My goal last month was to survive a 10K and I entered the Totalsports Women’s Day 10K, somewhat optimistically. I had the idea that if I upped my ParkRun 5k by just 1km a week, that I would be able to run a 10K. And so… I grabbed a very patient teenager of mine, to keep me company each week as I soldiered on a little further each time. To my surprise the one week I thought I was running a 5K out and back and it turns out it was a 6K… so quite by mistake I had run 12km and it turns out I was a little bit over prepared (if there is ever such a thing) for the actual race on race day. This was so good, it gave me the confidence I needed to step out on the day. Step out I did… I never imagined that I would say to myself, “Just count off the km’s.” But I did, and it is done.
Can I finally say that sleep is starting to work for me… when I began working with Sport Science, about a year and a half ago, I was shocked to discover just how bad my sleep habits were.
I knew they were bad, but I didn’t realise just how bad until I tracked them with a sleep diary. And then I had to get up by 5:30AM to get to gym in the morning and after a week or two I could not do it. I had to fix my sleep habits. So in a very disciplined fashion I got to bed by 10 PM every night and for quite a long time that worked. But as I became “better slept,” so I allowed myself to go to bed later and later again and by the end of the year I found myself continuously under slept. I had to start working on sleep habits all over again. Rather than trying to get to bed by a certain time every single night, which I found really hard to sustain, I started to work on my sleep hygiene… correcting poor habits around my sleep time. And I made sure that I attended every single sleep workshop at Sport Science, as well as worked through their online sleep course. It turns out that knowledge really is power and with a few tweaks here and there, not to mention knowing why sleep is so vital to us, I have slowly worked my way back up to an average of 6 hours and 45 minutes a night… I am finally getting to that illusive seven hours sleep almost every night of the week.
I am going to ride the wave of completing a 10K for a little while. Once I got to the 5km mark, I knew I could do it and I just couldn’t stop smiling. I was beyond thrilled… from someone who could barely walk around the track at gym a year ago, and who thought they would never run again, I was running in a 10k race. Honestly, it feels like a miracle, I have started to think like an actual runner. The Healthy Weight Programme has given me a second chance at an active life.
Gym is so great, and now that I have finally, finally stopped bothering about the change room, I cannot begin to say how much I enjoy swimming. Why was the change room even a thing? If the one thing holding you back from going to the gym is the change room, then that is really one excuse you can put to rest right now… this is how the change room works, everyone is so concerned about how they look that they are not looking at you at all… get in there, get into your costume and swim… you might just discover the exercise you love. Otherwise our gym classes have been fabulous all month, stretching myself and learning new things… this is my year to try new things and our classes are definitely doing that for me.
I am just going to whisper this… because everyone knows this… but having the right gear really helps. A week or two back I bought myself new running shoes. At the beginning of the year I made a commitment to myself that I would replace my shoes before my current shoes wore out… it was a lesson that I had to learn the hard way, after always buying shoes for my kids first and then hoping there would be enough cash left over to buy myself shoes, of course there never is… but this age-old mother-person strategy doesn’t work, especially when it leads to me getting even slightly injured. I had to turn that around, because my exercise is just as important as my kid’s exercise is. Otherwise, I have always worn trail shoes because I do a lot of hiking, but for the first time I bought actual road running shoes because I appear to be road running quite a bit and talk about a difference. My feet feel like they are having a party whenever I put these shoes on, and I love running in them. My first lesson in running shoes is that you have to replace them before they are totally worn out and my second lesson, buy the correct shoes for the job… if you need shoes for running then get shoes for running.
As I run further and further, my Parkrun time has stayed static. I would love to crack 40 min and I remember sitting at 50 minutes for months, I know it must be a head thing. While I can cover double the distance that I could a month or three back, I would really like to pick up my speed… “just a tad!” And I know… to run faster I have to practice running faster, I have to do hills, I have to run intervals and I have to get stronger… all of these things sound a little overwhelming!!! So I am just going to be patient and keep chugging along… I have to improve, it will take time. Patience is the “true story” that you have to hold onto when you are on a fitness journey and teeny tiny incremental steps towards your goals.
I got home from the 10K race and immediately entered the next one, I will be running the 10K at the Cape Town Marathon… I figured out that if I gave myself time to think about it then I would find one or ten reasons why I couldn’t possibly enter. Before any excuses could enter my head and not wanting to waste that happy post-run “I can’t believe I did that” feeling, I went online and I did it. So I am entered to run again at the end of September… and you can too… if you can cover a Parkrun (notice you never have to run a Parkrun… walk, run, whatever), then you have enough weeks left before the end of September to add just one more kilometre to your weekly run each week and go the distance for a 10K… it’s totally possible!!!
Find out more about SSISA’s Healthy Weight Programme here: