Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Standing Your Ground

In the scheme of things, I haven't been running long, only since 2011. My first event was the 4km in the Mothers Day Classic in May 2011 - and I thought I was going to die!

Fast forward to now, nearly the end of my fourth season of triathlons, two half marathons under my belt and countless 10km, 14km and other races under my belt. Who said I wasn't a runner?

Well, actually, I did!

I started doing triathlons because I didn't really like "just running". I like a bit of variety. So starting with a Women's Only triathlon run by Triathlon NSW in Penrith in October, 2011, I was hooked. I started small, with Enticers (250m swim/10km bike/2.5km run), with the aim of entering a Sprint distance by the end of the season. An injury put paid to that plan, but was up and running (so to speak) by the beginning of the next season. 

My first Sprint (750m swim/20km bike/5km run) took me nearly two hours - and I think I was last overall! By the end of the season though I'd managed to shave a bit off my time, and felt I was getting somewhere.

By the next season, I'd got myself a coach, and things started to look up! Set myself a goal of "Husky" Sprint in February 2014 as my A race for the season, and managed to smash all my targets! As I was turning 50 later that year, I set a few goals for myself. One of those was to complete a Half Marathon.

Lots of my fellow runners were doing them (well, pretty much everyone I knew) as well as Marathons, so it was getting harder and harder to resist. Just the one, I thought, just to see how I go. So with a goal time in mind of 2 hrs 20 mins, I set off, and completed it in 2:32:02. Well, not too bad I suppose.

Other goals for my "50" year were the Nepean Classic Tri and and Olympic Distance Tri. Absolutely loved Nepean in October, despite the fact it was blisteringly hot and I had a cold! Smashed the swim and the run and was on target for the run despite the relentless heat.
Finish of Wollongong Olympic Distance

In March I completed the Olympic Distance triathlon in Wollongong - and loved it! A distance that was challenging yet didn't smash me for days or weeks afterwards! Met or exceeded my goals for each leg, can't wait to do it again next year.
Canberra Half
Marathon 2015

After much deliberation I decided to enter the Canberra Half Marathon this year. I really wanted to satisfy a few things in my own mind about long distance running. Suffice to say, I was having a great run up until 10-14km, then the wheels fell off! Whilst I finished (the first miracle) in a semi-reasonable time (the second miracle) it just confirmed what I was thinking. That really I should stick to 10-15km runs, particularly if I want to keep enjoying what I am doing and want to stay active in sport for a lot longer.

Which brings me to the point of this blog.

Peer pressure.

It's not just the domain of teenagers.

If I had a dollar for every time someone has said I should/could/will do a half/marathon/ironman, I'd have enough money to pay for a race entry for one! Even when I explain my reasons for not wanting to do one, they still won't listen. "You can do one" they say. "Yes, I know I can" I reply, "but I DON'T WANT TO". You have to have the intrinsic desire to do these things, otherwise you are just kidding yourself and everyone around you. Not wanting to do longer distances is seen by some as a cop out, a weakness, that in order to achieve, you must undertake these super human feats of endurance.

I get that it's hard, I get that it takes as much mental toughness as physical toughness, but you know, for some of us, it takes just as much mental toughness to complete 10km as it does to complete 42.2km. We shouldn't be treating anyone any differently because of how far they run. Running ANY distance is bloody hard work. Celebrate every achievement, whether it is running 1km non stop for the first time, or running your fastest 10km!

I train to keep fit. I train for my mental health. Honestly, it has kept me very sane over the last few months - as I said to a friend recently, my running has improved a lot lately, I've hardly missed a training session! I don't want training to take over my life though. There needs to be balance.

Most of all you need to be honest with yourself. Why are you doing this? What do you want to get out of it? Are you doing it for yourself? Are you doing it for other people? How long do you want to keep doing what you are doing? How far will you go? You need to be realistic too. I can't ever hope to achieve even what others my age may be achieving due to length of time in the sport and mere physical characteristics. No matter how hard I train, I may never run a 20min 5km - and I'm okay with that!

It's not easy staying true to yourself. It takes a lot of hard work. It sometimes means you have to go it alone - it is easier to "go with the pack". I've seen too many people doing things that don't really want to do though. Stay true to yourself, and ultimately, it will be a lot more enjoyable!

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