We all make New Years resolutions right?
It’s a right of passage to new beginnings and turning over that leaf you procrastinated about for the previous 364 days.
Well I set my sights on something a little different last NYE. I woke up on the morning of the last day of 2015 with two children asleep on me and a husband snoring somewhere else on the half deflated blow up mattress during a camping trip. It became suddenly obvious that I wasn’t getting any younger, in fact at 34 my life was flashing (rather swiftly) by.
It was this moment that I thought “Shit, I’ve gotta get fast before I get old.”
Now let’s not go over board about the whole age thing…. I mean 34 is not old….. but I’d been running for 6 years now with no real method to my absolute madness. Just pulling on my runners each morning and cruising for a 10km therapy session. I’d done long distances already and read a lot about the endurance being a strength of middle aged people as it takes years to get those miles in your legs.
The Best Laid Plans
So I knew what I needed… a plan. Now I’m not really that great at sticking to a plan… just ask my husband. If it’s not one thing one week it is the next. However what happened next was just awesome.
I set a goal. I wanted to be realistic and I knew I’d be stoked with two minutes off my 10km PB by the end of the 2016. My best time was 46:26 for the Hobart Run The Bridge Fun Run and with the next one coming up in February I was gunning for a PB and secretly hoping I could break the 45min barrier.
I took to the internet and quickly after Bec and I were chatting about our ambitions. I thought what I needed was a little structure. I’d heard about speed sessions in the past but never taken part in what seemed to be a torturous activity for little to no reward.
Bec had recently tagged me in a post on Facebook about a Mona Fartlek workout which sounded more like an icky conversation i usually avoided than dinner table discussion. But I looked over it and decided to give a red hot go. 90 sec on 90 sec off x 2 then 60 on and off x 4, 30 on then off x4 and 15 on then off, with the “on” being as fast as you could bloody fall without landing flat on your face and the “off” being a recovery jog.
I decided to load it in my Garmin as a workout so I could limit the risks of face-planting in front of some fancy cyclists due to watching the clock. That way my watch would beep me in and out of the splits.
Well what a hoot the first session was…… I chose a section of the local bike track I knew was flat as a tack and protected from any headwind. I worked at full effort for the “on” splits and backed off almost to a walk for the rests but I finished it and felt tight and sore yet surprisingly satisfied.
We introduced one of these workouts each week as a rule, which ended up meaning we’d completed 4 or 5 by the time Run the Bridge came around in Feb.
Time to race
Bec and laced up and had set our hearts on sticking as close as possible to that 45 min pacer as possible. The plan? To surge away from him at the half way mark and hope to hell we didn’t see him again except maybe to cheer him across he finish line. We’d worked out the night before we had to average 4:25s to come in just under this time.
The first km was hard (and a bit too fast) but we were pleasantly surprised when we slotted nicely into a rhythm and the first few km were all under 4:25s. We’d heard the pacer saying he was going to take the bridge no slower than 5min/ks and we were all toothy grins when we reached the top only to look down and see we’d managed to keep it under 4:48s. This was actually happening!
There was no way we were going to let the sub 45 club leave us behind… not today.
With the half way mark behind us and no 45 min pacer balloon in sight we quickly reset our focus on remaining strong. There was no way we were going to let the sub 45 club leave us behind… not today.
We crossed the finish line in a whirlwind of laughs and tears and gasping for air at a none other than 43:45. I’m even tearing up now as I write it almost 6 months on but the feeling was nothing short of euphoric. The sheer bliss of smashing our goal way out of the park was overwhelming.
In true Bec and Gabby form we analysed our splits in the weeks that followed and also how we felt during each one. What stood out for both of us was the energy we had to surge when we needed to and the ability to stay at that “comfortably hard” pace when we had the goal in our sights. We knew this was from those speed sessions we’d done in the months leading up to the race and we knew we were on to a good thing.
Build, build, build
With this accomplishment behind us the hunger for better, stronger, faster became addictive. We ramped our plans for regular speed sessions up a notch, both seeking out local running groups to join, with a rotation through various speed sessions and as we moved into the winter months it happened rain hail or shine. We started to see some epic gains just through the ability to push the boundaries and stay in the “uncomfortably hard” place for longer.
My goals got ruthless, I started to say to myself “I’m totally capable of smashing this PB” instead of the previous “oo I don’t think I could do much better than 45 mins”
In the months that followed I raced the Round the River 10km with the help of a running group friend finishing in 42:54. I could barely believe it.
The Hobart City to Casino 11km came around and I was again chasing that 45min pacer and his balloon however the difference was this was an 11km race and last time was for a 10km. I finished in 45:35 with an average of 4:10 and 6 mins faster than last year. The gains were real and the encouragement and motivation from my husband, kids, Bec and my running group was feeding my self esteem. I was on cloud nine.
Base + Effort = Results
The legendary Launceston ten 10km was fast looming and Bec and I both had our hearts set on bright and shiny PBs. We were gunning for PBs, kitted up in our matching Tasmanian Road Runners gear we had a quick photo with the Sole Mates Running Group and then we were off. It was a tough course as with no undulation we certainly weren’t used to the lack of downhill for recovery. A few days after plummeting across that finish line in 41:02 there was a moment when we stopped and reflected on the last 5 months (ONLY 5 MONTHS) of work and really how we never in my wildest dreams thought we would be finishing a race in this time, with these hardcore men and women surrounding me.
We attribute it all to focus, on a certain goal and for a certain reason. We have never felt so driven to accomplish something and the fact that we far superseded my own expectations has made me realise anything is possible and we are only as good as we let our selves believe.
The routine? Speed work religiously twice weekly. Plenty of slow, long runs. Strength work twice weekly (to keep injuries away) and a positive outlook.
Remember, anything is possible.