It’s 4pm: I am sitting on my lounge in my pajamas and as I am typing this, my overtired toddler is screaming her lungs out in her room just at the end of the corridor. Outside the cold wind rages, and the world goes berserk under a grey blanket. The joy of winter: sick child, cold floor and grey world. Running should be the last thing on my mind right now.
But no, I think about running all the time. I mainly think about the km’s I had to miss the past couple of weeks. My husband was away for most days during Week 3 and Week 4 of my training. My single parenting gig was made even more difficult thanks to the moody Canberra winter weather: It had been raining for most of Week 3 and freezing cold for most of Week 4. It would not have been a problem for most people except that: a) I don’t drive and b) Canberra public transport sucks.
My ingenious plan circumventing this situation was to run to work pushing the pram. We have a fantastic running stroller, a Kool Stride Parachute that we purchased used a couple of years ago. Initially I thought it was going to be a great way to hit two flies with one bat. The commute is a total of 16km, so that’s 64km in only 4 days, which would mean an extra rest day!
The only thing is that, apart from not having enough space for our bags, it is also falling apart! The brake doesn’t work and while it wasn’t much of an issue when Amyra was smaller, it is of an issue now because she now weighs 12kg, which means braking during a run requires a considerable effort on my part. And on the subject of weight… 12kg is not 12kg when you have to push it uphill (this does not include the weight of the pram and our bags included)! The run to work requires a substantial hill towards the end. And the run from work is a staggered incline over 3km.
Needless to say, a double 8km pram running would leave me wrecked at the end of the day and even the fatigue would carry on the next day. This is partly my fault – I insisted on keeping the easy pace as required by my plan instead of going by effort. As a result, my so-called easy pace at just slightly under 7min/km were done at a much bigger effort, even close to my LT!
My noble intentions of doing a pram run streak were dashed right after my first attempt (Week 3). My limbs were too sore the next morning to attempt another one! I did better Week 4 and very proud to say that I managed to do not just one but two days of pram running in a row!
The other reason why I didn’t run as much as I should or could have during those two weeks were the weather. The Canberra winter weather was just foul. For a couple days of sunshine, you get days of rain, cold wind and hail. One of my runs (Week 4, Tue) got cut short because of a hailstorm! I don’t mind a bit of water, but hail and thunder???
I also would rather not subject my little one to the harsh weather, I just don’t have the heart! I would often choose to stay in and work from home to ensure she gets enough rest to prevent her from getting sick. Oh and did I mention our heater broke???
Indoor workouts with Instant Fitness
So those two factors explain the massive gaps in my weekly km’s. I have tried to fill the gaps with doing other things: Strength and conditioning. I discovered a fantastic iPhone App called Instant Fitness ($2.99) that guided me in my home workouts. The app has over 600 individual exercises using either bodyweight, dumbbells or a resistance band targeting different areas of your body, and more than 100 workouts to choose from.The workouts included audio and visual instructions (by a good looking half naked guy… Don’t mind if I do!) .
Also, the app lets you purchase sets of sports-specific workouts. I purchased the running specific ones, which would commonly target the agility, glutes, core and upper body strength. I hear you saw “But it ain’t running!”, I know, I know, but given the circumstances, it’s much better than sitting around moping all day.
Besides, did you know that strength training is actually GOOD for runners? There are heaps of evidence that suggest weight training can aide your speed. Heck, Mo Farah says doing Olympic lifting actually boosted his power. I am getting a PT friend to guest blog about strength for runners on my blog, so hopefully I’ll get to explore the topic in some depth soon!
Not all kays are equal
I have spent a considerable amount of time beating myself up for missing out on my km’s. I was supposed to do 68km in Week 3 and 72km in Week 4. Instead I did 55km and *gasp* 52km! I finally made peace with it seeing as:
- From an effort standpoint I felt like I was running my easy runs harder than I should have because they were either done with pushing the pram OR they were run harder due to time constraint;
- From a time standpoint I felt I had made the best out of the time I had. I had at least spent the same amount of time running and exercising as I have in Week 1 and Week 2;
- I have redeemed myself with at least 3 hours a week of strength and conditioning; something that I had not done in Week 1 and 2. That has got to count for something, right?
In addition to the above, in Week 4 I have substituted a running workout with hiking. Why? To be honest I was sick with pram running (I would have had to do it while pushing the pram because hubby was still away then) and I wanted to mix up my routine a bit. So I hiked 2km up Mount Ainslie with a 12kg toddler on my back. It gave me the same workout as a 10km tempo run would, if not more. When I got home I added an extra hour of bodyweight and dumbbells exercises. I was definitely feeling it the next day!
The hike and the strength training (and the DOMS afterwards) definitely made me think of exploring more effective ways to do strength training. I do need to train my glutes and my core – two of the most important muscle groups for running. And of of course, upper body strength and everything else. I have started researching on gym based weight training and even CrossFit. Besides, it’s always good to mix up one’s routine. I don’t want to get to Week 10 and be sick of running by then!
So all in all, Week 3 and 4 turned out a pretty good week, fitness-wise. In terms of running there was one important lesson to be learned here. No matter how rigid your training plan is, you need to be prepared to make changes and make the most out of your circumstances. I miss running, I miss smashing my sessions to plan, but what can you do. Sometimes… LIFE happens!