Year review – endurance running and swimming

In 2011 I ran at least 3,380 kms in total. (I have run over 50,000 kms in the last 16 years.)

Swam  approximately 572 kms

I ran my 8th Gold Coast Marathon on very limited training (maximum run distance was 18 kms..for non-marathon runners, you usually train up to 37 kms in one run) and came in with a 3 hours 48 min marathon. I negative split my last 10 kms. (This means I ran the last 10 kms faster than the first 10 kms. Pretty good for a marathon. Very few people do this.) My Personal Best marathon time was in 2000 and was 3 hours 39. So to only go 9 mins slower on no training (my PB was also on limited training) is a good indication of how much I could do it I really put my head down, which I am not planning to. I want to run for enjoyment, and not for times. This time qualified me for any event as an age grouper (in my age group of course) on the planet. Boston, Comrades, 6 Foot Track. Since I have done 6 Foot and Boston, Comrades was it. June 3rd 2012 will see me at the start of this. I have wanted to run this event for many years, so I am excited to be part of the world’s largest and most enduring ultra marathon.

Swimming

Since I finally conquered the 200 fly in one continuous swim last year for my 50th, I have decided this year to focus on my 200 IM (individual medley) This means working on my back stroke and breast stroke. The goal is a 3 min 15. I have swum a 3 min 33, so we have about 18 secs to drop. I am also determined to get my tumble turns really sharp. The ‘slap the wall’ type turns that the elite guys do. Have gone back to the beginners book on this, unlearning to get this right. Give me another month.

Events

Mt Glorious 33kms in early February. The hottest event I have ever run in. Bloody hard, but made easier by running with 2 girlfriends and making a day of it. Suffered from heat stroke and leeches, all then followed with a beer chaser or two at the local pub.

Gold Coast Marathon 8th one down, 2 to go to get my 10th Tshirt.

Lamington Classic– 21 kms day one, 21 kms day two.

I don’t compete in swimming, only with myself. Although one of my swim squad members is hoping to race me in the 200 IM.

 

Lessons learned

*The Gold Coast marathon was another lesson in relaxation and letting go of all expectations and simply running within myself. I have always done better when I do this. I registered two days before the marathon. I had a lose race plan. Run at 5.30 pace. See how I felt at the 32 kms mark. In the end I couldn’t run this slowly. So ran between 5.15 and 5.20 pace. My average over the 42 was 5.20. It felt very comfortable.

As you age, the number of times that you show up for an event and feel good becomes more haphazard. I felt great, and I think because I had very mild expectations (to come in just under 4 hours, even by 2 secs) I was absolutely thrilled with this event.

*6 Foot track this year I made a few BIG mistakes. Also silly mistakes, as I know better. Last year I was relaxed, no expectations, and did not know anything about the course. I ran a very good time. This year I had my expectations up, and wanted to nail the very tricky downhill start and not get caught in the slow lane. Which I did well. But on the morning of the event, I had severe diarrhea (common) and did not replace my fluids with the right salts etc. And it was warmer than last year. So…too much pressure on me, not relaxed enough and the major mistake of not getting my fluids right before we started. This was a silly mistake for an experienced distance runner. By the 20 km mark I was getting serious cramping in my entire body, and I knew my systems where shutting down. I wisely chose to pull out. Only the second event in my 16 year history of running that I have ever quit.

*I have also started to drink a proper sports replacement drink after every session in summer. I get my blood tested for hormones and salt every 3-4 months and have been working with a wonderful GP who is a specialist in female hormones during menopause. She has also been working on my sodium, potassium, magnesium. Its a fine balance. I have to tune in constantly, as well as get the tests. Actually, the blood tests usually only confirm what I already know. The area of sports medicine for an endurance female running during menopause is a poorly researched area. I am my own study.

 

*I have really embraced the truth that my running/swimming is as powerful as any form of mediation practice. I train every single day, with rare exception, and the discipline is no longer an issue. It is automatic. My lifestyle. I love it. It is my stress release, my anger therapy, my social time, my time in nature, out doors, and on weekends, coffee time. That running in the forest is where a part of my spirit comes alive. There is a me that is a nature sprite. Fleet footed, especially on the downhills, moving with the wind, the trees, the birds, all one song. An experience beyond words. Or running by the ocean, something magnificent happens. That vast body of water called the Pacific is my spiritual, emotional, physical reservoir. I simply cannot live and thrive away from the ocean.

 

*I have also learned that racing, whether it be swimming or running, completely destabilizes me. Short run races, anything less than a marathon, so 5, 10, 15, 21 k, and my competitive self comes out. This is an unbalanced unhealthy part of me. It has an addictive element. As well as an obsessive aspect. I can beat that time, that person, run faster, do better. It is like a dark Alice falling down the rabbit hole. I get caught in the addiction, and my centre of gravity goes out the window. Knowing myself so well, I simply don’t do it anymore. Far better for me to play games with my own times in the pool, and stick to marathons plus. Here the dynamic changes, and it becomes about endurance and survival. Plus in my age group there are less candidates to get caught up in the whole ‘race to win’ game. I watch many people get caught in the trap of addiction to winning, or racing to be better than someone else. Once in this deceptive snare, people make decisions that are unbalanced. They will not listen to their bodies, they will push until they truly break down. They will train themselves into the ground. They will spend hours plotting, planning, crafting strategies. Racing and winning is the drug of choice, and while it might look healthier than alcohol, or drug addiction, it actually is still a serious addiction.

 

*Why do I choose goals like getting my tumble turns sharp, or the times down on my 200 IM?  It gives me something to focus on. It has me go back to learning, adjusting, fine tuning, mastery. Learning is fun. I like the feeling of achievement when I stick it. Swimming is such a technical sport. When you become familiar with a stroke, then you can begin the very fine tuning work that at first is not possible to discern. For example, I can now really distinguish the ‘catch’ part of my stroke through all phases in freestyle, and am beginning to be able to do this in backstroke. That kind of listening ability/tunability only becomes available after the more substantial aspects of the stroke are deeply natural. (see my three part series on tunability)

 

This is not unlike any form of personal development, and I see my sport as critical in my personal development. When our big noisy, clunky aspects of self are clearly seen then we can work on the ever finer levels of refinement.

 

*Finally, in our society today, since the end of WWII, we have lost our education in endurance. Few people in the middle and upper class know about endurance. Distance running is one of my schools of endurance. It teaches me to endure when my soft, indulged self wants to quit. I have never reached for a pain killer (or any other kind of medication) the moment I feel discomfort. Not because I am some sort of hero. But because I was taught from a young age to endure. (In distinction to suffer. Endure was to recognise the pain and hold your centre within it. To learn to respect it, mentally shift focus away from it, and to do the other things that would resolve the pain, like take a nap or see a health professional.)

Part of the reason our world is currently in a deep breakdown is because we have no endurance. We are soft, over entitled, over indulged creatures, seeking instant gratification and the avoidance of age, at all costs. Our children are protected from the outside, from dirt, people, any form of risk, to the extreme. Oversensitised, they get all sorts of allergies. The metaphor does not escape me. This is a big topic, one I won’t dwell on too long here…I think you get my point.

 

For 2012

Running…Comrades marathon (87km) South Africa, June 3rd. The plan is to be fit enough to run it and enjoy the experience.

Running..Gold Coast Marathon, July 1st. Just to finish, get the Tshirt.

Swimming..200 IM on 3.15

 

 

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