Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday: Half minus 5

This taper thing makes you go a little a lot cuckoo.

Is it excitement?  Nerves?  Panic?  Or a bizzarre paranoia reserved for runners less than one week out from a big event?
This is my morning so far...

7:10am                 There’s a lot of people sneezing on this train today.
                                Is it hayfever or cold and flu?
                                OMG if they have colds…and they’re sneezing…I could get sick
                                Oh look, there’s a runner.
                                She looks fit.
                                Wonder if she’s running on Sunday.
                                Do I look that strong when I run?
                                I’m hungry

7:11am                 Definitely colds.
                                Will go to the chemist before work and get some olive leaf extract or something.
                                Could really go a choc chip muffin right now.
10:10am               Could really go a choc chip muffin right now.

10:15am               “Large skinny cap thanks”
                                And a muffin?
                                Oh look at that choc chip one.
                                Quick, ask for a freaking muffin
                                You don’t need a muffin
                                They make your ass wobble
                                No muffins this week
                                “and a choc chip muffin thanks”
10:20am              "D'oh!"                              “Does anyone want my muffin?”

Monday, October 6, 2014

I'll have what he's having...

A few weeks ago I posted about THE MAN and his resolve to sample the 5:2 diet.

At around the same time, he saw an exercise / muscular-skeletal therapist who gave him a stack of exercises to strengthen his areas of weakness and increase flexibility.  As very seldom happens with anyone who receives a plan, he has stuck to it.  With incredible results.  And combined with the 5:2 fast diet, I'm pretty amazed at the changes.

Three weeks in and he's dropped around 2 kilos from the one place that weight goes on - his middle.

And combined with the stretches, he has abs.  Visible abs.

So what's a girl to do but join in?

My first fast day was Saturday.  I had a good breakfast post-parkrun.  An omelette with mushrooms, tomato and spinach.  Plus a coffee of course.

I didn't feel like eating again until around 2pm, but I diverted the pangs with more water.  And then even more water.  By 4 O'Clock, it was getting harder to distract myself, so I hit the floor for 15 minutes of core work.  It's impossible to feel hungry when you're working your core.  Water.  Water again.  And before I knew it, 6pm had come around and it was legitimately time for dinner.  It was almost a shame to break the fast.

We went easy for dinner.  Steamed flathead tails with salad.  Light and delish.  It was enough.

At bed time I was a little shocked to discover a 1.5kg loss for the day.  I was also shocked at how self-satisfied I felt at conquering the hunger pains and remaining in control.  Like a test that I had passed or something.

Will I do it again?  Absolutely.  But it'll have to wait now until next week.  I've got a half marathon to run on the weekend ;)

Monday, September 15, 2014

That was fast

It could just be the (virtual) company I keep, but every second person on my Facebook newsfeed is talking about the 5:2 fasting story aired last night.

There's discussions about the validity of a single day fast, longer spans without food and taking fluids only, and balancing opinions as to why this diet or that diet is better / worse / stupid.  And that's the thing about nutrition and diets; everyone has a different opinion, and it seems that research can prove or disprove pretty much every theory you can poke a fork at.

Now, Mr. Husband, who always swore to be a meat-and-three-veg kinda guy has changed his food intake a LOT.  There's still some sharpening up to do, but for a man who used to only eat white bread, meat, potatoes, chicken maryland and gravy, to now willingly choose brown rice, lean meats, fish and loads of veg is a bit of a miracle.

Today, he decided to try a fasting day.  Breakfast, no lunch and no dinner.  Even his beloved cups of tea became black with no sugar.

Who IS this man?

I may have to get up early and cook him bacon and eggs for breakfast in the morning because I'm predicting he'll be eyeing off the dog and picturing her covered in gravy by the morning!

As this unfolds I'll watch with equal parts of interest and suspicion.  It can't be all bad, can it?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Con artist

Have we all been conned?

This idea of life that we've been conditioned to accept...is this all there is?

We strive to snare a bigger job, to make a bigger income, to buy bigger stuff, that we need a bigger house to contain, with a bigger mortgage, that we need to have a bigger job to pay for, and so the circle goes.

What if we just didn't?

When I list the things that make me happy; wind in my hair, salt on my skin, sun in the air, to love and feel love, to feel free... how does the way I live now support these?  The question is rhetorical by the way!

Nowhere on my list is a home theatre room, or even a TV, his and hers vanities, a powder room, business cards, a fancy title, 600 thread count sheets, 2XU compression pants.

Nowhere on my list have I included sitting at a desk with no natural light for 9 hours a day, shuffling meaningless papers, cleansing an email inbox, commuting for 3 hours each day and listening to people re-cycle business jargon.

I want to create art.  
Not gallery hanging, brush created stuff.  
The kind of art that changes things.  
Changes people.  
A health sculptor.

There.  That's what I will be when I grow up.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

In the zone

Do you ever have one of those days when your inbox makes you do a double take?

Not your work inbox - yucckkkkkk.  The one where all of those opt-in emails you have to sign up for to get some ebook or free offer go to.  I'm a sucker for those things.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Exhibit a)

The Divine Writer;
Opt in:  5 fail-safe tips for starting your book.
Status:  book not started.

I rarely read these emails.  In fact, this may be the first one I've clicked through for more.  And it's not as thought the title grabbed me, either.  "My favourite books: The Big Leap"

It was actually about self-sabotage and intentionally living under your potential.  The article then went on to talk about "your zone of genius", and this is where things got REALLY interesting (for me!).

