Tag Archives: exercise

Race time has arrived


It’s starting to look a lot like a Marathon

IMG_3262Promotional signs crop up around the streets near the race. Marquees from clubs and merchandise stalls line the pop-up event headquarters. Parking restrictions and road closures in place. Forecast: Sunny, slight breeze, 12C/54F overnight, high of 20C/68F. Excited and nervous athletes buzz around the area.

Approaching the registration desk to collect my race number, it starts to feel real. Really real. Laminated signs designate the various distances: Marathon (42.2km). Nope – too far! 10km run. Nope – too short! Half-marathon (21.1km). Ah yes – that’s Just Right.


Race numbers and promos

The cheery volunteer looks up my name and pulls out my race badge, handing it to me with four safety pins and a promotional visor. I suddenly recall that I used a cheeky name when registering, way back in March! Seems so long since that day I committed to participate in this event. And I convinced my teenagers to join in on the shorter 5km distance.


Event headquarters


Deliberate winding back of activity to rest the body. Sleep well, eat well. Shorter runs at slower speeds. After many months of early alarms and smelly laundry, all the preparation has reached a head and now time for restoration before the big day. And indeed to take the opportunity for some pampering after so much hard work – a massage and a facial just to look and feel my best.

Fortunately through the months, injury and illness have not found me. Ironically now, at the 24-hours-to-go stage, I suffer from congestion and the onset of a head cold. Perhaps it’s all catching up with me. A trip to the health food store for some high dosage treatment, plenty of fluids and a quiet day will hopefully see me improve by the time I make an appearance at the Start line. No matter what state I’m in, I anticipate that the excitement of the day and the festive atmosphere will buoy my spirits and carry me along the path.

Race day preparation checklist:

  • Running clothes laid out (not simply for fashion statement, but practical to avoid chafing etc) IMG_3149
  • Running shoes ready (have opted for my older pair to avoid the blisters my current pair give me)
  • Phone and Fitbit charged up
  • Sunglasses and hat
  • Water bottle and energy drink prepared (perfect timing as the container is nearly empty)
  • Towel and spare clothes for afterwardsIMG_3204
  • Cash for post-race celebrations (perhaps most important of all!)

Now, have I forgotten anything? Seems like I usually do… Oh yes, Smile and Have Fun! Most important. Am I ready for this? As ready as I’ve ever going to be! I’ve enjoyed the training and the increased fitness, making friendships and pushing beyond my limits. A big Thank You and best wishes to all my running buddies (you know who you are) and moral support crew! I look forward to seeing you all at the Start line.

And I can’t leave out my target finish time. I’m aiming for under 2 hours, preferably closer to 1 hr 50-55. But ultimately, whatever the time, I want to get across the finish, and enjoy the atmosphere along the way.

Words of wisdom, from back at the start of the journey

Words of wisdom, from back at the start of the journey.

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.

Countdown: 6 weeks to half-marathon


6-week countdown


Starting out

Late Sunday afternoon along the beachfront and plenty of people around enjoying the mild ‘winter’ day, about 15C. Waves gently crashing provide a serene backdrop, interrupted by the occasional speeding motorcyle. Popular pastimes include a barbecue with mates, birthday drinks at the pub, or taking selfies against the backdrop of the gradually descending sun into pinks and oranges. The paths have no shortage of walkers/ runners/ strollers/ cyclists either.

In my quest to train for a 21km run in six weeks’ time, my chosen activity on this day is running 14km. Up until recent times, running predominantly took the form of an individual, solo activity, with the exception of weekly Parkruns. Though even that was really running by myself, surrounded by a hundred other runners. However, the new norm has become running with others, in a duo, trio or larger group. For today’s run, it’s a solo event.

In preparation for the longer distance, my feet are given a trial run (no pun intended!) of a tactic I’ve heard others undertake to avoid blisters: double layering of socks. The theory is that the feet won’t rub against the shoes with extra padding, or something along those lines. Earbuds in, it’s now a choice to listen to podcast or music. And the choice goes to music. Less concentration required and doesn’t matter if there’s background noise or distractions. Getting into the groove I can let my mind wander off into any direction, so long as my feet keep moving in the right direction.


