At the end of 2005 I teetered on one leg, wondering how I was ever going to return to my competitive dreams. An ankle reconstruction threatened my future sporting career. Following this, life threw even more curve balls my way and I felt like I was stuck in a hole. But what kept me alive was a big, hairy, audacious dream. I wanted to be a World Champion!
When the day of the Junior World Titles in Lithuania arrived, I knew I would win. This was an ego-aside moment. Rather, there was simply no alternative. I was so prepared, mentally, physically and even spiritually, that the result was inevitable. I had done the work, tested my tools, and mentally rehearsed through all the challenges that might hit me in the race. I had stood on the tops of mountains and said my silent prayers, run through the moments of doubt, and through all of it, I had found utter joy in the journey to be there in that World Championship moment. Yep, I was so damn ready to be a World Champion.
I want this sure-fire confidence for you too. I want you to be your own champion! Damn it, I want it for me again too because there is no greater feeling than running along a wilder trail with self-confidence fuelling your engines.
My struggle is that my work and personal life are feeling blurred. I now realise that the commute to work is a hard boundary but as I work from home I am not able to find this separation. My challenge is to find a new boundary at home because otherwise it becomes exhausting. I also have to consciously stop “overdoing it”, but rather to find time to slow down and go deep into quietness. Most of all, have gratitude that I still have a job ❤
After reading this comment that was made in response to my post on ‘hormonal stress’ I was inspired to write about some of the practical ways that I am trying to separate work, ‘training’ and home life. The challenge of establishing boundaries between work and ‘life’ within our homes is a real and crucially important one. It is a current issue but also a lesson that is invaluable to learn for longer term wellness. So, today I have decided to share what Graham and I are trying to do to create separation from our home and work environments.
Parks are closed. Trails too. Events are cancelled and we are dusting off our road-running shoes. Yes, we are living in a sensation of limited freedom. But today I share how it is the choices we make that will give us back our wings. Here are my suggestions for ensuring that you thrive through these challenges.
What is Freedom?
We all value it, so what does it mean? Freedom is simply the ability to have choices. To choose what we want to do, when we wish to do it, and how too. The reason so many of us feel trapped right now is that it feels like our choices have been taken away. However, all that has been taken from us are our habits, our routines, our old normality.
Find your new normal
Without our old routines to latch onto, we can feel wobbly and unsettled. We can wake in the morning feeling edgy or unmotivated. We grasp onto media and social channels to fill in voids. Another cuppa to fill the emptiness. Awake at night with ‘busy head syndrome’. But if we recognise what is at the core of this unsettledness, a sensation of ‘stuckness’, then we have the capacity to choose our way out. Personally, I am choosing to ‘find my new normal’ and you can too. Begin by writing a list of all the options you still have available to you. Don’t forget to include all the new options that have become available, such as online yoga or camping in your back yard. Then begin to schedule this into your ‘training’ routines or my Training Planners.
The word freedom raises images of a bird spreading its wings and soaring higher. So, where do you wish to soar once the restrictions end? If you were the bird, what type would you be? An eagle striving towards its target? A dove peacefully watching the world pass? A chicken reworking its turf? A duck diving beneath the surface? Weird? Yes! Whacky? Definitely! But this analogy will help you to realise what goal you are setting and what attitude and values you need to adopt to achieve it. From now on, every time you head out the door or begin planking in the spare room, see it as training for this dream to come. (Need inspiration? Join me on one of my Find Your Feet Tours!).
Find the abnormal in the boring
I am getting so many requests from individuals about how to avoid road running. So, I would like to ask - why? Why avoid the road if it can take you on an adventure every day? A road is a window into a landscape. Along its verges you will see remnants of those who travelled before you, vegetation gripping with strength & ferocity to a precarious life, a day awakening around you, birds cheering you on, insects humming cheerfully, front yards to ponder, letterboxes overflowing with stories. Yup, there is so much to see when you run on the road… you just need to CHOOSE to see it! In fact, the other morning the highlight of my run was seeing a scorpion crossing the road. This simple something is what I would have missed had a chosen to not venture outdoors.
Find Freedom on the hills
It may be hard to find the time, energy or open space for exercising during these times. To get the most out of yourself and your precious time, head for a hill. If you are nervous about getting injured from road running, upgrade your running shoes and then find a hill. It is so hard to injure yourself running gently uphill. I am not asking you for hill sprints. In fact, I beg you not to! Instead, run up, aiming for consistency and great running form, then walk or jog back. Repeat. Again, if you find this concept ugly and awful, then you are choosing to find it ugly and boring. Perhaps choose to see the mindfulness, health, vitality and challenge in it instead? (I write lots about the virtues of hills and hill running technique in my Trail Running Guidebook).