So, they described four zones;
Zone of incompetence - things you know you're crap at and should out-source.
Zone of competence - stuff you CAN do, don't really like to do, and others can do just as well.
Zone of excellence - you're good here.  Comfortable.  Maybe even accomplished.  But you're not lit up or excited, even if you do make a living from operating in this zone.

And then came the really good stuff...
Zone of genius - the thing you were born to do.  Your divine calling. Things that draw on your special gifts and talents.

The article goes on to say that unfortunately, most of us play it safe and stay in our zone of excellence, or even worse, our zone of competence. The flow on effects are that around the time we hit 40, or midlife, or whatever you want to call it, we've been so used to ignoring our genius that beats louder and louder as the years progress, that not listening manifests in any number of nasties.  Depression, illness, relationship conflict.  Alarms going off, but still we don't listen.


There's something bigger in me than meetings and taking minutes and conforming to the norm of the corporate world.  I just don't fit there.  And I'm getting restless.  I've been restless for years.  It's not going away, even when I press mute.  
It's getting louder, louder, louder!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sunday runny Sunday

What a way to farewell a Melbourne Winter!

Sunday was a simply perfect day for a long run.  Spring was teasing us; sunny with a kick of heat, and like the perfect curry, it warmed our bones from outside in.  The sea air left a tinge of saltiness.  The paths were well worn with eager joggers making the most of this spectacular day.

Starting at Mt Martha shops, we headed out at a speedy warm-up walk as far South as the path would take us, before turning into the breeze and taking off.

Less than 2km in, we hit the first of many hills.  Long and slow, we powered up to the 4km point before the path flattened and we found our pace and settled into the run.  Spectacular scenery, friendly locals, great company - what more do you need?

We tried to simulate race-feel and dropped to a walk for our own drink stop every 4 or so kilometres, so by the time we reached our turn-around point at the top of Bellura Hill, we were feeling pretty fresh and confident we had the return trip in our legs, lungs and minds.

Today was about so much more than distance.  Sure, our aim was to hit the magical 18km mark. New territory and all that.  Everything we've read about half-marathon preparation says that this is the longest distance you need to do to be ready.

Do we feel ready?  You betcha!

We took the legs for a cool down in the ocean.  Despite appearances...definitely still Winter.  Brrrrrrrrr

Many more experiences to add to the tool kit though.

Katrina went for a strong breakfast of oats.  I scoffed down 2 pieces of grainy toast with peanut butter and honey about an hour before running.

I packed a Gu (my first experience) in my singlet pocket and took a small amount at 7km with 1/4 of my water bottle to test how it settled.  All good, so took another slurp at about 12km.
Katrina didn't bring anything along this time as she'd had such a great breakfast.  At about 14km she was really feeling depleted and finished off my Gu to bring her home.

I hadn't read anything about Gu before I went out.  Had no idea that the packet doesn't open fully and kind of seals back over itself.  Handy for my pocket.  And that you have to kind of bite down and force the contents up towards the top.  Doesn't taste too bad but it's VERY sweet if you're not used to eating sugar.

This is our specialty...

Smashed avocado on sourdough with bacon and a poached egg.  And a very tall skinny cap of course!  All washed down with a heck of a lot of water.

I'm prone to blisters, but came away from this run with no new additions to my collection, thanks to vaseline on my toes.  Top, bottom, in between.  You'd think it would squish around, but it's nothing other than glorious.

Katrina wore uncomfy socks last week, but swapped them out this time and all was good. I wore my ever reliable Thorlo Pads.  I could try others, but why mess with something so good?

So we've got a permanent record of our achievement *puffs chest out proudly*

No, we didn't run the WHOLE way.  We had roads to cross, a bathroom break, fuel stops, and most importantly FUN, without leaving ourselves completely wiped out for a week!

Time to start getting excited about next Sunday's run...

Friday, August 29, 2014


I’m not sure that I like running fast.  It’s hard.  I sweat.  A lot.  And the mind games it takes to keep going are almost more effort than the actual run.

Yesterday was speed day.  Melbourne had put on an absolute farewell to Winter with glorious sunny, clear skies.  Really, I just wanted to walk in it; feel the sun warm my bones, breathe in this prelude of Spring.  But I have a plan, so through gritted teeth I scanned in at gym and said hello to Mr. Treadmill.

Still a little pissy about missing the goodness outside, I extended my walking warm-up to 10 minutes, gave myself a stern talking to and ran…

1.       10kph                    90 seconds                          30 seconds rest

2.       12kph                    60 seconds                          45 seconds rest

3.       14kph                    60 seconds                          45 seconds rest

4.       16kph                    45 seconds                          60 seconds rest

5.       14kph                    60 seconds                          60 seconds rest

6.       12kph                    60 seconds                          45 seconds rest

7.       10kph                    90 seconds                          30 seconds rest


And this is what I noticed;

10kph, 6 min/km feels really slow now.  Especially on the way back down the pyramid.  In fact, it felt a little awkward and was difficult to get a rhythm happening.

12kph, 5 min/km is actually a pretty manageable pace.  That’s hilarious to write.  And again, coming back down the pyramid, I felt as though I could stay here for longer than the pre-planned 60 seconds.

14kph, 4.28min/km – now this was a challenge, and definitely harder on the first attempt, but I clearly remember thinking on the last (fourth) interval at this pace, that there’s not that much difference between 5min and 4 min pace.  Sounds dumb when I read it back – must have been the endorphins!

16kph, 3.75min/km was T O U G H.  I felt like a water buffalo thumping across the belt.  There was no grace, form or style, it was survival mode.  On the first interval set I narrowly avoided becoming treadmill roadkill, my feet barely able to jump off the belt.  I didn’t quite get through the full 45 seconds; more like 41.  The second set was a definite improvement.  I squeezed out 45 seconds but had no more in me.