Getting dark by the end

A main advantage of training with other more experienced runners, is maintaining an even, steady pace, and reasonably fast one at that – well certainly faster than I have been capable of thus far. During the course of the run, I feel myself struggling and can tell that my pace is uneven but keep moving forward. Light quickly fading now it’s a push to make back to the starting point.

Checking the stats (ah yes, the handy technology of Fitbit and Strava to tell me all the details) afterwards, I discovered that I had done the distance in the same time as the previous week with Ms T. Indeed the pace was faster and slower in parts, but in the end I made it. As a thirst quencher, I take advantage of my prize – if I have it why not use it – and indeed it goes down smoothly. The double-sock theory doesn’t seem to have made any difference and the same blisters appear in the same places. Next theory, anyone?

This is as close as anyone needs to get to my blisters!

This is as close as anyone needs to get to my blisters!

And in other training news this week… 

My efforts were rewardIMG_2948ed with a PB at the Kawana Parkrun (my 75th run as well) on Saturday – 25:30 for 5kms. Pretty happy with that – and hope to keep progressing and get under 25 soon…

IMG_2885The regular Tuesday morning Atlas SC marathon training session gave us the thrill of hills again. Nothing like killing your legs before work in the morning! But  I couldn’t resist sneaking in a photo of the sunrise – well it’s blurry because I was on the move, but a nice memory of the morning (nicer than the memory of those hills!).

IMG_2934Boot camp also beckoned, a fresh 9C near the lighthouse at Point Cartwright, but quickly warming up with moving around. Though my legs weren’t greatly afflicted, my arms and abs took the brunt of the morning session that included skipping rope, push ups, planks and

This outdoor boot camp is just one of many in the area, and rotates the venue depending on weather conditions and the activities. When out running, I’ve often come across these boot camps, with about 5-15 participants. An observation is that the greater majority of ‘recruits’  seem to be female and not many males. Why, I wonder? Seems like a ‘guy’ thing to do – rough, rugged, challenging. Just interesting.

Mixing it up a bit


Parkrun – Town of Seaside 1st anniversary

IMG_2858Parkrun has a strong presence in this area, and one that I hadn’t been to has just completed it’s first year of operation. Along with my companions Ms T and Mr J, we travelled a little ways up the road to check out course.

Having previously been spotted by photographers at other Parkrun events, we chuckled to ourselves as once more the local press ‘shot’ us and we ended up in the local paper as part of the article.IMG_2857

As part of the celebrations of the day, cake was provided and a number of raffle prizes, donated by local businesses. Luck would have that my number was drawn, and I won a prize that I really had no idea what to do with… a protein drink mixture for hydration. Not considering my level of activity ‘serious’ enough to warrant anything such as supplements, I’ve never looked into them. There’s also that health conscience voice asking ‘What is in those drinks anyway?’

Maybe one day I will find myself at a level that warrants such a drink mixture, and now I have one on hand for that day.

There must be more to exercise than running

Sure, running is great, but wouldn’t it be even better to add in some other forms of exercise?

Use some different muscles, in different ways?

The thought at the back of my mind for several months keeps popping up with a squeaky voice ‘Hey you! Stretch those muscles! Join a pilates or yoga class! Or a gym!’. While I never overtly disagree  with that voice, I also haven’t been proactive in taking steps towards making it happen.

Fortunately, other people in my life have a more tangible, audible voice and it’s harder to dismiss their requests.

‘Hey, I’m going to a yoga class after work today, do you want to join me?’ 

That’s an offer I can’t refuse, an opportunity just waiting to be taken up. Now where is that yoga mat… Though it’s been at least a couple years since I did a yoga class, and with a different teacher and style, I readily get into the rhythm. Great strength and flexibility work on the core, sides and neck/shoulders. Now to make it back again next time.

‘Hey, I’m going to boot camp tomorrow instead of running, do you want to join me?’ 

Now that’s not something I would go out of my way to seek out, but again, an opportunity to mix it up a bit. Having never done anything like that, I went in with an open mind and with an expectation to work hard and come out sore. Planks. Squats. Lunges. Even the pick up a old tyre and run with it above your head.

Which is more difficult: 10km run in an hour, or 45 minutes of boot camp? 

