Georgia Runs

Today I am 35. Today I am five days out from running my first half marathon. In the three months I’ve been training for this event, I’ve learnt some lessons that I hadn’t learnt in my almost 35 years prior. The physical training has been intense. Hard. Painful. But I think it’s the mental training that’s come with it that has made me a stronger person. Usually when I mention to someone new that I am training for a half marathon, I met with ‘wow! I could never do that’. The thing is, three months ago, I didn’t think I could do it either.

In February, on the spur of the moment, I decided to enter the HBF Run for a Reason half marathon. At the time, I was struggling to run 5kms. I didn’t actually think I could run a half marathon.

But here I am, knowing I can, and excited that I will be running 21.1kms in less than a week.

Some of the biggest things I’ve learnt on this journey have been vital to getting me where I am now.

  1. Having a goal to work towards is really important. The absolute turning point in my running journey was having an end goal to work towards. I signed over my money, and signed up for raising money for my nominated charity. When people started donating money, I absolutely had to make sure I did everything I could to make sure that I make the start, and finish line.

    pexels-photo

  2. Support is vital. My husband is also a runner, so he gets it. But I know that even if he didn’t run, he would still support me on this journey. Around the time I signed up for the half marathon, I also joined a national running group for mothers. The support from these women for all members of the group has been invaluable.
  3. Training your body is really important. Working on your form, the way you foot hits the ground, and where it lands under your body prevents injury. Building your endurance through frequent runs and increasing distance, but also through rest and recovery is important. Fueling your body with good food (for me it’s low carb, healthy fat, but you have to work out what works best for you), paying attention to your hydration, and getting decent sleep are all vital to becoming a better runner.
  4. Training your body is only half the challenge. Training your legs to carry, building muscle, learning how to breathe, improving your form, fueling your body for endurance? There’s science for that. Training your mind is harder. I’ve run 18kms non-stop. But there have absolutely been some runs where my head has beaten my body, where I’ve struggled, and where I’ve cut my run short.

    I find the first 3kms the hardest. I’ve read that it’s not uncommon, and is due to your respiratory and circulatory system needing to catch up with the increased oxygen demands your body is placing. Once I hit 3kms, I start to settle, my form smooths out and my breathing feels easier. By 5kms, I’m usually feeling pretty good. But getting through those first 3 – 5kms is a real battle with myself, lots of mental self talk happens. I actually find longer distances easier, and more enjoyable.

    During my long runs, me self talk sounds something like this:

    Starting out: ‘Just get through the first 3kms, they’re always the hardest. You have to do this if you want to run a half marathon, so just do it. Shut up, you’re not quitting. Just get to 3kms, or 5kms. If it’s still hard at 5kms you can go home’.

    3-5kms: ‘You’ve hit 3kms, is it getting easier yet? It should be getting easier. Just get to 5kms, that’s only 2 more’.

    5-8kms: ‘Just do another 3kms and see how you feel, you’re running really well at the moment’.

    8kms: ‘Round it out to 10, that’s only 2kms away’.

    10kms: ’10kms already. You’ve got this. What’s another 8kms when you’ve already run 10? You’re more than half way’.

    10-18kms: ‘I wonder what I’m thinking about? Oh, my legs are handling this hill really well. Now what was I thinking about again? It doesn’t matter.’

    18kms: ’18kms already? I could keep going for another 18kms. An extra 3.1kms on the day will be nothing’.

    When I stop and walk: ‘Yep, I just ran 18kms. I don’t know if my legs will be able to walk the 100m home’.