It’s really important to me to record these observations here for a couple of reasons.  I remember the first time I ran this style of interval on the treadmill, about 18 months ago.  After 12kph I nervously increased to 13kph but could only manage a few steps, and one set was enough.  I may never improve beyond where I am now – this may be my peak, but if it’s not, I’ll have this new baseline to measure myself against.

To me, competition comes in two forms; against the person I was yesterday, and against the voices in my head that tell me garbage stories about why I can’t, or shouldn’t, or won’t.  Yesterday I beat them both.  Winning J

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Class act

Wednesday is Pilates day.  It's in my work calendar.  Not negotiable.  I freaking love it.

In the two months I've been a member of the gym, I've only missed one Wednesday.  Yet in that time we've had four different instructors.

The first week was a gorgeous hippy blonde free-spirit type who made me want to come back.  I haven't seen her since.

Week 2 was a fill in for week 2 who was on holidays.  She was more technical, less alternative, and showed me a different take on Pilates.  She made me want to come back.

New week, new instructor.  This one had a questionable command of English, and no one in the class could understand a word she was saying.  She made me want her to not come back.

4th - I had to miss due to a work conference.

5th, 6th & 7th, Miss week 2 was back.  Aaaahhhhh the control, the awareness, the DOMS.

This week - the 8th - I was hoping to see Miss Technical again.  Instead a big (and by big I mean overweight), loud, spiky blonde haired, tattooed kick boxer.  And this class moved me to tears.

Instead of the usual Pilates format, she taught the class as a Les Mills "Body Balance", which is more yoga-based.  It was bloody magnificent.  Graceful.  Difficult.  Flowing. Challenging. I stretched in ways I thought long-gone.  I relaxed into it, closed my eyes and felt my body surrendering all tension.    And when the 45 minutes ended with a brief meditation, there were tears of release.

The loud kick chick knew she'd reached me.  We hugged it out at the end of the class.  As you do.

Was it timing?  The instructor?  Yoga?  I don't have answers but I REALLY want to give yoga another try to find out.

Peace.  Out.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A diet balanced

It's a delicate balance this running / diet thing.

Ideally, I'd still like to drop a few kilos.  Like, five to be exact.  But I also need to fuel my longer runs and strength sessions.  I am hungry ALL THE TIME and the weight isn't really shifting.  A kilo lost, a kilo gained, a kilo lost, then found again.

Three years of calorie counting, activity monitoring, deficit creating has left me with a fair idea of what it takes to maintain an even weight.  This running caper has tipped the scales - pun intended.

So it makes me wonder... Are running and weight loss at odds with each other?  

You see plenty of very lean runners.  But... are they former fatties?  Does that history of obesity have a permanent impact on the way our bodies process energy?

More questions than answers, so for the next few weeks I'm hooking up with an old mate - My Fitness Pal.  Together we'll sort through the ins and outs, we'll track and we'll analyse. We'll systematically work it out and strategise a plan to find balance.

Let's see if it's that simple, eh?

Monday, August 25, 2014

To Hallam back

Sunday is long, slow run (LSR) day to get some miles and hours in the legs.

Mission accomplished...

Starting in Berwick, we headed North to the Highway, to Sweeney Reserve, and along Hallam Valley Trail.  A little wet in places under foot, but a really good, wide, quiet trail past some areas that you can only get to on foot.  

Rather than return the same way, we headed toward Pound Road, which meant a long, slow hill, before looping around and heading back towards Berwick Springs.

There was nothing overly strenuous or sweaty, just a solid, enjoyable, social trot with time for selfies and road crossings and bio breaks of course!  The body held up really well.  Just a few minor aches in the knee and hips, but there was plenty of fuel in the tank, and my mind stayed really positive throughout.

Could we have kept running?  Absolutely.  This is all about gentle build-up, sustainability and learning about what my body can do.

Total time on feet this week is about the time I'm thinking the half marathon will take, so the challenge is to increase the distance - slowly - but keep the time consistent.

Hallam Valley Trail gets the big tick from me :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Those three little words




And what do you get when you add the together?  A bloody good workout!

Thursday after work looked a little like this;
1st km      5:21     "Oh, this feels alright"
2nd km    5:55      "Running sucks - why do people do this?"
3rd km     8:17      "I'll just walk for a little bit, yeah?"

So at this point my options were;
a) abandon
b) suck it the hell up

Which gave me the slightly warped idea of hacking out some hill intervals.  The long, fast kind.  Torture, right?

Wrong!  I loved it, and worked my ass off with a big stupid grimace grin.

I'd guestimate my hill of choice was about 50m long, an incline of about 5% and nice soft, well-worn bitumen.  It was about 4.30pm, 10 degrees and pretty much as good as it gets.

So I crank out the first sprint.  Felt good.  Jog back.  Repeat. Get to five I told myself.  Feeling dead at 5.  Decide to walk back from the 5th.  Second wind. Lose count.  Do 9.  Top speed 3:27/km. HR peaks at 152.  Cadence reaches 212.  Those two are usually the other way around.

Maybe these hill things aren't so bad after all?

Saturday, August 23, 2014


It's no secret that I love my gadgets.

This week at parkrun I did the unthinkable - I ran un-plugged.  

Now, this didn't happen by design.  I had signed up to volunteer today.  Not that I really wanted to.  The only way last week's event would start was if three people signed up to help out.  After an awkward delay only netted two suckers, I put my hand up so we could get on with things.  This morning, Mr Lean was still suffering from his back/leg/foot soreness and decided to come along to parkrun anyway.  And with no other volunteer positions available today, circumstance gave me the opportunity to run.

