goals perhaps represents a lack of commitment to this plan!

After our ‘Thursday date’ last week, I reached the end of the working week, and again had to push myself out of the door, in the dark for a run.  I’m not yet at ease with this concept as I’d much rather complete my run in the daylight, but the hardest part is the mental commitment to put the gear on and ‘Just Do It’. The first obstacle / excuse for Friday’s run was the lack of music.  I find it very difficult to run without music.  Because I didn’t have any, the focus became my breath, and every step. It couldn’t be about the surroundings because I couldn’t see them.  It couldn’t be about keeping up with the pace I’d set for myself in the plan, because as yet there was no official plan.  So, on reaching the end of Friday’s run, the first plan was that somehow I’d have noise in my ears for the next run.  I went to bed semi excited about having that all important time on Saturday to sort out the Ipod and enjoy a day light run. 

Cue Saturday morning.  I am ill.  Sick as a dog.  This was not in the ‘there is no plan yet, plan’.  I won’t bore you with the details , but not very pretty -  rash, headache, fever and a few too many sitings of the toilet bowl.  Convinced it would miraculously disappear by 4 o’clock I made my outward commitment to running by telling a few friends that I was too busy for coffee, because I had to run.  This usually works for me – but alas not when I need to be near a toilet.  Sunday panned out a little better, but I still wasn’t well enough to run.  I did briskly walk 5 miles with a training client though.

So far this week, and we’ve only just reached Monday morning, sleep has been this elusive untouchable thing.  This, coupled with a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue is not great for training.  Training outcome can be related in equal measure to Training Potential, Nutrition, Rest and obviously the actual training itself.  So – not doing so well so far.  My training potential to date being hampered by the rushing around gene, the lateness gene, and the little feet gene.  My lack of ability to sleep in the last week has also firmly gotten in the way of my non set goals. 

This week has been a busy one at work too.  Two working evenings, an afternoon off to make up for somewhere else in the week and commitments to something or someone every night of the week. 

Mondays run is lovely – on the edge of darkness and squeezed in between jobs.  I find the best trick for me is to be ‘rushing around’ and have just enough time to complete the (sort of) planned route, otherwise it takes me longer to get changed and convince myself to go running than it takes to actually complete the run itself!  I have noise in my ears once again due to finding someone elses itunes on my portable hard drive.  Albeit, I’ve never heard of most of them, but it’s one step up from silence!

The plan for Tuesday  is to run before I start work. I know this because it says RUN BEFORE WORK in my diary.  The alarm is set for 6am.  Monday night sleep banked is about 3 hours.  Tuesday morning arrives, my alarm goes and I repeatedly hit snooze until 8am.  Tuesday morning run – nada.  Tuesday was another time poor day because I had a commitment to some time off on Wednesday...and I was determined that this was going to go to plan! So at 6.30pm on Tuesday I had a twenty minute interval run – well fartlek is a more appropriate term.  I speeded up and slowed down to varying degrees depending on how far away the next lamp post was, how fast or slow the noise in my ears and what my inner voice was telling me I could or couldn’t achieve.  I returned home to do about another 15 minutes of kettle bells and greet my evening pheasant plucking guests hot and sweaty with a kettle bell in one hand!  Ooh well, at least I achieved something. I begin to make my guests feel unwelcome at about 11pm so that I can try and replenish the sleep bank.  They leave at 11.30pm.  I tidy up and check my diary.   It says spin 6.45am – awesome, can’t wait.  Gym bag packed, clothes laid out, water bottle at the ready.  1am bed.  Sleep banked – about 3 hours.  I go to Spin.  I am feeling very noble!  I cycle approximately a further 20 miles over the Purbecks on that day.  Go to bed feeling even more noble.  Sleep banked – nada.

Thursday – starting to feel like death now – the non planned plan is really not going to plan.  This is my first fail.  However, I’ve begun not planning the plan 16 weeks in advance of the event.  So there is still time, no need to rush around. Perfect, all is going to plan.  Thursday is a busy day.  I squeeze in the same run route as earlier in the week in 40 minutes – 5 minutes faster than before because I have to so that I am not late for my meeting, not because this is the plan. My meeting finishes at 10pm, I come home planning to have my Thursday blog date.  I answer emails.  It is 1am.  My brain is alert enough to not want to sleep, but not to write a blog.  My blog will be written in line with my dominant traits – late and in a rush.

Friday – I am so tired now that I feel a little drunk which is at least a great way to start the countdown to the weekend.  It is now 6pm and I aim to have completed this very public journal of my life by 6.30pm, eat and run before 8 – that’ll happen right?  Tomorrow I will wake up, write a periodised, progressive 16 week programme monitoring variables such as load, time, speed and intensity and it will be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed.  It will have Short, Medium and Long term goals to cover the whole lead up to the 5th of May, so that I will reach the start of the race a super tuned, finely honed running, racing, injury free, winning machine.  Oops, think I finally just fell asleep and this was all a dream.  However, as I sign off to train some other poor mug, I do commit to writing a program tomorrow so that next week’s plan can go to plan and I can be smug at having met my goals and blog all about it! 

On the positive – I have two people firmly committed to walking the 30 miles on at least one of the days and one joining me to run the whole 30 miles on day two.  That’s got to be good news. The pressure is now on to help these people achieve their goals, and to set an example by being fitter, faster and stronger.

So, as I look forward to the challenges that week 2 brings, firstly I commit to writing a programme for myself and others who are joining me.  Secondly, the nutrition will also get better; that won’t be hard.  As I’ve been busy rushing around a little bit late, breakfast has been a veritable feast of too much coffee, nothing, a very large block of cheese, 1/ 2 pint of jersey milk downed straight from the bottle, an interesting combination of red bush tea and coffee, ½ bag of pretzels and as sleep deprivation and blood sugar lows kicked in I will even admit to having two cookies for breakfast one morning. Thirdly, for the sake of all those who have the pleasure of my company in the coming week, I WILL bank some sleep.

Wow, feels like I’ve just been to confession!

Until next time

H x X x

P.S. If you ‘d like to join me, get in touch.  If you’d like to read more about why I’m doing this go to

If you’d like to sponsor me you can do so here

P.P.S  I have attached the actual route...looks like fun eh?


P.P.P.S  How could I forget this weeks quote......
If you learn to laugh in spite of the circumstances that surround you, you will enrich others, enrich yourself and more than that, you will last!!

Laters Helen x

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