On the 4th of November 2018, I will line up for my second Half Marathon, the Soweto, People’s Race in South Africa. The Diacore Half Marathon was the best race to do my first Half as it is dubbed the flattest and fastest course in Africa. I knew if I trained well, I could do the distance and I did. But Soweto is very different. There are tens of thousands MORE people to contend with on race day and it is also known for it’s crazy HILLS. I got a nice taster of that when I did its 10 km Route last year! Soweto is tougher and harder than Diacore. So I need to be tougher and harder too. And to get to that point, I need to do more than just get miles under my belt. I need to look at everything else that goes into being a good runner. I am so excited to have Coach Nicola back in my life. Training begins next week and here are six goals I am committing to in this 14-week training cycle.
1 – Focus on Nutrition. When I trained for my first Half, my sole focus was running. I was determined to train so that I could happily and comfortably run 21 km. I didn’t factor in nutrition at all. In fact, every run, be it short or long, fast or slow, came with a big celebratory treat. After all, “I deserve it!” I didn’t watch my portion sizes because “Hey! I’m training for a Half Marathon, I need the food”. Unfortunately, I developed some bad habits that continued long after race day. This time round, I want to return to the basic principles of good nutrition – eating more fruits and vegetables, as well as the right quantities of protein and complex carbohydrates. I am going to limit junk food and empty snacks. Treats will only be allowed after my Long Run. To help me I am going to use My Fitness Pal App to keep track of what I am consuming. I would love to lose at least 5 kg in the process, but my focus is more on eating healthily and creating good habits.
2 – Increase Fluid Intake. I don’t drink nearly as much water as I need to. I am good in the week leading up to a race but for all other weeks I just forget to drink water. I am committing to drinking 2L of water a day. To help me I am going to use my sister’s trick of carrying around a 2L bottle of water and make sure it’s empty by the end of the day.
3 – Run With Purpose. I’m usually quite enthusiastic about most of the runs I do. But as I said in another post, I think I don’t always push myself as hard as I should. Once my body realises it can do something, it very quickly settles into a comfort zone and my mind is only too happy to comply. My tempo runs can be faster. My hill runs can be stronger. I need to allow myself to feel the pain and burn a bit more. I know I can do the Half distance. Now I need to work on optimising my results. I have a running coach, so I just need to make sure I run ‘the run’ the way I have been instructed to. Of course, there are days when it will be difficult – many factors contribute to a good run, but I am going to be more intentional about putting my best effort in, which I know I don’t always do.
4 – 10, 000 Steps Per Day. Kim from Kooky Runner once gave tips on how to get 10, 000 steps done in a day and that inspired this goal. Although I have a fitness watch, I only ever use it for my runs. After reading her post, I wanted to see how many steps I actually take in a day. I was shocked. Things are good on days when I workout – between 12, 000 and 14, 000. But on days when I don’t, the average is around 3,000 steps and on one day I recorded a dismal 842 steps. That is how sedentary my job is. I can basically get to my office at 08:30 and not move until 17:00. So most of the steps I take are from chasing the kids to bed in the evening! I love the idea of being active daily and moving around a lot more so I am going to set a target of 10, 000 steps a day. It will be hard because once I am at my desk, I don’t like unnecessary disruptions. But let’s see how it goes!
5 – Improve Flexibility and Balance. I have never been a very flexible or coordinated person. But when I was doing pilates last year, there were so many fantastic changes. I was so much more flexible. I was standing and running taller. I felt less heavy and more agile. My core felt stronger. It also did wonders for my breathing when running. I am going to commit to doing a pilates class once a week, and transitioning to two in the last month.
6 – Improve Strength Training. I visited the High Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria last December. I had a great session with a biomechanist and gait analyst. My results weren’t great and I really need to work on strengthening key muscle groups that will improve my running form. I was so disappointed at how bad things looked that I never implemented the fantastic exercises that were recommended. But I know how much better a runner I can be if I improve my form so I am going to incorporate all those exercises into my weekly routine. I will continue the other exercises I have already started so that when Soweto arrives I am able to do 25 Push Ups, 100 Squats, 3 Pull Ups, and 5 minutes of Uninterrupted Skipping. I am also committing to one Grid Class a week.
What big race are you training for? What goals are you currently working on? How many steps do you average a day? Are you good at focusing on nutrition when you are training? What things do you do to get out of your training comfort zone?