Certainly I never thought I would consider a 10km run as easy, but indeed, everything is relative. I have discovered muscle groups that have not had much challenge recently until now. Abs. Glutes. Thighs. Shoulders. They have now been challenged… Looking forward to that next ‘easy’ run…

The official training schedule doesn’t make mention of such cross-training activities, but other than the once a week group session, I haven’t made much effort to adhere to the regime.

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It hangs nicely on my fridge. Perhaps it’s time to revisit the recommendations for training.

Ups and Downs


Ups and Downs

Run up the hill, then down the hill. 


Up the hill, down the hill. 


Uphill. Downhill.

Breathe! Finish and cool down by running a bit further.

Tuesday morning group training and the form of punishment being inflicted has been varied, just to keep the regime interesting. Around 30 dedicated athletes gather in the cool-ish pre-dawn prepared to undertake whatever instructions they are given by the Guru. Today, it is a set of running up and down a hill six times (three up, three down). Total of about 9kms for the morning.

SCMtraining2      SCMtraining1

Already I know a few fellow runners joining in the activity, and some new faces are starting to get familiar. Conversation revolves around predictable running-related topics: Blisters. Sore muscles. Physio appointments. Breathing technique. What’s the next event you’re running in?

IMG_2740Is it worth it when the alarm goes off in the cold and dark? Getting out and pushing hard? Certainly I get satisfaction out of reaching the recommended 10,000 daily steps before even starting work. And if there happens to be some cake around at morning tea time, I don’t mind indulging, with a clean conscience!IMG_2287

Like many athletes, especially runners, I have devices and apps to tell me about my performance. Time. Distance. Maps. Heart rate. For the first time today, I used a new app (new to me) that all the cool kids are talking about…Strava. In addition to all the features listed above, it links up with anyone else using the app in the same place at the same time. Whether I’m ‘friends’ with them or not, their details come up on my screen any mine on theirs. In some ways it’s cool, yet in others I find it a little disturbing in terms of privacy. I guess the old saying ‘if you don’t like it, don’t use it’ applies. Will try it for a while and see how I like it.

Running makes you smarter (True!)

While many claim that runners are crazy, and I can’t deny it, at least there seems to be research evidence at least they aren’t stupid. According to research on The Conversation, the physical benefits of running can actually make you smarter.

Here’s an excerpt explaining why:

While intense exercise will create brain cells, they are basically stem cells waiting to be put to use. Exercise doesn’t create new knowledge; rather, it gives you the mental equivalent of a sharpened pencil and clean sheet of paper. It prepares you for learning, but you have to actively do some learning yourself, too. Integrating exercise into your working or studying day would seem like a sensible option, if this particular benefit is of interest to you.

Well, I haven’t heard any evidence to say it’s not good for you, unless you go to extremes and injure yourself, so I’ll keep getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of another.

Joining training group


Group training sessions

Training circles expand as I participate in a weekly run session coordinated by the marathon organizers. Conveniently it complements the proposed 12-week pre-marathon training schedule. Well at least one day a week I will be following the recommended guidelines…

IMG_2456Tuesday 6am and about 30 keen souls gather at the designated location. Dividing into groups of fast, intermediate, and well, slow, a leader for each subdivision starts off the runners, who don’t know each other and haven’t run together before. After a 4km warm up, the target is to do intervals. A manageable 30 second sprint, the 30 seconds of recovery jogging. Increase to 60, then 90 seconds of sprinting and recovering. All the way up to 2 minutes of fast paced running and then slowing down to jog. Repeat. Repeat.

Having mainly just done consistent running, I’m not used this style, but can appreciate the benefits. It seems my pace places me somewhere in between the intermediate and slow group, so I end up doing the distance solo, using my watch as timekeeper to start and stop each interval. Eventually we all end up back at the starting point and after brief acknowledgement, everyone disperses to commence the rest of their day.

More running talk, with an article about the increasing popularity of running on the academic based news site The Conversation. The modern concept of ‘running’ as sport/exercise seems to have gained popularity in the 1960s.

In rejecting our lethargy, we will continue to look to the easiest, cheapest and most accessible and enjoyable activity that we can.

