NB. While Slim Dusty is not my go to choice for a casual Sunday afternoon barbecue, his song seemed on point for this post.
Recently while writing an email to my coach, I was abruptly reminded that we are almost at the end of January, and that somehow 3 weeks have passed since ringing in the new year. I was in the midst of detailing both for him and for my own planning, what trips and travel arrangements I have in place this year when I realised that before I know it 2018 will be knocking at my door. Now I know that for some that may seem like a slight exaggeration, but the truth is that more and more the days pass without so much as a glancing look, and with nothing more than a wink we are putting up the still-yet-to-be-taken down Christmas decorations, and singing ‘All I want for Christmas’ while cooking pavlovas and soaking puddings.
I’m generally not one to get too far ahead of myself, unless of course Jetstar puts on an epic sale and I decide to book a holiday a long way in advance, but I am also not immune to the curiosity of wondering just how far along the path of endurance runner I can get in the remaining 12 short months. When I look back to 5 months ago I sit here somewhat bewildered that I am now capable of running 50km+ week in, week out without really breaking into too much of sweat, and only silently cursing Andy once every few weeks. Whilst I was somewhat accustomed to putting my body through tests of endurance, my ability to run was limited to less than double digits back then, and only practiced once every few months – so it’s a big change. And whilst I am currently only running in a week just a little over what I plan to do every single day, things are certainly headed in the right direction. Plus we are only 5 months into an 18 month plan so things can only go onwards and upwards from here.
What I have loved most about this training is that like my general way of life, it has been a slow and steady improvement, and as such I’ve been able to consciously take it in along the way. I haven’t been thrown to the sharks so to speak, and had my self-belief severed by doing too much too soon. Nearly every time I find myself in a training session I feel really strong both in my heart, lungs and muscles, which is testament to the approach that has been taken. It is like I’ve had this little guiding hand dangling a chocolate brownie in front of me, just close enough that I get a nibble every now and again, before pulling away for me to play catch up with. There’s been a balance with my training that can only come when you’re under the guidance of someone who at their very core gets it. It’s almost like I have developed this unbreakable bond with my body and what it’s capable of. That is of course not to say that I don’t doubt myself sometimes.
I recently figured out that changing your body’s ability is one thing, but it’s another thing entirely to change the ability of your mind. Every now and again I find myself still training with the mindset of 5 months ago, and I have to make a conscious decision to increase my pace with my changing ability. There’s no denying that I still run my easy runs at 7km/hr, but my speed sessions are getting faster and faster the more I actually acknowledge what I am capable of now, as opposed to what I was capable of then. I naturally tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to pacing myself, however that ‘side’ is inch my inch getting further and further into what I once thought very, very, very improbable. I nearly even found myself clocking up 10 kilometres in an hour the other day during a speed session, and while for some that is a slow run, for me it is a very big deal even if it was in a high intensity session, so I’ll chalk that one up to a win.
I guess what I’m getting at through all this, is that I don’t think it would matter if Running for Bums started in 2 years or 3 years, I would still have these moments of self-doubt and question whether or not there is enough time. It’s not that I suffer from them or that they cause me any grief, it’s simply that the thoughts pass by me and I notice that they are there. Those little butterflies tingle my stomach and remind me that this run is not a given, and that every bead of sweat, every silent curse and every step taken, are all for one purpose – to get me from Tasmania to Cape York, and in a state that I am capable of spreading a very important message about Bowel Cancer while at it. There is no point in me collapsing at the end of every day unable to meet people and talk all things bums, so whilst yes I need to be able to cover the distance on foot, I also need to do it in a way that is tailored to my ability, and to how I run and recover.
On that note I thought I’d share what a training week looks like for me. I almost used the term ‘typical training week’ there, but as anyone who knows Andy Dubois can attest to, there is no typical training week with him as he is constantly changing things here and there. Every now and again I’ll throw a question at him out of curiosity, but I think that if you can find a coach that you trust and whose methods you adapt well to, then all you really need to do is exactly what they say. Oh and PS, all of my sessions are currently completed in the gym to avoid the blisteringly hot and steamy conditions that have made themselves at home out here at the moment, hence the very specific nature of gradients.
Day 1 – Treadmill Hills
- 15min warm up
- 2 x
- 90sec fast at 7% incline with 90sec recovery walk/jog at 0% incline between (Andy puts jog there every week, but who is he kidding)
- 2 x
- 5min fast (a little slower than the above) at 5%,
- 2min hike at 5%
- 2min recovery jog at 0% (I do actually do this as a jog)
- 2 x
- 8min hike at 15%
- 3min jog at 0%
- 12 min cool down
Day 2 – Easy Run
- 30mins at an easy pace at 1% incline
Day 3 – Treadmill Long Run
- 10min warm up
- 5 x
- 15min run at 2% incline
- 5min run at 5% incline
- 10min hike at 15% incline
- 5min cool down
Day 4 – Rest (I love my rest day!)
Day 5 – Treadmill Easy Run
- 60mins at an easy pace
Day 6 – Treadmill speed session
- 10min warm up
- 5 x
- 45sec with 15sec rest at a face and increasing pace for each interval
- 4 x
- 1600m fast with 75sec walk recovery (as fast as I can maintain without needing to slow down for the last rep)
- 6min cool down
Day 7 – Elliptical
- 60mins at an easy pace