Not that I was prepared for it.  With no earphones or armband, the phone (and therefore Nike+) was left behind.

So I ran.

And I liked it.

In fact, for 26 minutes I used all of my senses.

I felt the path beneath me.  Where my feet made contact.  And the breeze on my arms.  Changed the position of my hands to see what felt better.

I heard things for the first time.  The louder footfall over the first bridge.  The constant bump of steps on the long straight.  The crunch of gravel as I rounded the corner next to the rotunda.  And my breathing.  I heard how easy mine was, so I played with it.  Three out to two in.  Two in and one long one out, making my feet keep time.  I heard the encouragement of the pacers both in front and behind me.

I saw and smelled the first signs of spring.  The clumps of runners bunching next to an orange-clad pacer. Ducks on the water.  I took it all in.

And I tasted my own sweat as I crossed the finish line.

Every part of me ran today.  Mind, body, heart, soul.

I picked up a friend's Son with 500m to go, laughing as I told him not to let an old duck like me beat him, and pushed him through to the flags.

I picked myself up when my thoughts started to drag into negative country, gently bringing them back to the present.

But most of all, I picked up a greater sense of who am I, who I want to be, and what I need to do to get there.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The agent for change is changing

I started to write this post a few days ago, yet struggled to bring it together.  Last night the why was revealed...and now it's taken on a different tone.


Back when I started this 'transformation' (not a fan of that word, but it's better than 'journey'!), I happened upon a local Facebook group. In fact, I didn't even have a FB account then.  I remember the hesitation before I posted the first time.  How it took me weeks of reading through people's comments to learn the ropes and feel my way.  Over time I gained the confidence to contribute, which led to me joining my first group activity - with complete strangers.  I can smile at this now, but back then, it was a fear, and it was real.

It's been a while since I've been active in the group.  I'm still a member.  Sentiment means I can't let it go, even though I rarely pop in to catch up on happenings.

Last night, the founder of the group posted about the group's impending closure.  The admins are burnt out and aren't getting what they need from the group themselves.  That, combined with the number of lurkers in the group have led them to make the decision.

I'm strangely affected by this.

In my health and wellness studies there's a fair focus on the psychology of change and the typical stages you go through.  The first two are pre-contemplation and contemplation.  These resonate VERY strongly with me.  After all, it's not like I suddenly woke up one morning and sorted my shit out.  Sure, I had a health scare, but in reality, when I analyse it all, the actual process began many MANY years ago, before 12wbt had even been conceived.

Without knowing it I was accumulating knowledge that would eventually point me in the right direction.  I’d read a little about different diets.  In fact, if you open some of the boxes I have in storage, you’ll find dusty, dog-eared titles such as; Eat Right For Your Type, The Liver Cleansing Diet, Fit For life, all with sticky notes and scribbles in the margins. Contemplation and I were best friends.
So these stages.  They may take a few weeks, months, years or decades.  And there are no formulae to correlate length with success. No means of predicting whether a quick transition between denial, thought and action is more effective than a drawn out series of seemingly ineffective attempts.
But there is plenty of data that supports the need to find your tribe.  That success is more likely when supported in a group setting. Should it be a two-way street though?

Do those who have successfully navigated change and live a healthy lifestyle have a kind of responsibility to tell their story?  Not so much for their own sense of importance, but in the hope that others may change their lives too. 

You just never know who is watching, listening, reading, preparing and contemplating change.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Outside in

As part of National Diabetes Awareness week, my employer arranged heart health checks for anyone who could spare 10 minutes.

That in itself was interesting.  An external company came on site for the series of free assessments, and even so, the take up rate was quite low. And this floors me; attendance rates at pre-booked appointments were around 50%.  I’d love to analyse this further, but that’s a topic for another day.

When I began this lifestyle change bizzo I took the usual measurements, but didn’t go for the recommended health check.  D’oh!  How I would love those results now for comparison.  I know externally I have changed significantly, but I don’t know the full extent that these changes have had internally, which really, is of significantly more importance.

So how did I measure?

Total Cholesterol:            5.3mmol/l, which is in the ideal range.

HDL Cholesterol:              2.14mmol/l, which is also in the ideal range.

Glucose:                              4.8mmol/l, which gave me a gold star

Type 2 diabetes risk:       4, which is low risk, with all points earned due to being over 45.

Waist circumference:     <80cm is ideal, which wasn’t an issue.

Cardiovascular risk:         <5%  YAY


As a non-smoker, very occasional drinker and someone who exercises more than 2.5 hours each week, I am ranked in the top 2% of staff here that took the test.

But my blood pressure.  Gaahhhhh.  It’s a tad on the high side.  Like 151/93 type high.  The body is in shape, but the head clearly needs work!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Run positive

Even before we left the house this morning, I knew I would PB at parkrun today.

Last Sunday on the bus from C2S finish line to Bondi Junction train station, I knew it.  Coz 5km is easy when you're coming off 14.  And a flat 5 is even easier again.  Then add in a solid recovery to a well nourished and well rested body, and there's no reason not to, is there?

Let's rewind a little?  March 1st held the record for my fastest 5km.  On that day I took one whole second off my previous best, coming in at 25:43. That was after three months of trying.  

The next week I was super pumped and had a sub 25 in my sights.  Kilometre 1 and 2 were on track at just over 5 minutes each. But that 3rd km always gets me and my legs start to feel heavy.  I lengthened my stride, figuring that the less they turned over, the less they would hurt.  It also put extra pressure on my slightly annoyed ITB, and at the 2.6km mark, I pulled up like I'd torn a hammy. 

