"The goal is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we were called to be." -Patricia Deegan

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Setting 2012 Goals: Aww, mum, do I have to?

I'm not a "New Years" person. I don't try to stay up until midnight. I've never done the resolution thing.

Then someone suggested, with it being the new year, I should write a post on my goals for 2012. Sounded painfully tedious. Rather like list-making and I already do enough of that. But the seed was planted. I started to wonder ... What am I doing with 2012? What do I want to achieve? What am I aiming for this year? And next? Do I have a plan? Does it matter?

Every time I thought about it for more than a minute or two, I found myself distracted with something else. Crow brain. Easily distracted by shiny objects :)

But I remembered the saying, "If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting." Not that I mind much of what I've been "getting" this past year or so in my life, but I'd like to think I'm a proactive type. So maybe having some intentionality around things isn't such a bad idea. Maybe even worth a little mental "list-making." Blogging is the way I've decided to get my brain to focus on this for more than 120 seconds. (But I can tell you, this blog has taken about 4 days so far to write!)

Although I've been a runner for perhaps 7 or 8 years, my passion for the sport has become Frankensteinian over 18 months. In 2011 I somehow found myself vice president of the Australian Ultra Runners' Association (AURA), with its 400 members, and starting the Perth Trail Series (PTS), which has sold out for the first event coming up in 9 days. I found myself overseas racing at World Trail Championships and the Commonwealth 24 hr and running a record breaking 1000 km adventure on the Bibbulmun Track. Then in December, Rolf and I were having an innocent conversation about ordering some PTS tech shirts from our favourite tech clothing company and suddenly found ourselves starting a new company as the Australian distributors of RaceReady (you need pockets... and skirts - unless you're a boy, then maybe you just need pockets).

These running-related projects, combined with my very enjoyable child psychology practice and my not-so-enjoyable-but-bearably-interesting PhD, has the makings for an intense 2012.

Rolf and I are already committed to running the 320 km 3-country Transalpine stage race in Europe in September - not for sheep stations, though. In fact, precisely not for sheep stations. It's a chance to run together through some amazing terrain and cultures for the sheer joy of it.

As lead-up prep, I'm thinking of TNF100k in Australia's Blue Mountains mid-May. The goals for that one: some great mountain training, going as fast as possible, and having a grand adventure with a heap of my WA mates who are all going over east for it.

But I haven't finished with the 24 hr race yet, after the failure at Commonwealths. Sri Chinmoy Sydney 24 hr race in June? Looks like perfect timing - my fitness should be at peak after TNF100.

Then, find a way to disappear from WA winter - back to the Canadian Rockies or over to the Swiss alps for a few months before Transalps, would be nice. Hopefully my citizenship application will go in at this time, too.

To finish off the year - Coast to Kosci Ultramarathon - the race I couldn't fit in this past year due to the Bibbulmun. Speaking of which, that journey has whet my appetite for more. So for 2013, is a repeat in order? Or do I aim for a 6-day or 10-day track race? Or find another long distance trail I can tackle? My crow eyes are on the lookout for just the right shiny object to latch onto.

Excellent. I have heaps of goals now. But what's the mission statement driving them all? More than a resolution or two, I think I need a statement of purpose driving my actions. What if I fail at a goal? I'll need to be able to recover by knowing that I'm still in line with my mission statement. There can be other means to the end.

Gee, I actually wrote a mission statement about 20 years ago during one of those "find yourself" type workshops, but haven't much thought about it of late: To create exciting, challenging opportunities to use my brain in making a contribution to the world.

It still fits. I run for me, but far beyond that now, I use running to inspire. Why VP of AURA? Why PTS? RaceReady rep? Blogging? Maintaining a website? Child psychologist? To enable people to aspire. So that others can set their own goals, create their own mission statements. So there can be more happiness in the world.

So if you haven't set a new year's resolution to lose weight, cut down on booze, or stop smoking, that might not be a bad thing. What I mean is there's no point if it's not something you completely believe in and have put some intentionality behind. Otherwise, there will be nothing to keep driving it forward through to achievement. You need to know why and to believe in your answer. Or you'll just be left with that sad pit-of-the-stomach feeling if you fail at a goal. If you have a mission, you can just find another goal to achieve it.

Now, where does my PhD fit? Damn. I'm having an ah-ha moment.

Thanks, guys, for being my sounding board :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Branched Chain Amino Acids. Because Lentils Aren't Sexy

This one has suddenly been cropping up... Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).

"BCAA's have a great deal of thorough and conclusive research surrounding them."