Don’t make do
I am seeing lots of very worn-out running and walking shoes on the footpaths and local urban pathways. If you are leaving the gym, pool or trails and venturing towards the concrete or asphalt, this is not the time to run in dead shoes! Make sure you select something that has a little cushion and provides some protection to your feet and legs. You can visit my Find Your Feet store and ask one of our gurus for advice if you need help choosing the best shoes for you.
Do your strength activation
Lazy butt? Weak calf muscles? Grumpy back? Achilles grumbles? These are all signs of a lazy core and gluteal muscles. Pull out the yoga mat and YouTube galore! There are so many great exercises online. You may also like to join an online yoga class or reach out to your physio or PT who may be offering tele-consults. This is the perfect time to address the imbalances.
Find excitement in tempo running
If you are more experienced, this is the perfect time to up the tempo. I absolutely love tempo running and I implore you to get creative. Begin with a 15-20min tempo run but over time begin to adjust the terrain and durations of your tempo sessions. Add hills. Break it into 10-minute segments with shorter recoveries. Try a new route. Go longer. Bugger it… run backwards if you have to! Anything you do, so long as it is paired with great recovery, will be a step in the direction you choose.(Learn more about tempo running in my Trail Running Guidebook).
So, as you can see, we have choices. In fact, they are all around us and we are blessed to live in landscapes that provide so many to us.
Choose freedom in self-isolation.
Choose to keep a dream alive.
Choose to run along a road to nowhere and watch the world not pass you by.
This is a transcript from Find Your Feet Podcast Episode #48: Running the French Pyrenees. This podcast was a quiet ramble with myself, reflecting on this huge adventure that unfolded in July 2019. I hope you have the opportunity to listen to this podcast too..
A female runner utilising my training planners recently asked me my thoughts about training around the monthly female hormonal cycle. She wanted advice on how to adapt the wave training principles to her menstrual cycle. Here is my reply:
Today I received an email from a reader with an important question - 'What do I eat before race?'. She had read in my The Trail Running Guidebook where I recommend to simplify our diet in the last few days before a race, focussing on lower fat, lower protein meals. In the book I suggest - WHITE, FLUFFY, STARCHY. So her question was, 'What are some examples of white, fluffy and starchy foods that I should eat in the days leading up to a race?' Here is my reply:
This morning I was moving along a winding trail on Mt Wellington, my office for the morning. I found myself reflecting on a coaching consultation I had hosted yesterday with a mother in her mid-50s. For the purpose of this conversation I will refer to her as Sarah.
I recently shared a social media post on the topic of stress and its impact on our ability to optimally recover from training loads. Given the flurry of interest, ongoing questions and requests for support I received afterwards, I wanted to provide an excerpt on the topic of stress from my Trail Running Guidebook. I feel that stress and its impact on our hormones is poorly understood, so I hope you find this article helpful.
This blog contains information that I recently shared with the 809 athletes who are utilising my Ultra Trail Australia Training Planners & The Trail Running Guidebook for the upcoming 2019 UTA100, 50 & 22km events. The advice is relating to how to conduct your longest training missions which for the 100km athletes is up to 8hrs in duration. I hope you also find it useful!
This piece is for all the individuals out there who can feel like a zebra - like your stripes are telling you apart from the crowd. It is also for all the individuals who feel a pull to shed their old identities and begin again, and to those who aren't quite sure where to start. It is packed with honesty in the knowledge that you will not judge me for the humanness of these experiences.
Preparation for our athletic dreams requires a harmony of focused recovery combined with enough strain to see gain. Baby steps.
However, in the face of injury we need to respond quickly. Baby steps don’t suffice. When injury strikes, there is no such thing as ‘meeting in the middle’. We either want to listen to our body or we don’t. We either want to get better or we won’t. We must acknowledge the weaknesses that led to the injury. We must take responsibility for the road back.
Whilst it is imperative to hear the wisdom of the gurus around us, at the end of the day we are the ones who knows what is at stake. We are the ones who knows what our body wants to say to us… We set the dream. We take the steps. We reap the rewards.
I am running along a wild trail in Japan, entering into the Zen state that occurs soon after the ‘I am getting a little tired’ point, and shortly before the second-wind gusts you back onto your feet. In this internal bubble, time loses all meaning, and thoughts come and go like the breeze that hits me each time I crest onto another jagged ridgeline. Sweat is dripping down my forehead, seeping down my neck, before finally making it into my undies. Moving along this trail, far from the wandering crowds, and well beyond reach of emails, phones and all that ‘life’ stuff, I think I am in heaven. And, from the depths of this meditative state, I feel completely connected to my rawest self.
