We never know where life is going to take us or what challenges it brings. In January 2010 I was happy, so happy I wanted to stay that way for as long as I could. I realised that if Ali and I wanted a long and healthy life together, we had to change. I was clinically obese, had a bad back and my knees were feeling the strain. I had various health problems and I was ageing faster than my years. I looked ahead to a life I did not want. It was time to change. By the end of the year I had lost 4 stone - 56lbs. My confidence rocketed - I had taken control and it had worked. I was exercising, enjoying buying clothes, speaking up for myself.

I began to believe in myself again, I began to dream. For years I had watched marathons with admiration and a lump in my throat. In April 2013, I ran my first marathon.

This blog is about living life as a slim person, staying slim and fulfilling my dreams. Come and join me, support me, advise me!

Take care, Sue

Thursday, 22 March 2012

No Regrets: Walking Barcelona

Well, I'm packing for a trip to Spain planned in the cold nights of November last year when I was full of hope and excitement at the thought of running my first marathon. But as you all know, things didn't quite work out that way. The Barcelona Marathon is almost here, but I won't be running it, I'll be watching and cheering others on.

I'm a bit sad.  I have a niggling feeling that I've missed my chance and may never run a marathon. Maybe I should have pushed through the injury and gone for it and worried about the damage afterwards. But, it's only a niggle, like a twinge that comes up a third of the way into a long run and then just pops gently like a bubble and is gone. It's not the deep sadness of regret or the pain of loss of hope or the agony of never being able to run again. No it's more a 'well it wasn't meant to be, this was not my time' sort of feeling - and life is full of those isn't it?

As I did my run round North Berwick this morning, I didn't feel sad. I felt happy - no more than that, I felt joyful. It was one of those runs where you know you're the luckiest person in the entire world.  The weather was sunny and warm, the tide was out, the mist drawing off the Bass Rock. I headed off with Chi running on the i pod, my metronome ticking away at 180bpm and Nick's feedback in mind. Everything was in good working order.

I did one of my favourite runs, up to Yellow Craigs beach and back. It's a nice mix of track and beach with the most fantastic views. I did just under 7 miles in total, with a 15 minute form session in the middle where I ran up and down the beach and worked on my footprints.  Given I'd run a couple of miles, I was really pleased with my form. Even in shoes, my footprints were so much lighter and more even than they were two weeks ago, though I can see clearly (even with my shoes on) that I need to sort my right big toe and I still have a way to go to be light! Here's a snap of my footprints next to another runner's - quite a difference. Mine originally were deeper than theirs with a much clearer heel strike. You can see where their toes grip the sand.

I was out for about an hour and a quarter in total and was pleasantly surprised by my pace and distance. I wanted to run longer but I am mindful of the need not to push my luck. I am very disciplined when it comes to doing something and going beyond the call etc, but I am rubbish at not doing things.  They say that self discipline is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets, so I gave myself another dose by walking up the hills - even though I was in full view of two local runners and was sorely tempted to look good. The internal dialogue was a bit frenzied as my inner coach gave me quite a talking to, but I did walk; I have to learn to value the discipline of not acting - does that make sense?

I got home feeling good. My quads were fresh, my calves were totally unruffled. My big toe and soleus were the bits I felt most. When I was hobbling, they really took the strain and I need to get them sorted. I suspect they're compensating for something and my money's on a too tight hamstring which I really noticed in yoga last week. I might try a podiatrist, never been to one of those.

So, I'm heading south. My suitcase is lycra free (well almost!); no garmin, running shoes, gels. Just sandals and suncream and guidebooks. I will I think shed a tear when the runners head off on Sunday, but I know that when my time comes, I will do those 26.2 miles as a much stronger and safer runner.

Whether you're running, racing, supporting, watching, be safe and be well.

Take care


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Barefoot on the beach

What a totally beautiful time of year this is, a time when things are new and life is opening up into longer, warmer days. Being outside gets to be a real pleasure for me. I know us runners are supposed to revel in bad weather and endurance, but I have a south american soul which loves warmth, brightness and sunlight. Spring has finally arrived north of the border and it feels great.

This is perfect timing as I'm having my very own running spring just now. After the cold dark winter of my injury, I am bursting forth into the sun and starting to run again. Like a daffodil, the flower of my new running is emerging into the daylight, drawing on what I've built up during my hibernation. (enough of the flowers already - Ed).

Since my Chi Running session last week with Nick; things have really started shifting.  At first nothing much happened, but I gradually noticed my attention shifting towards the need to get things into balance.  Everywhere I went I've been having conversations about how we all pay most attention to the things we think matter most, so it's important to get that focus right.  I'd focussed on speed and getting things done, that needs to change, I need to focus on getting balance in my life if I'm going to keep all those plates up in the air.

Another good reason and trigger for reflection is that I'm having (yet another) transition period as I shift jobs, Mum's needs ratchet up a notch and my marathon plan bites the dust. I feel very squeezed and time-poor, which I guess like most of us, I am. But of course this is just the time to make other changes and adjustments and that's what I've been doing.

Over the last week, I have made some important changes. First, I've pulled out of all my planned races this year. My running goals and drive have to come from within me, not set by my ambitious head driving me on to do it and do it now.  That's what got me injured and I will be injured again sooner or later if I let me head control my running.  

Second, I am going to train for a marathon and that is going to be the goal of my running recovery. In the last year, I've done a sub 2 hour half marathon, a sub 25 5k and a sub 60m 10k. I could shave a few minutes off these and go for personal bests, but I still want that marathon.  I don't know where, I don't know when, but I am going to run a marathon to the best of my ability at just the right time and that is next on my running to do list. Doing that marathon and doing it in good form, good time and with a big smile is going to be my one and only running focus. 

I now have a clear goal, one that I can actually live with, and my weekly training regime is taking shape. The focus is on getting a balanced fitness regime that will give me what I want from exercise and enable me to focus my running on improving my form. 
  • Spin to get the cardio and all that jazz working well (and to satiate my need to work to the max to very loud music!); 
  • Yoga and Pilates to keep me in touch with my body and how it's working and keep those muscles, joints, sinews and tendons in good shape; 
  • Barefoot beach running to improve and build my running technique 
  • 'Long Run' where I try and maintain my form over longer distances/times (and learn to run without an i pod and get to run round East Lothian!)
I like the balance and the mix, I need variety and to be frank running safely will not satisfy me. Spin, not running, will give me speed and a serious quad and cardio workout.  Yoga and Pilates will help me keep track of how my body is handling things and how well balanced I am physically. Allocating time to form and time will help me balance the running. The date and time of my marathon will become clear. My speed will increase as I learn to run safely. I will race when I am ready. All will happen in due course as my running self gets ready and in the meantime I have taken the pressure off. 

There's a lovely story in Chi Running about focus.  The way that cats pick their prey and focus their whole attention on it. Their eyes fix on the target, behind them, their heads, their body, their movement, everything follows the focus of their eyes on the goal, the thing they want more than anything. In this case dinner!  That marathon is my goal and my journey will be to get my attention, body, movement focussed on getting there.

When I started my marathon training just before Christmas, I said I wanted to run a marathon but not at the cost of other things in my life. I should have added nor at the cost to my health and well being. It's so easy to forget to add yourself to the list of things to care about isn't it? Well I'm on the list now.

So, here's my sessions this week. Gym and swim; spin class; 45 minute 'long' run; yoga; 3mile beach walk and 30 minutes beach form training. 1 rest day. 

Wherever you are, whatever your goals, good luck in reaching them. But even more importantly, may you find reward and happiness on the way.

Take care