    black-and-white-field-jogger-jogging

  5. I run better in the early morning, even better when it’s cold. This is something I struggle with. I am a night owl. I feel more creative and more productive late at night. There have been a few weekends when my husband has been working, so I’ve had to go to bed early so I can go for an early morning run. I feel great for the whole run, and for the rest of the day. But after this, I fall back into my habit of late nights, and this usually feeds my crappy runs. A late night doing something, followed by getting up early with the kids and not having enough sleep leads to struggle town when I run.This is something I’m trying to work on. Sunday’s run starts at 6.45am, which means I will have to be up before 5am. I’ll make myself go to bed early because I know I have to in order to run a decent race on Sunday, I just need to transfer this to the rest of my life.
  6. I love my body more now than at any other time in my life. My body’s not perfect. I still have abdominal diastisis from when I was pregnant with the boys, I still look pregnant over 2.5 years on from having twins. I have no boobs, I had none prior to children, but having and breastfeeding 4 children have left them worse for wear. But it’s hard to dislike your body when you realise what it is capable of. I can run 18kms! In 5 days it will have run 21.1kms non-stop. My legs feel strong, they have serious muscle definition. I feel strong, I feel good. My mind can handle 18kms of running when 3 months ago it could barely handle 5. What’s not to love?
  7. Finally, I love active wear.

 

Image sources: pexel.

Choosing my future.

Twelve months ago, I was banging on about how I was running and loving it. Then I injured my ankle and back, and I was always going to get back in to it, but excuses, and blah blah blah, it didn’t happen.
All through last year, I told friends from one of my mother’s groups that I was trying to lose the last of my baby weight, but I pretty much stayed the same weight all year. I started sporadically going to the gym after I went back to uni, but then I got distracted by assignments and exams. Fast forward to the start of this year, and one of my goals I set for myself for the year was taking care of myself physically.
I’m not sure how serious I was about it. A few days into the new year, I was shovelling a block of chocolate in my gob, telling myself it was good quality dark chocolate, so it wasn’t that bad for me. Ha! Until I realised how many calories I’d smashed in five minutes. It was like a slap upside the head. I’m not going to lose weight if I don’t exercise, and if I eat chocolate very day. And that family history of being overweight/obese, heart disease and type two diabetes? If I don’t make changes, that’s my future. I don’t want that, for myself, or my children.
Now, I’m not overly heavy, but I’m pretty short, so any extra weight shows up pretty quickly on me. I’m sick of feeling heavy, I’m sick of having crappy skin, and I’m sick of the way I look carrying extra weight. I’m sick of talking about losing weight, but not actually doing anything about it. So I’m counting calories and I’m making better food choices, I’m working out and I’m feeling good. I’ve just got to keep it up. I always stumble when some sort of hurdle pops up – injury, uni assignments, life. I’ve got to remember how good I feel when I’m healthy, how much better I am at life when I’m fuelling my body with wholesome food and when I’m feeling strong. This has to be a goal for life, not just for the year.

Every day, I must choose to make my health a priority. Every day, I must choose my future.

Looking after myself – sleep

So we’re a week into the new year already, and for a change, I’m still sticking to my plan for achieving my 2015 goals. My goals that involve uni are still in the planning stages – I can’t really do too much with them until uni goes back next month. But I think planning plays a huge part in whether or not I achieve my goals.

What I have been sticking to is looking after myself, making changes to my lifestyle so that I feel and look better. I tend to take my health for granted, and when I startling self-care slide, I pretend to ignore how bleurgh I’m feeling until I can’t ignore it any longer. And I’ve hit the point where I can’t ignore it. There a few different changes I’m making to become a healthier version of me, so I’m going to write it out in two parts.

*****

When I was pregnant with Dylan and Mahalia, I usually only woke once a night to pee. I was pretty lucky. With Harry and Zach’s pregnancy, the night waking started pretty early and I’d be up multiple times a night. As frustrating as it was, I didn’t mind too much because there were two! babies growing inside of me. When they were newborn, and I was living surviving on 1-2 hours sleep a night, as I tired and emotional as I was, I knew that there was a reason for them to be waking and feeding so frequently and for such long times. It’s just that having two of them made the whole process take longer. And when they were six months old, as much as I longer for sleep, I knew it wasn’t unusual for babies that age to still be waking at night. And when they were nine months old they were teething and learning to crawl and had just started day care, and I knew all these things could impact their sleep. And from 9 until 16 months, we were on the never-ending cycle of day care colds, ear infections, teething, a couple of bouts of gastro, and learning to walk. We had a few good nights where one would sleep through. Usually they’d take it in turns having a good night, waking only once, while the other would wake two or three times. And with two toddlers, having existed without a full night’s sleep in almost two years, it’s easier to spend 5 minutes feeding a baby/toddler during the night than trying other means of settling that could end up waking the other one and having two crying children to deal with.