Lee walks softly through the sliding doors into my living room, a converted 1960s garage which we rent from generous friends who live above. For three years we lived humbly since we sold our home in Canberra and thrown everything into our Find Your Feet adventure business here in Tasmania. Lee meets my outstretched hand with a quiet confidence and yet boyish nervousness. I feel like I am looking in a mirror. ‘Well this should be interesting!’ he remarks with a husky smoothness laced with an accent I cannot place.
In the last weeks of my twenties, I can honesty testify that I thought nothing needed to change. I was a happy Tomboy, chasing dreams and living life as I had always done – a car cruising along the highway on automatic pilot. However, as I turned the corner into my thirties, I suddenly felt like I was confronted with an enormous junction, a confusion of dead-ends, back roads, and stop signs. It was overwhelming and I was afraid to look back to where I had come from for fear of what I may see. At the end of 2016, I wrote a reflection of this experience titled Planting My Feet. This piece was a very personal account of the journey I went on after I turned 30 and how I navigated this crossroads, discussing how I began working on ‘self’ to find greater purpose in my relationships, sport and career.
How much of an endurance challenge is mental or physical? I have always been at a lost for an appropriate response and grabbing at random numbers. Seventy percent physical? Forty percent mental? Or should this be fifty-fifty? Or… Just days away from the my first 100km trail running event I can now respond with more conviction. Breaking down any endurance challenge into only mental and physical components is over simplified. Right now I can testify that there is a huge emotional element to endurance performance too and I believe that we often overlook the incredible power that our emotions hold over us. This begs the question - are we putting enough emphasis on emotional intelligence as we strive to succeed in endurance challenges?
As featured in Travel, Play, Live.
This year I hit the big 30. I had really been looking forward to this milestone in my life. On the day I turned thirty, I stood atop the final summit of my ‘30 peaks in the year before I turn 30’ challenge. Whilst it had come down to the wire, I felt wind-chapped & glowing from the inside out. That was until injury hit and I took a visit to my GP.
Sometimes you reach a point where you know some things need to change. In February 2016 I realised that it was time to audit my life after experiencing the devastation of raging fires in northern Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area, a back injury and turning 30 years old. I started journalling my thoughts and actions, quickly realising that I felt completely unharmonious between my intentions and actions. Furthermore, I knew that my body wasn’t healthy. I looked fit and was running strongly on paper, but underneath this there were old habits that were holding me back. Crunch point.
This article was featured in the latest "Travel Play Live" magazine:
I am doubled over. With hands on hips, I gasp air into my lungs. My head feels heavy and achy… a dull throb enhanced by the altitude. This Italian mountain is a beast! I look up to where the trail squiggles near vertically above me and try to make out where the track crests the pass. It is somewhere up there where the bare rocks merge into the mist. I look down. My hotel where everyone else is still sleeping is just a mere 100m below me. I have barely started and I am feeling… vulnerable.
This article was featured in the latest edition of Travel Play Live
Dawn was breaching through the darkness as I pulled on my running tights, thermal, beanie and gloves. From my lounge room window I could see Mt Wellington and my beloved trails covered in a thick blanket of snow. Winter has arrived!
Winter training poses many challenges to all of us. Increased darkness and cooler temperatures disturb our homeostasis and require alterations to our exercising habits. Developing an understanding of the physiological changes your body goes through during winter will assist you to maintain healthy, safe & sustainable exercise routines this year.
The Sweat Rate Test. It is important to develop an understanding of your sweat rate so that you can develop a thorough understanding of your sweat losses during an event.
The easiest way to measure your sweat rate is to weigh yourself without clothes on before and after exercising for one hour, taking note of the climatic conditions you were exercising in.
Assuming you did not use the toilet or consume any fluids during exercise, your weight loss is your sweat rate.
1kg of weight lost = 1L of fluid lost
If you drank any fluids or used the rest room between the two weight samples, you will need to include both of these estimated weights in your calculations.
Weather and climatic conditions strongly influence sweat rates. For example, on a cooler overcast morning you will loose less sweat volume than on a hot, humid morning. Therefore, be sure to record the heat, humidity and weather conditions in your sweat test and repeat the test in cool, humid, windy and hot conditions.
Sweat rate also changes with pace and effort increases. For example, if you monitored your sweat rate for a shorter ½ marathon race pace and then want to step up to a 50 or 100km race that requires a lower effort over a prolonged period of time, you will need to conduct the above tests again to highlight the new effort zone.
Now that you know your sweat rates, you now need to develop an understanding of how much fluid replacement your stomach can tolerate. For more information on how to rehydrate during events, you may like to read the article Hydration for Endurance Performance
For a comprehensive understanding on sports nutrition & hydration read: Sweat. Think. Go Faster by Darryl Griffiths
See our comprehensive Sports Nutrition range for Trail Runners HERE
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.