Good news: it wasn't my hamstring.  Bad news: it was a minor ITB tear, down low just over the knee.

Because I was less active during the recovery, (and moving boxes at work) my stupid back decided it would freak out too.  So in reality, I've been in recovery and strengthening mode for the last 5 months.

So today...
I go out hard.
1st km    5:12
2nd km   4:50
On pace for <25 minutes.

3rd km   5:04
4th km   5:05
All I have to do is run another 4:50 and the illusive sub 25 is mine.

And then my head decides to butt into the conversation.

"You're going to hurt yourself if you keep at this pace".  "Remember last time?".  "Who cares if you go sub 30 anyway?".

So I drop back to a walk.  Yep.  At the 4km mark.

One of my running buddies, Rachel, who was right on my tail, gave me a burst of verbal encouragement.  It was enough to kick my rear end, and I picked the pace back up to run with her for 200m or so.  Until I just couldn't.  Breath was hard to come by.  Nausea was rising.  I walked some more.

This was NOT the way I wanted to finish.  There was 500m to go and I could see the finish line.  So I just ran. 

5th km    5:11
Which, according to my Garmin, gave me an unofficial time of 25:19, official came in at 25:32.

The photographer captured how I felt perfectly.  S.P.E.N.T.

Thanks Rachel for pulling me through.  And congrats on smashing your own PB too.  A positive mind achieves great things.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The running contagion

Is it just me, or does seeing someone run make you want to stride it out yourself?

I've been noticing this more and more lately.  At first it was a sideways glance.  Then it became a full on  runners perve (at gait, stride length, those type of mechanics rather than a check out "perve").  But recently it's become more than that.  I want in on the action too.

It's kind of like yawning.  Someone around you yawns, and the impulse to join in wins every time.

The contageous yawning thing: it's supposedly linked to empathy -- the ability to understand and connect to others' emotional states.  So applying this theory to running, there could actually be something scientific in it.

The more I run, the more I identify with being a runner.  And as I gain experience, both in events and in training, the more emotional it makes me.  Which is saying something!

Every single person that runs has their own story.  They must.  Because walking is so much easier.  And staying in bed or on the couch is easier still.  So to be out there running, means you've made a choice; a decision to prioritise a portion of your day for yourself, rather than succumb to the endless demands we place on ourselves and have placed upon us.

Do I have empathy with that?  I'll tell you when I get back from my run :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Getting the treatment

Other than through self trial and error, how do you know the best form of treatment to help you recover from a body-busting event?

Massage?  Physiotherapy?  Osteotherapy?  Myotherapy? 

This week I found someone who ticks all of these boxes - and some.  MST - musculo-skeletal therapy.

According to Google (who knows everything, right?); The musculo-skeletal system is responsible for the body’s structural stability and physical movement. It is composed of many different kinds of muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons and bones. Musculoskeletal dysfunctions are very common; many people experience muscle pains, aches, joint dysfunctions etc. MST is a branch of physical therapy that focuses on the treatment of the musculo-skeletal pain and dysfunction viewing the body as a whole and not just focusing on individual places. It involves an extensive physical evaluation, orthopaedic testing, postural analysis, manual therapy and a rehabilitation plan.

Worth a try...

So the hour-long appointment goes a bit like this;
Whats going on now and past injuries.
Posture check...mmm... your left shoulder is lower than your right.  Lean on a mouse for a lot of your day, eh?
Jump up on the couch and lets have a feel around.
Hamstrings tight (yeah, ouch)
Calves tight (yesssss, double ouch)
Knee very swollen (thats coz it's stuffed)
"You don't stretch very often do you?"  Hmmm.  No.

Off with the dacks (and on with a towel) for a closer feel of the sore parts.
Feeling for a change of texture in major muscle groups.
"Does your left hip give you trouble?".  Oh yeah, I forgot about that.
"Does your right ankle swell up for no reason?".  Right again.
"Have you had trouble with your right knee?".  Giggle.  Dude, you're freaking me out.
"Your mid-foot strike is great - have you had running training?".  Okay, no training, but how do you know what part of my foot I run on?

And we're only 10 minutes into the hour by this stage.

He discusses all of the major muscle groups with me, and then moves onto the minor ones that surprisingly give me no discomfort at all.  Which is because I don't use them.  Which is why the majors are all screaming, because they're over-compensating for my lazy legs.

Then, he asks is he can do some work on my left knee.  I reluctantly agree, but hold my breath as he massages a muscle at the back of my knee.  On the pain scale, this hit a 9.  But as I relax and breathe through it, it eases.  As does the tightness in my knee.  So he suggests that we try to stretch it out - gently of course.  Magically, he gets another 10 or so degrees of flexion, which, given I've been stuck walking like a granny for 10 years, it's a bit exciting!

More massage.  More groaning.  More flexing of the knee.  And we're done.

Then came the happy ending.  A special recovery machine which is like inflatable pants that expand and contract via an air pump, that compress and release the muscles.  AND this part WAS FREE!

So for $85, $35 of which was covered by BUPA, I came out feeling like a very relaxed, well cared-for athlete.  Until I looked in the mirror anyway!

I went away with a few exercises to strengthen my lazy minor leg muscles, and I'm due to return for a tune-up in three weeks.