"Double your fat loss, double your muscle gain and double your strength..."

"...aid in an optimal muscle protein synthesis and recovery."

"BCAA, unlike other amino acids, are used to provide energy."

Obviously, as an endurance athlete, that's a supplement I must need. But let's just say it's Christmas day and all the shops are closed. I'm about to go for my long run. Where on earth will I find my essential amino acids?? What will I do?

Oh, I know. I can eat any source of protein.

Chicken, red meat, tofu, eggs, tuna, yoghurt, beans, lentils, almonds, soy milk, cheese.

I can even get fancy and have whey protein or chocolate milk ;)

Amino acids are simply the building blocks of protein. There are 20 of them. 12 can be made in the body from other things. 8 must come from our diet, including the 3 "branched chain" ones.

So, when you hear about how BCAAs are essential for endurance athletes, it's true. It's true for all people, actually, because they're essential to life. So is carbohydrate, fat, and water. You can fill your hydration bladder from the tap or you can buy Perrier. You can eat a healthy diet rich in legumes, low fat cheese, lean meat, and ocean fish or you can buy "SuperPlusMaxBCAA" at your supplement shop.

Just be sure to have 15 grams of your choice within 30 minutes of your long run :)

Food is fuel. As I read elsewhere today, "Food is an investment, not a cost." We can't outrun a bad diet and we can't out-buy a bad diet.

Lentils ARE

For an irreverent article (mini-book in pdf format) on calorie counting and general nutrition, see the recent link on the bottom of the page here http://bernadettebenson.com/nutrition.htm

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Permission Granted!

Last weekend I did some very short test jogs whilst volunteering at the 6 Inch Trail Marathon. The most I probably did any one day was 2k of jogging, but there was also a lot of time on my feet generally. There's still a bit of swelling in the ankle/shin (that doesn't hurt) and inflammation in my cuboid area (that does hurt).

I got a new tick bite, just to remind me of the horrors of the bites whilst doing the Bibbulmun end-to-end last month. The side-horror that comes with itching, oozing tick bites is that whenever you stop, 15 flies latch on and start laying eggs in your skin.

Well, okay, maybe they don't lay eggs. I don't know. But I do know it's gross looking at 15 flies sucking on your oozing skin.

Yesterday I saw Ali, my physio, and upon review, she said if I passed the knee-to-wall test, she thought it was time for me to start running again.

Oh-oh. I didn't know there was going to be a test! I would have studied...or stretched.

Anyway, I got a pass! My mobility in the ankle is sufficient for running. Short, slow, and easy.

Tonight I ran 4.5 kms. It was like learning to walk all over again. My hip was tight and my body felt awkward. An "easy" pace turned out to be a 6.35. Cardio-wise it was fine, but I didn't feel particularly fluid. In fact, I felt like the tinman in The Wizard of Oz who needs a can of oil.

It was my first entry into Garmin since 16 November, when I ran (limped) into Albany.

Looks like I might be in the re-building phase. I've got the yellow flag flying. Green and red are in the back pockets.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hamster Wheels for Alpine Runners

I started to get the craving last week. I noticed myself watching runners going by and thinking, "That looks nice."

Of course, I'm nowhere near running yet in my recovery. But 3.5 weeks had lapsed since the Bibbulmun run, my HR was nearly normal, and I was ready for some cardio work. Having been through this before (my surgery in late 2009), I knew exactly what I needed to do.

The hand crank ergometer. The Grinder. The Hamster Wheel.

According to the stats, I spun 28 kms the other day.

Sounds good, but if I equate the energy and time in running terms, I figure it was about 7k. Still, not a bad start. And it's an absolute mental challenge to keep inspired on those things, that's for sure.

But I've registered for a race, so the training has officially begun again. The first race in my 2012 calendar is now Transalps, an 8 day team stage race spanning three countries in the European alps next September. My plan is to forego the IAU World 24 hr event in Poland in 2012, as it's at the same time.

In terms of total training this past week, there have been a few more trips to the gym (where I took out a 1 month membership) and one yoga class. Although I got to hang upside down, which was cool, it was otherwise a bit frustrating, as I had to modify nearly everything. I had lost about 50% of the range of motion in my foot and ankle. So I can't do things like sit on the floor with my knees bent and my feet tucked under my bottom. Naturally, stretching and strengthening are happening several times per day, as I lengthen the muscles and teach the nerves how to fire on command again. Massage therapy has also been key, my compression socks are fantastic, and good dolups of Udo's Oil make me happy.