On The Run

So What Happened After My Runfession?

A month ago, I took to the blog to talk about my 6-week running slump. When I started this blog, one of the goals I set was to always be open and honest. I never wanted to portray my running journey as just smiling selfies and great cappuccinos (although there’ve been several!). I wanted to be real about the struggles as well, which I think I’ve managed over the years. But I’m also a very positive person. I don’t like to wallow in self-pity for too long. I believe in having a good cry and then making a plan. So when I found myself struggling, I knew it would be important to share it not just for me but also for others out there who find themselves in a similar position. Thank you to everyone who shared such encouraging words of support and encouragement.

What I’ve Done To Stay Focused

I Reconnected With My WHY. I was burnt out, juggling a million and one things, and in the chaos of everything, I lost my Why. As I said in that post, “running gives me time to reflect and space to breathe. It helps me stay connected to myself and it keeps me resilient when times are tough. It gives me structure and sets the tone for my week… when I take too long off, I feel lost and anxious.” Remembering why I run was a CRITICAL step to getting out again.

I Started Training For The Kazungula Bridge Marathon. The next step was to find a big hairy goal which came in the form of the Kazungula Bridge Marathon scheduled for the 2nd October. The 1st June was my first day of training using one of Hal Higdon’s 18-week beginner marathon plans. I’ve had an amazing first month of training, running 4 – 5 times a week. My total mileage for the month is 164km, with my longest run being 16km. Although one of my weekly runs is at marathon pace, there isn’t any speedwork on the program. I’ve read a few articles that support this saying, the main focus should be to build endurance and remain injury-free so as to finish strong on Race Day. But for those with more experience, should I be doing more speedwork?

I Have Accountability Partners. It’s winter here which doesn’t really help when you’re emerging from a slump! But I’m using some tricks to help me survive winter running. Every evening, I put my running clothes next to the heater and get dressed when the kids get ready for school. I also have two accountability partners – squeaky voiced 7 and 9 year old children who seem to take great pleasure in asking, “Why aren’t you getting dressed, mummy? It’s a running day!” I also share my runs on IG Stories as another tool to keep accountable to myself.

I’m Spicing Up My Runs. I’ve got two main running projects going. One is to run every street in my neighbourhood, Marapoathutlwa, and the thought of colouring in all the streets I’ve done after a run has me so pumped! I never thought this would be this fun! Before this project, I’d probably covered 20% of the neighbourhood (if that!) though I would have told you I’d done a lot more. I’ve lived here since 2007 but only now am I discovering just how big and complex the neighbourhood is. It has been eye-opening and I’m looking forward to blogging about my experience which should be soon as I’m nearing completion!

My second project has been to do more destination runs and this month I managed three! I started with a 15km run in Oodi. It was so much fun to run in a different place. It had far more slopes than Gaborone, so it turned out to be a good workout too.

We also had a Father’s Day weekend getaway with Ditiro, the kids and my dad to a place just outside Lobatse and it was great to run there as well. We took to the open road on the crisp morning and had a fabulous run.

For my long run this past weekend, we ran in Thamaga, another village, about 40km from Gaborone. That deserves its own blog, so you can look forward to that a bit later!

I’ve had a great first month of marathon training. I’m feeling energized and enthusiastic to get my runs done. As always, when I run, everything else in my life flows a lot better. This is my 8th blog post this month which must be my highest ever total for one month. I’ve found my work-life balance again, and although I’m still frustrated that our vaccination program feels like it is at a complete standstill, I am taking it all in stride, keeping my family and I as safe as I can. I’m happily back on the running wagon, and not looking to get off any time soon!

How has your running been this month? What’s the best tip you have for someone training for their first marathon? Have you run every street in your neighbourhood?

I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By MileCoach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerRuns with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners from around the world.

42 thoughts on “So What Happened After My Runfession?

  1. How lovely to read!

    I’d say speed work if you can take it is good just for building that leg turnover and the feeling of it being OK – but if I’m tired during mara training and if you aren’t aiming for a fast time (what’s the cut-off) that’s the first one to go.