The simplicity of putting on a pair of running shoes and heading out the door at any time certainly makes it convenient. Finding those who share in the running fraternity comes from unexpected places. The other day as my son’s friend’s parents dropped off their child, they spotted my Hoka running shoes in sitting on the shoe rack inside the garage and sparked off a conversation about running.IMG_2569

In a wider social benefit, recently Parkrun partnered with the local council to hold a community event – ‘Racism. It stops with me.’ In small ways, running can bring together different groups of people to foster understanding and friendship. In today’s world, we need all the cooperation and respect we can get.

As the time to the half-marathon draw nearer, I continue with clocking up the kilometers and increasing speed as best I can. Inspiration comes from many corners, my regular training buddies, other runners, online communities. And I feel proud to be a role model for my teenage kids and inspire them to challenge themselves and reach  high and do the best they can.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Countdown: 12 weeks to half-marathon


Singing Running in the rain

Rain mixes with sweat in the pre-dawn haze. Dampness turns to wet, then turns to soaked, before there’s any IMG_2630chance to really think about it. Even though that weather app on my phone predicted 90% rain when I checked the night before, the morning appears starts out overcast but somewhat devoid of rain activity. Hence the prepared rain gear stayed warm and dry in the back of the car.

Indeed, the first 5-6km in 15C dark overcast skies only hovered without threatening moisture. Approaching the turnaround point and the weather app proved its superior prediction ability and the skies let loose generous drops of pent up precipitation. Facing nature doesn’t

I run because it's glamorous... NOT!

I run because it’s glamorous… NOT!

particularly overwhelm me, but thinking of that rain gear in the car makes me annoyed at my arrogance that I wouldn’t require pr


Work commitments beckon Mr J and Ms T is under the weather (literally), hence my running companion today is a mutual running companion, Ms B. Though not as well acquainted, easy conversation comes as the pavement rolls underfoot. Nominally we have had about the same running pace, though I’m pleasantly surprised that just these last couple months of longer and somewhat faster pace have increased my pace. Other little benefits include adjusting my watch band tighter and clothes fitting looser. My appetite also craves more protein, and more food overall.

Countdown: 12 weeks

Reminders come through that the half marathon at the Sunshine Coast marathon festival (the main goal of this training regime) is now at the 12-week countdown stage. My eyes glaze over as I attempt to absorb a recommended training program chart. When to run. How long to run. When to rest. What other exercises to do. Various such programs exist – this is just one example.

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Not a program-follower by nature, I wonder how closely I should follow these recommendations vs doing my own thing. No doubt I will make it there and across the finish line either way, though it could be a matter of how fast I get there and how well I recover afterwards. Already I’m pleased with the progress I’m making in overall fitness levels, pace and strength. Another 12 weeks of training – let’s see what it take me!

Grateful for two legs to carry me


A father wearing pink leggings and matching tutu lifts his daughter with a similar outfit to his shoulders.


Mother’s Day morning and there’s a sea of pink invading the school sports field. Socks, shirts, shorts, caps in shades of pink. Pink hair spray and bright pink lipstick. A pink bra worn over the outside of a shirt.

Women, men and children gather in support of those who have been through the experience of cancer, breast cancer in particular. To commemorate and celebrate those who have come through to the other side, and those who have not.

Among the stalls of sponsors and vendors, pink plastic capes are available for those who feel they require that extra bit of pink to complete their attire for the event. One such customer is a 12-year-old boy. IMG_2541Handing over his $2 he happily wraps the cape around his shoulders, and it hangs down to his ankles. I ask him if running with this somewhat unwieldy accessory might prove difficult or hamper his progress. After a moment’s contemplation, his response is simple and and direct:

‘Maybe a little, but how hard would it be if you were having to go through breast cancer?’

He is my son and knows a couple of women who have been down that road. My daughter runs faster and further than she is usually comfortable with, taking inspiration from the atmosphere of the day and contemplating those who have to endure much worse.

What is the point in running?

Why do I get up when it’s dark and cold and hit the pavement?

Because I can.

IMG_2509I run because I have two legs and two feet that can carry me forward.

I run for those who have endured disease or injury and face obstacles to get up and out there.

