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Effort paying off


For many runners, the letters ‘PB’ hold a certain magic

IMG_3193For anyone who’s not sure about it, Personal Best (PB) happens when you’ve run a certain distance in a faster time than previously.

Sometimes they come gradually, shaving a few seconds off each week. Other times they come in leaps and bounds. After staying a certain pace for a while, or fluctuating faster and slower over time, suddenly that time can improve by 30 seconds or even more. It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, it feels like a just reward for all that hard work finally paying off.

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For the first time, my 5km result came in under 25 minutes! And about 40 seconds off my previous best – a big jump and after a lot of hard work.

All variety of training: IMG_3240

long and slow, short and fast, intervals, hills…

solo, with friends, with training groups…

yoga, boot camp, walking…

sunrises, sunsets, rainy, cold, windy…

Distances slowly increasing from 10 to 15 and up to 17.5km – nearly reaching the half marathon point of 21.1km. Lots of steps and hours in the build up.

And in a seemingly impossible, certainly improbable accomplishment, the following week I shaved another 20 seconds off my time. Making for a full minute faster than just a few weeks earlier.

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All the support and encouragement goes a long way, from running friends, non-running friends, family, colleagues etc. And great to make new friends along the way and share each small victory on the way to the big event.

A cursory glance at the official ‘training guide’ recommendations and it pleases me to learn that it’s nearly time to start tapering back a little on the training in the couple weeks leading up to the event. Just some nice easy running to keep the momentum going, but giving the muscles etc a good rest.

Thoughts turn to event day – Sunshine Coast marathon on 21 August. Race strategy on the day. Anticipated pace and finish time. Weather conditions. What to wear. Perhaps most importantly, How to celebrate afterwards.


The journey of a thousand miles, or even 21.1km, begins with the first step.

Keep it rolling


Just above the opaque horizon a crescent moon smiles at me as I drive towards the morning run. Smiling at me, or mocking me? Either way, it’s a bonus to start the day and foreshadowing the beauty of the sunrise on its way at Mooloolaba Beach.

Warming up to a steady pace, I strive to keep pace with Ms T and Mr J, both faster and more experienced runners. This week we add one more kilometer to make it an even 10, and it seems the pace is just a tad IMG_2287quicker. Or I wonder if it’s just me, working hard to match the movement of my partners’ feet and legs.

Gradually the sky lightens and the orange sun appears beyond the clouds and we settle into a rhythm of steps and breathing. Salt air provides the steady backdrop aroma, occasionally giving way to the scent of coffee as we pass park benches occupied by those who have completed their morning routine.

At this stage, there is no real ‘training plan’ other than to ‘run regularly, preferably further and faster each time’. Sounds a bit vague but I suppose is the general idea. We’ve nominated Ms T to research something more specific in terms of a running strategy. She has the research skills and experience with running magazines and websites to explore something suitable.

Comparing technological devices, we each have our own ways of monitoring progress – watch, phone apps, Fitbit. A million and one ways can track what you’re doing these days – how far, how fast, how long. The ultimate trick is to get out there and do it.


Time to get started


Beep. Beep. Beep. The noise disturbs my slumber and I groggily wonder if it’s a delivery truck reversing. But it’s pitch black out – surely there must be regulations about noise in the middle of the night. Oh no wait. It’s not a delivery truck at all, but my alarm going off! Where is that snooze button?

Not quite coherent yet, my body moves on autopilot to locate the running gear cleverly laid out the night before. Otherwise, who knows what combinations might come out in the dark? The light will eventually appear, exposing a random mismatched outfit.

A hint of daylight appears while driving to meet my training partners, Ms T and Mr J, at the designated beachside location. No hint of chill in the air, a comfortable 19C/66F. A few stretches warm us up and we chat about nothing in particular as we put one foot in front of the other on the pavement. In semi-darknes, we casually acknowledge the handful of other early runners/walkers a they pass, with a nod or a muttered ‘Morning.

Increasing lightness hints at the impending dawn behind a bank of clouds. Keeping a steady pace and IMG_2136reasonable effort, we calculate it’s a good halfway point and stop to admire the sun coming up through the clouds beyond the beach. Sunrise. Over the beach. Worth getting out of bed for every time.

Replacing fluids and another brief stretch and we turn and retrace our steps back to the start. That hill we came down on the way now taunts us as we chug back up it like the little engine that could. Ascending isn’t twice as hard, it feels 10 times as hard on tired legs.

The easy chatter in the first few kilometers dissipates and quiet sets in the further we go. Mr J observes that as the day fully sets in and more feet occupy the path, the neighborly greetings seem to disappear, each person maintaining in impersonal distance. Contemplating why that happens, we churn up more path underfoot.

Familiar stretches of path appear and soon we’ve reached our destination, back where we started. We congratulate one another on a successful first session and commit to repeating the routine next week. Ms T has been charged with researching an actual training regime.

There’s vague mutterings about seeking out coffee, but other commitments beckon and we head off separately out into the sunny morning.