Overall, it was a great experience with no up-sell or frequent return pressure.  A bit perfect really.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

City2Surf - fab5 style

In reality, the event itself started around six months ago.  Researching and sourcing accommodation and flights + an equal measure of daydreaming and scheming about C2S consumed hours and even days.  Reading, asking anyone and everyone their experiences and some training was thrown in there too, to make sure that we were ready to take on the worlds largest fun run.

Ready?  Even if we'd trained like elite athletes, we could never have prepared ourselves for THIS.

The day, THE DAY happened well before sunrise.  Sleep was hard to come by;  a combination of nerves and a buzzing inner-city street below.  As the sun rose, the foot traffic below increased, becoming a parade of runners all heading North towards Hyde Park. Four hours pre-start and goosebumps combined with that nervous energy that makes sure you keep a loo nearby.

Time to fuel up. Breakfast: Two pieces of toast with peanut butter and honey, washed down with enough water to hydrate without causing the need to queue for a portaloo later.

In reality, we were ready to go by about 7am, but our wave, the yellow zone for "those who intend to jog most of the way", wasn't due to start until 9:05.  A little after 8am there was no longer a reason not to go, so we quietly strolled, shivering the 800m to the Hyde Park starting area.

The blue zone was just underway, and from our viewpoint there was literally a sea of people.  Mexican waves and beach balls kept the waiting runners engaged, and when our wave began to move slowly forward, jumpers were shed and thrown high to the footpaths as we marched obediently towards a start line we couldn't yet see.

Once we turned that first corner, past Red Foo revving the crowd up, the start was in front of us and just like that we were running City2Surf.

The first couple of kilometres was electric.  Crowds lined the roads on both sides and it felt more like a carnival on speed than a running event.

Bands played from rooftops, curb side and even bridge overpasses.

6 lanes of foot traffic bumped their way through the tunnel.

It was literally a sea of people both in front and behind us.

I think you get the idea; 80,000 people of all ages and sizes, all united for this iconic event.

The course itself was tough.  Heartbreak hill seemed to go for 5km, and every time you thought the top was within reach, another corner would appear.  At times I thought about dropping back to a walk, but I really wanted to beat it, so stayed strong and pushed through.

Following the advice of the "lazy runner" I stopped at each drink station except the last, choosing water at the first stop and gatorade at the following three.  I had a little internal battle near the top if heartbreak hill.  We'd learnt from City2South that they place a timing device at the bottom and top of the hill, and weren't surprised to see the reader at the base of heartbreak.  Before we got to the top reader, there was a drink stop.  Now I knew from studying the map that it was another few kilometres before the next drink station, so I had a coupe of seconds to decide whether to push for time or drink. The second option won out, and I don't regret that choice, because little did we know, the hill climb wasn't over yet.

At the top of the first peak of heartbreak hill, at a little over the half way point, if you looked over your left shoulder, the city was clearly visible, and the centre point tower showed just how far we'd travelled.

A little further on, at the top of the second peak, a glimpse over your right shoulder revealed the opera house and harbour bridge.  Breathtaking.  Or maybe that was the result of the climb.

The downhill stretch into Bondi was bittersweet.  I didn't want it to end, although my legs didn't share those feelings.  Coming down from the descent, my legs turned to concrete as they tried to carry me the final kilometre on the flat.  It was the longest km I've run.  With about 500m to go, the crowd were 10 thick, hanging over the barriers with signs of encouragement and cheering everyone on.  At the hairpin bend that took us to the finish line I had tears streaming down my face and my skin was tingling all over.  That final hundred metres seemed to be in slow motion, and I pumped my fists in triumph as I stepped over the finish line.

With medal in hand, I made my way through the thousands of recent finishers toward the ocean with my shoes hanging over my shoulders. Not even the freezing water could wipe the smile from my face.  As runners waded in the shallows as part of their recovery, we shared our race experiences, laughing about that damn hill, crying over the dozens of memorial tee-shirts on runners, and vowing to come back again next year to do it all again.

Now, recovery happens.  I'm not sure which will heal quicker; mind, body or soul.

*crowd shots sourced from various instagram accounts.

Monday, August 11, 2014

St Peter's parkrun

It was a brisk, foggy morning in Sydney.

All tired from our travels the night before, no one would have blamed us for pulling the covers up high and catching some extra rest.  We HAD come here to run, but the main event was the following day.

We all piled together into the one hotel room, excitedly preparing the athlete's breakfast of choice (peanut butter and honey on toast), before layering up and facing the cold, 7am commute to St Peters park run AS TOURISTS!

A short walk to Central station, an easy train ride, an even shorter walk across the road with groups of other parkrun tourists from near and far, and there we were, in that familiar parkrun environment 1,000km from home.

We mixed and mingled with anyone and everyone, determined to squeeze every ounce from this experience.

In fact, we talked so much that we sort of missed the start and found ourselves at the back of the pack.

The course at St Peters is around a lovely reclaimed brickworks site that they've turned into park land.  It's basically an out and back with an interesting loop (with hill) at the turn point.

I'm sure each of the fab 5 will have a slightly different view of the event, but from my lens, here's how the 5km unfolded;

Keen to not go out too hard and destroy my legs for City2Surf, I planned on a comfortable 6:30 - 6:40 / km pace.

1st km    6:39
2nd km   6:50

Thats the good thing about plans - they're subject to change.  Just before the 2km mark, one of the many people I chatted to on course completely lured me in.  He was struggling; laboured breathing, slouched posture and moving at a shuffle.  And the more we chatted, the more I wanted to know.

Running in the 65-69 age group and on his second ever park run, David's chest swelled with pride as he told me how much he'd endured to be at this point.  Five years ago he underwent a double knee replacement and at the time, even walking was difficult.  He remembers feeling as though he would never be able to walk properly and live a normal life.