I told myself that if Harry and Zach could finally get rid of their colds, their sleep would get better. If we could just make it to the Christmas holidays, they’d have a break from day care, their immune systems could recover, and they’d start sleeping through the night. Except it didn’t happen like that. If anything, their sleep got worse. Not wanting to go to sleep at night, more frequent waking, until we had a run of about four nights where I spent the best part of the night just trying to get them back to sleep.

I woke up on Monday morning and realised that I’m almost at the end of my reserves. I can’t keep functioning on broken sleep. Being up for hours at a time during the night brings out the worst in me. If I want to be a better, happier parent and wife, I need sleep. If I want to enjoy my family, I need sleep. If I want to do well in my final year of uni, I need sleep. So I rang Ngala and told them I need help. I should have rung months ago, but every time I thought about it, I always told myself that there are other people who need their help more than me, and after all, what did I expect having twins? Except, if we need help, we need help. Just because other parent’s might be getting even less sleep than me, doesn’t mean that I don’t need help too.

We’ve been offered a date at the end of the month to go in for a day stay to sort out the our sleep issues. And in the mean time, the lovely nurse I spoke with gave me some tips to try to help get me through until we go in. I tried them Monday night, and it was shit. Absolute shit. It was probably the worst night we’d had in a week, and it had been a shitty week. But I gave it another try on Tuesday night. And hallelujah! BOTH Harry and Zach self-settled, and they BOTH slept through the night. I know they’re not miraculously cured of the cases of waking in the night. But having had my first night of uninterrupted sleep in 22 months, and knowing that they can actually sleep through the night? It’s topped up my reserves enough that it doesn’t seem like such a long wait for our Ngala day stay. The light at the end of the tunnel is shinning with strength of a thousand suns.

This year I will sleep.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year
                    (Image sourced from here under creative commons license, edited to add text)

I hope you had an enjoyable new year. It was pretty quite here. New Year’s Eve, Mr Up With the Birds and I had a glass of bubbles, watched a movie and had an early night. New Year’s Day, I took the big kids to see Penguins of Madagascar, and my second sister came over in the afternoon. It was no party, but we all had a lovely time.

I have a good feeling about 2015, I thinks it’s going to be a good year for me. I hope so anyway, and I hope it’s a good one for you too.

I’ve been thinking about what I want to achieve this coming year, and how I’m going to go about reaching my goals. I heading into the final year of my nursing degree, and I want to finish on a high. While last semester I achieved good results, they weren’t quite as high as the grades I was getting before Harry and Zach came along, and I’d like to finish my degree with my grades back up at the level I’m used to.

And while I managed to get through the semester with two babies who still wake at least once a night each, the state of the house and yard kind of fell to a level I’m not proud of, I forever felt I was chasing my tail trying to keep on top of things. In the last few months, in the blur of final assessments and exams, I started to neglect my health. Shovelling junk food in my gob, and not moving as much as I should. I want to do better this year.

My goals for this year are:

1. Finish my degree with Ds and HDs.
2.Balance uni and home life.
3. Look after myself – both physically, mentally and emotionally.
4. Enjoy life and remember to make time for family fun.

I’ve got the same basic strategy to achieve these goals – becoming more organised. I’ve got just over a month until uni goes back. In that time, I’m going to set myself up with new routines and habits to keep on top of things. I’ve got specific plans on how I am going to achieve my goals. I’m not going to detail them yet, you and I would be here forever, but I will be following the SMART framework. I’ll be writing individual post about each task or hobby I’ll be using to achieve my goals, but I’ll also be documenting what I do here, keeping myself accountable during the year, and achieving my goal of doing something for myself.

How did you ring in the new year?

Have you got any goals for the year?