    My top tips for marathon training are do yoga and SLEEP. Sleep is the key. Before my first one I didn’t relax and sleep enough, and then I had a lovely rest afterwards and felt like I could go again. So early to bed, starting soon, if you can, and I used to take a book up with me and if I couldn’t drop off, read very quietly then snuggle down.

    Best of luck with the training. You’ve got a long way into mara training before so you will be just fine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your tips on speedwork and on SLEEP! That latter one is one I often neglect. I will have to consciously make the effort to get to bed earlier the next 3 months I have of training. It will also really do me good in general and not just for marathon training!

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  2. I love that photo of you running on the road outside Lobatse. It has the quality of a running magazine photo – the landscape, you running, the colours – it all comes together so perfectly.

    The idea of running every street in your neighbourhood is genius, but even better is the way you’re executing it. How did you make your runs look so colourful? Is it a special app that you’re using?

    My favourite marathon training tip: focus on the long runs and try to finish these by making the last few kilometres your fastest. So hard! All the best with your training, Shathiso!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Catrina! It was a nice and quiet morning. Just lots of trucks coming from the SA Border (Ramatlabama) but not enough to get in the way of taking this photo!

      So here is the story of the colourful lines — there is a website that helps make this project a lot easier! So if ever you want to try it, go to http://www.citystrides.com It syncs your Strava runs to the app/site and lets you know how much you’ve covered of the area you’re doing. BUT ALAS! Botswana is not included on the Open Street Maps system that they use. They were so friendly in trying to resolve the problem but looks like the issue is beyond them. Anyway… not to be deterred, I decided to do it manually! So I took a screenshot of the neighbourhood and when I return from each run, I look at what I’ve done on my Garmin Map and then manually colour in each run. So no, this isn’t an app. Just me and my unsteady finger, LOL!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for this info, Shathiso!
        I will definitely try this for Zurich/Cape Town.

        I am impressed by your resourcefulness. Well done for improvising. I think you have a VERY steady finger, haha!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad you are back.

    Happy to read that your first month of training has gone so well.

    I’ve running only one marathon.

    My goal was to enjoy the day and get my medal.

    I was working and traveling so I didn’t worry about drills or weekday runs. I just made sure I did all my long runs up to 20. I made me feel confident that I could finish.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My neighborhood is small. And I not only run there, I walk Bandit there almost every day. So yes, I know these roads quite well!

    I love your idea of coloring in your routes though. So fun!

    Congrats on reconnecting with your why and picking a new BHG!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve done some really great things to get back into the running groove! I think remembering, or redefining your “why” is always super important too. I know my why has changed over the past few years.

    So glad that your first month of marathon training has gone well!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Running definitely has it’s ups and downs for all of us. We all struggle at different times. Finding the right plan for you is the most important. Re the speedwork: every time I try to add it in, I end up getting injured. So for me, I just focus on building my base and my endurance. I don’t think there is a right answer except to do what feels right for you. Glad you are feeling back on track

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  7. This is all great! My marathon is the same day as yours! You don’t necessarily need speedwork in marathon training. Sometimes I program it in more towards the beginning of a training plan and then move towards more race specific workouts. One thing I do recommend is strides! You can do a few after an easy run to help with form, turnover, and just getting your legs moving fast. You can do 4-6 for about 20-30 seconds will a full recovery (walking if you want, or very easy jog in between). I like them because they don’t wear you down like a traditional speed workout might.

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  8. I can’t remember where I read it, but I heard that for your first marathon it should be all about the experience…in other words, the endurance to go the distance and cross the finish line. The speed work and finish time goals (if they’re a priority) can always come at another time. That said, I think it’s important to follow a plan that works for you…high mileage, low mileage, speed work (or not),etc. If the plan doesn’t feel “right,” it will be tough to adhere to. I’m glad to hear your first month of training went well 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I read something similar about your first marathon and I think that’s why this plan doesn’t have speedwork. It’s about going the distance. This plan feels right for me and I haven’t felt intimidated yet which is a good thing. I want to be challenged but not to a point where I stop enjoying it. So far, so good! Thanks for your input!