But he kept at it.  And two weeks ago, on his park run debut he almost ran the whole 5km and crossed the line just a few seconds short of 40 minutes.  We chatted some more.  I shared my story and the reasons why the group of us were in Sydney, as well as what we'd all accomplished.

I could tell though that David was incredibly strong of mind.  He was proud of his first-up time, but felt a little disappointed that he hadn't run the whole way.  He so desperately wanted to make his kids and grandkids proud by completing the 5km without stopping.

David was also intrigued by my array of techy gadgets, which I was only too happy to share.  And as each kilometre beeped on my watch, he'd ask me how we were going.

3rd km    7:54
4th km    7:43

We were on track to completely smash his PB.

The 5th was tough.  A sneaky little grassy hill that was quite slippery underfoot meant that we had to back off the pace a little.  But not long after the top, we were on a downhill and heading for home.  When the view of the chimneys came into view, David's sigh of relief was audible and I became his personal cheer squad.

5th km    8:03

We crossed the line together in 37:14.  Almost 3 whole minutes faster than his best.  And he ran the entire distance.  

Parkrun - you've changed me.

And I thank you for it.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sounds like a plan.

This whole half marathon thing is getting serious.  The past two weeks I've not only made but STUCK to a plan.

I know.  Shock, eh?

Last week...
Monday: Recovery walk post Run Melbourne
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Pilates
Thursday: Treadmill session (7.5km)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Parkrun
Sunday: Long jog, which was actually a wog (11.5km) with the injured man.

Upcoming week...
Monday: Long jog (8km)
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Pilates
Thursday: Gentle strength session & walk
Friday: Rest
Saturday: St Peters parkrun (5km walk)
Sunday: City to Surf (14km)

After keeping my nutrition too tight the week before, this week saw larger portions, especially protein, and it paid off.  I dropped 1kg and had energy to burn.

And I don't know if you read the entry up there for Sunday?  

Yes.  City to Surf.

Excited much?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Who Runs Melbourne?

Sunday 27 July.

My first 10km since Australia Day and I was NERVOUS as before hand.  And when I reflect on it now, the nerves completely crushed any pre-event excitement I may have felt.

It was a memorable day.  Melbourne put on one of those winter days that make you fall in love with this city all over again.  18 degrees.  Not a cloud in sight.  Low wind.  Perfect running weather.

So why the nerves?

It's hard to actually nail down your own thoughts and emotions, especially when you're still living them.  But with a few days of reflection, I think it's a total, all-consuming fear of injury.  Which then leads me to think that I still haven't deal fully with the feelings around my knee reco 10 years ago.

Before THAT day I was relatively fit, playing basketball a few times a week and my weight must have been okay-ish according to the size 14 label I wore.  

I can still pull up the exact moment that my ACL ruptured.  It was the first basketball game I'd ever played with my daughter - and as it turned out  - the last.  She had just turned 15 so was 'legal' for a senior team.  I'd waited for this moment for the longest time.  We were pretty seriously into the sport.  I worked in it, coached at elite and domestic level and pretty much everything about my life revolved around one stadium or another.

I remember it being cold on court 3 at Knox, so I'm going to assume it was around this time of year.  It was a social game with my friends.  I was tired, which was pretty much the default for me.  And my head was not in the most positive of places on the domestic front.  I was seriously considering leaving my husband.  If not in the actual planning stage, it was certainly front of mind.  I didn't start the game.  I didn't warm up, but then, no one did.  It was a social game after all.

I subbed in deep into the first half.  Meg was on the bench at this point.  A cross-court pass from the opposition was too good an opportunity not to show off in front of my girl.  I snatched it and took off down the centre of the court at top speed (for me at the time).  And I can remember the thought process - do I lay this up on my right or left side.  Choosing the show off route I decided left.  I had an open court.  No one chased me down because it was a social game.  I'd done this literally hundreds of times.  I'd taught kids as young as four to do a left handed lay-up.  And as my left foot hit the court, my knee, taking the weight of my size 14 frame, buckled underneath me.  I heard a bang, like I'd been shot.  I crashed to the ground.  The pain was excruciating.

At first I had no idea of what I had done.  I lay on the court trying to process it.  Should I get up?  Have I torn a hamstring?  Raelene, get up.  But I couldn't.  My body went into shock.

I remember Meg taking immediate action - as you don when you're 15.  She tried to call her Dad, but he was playing at another stadium at the time.  So the game played out and I waited.  For what I didn't know, but I remember laying on my back on the court-side bench, freezing cold in a bit of a panic.

We went to emergency that night.  They did an MRI, which unsurprisingly revealed a rupture of the ACL, Grade 2 lateral tear and Grade 3 medial tear.  I've always said there's no point doing something unless you do it well!

Due to internal bleeding and bone bruising, surgery was delayed by around 8 weeks.  I couldn't weight bear, but as those who know me will understand, I still went to work on crutches.

Rehab sucked.  My head wasn't in the game.  I felt sorry for myself.  At 36, I was advised to not play again. Really?  Never?  My graft was from the patella.  They don't do it this way anymore, preferring a hamstring graft.  Patella means long-term stability rather than flexibility, and at my 'age' that was a better long-term choice.  Stability also means reduced range of movement, which still troubles me today.  Even after following the 12 month rehab plan; hydrotherapy, walking, strength work to the letter.  I can't even stretch my left quad properly.  And my version of childs pose at pilates is just plain embarrassing.

Still - 10 years later I'm stuck in the what-if's.  