I run because of the guy with an awkward gait I see out walking, pushing past his limitation and stilted movements, greeting all passers with a smile and ‘Morning.

I run because of my friend with rheumatoid arthritis who can barely walk from the car to the house without a reasonable amount of discomfort.

I run for my kids, who put their best effort into everything they do and I want to do the same.

For everyone experiencing a physical or mental condition that restricts their activity, I run because I can.

In danger of becoming a Serious Runner


There area casual runners and then there are serious runners, and a whole spectrum in between. Without realising or intending to, lately I’ve been feeling a shift further along the spectrum.

IMG_2449It seems to have crept up slowly, but I find myself becoming aware of and more involved in running related activities. Encountering people at work who are runners. Facebook ‘Recommended posts’ appear with running gear and race promos. More of my Facebook posts have some aspect of running in them. Having post-run debrief conversations ‘I started out strong but faded half-way through…’ 

I’m spending more time, and money, participating in runs. My wardrobe is expanding with t-shirts from running events. I have a collection of caps that I wear running – to keep the sweat out of my eyes and cover my less-than-tidy hair. The laundry basket seems to get fuller – and smeller – with running gear.

I have even signed up for the Mother’s Day Classic run, a charity fundraiser for breast cancer. Ever since I became a mother, somewhere around 14 years ago, all I can ever recall wanting was ‘a quiet morning and sleeping in’. Which of course never happens anyway, as any mother would know!

But now I am going out of my way to get out of bed and out of the door and running 8km. What am I thinking?!?IMG_2444 (1)

However, I’m also subtly influencing my kids’ activity levels and including them in participating in the 4km fun run. Then we can all go out for breakfast and pig out with the sense of satisfaction that we have really earned it.

It seems all the rage these days is Running Blogs – I had no idea how popular they have become. Aside from doing running and talking about it, now we can read and write about it. So add this one to the mix.

Word of the Day: Struggle


Today’s Word of the Day is… Struggle 

An extra training run, with a later start than usual today. In fact it’s full daylight.  As Ms T, Mr J and I set out, there’s talk of going even further. But still maintaining the same pace. We pushed hard. Well certainly I did, attempting to keep up with my jelly legs and tightening calf muscles as we progress.

Recalling the wine I indulged in last night, I ponder whether it was really that advisable after all.

A pleasant distraction provides a different focus along the way: the Australian national surf-life saving competition, ‘The Aussies’ #Aussies2016. Across several beach areas and various events in the water and on the sand, competitors and tourists occupy the usual paths. Some minor detours are in place to avoid clashing or crashing with events but we weave our way through.


Words of wisdom

Blisters niggle my toes as I concentrate on picking up and putting down one foot after the other. [I could upload photos, but let’s face it, no one wants to see someone else’s blisters.] No words come from my mouth, as breathing is it’s essential function for the time being. Conversation and the usual random thoughts abandon me, and it’s almost a meditative step-step-breathe-step pattern. Repeat.

My wrist begins to vibrate and I realise I’ve reached my 10,000 steps for the day. Nice to have that out of the way by 8am! For a brief moment, it spurs me on to keep moving.

I watch as Mr J, then Ms T, work their way up that demon of a hill ahead of me. My pace slows right down, lifting my knees higher the best I can, til eventually I reach the summit. Gracefully, they wait for me at the top and we continue on the home stretch.


The run took us all the way around the bay.

Breathing heavily, sweat dripping and a bright red face, I finally register that we’re in reach of the end of the path. The end is in sight! I struggle over to a tap to wash off and cool my face. Dehydration may be creeping in as well and I gulp the refreshing liquid.

Checking our devices and comparing stats, we determine that we extended the run by 2.5km today. This may be contributing to my struggle today. Still only just over half-way to a half-marathon. Making progress but I don’t need to visit a fortune teller to know that more training is in my future.

I knew it wouldn’t all be fun and games, and today wasn’t a walk in the park for me. On the positive side, I’m still vertical, a little worse for wear, but beginning to feel a sense of  satisfaction after my breath returns and heart rate slows.

Suddenly it occurs to me, that this is the furthest distance I have ever run!

Small steps lead to bigger ones and each little achievement marks a milestone and closer to the goal.