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  9. A running slump can be so hard, but I’m glad to hear you’re finding your way out of it! I find when that happens to me, training partners really help reignite the fire!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I reckon just getting through the training programme will be enough. Your fitness will improve, your conditioning too and you will naturally get faster. I’ve run 6 marathons and 1 ultra, and my first one remans my fastest, because I stuck to the letter of my coach’s programme. Subsequently I’ve thought I could ignore his plan and do my own thing… So, my advice, stick to your programme! And, honestly, just enjoy the experience! It was a completely liberating moment when I crossed that finish line.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this Robyn! Trust the process (and program). Can’t believe you’ve kept coming back for more marathons! Six plus an ultra! Really want to enjoy my race. I know it will be tough but don’t want to set any goals other than finish happy even if a bit sore 🤣

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  11. I forgot you guys have completely different seasons than us! I will trade you haha I hate summer running and prefer winter!

    Having a goal is always important for coming off a slump I think. During the height of the pandemic it was so hard for me because I had no races to look forward to. I’m the kind of person that’s super motivated when I’m training for something big but not so much when I’m training just for the heck of it. :-/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually love winter running! Yes, getting up in the dark and cold is not fun BUT once out there it feels magical! I’m the same as you, I need that big goal to keep me pushing! So glad I have something to work towards and I’ve had so much fun this month!

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  12. I LOVE both you running projects! It sounds like you’ve really gotten out of your slump. For the marathon, if your main goal is to enjoy it and finish strong, then I think what you’re doing is perfect. I notice Lisa mentioned strides, and those would be easy to throw in there. They won’t wear you down or get you injured, but they’ll just help your running overall. And they’re fun!

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    1. Thank you Jenny! I never thought I’d have this much enjoyment especially with the neighbourhood project! I think I will complete the last few blocks tomorrow! Thank you for your input on marathon training. I’m so glad I put that question out there. I’m loving the responses I’m getting, feeling more comfortable.

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  13. I love how you have taken charge of lack of motivation and turned it into something positive!

    I have run every single street in my neighborhood, and some of the adjacent neighborhoods as well! I should move on to another one!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I had no doubt you’d find your mojo again, and you went at it from all angles! Love the goal of runnign all the streets – and your colorful map!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. All the best with your marathon training! You’ve done all the right things to help get out of that slump. As a coach, I’d say as long as you’ve built your endurance base, it’s fine to try some speedwork, but listen to your body. It is not mandatory, especially for your first marathon. Rest and recovery are more important! Love that colorful map of your neighborhood!

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  16. There are definitely ebbs and flows in our running journeys and I love that you’re open about it. However, I am like you… I don’t like to wallow but have a good cry and then make a plan. Looks like you found some good motivation to start again… I love the map of your neighborhood run. How did you put that together?? Definitely something I should consider. I am always up for a good challenge 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For you, the Run Every Street Project would probably be a bit easier! If you go to http://www.citystrides.com, sign up and sync your runs, your runs will automatically be updated and you will be able to know how far you are from completion of the set area you’ve chosen to run every street!

      Unfortunately, the system they use doesn’t recognise Botswana streets (yet!) so I took a Google screenshot of my neighbourhood and after every run, I simply traced (digitally highlighted)the route I had done looking at my Garmin map and the screenshot. I used different colours for all the runs just because I love colour!

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      1. Thank you for the link! I’ll check it out. What a bummer it doesn’t recognise Botswana streets and you had to do this manually…. but how awesome you did put this together yourself! Way to go!! It looks awesome with all the colors! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  17. It sounds like you have taken great steps to get out of your running slump! I think finding your why again is so important in helping get your mojo back.

    Most beginner marathoners just want to finish, which is fine. However, if you have plenty of running experience, there’s nothing wrong with have a time goal. It helps you know the pace you should be running during training for one thing. And I think some faster runs, like tempo runs, are helpful whether or not you have a time goal. They help you run stronger. Here is a post I wrote about training for your first marathon (hopefully the link won’t send this to spam 🙂 ): https://coachdebbieruns.com/your-first-marathon/

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    1. Thank you so much Debbie for sharing this link and for your insights. I’ve already looked at the link and the one thing that jumped out was the importance of doing your long runs during training. I had an 18K yesterday and when I was tempted to skip it, I remembered your words and had a fantastic run!

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