If my mind was on what I was doing - if I was fully present at that game - would this have happened?

Truly I am a fatalist.  Everything does happen for a reason.  But this one gets me.  I can't see a single thing that is better in my life as a result of doing my knee.  I'm still pissed about it.  Pissed at me about it.  Of course, I low that what has gone before me has shaped the me that I now am.  But can't I just have a normal knee?

So this brings me full circle to my fear of injury.

Much of this year has been spent with at least a niggle in either my knee or back or both.  Is running agitating or assisting?  Does each run shorten my bodies functionality?

Each and every time I run, be it 1km or 10km, I feel the fear.  Some days I'm able to move it aside as a passing thought.  Some days I carry it on my shoulders.  You can see it on my face.  Feel it in my emotions.

This was one of those days.

 Good thing my feet and heart came for the ride, coz my head sure as hell didn't!  I'm Raelene and I ran Melbourne.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Where does motivation come from?

This week has been as close to 'perfect' as I've had in this lifestyle change bizzo.

Monday:  rest
Tuesday:  strength
Wednesday:  Pilates, which turned into Body Balance at lunch time followed by a great session on The Tan track after work, followed by a special screening of 'Spirit of the Marathon II'.
Thursday:  gentle walk and stretch
Friday: rest 
Saturday: parkrun volunteer which will be followed by another gentle walk this afternoon.
Sunday:  tomorrow is Run Melbourne - but it'll get a post of its own :)

was spot on, despite many many many temptations and a beautiful work dinner Thursday night where I was the only one to not order entree and dessert.

All week I have trained like an athlete, eaten like an athlete and thought like an athlete.  

And it feels good.

So, where does motivation come from?  Why are some weeks 'easy' and others such a struggle?

For me, it seems to be linked to a goal.  I AM running a half marathon in January, so there are certain things that must be done.  If I delay them, make excuses for them, or don't prioritise them, then either the event won't happen or I won't get the feeling that I'm chasing.  The feeling of being an athlete.  Not that I'm kidding myself into thinking I'm elite.  I'm not.  And that's okay.  But when I'm in an event, albeit in the second half of the field, I feel like an athlete.  And I like it.  A lot.

Can I bottle this feeling and dip into it when I'm in struggle street and the CBF's hit?  No.  But I can (and will) continue to make the best decision possible at every opportunity, leave the excuses for the old me, and continue to towards achieving my goal.

Monday, July 21, 2014

In the raw

One night last week my daughter was over for dinner.  We chatted while I peeled, chopped, shredded until something I did stopped her mid-sentance...I ate a slice of raw zucchini.

It got me thinking.  In summer, one of our favourite meals features grated, raw carrot and zucchini, and it's bloody delicious.  Summer is one thing, but raw food in Winter - not so appealing.  Or is it?

So this weekend we had a roast.  Lamb.  Yum.  And as I was about to put the veggies on to cook, I held back, halved the stash and put mine aside to eat raw.  And it was great.

Today I kept the raw roaring with a delish salad;

and to accompany the usual Monday night stir-fry, instead of rice I swapped in shredded raw cauliflower.  

It was eyebrow-raisingly good, soaked up the ginger sauce beautifully without going soggy and will definitely come out for a repeat performance.  

In fact, it was so good, this weeks personal challenge will be to add in one raw component to each day.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Teched up

After months of contemplation I've finally done it.  I'm now the proud owner of a serious type runners watch - a Garmin Forerunner 220 - in berry flavour - tasty!

Naturally I had to take it for a test-drive around the neighbourhood...

Todays semi-long run had a target pace of 6:15 to 6:45.  Probably could / should have backed off the pace a little.

The combination of Nike+ in my ear and Garmy giving me my real time pace made consistency and control a lot easier.

And the stats. Oh how I love a good set of stats...

The heart rate drop then spike?  Waiting for 5 cars before crossing the road and hitting a hill.

And the pace reduction at 5km?  An attempt to drop back to 6:30 per km, which I managed in my 7th km.

Verdict: I'm in love :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Its all in the timing

This morning's Berwick Springs parkrun ritual (and how I love parkrun) was focused on consistent pace.  Aiming for somewhere in the range of 5:40 and 6:00 per km, the amazingly amazing Judy powered strongly through all 5 kilometres, which looked a bit like this;

1km    5:47
2km    5:35    11:22
3km    5:43    17:04
4km    5:42    22:46
5km    5:50    28:36

A much more solid and consistent effort than the previous week;

1km    5:41
2km    5:45    11:26
3km    6:02    17:27
4km    6:06    23:34
5km    5:32    29:06

I will add though - last week we ran through heavy rain and hail + managed another 2km in sopping wet clothes, socks, shoes afterwards.

And to throw in a third set of figures, the week before that, at Albert park run sat somewhere between the two for overall time, but the improvement in km consistency is great.

1km    5:59
2km    5:31    11:30
3km    5:38    17:08
4km    5:59    23:06
5km    5:50    28:56

Here's a new PB measure - smallest gap between km pace.

15 vs 26 vs 28.

Goal: single figure variance.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Half as good

In 176 days, I am going to run a half marathon.

There are butterflies in my stomach.

I'm nervous.



What if I get injured?

What if my legs cave in just near the finish line and I can't finish?

What if I run out of energy mid-distance?

What if I don't sleep the night before?

What if I sleep through my alarm and miss the start?

What if I get giant blisters and I can't walk for days?

What if I haven't trained enough before hand?

What if I've overtrained?

What should I eat the night before?

What should I eat for breakfast pre-run?

What should I wear?

What if I come last?

What if I just CAN'T DO IT?