Life in the last couple of months has been a whirlwind of family visits, airport trips, planning more visits, helping to launch a business and training for our 80km cycle in the Karoo. I need to get my running blog back on track but where do I start? With my New Year’s thoughts I suppose..
Around New Year I read something very cool – a saying attributed to the Japanese Samurai warriors of old – “Expect nothing, be ready for anything”. Not really a resolution as such, more of a mindset that I would like to adopt. I then had to ponder how to go about this. I think the key to being ready for anything is to become as physically strong as possible. Being physically strong gives one confidence and confidence breeds mental strength. And that is what you need to be ready for anything – physical and mental strength.
So I am not going to just run oodles and boodles of slow kilometres. Strength work has become my focus. Strength work can be some sort of running workout (like speed intervals which I hate), it can be hiking a steep mountain, it can be cycling hills or it can be a gym workout. As long as I focus on “STRENGTH”.
At the moment I am loving the “micro workout” – ten minutes of strength moves that can be done anywhere, anytime. Mark Sisson of Mark's Daily Apple has four what he calls “primal moves” that should be done every day. It should be non-negotiable, like brushing your teeth. They are pull ups, air squats, push ups and the plank. I bought the Old Goat a pull up bar for Christmas – what a cunning move. I can’t have him lolling around an old age home before his time – he also needs to be STRONG. And if he doesn’t do his micro workout every day I won’t feed him. One needs to be firm with these old goats.
Anyway, I have now gone from not being able to do one pull up to being able to do five. I can do seven chin ups – they’re slightly easier. This is followed by 20 full push ups, 20 air squats (right down, arse to the grass!) and one minute of planking. It only takes 10 minutes and is the most brilliant warm up for a run.
I think all the extra squats are paying off in my running - well that and the dreaded speed work which I have been doing faithfully. In my first race of the year I took seven minutes off the 16 km course, compared to my time two years ago, and in my second, a half marathon, I took 14 minutes off last year’s time. I can’t tell you how excited I am about that. So when I feel lazy and want to run easy instead of doing speed intervals or when I feel greedy and feel like a carb-fest, or even when I get a little too friendly with the wine bottle, I need to ask myself “Is this going to make me strong?”