Friday, 2 December 2016

Five easy ways to incorporate running into the holidays

Helloooooo, December!

I love this time of year.  And although I'm not a big fan of the whole Christmas scene (gasp, I know), there's just something about December that really excites me.  Lots to do, plenty of togetherness and family time, and a chance to mentally wrap up the old and prepare for the new.  I love it.

But as much as I love the busy-ness that comes with this time of year, being too busy can ironically also cause me to skimp on the one thing that keeps me sane through it all: Running.  Because, let's be honest: What's easier to skip - a run or a Christmas party?  I know.  So over the years I've found five easy ways to make running a part of the December madness - I hope they work for you too!

1.  Run and done

This is by far the most effective and hassle-free way to get in a holiday run: Get up early and get it done!  For me nothing can be easier or simpler than getting up early, getting (only myself...!) dressed and sneaking out the door while Will and the kids are still asleep.  They usually awake from their slumber just as I get back from my run, which means that I get the benefit of endorphins with zero impact on family time.  Boom!   

2.  Family fun

Instead of sleeping in on holiday weekends, why not have some active family fun?  In our home my better half usually needs a bit of convincing that this is actually a good idea (ahem, Honey), but the kids are always super keen.  That's three against one, right?  So why not head to your local parkrun for a quick family 5 k on a Saturday morning?  And what can be better than grabbing some post-run smoothies or acai bowls afterwards?  Family time and running in one.  (Plus, can I share a secret?  Early weekend mornings usually lead to pooped families and afternoon naps for all - bonus!) 

3.  Create active holiday traditions

Instead of skimping on running over the holidays, why not create some holiday family traditions involving running?  In our community there is a whole string of holiday-themed fun runs/walks being advertised right now - grab the kids, dress up as Santa/elves/reindeer and get moving!  Make it an annual tradition and see if you can better your times each year, or see who comes up with the most creative costumes.  Take the focus off the Christmas pud and put it on some healthy fun with friends and family instead!    

4.  Run your errands.  Literally.

Suddenly run out of milk/bread/a sense of humour?  Volunteer to go get what's necessary and use your running shoes to get you there.  Then return home with what's needed, plus the added bonus of a clear head and a bloodstream full of endorphins - it's a win/win for all. 
5.  Chill

And last, but not least, it's my experience that holidays just aren't the time for peak training.  Sure, maintain your fitness or build a steady base, but leave the serious stuff for later.  Your sanity and your family will thank you!

Happy December, everyone!  Hope it's a great one!


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

I took the plunge!

After saving up a bit, and then waiting and re-considering and saving some more, I took the plunge and entered my first big New Zealand race - wooooooot!!  It's the Cigna Round the Bays Half-Marathon, which takes place in Wellington on 19 February 2017 - training starts next week!  

And although I couldn't be more excited, I must admit that my pocket is burning right now...  Race entries are expensive in the land of the long white cloud!  The half-marathon race entry fee set me back NZ$68 (about R680 at the current exchange rate) - and that's without any extras like an event t-shirt or cap...  Ouch!  The event shirt is really stunning (you can view it here), and although I would have loved to get one, I just can't justify spending another NZ$45 (R450) on a race on top of an already steep entry fee...  Plus I already have more than enough running gear, right?  Right.  (Sob.)  Anyway.

I've also entered the #StepItUpNZ initiative that encourages entrants to challenge themselves for Cigna Around the Bays 2017 and motivates and informs them right up to race day.  So how am I challenging myself for the race?  By shooting for a half-marathon PB (i.e. anything below 01:56:12) - again!  Jip.  I'll be turning 40 next year (what??), so I guess it's time to go big or go home.  I'm giving it one more shot.

#StepItUpNZ participants also receive a free 12-week training programme, which I'm really excited about.  It looks like a great plan (it's time-based as opposed to distance-based) and I'm especially excited about getting in some cross training workouts on non-running days.  Race entrants get a free 10-session class pass to one of three LesMills venues in Wellies, which I'll be using whenever we're in the area - wahoo!   

Fingers crossed now that the kindergarten germs, earthquakes and tsunamis all behave leading up to and on race day...  

Happy running!

Monday, 21 November 2016

And then Mother Nature got angry... {Pile on the Miles 2016: Week III}

Yikes, what a week...!  Let's just say that I think I'm starting to understand why not that many people run here in Wellies, ha!  But I'm not about to give up, now or ever, so here's a quick recap of this week's running and other events:

Monday     ---> The plan was to wake up to my first New Zealand race day giddy with excitement and with a goofy grin on my face, but I'm afraid Mother Nature had other plans...  Instead of race day butterflies, we woke up to the bed literally rocking back and forth, blinds clanging against the windowpanes and J Bear's toy cars flying all over the place: Our first earthquake.  Seven point five on the Richter scale (later updated to 7.8), with over 400 aftershocks making sure that we know we're now in earthquake territory.  Wow.  School was closed for the day, as was Wellington's CBD, so we pretty much just hung out together, keeping an eye on the news.

For some crazy reason the race I planned to do on Monday evening wasn't cancelled on account of the earthquake or the heavy showers and gale force winds predicted for later in the day.  But I'm going to be honest: I just didn't have it in me to go.  The days' events were pretty overwhelming, even more so for someone who's never experienced any of it before, and I just had this strong desire to cuddle up on the couch with my family and be together.  You know?  So that's exactly what we did.  There'll be other races.         

Tuesday     ---> More severe weather warnings, with heavy rain and gale force winds predicted for Kapiti and Wellies, waaaaaaahhh!  And this time the weatherman hit the nail right on the head: It rained and rained and rained and rained.  Hard.  Will made it into the CBD for work, but then couldn't get home after work as a result of road and rail closures caused by flood damage.  Oi.  Still no running.     

Poor Will trying to get home...
Wednesday  ---> We woke up to a bit of sunshine, wahoo!!  I leapt at the opportunity and headed out the door straight after kindy drop-off (am I sounding like a Kiwi yet...?) for six wonderful kays.  I stuck to neighbourhood roads, as the beach and river banks were still a no-go after the quake and floods.

When the sun shines, and the earth doesn't rumble, YOU RUN!

Thursday  ---> Rest day.  We felt a few more rumbles, and there were more heavy weather warnings as well.  

Friday  ---> Sunshine!  4.23 happy kilometres.

Saturday     ---> parkrunday!  I held my breath for the event to be cancelled as a result of flooding, since it takes place right on the banks of the Waikanae River and the domain was closed to the public for most of the week, but it was announced on Friday evening that parkrun was on.  Hooray!

It was a weird run for me: I felt strong and fast throughout, but ended up clocking a not-so-great time...  Ever had that happen to you?  Looks like the puddles and slippery surfaces do slow me down quite a bit - I'm used to dry African soil, ha!  [I've unsuccessfully been trying to beat the elderly gentleman in the picture below (yellow vest) for the past six weeks and finally did it yesterday...  I guess he also had a bad running day...?]  

[Photo by Jeff Stark.]

Anyway, I ran to and from parkrun again to take my mileage for the day up to 10.66 km - my longest run in months!

Sunday   ---> We downgraded our planned family run to a 2.8 km walk around the neighbourhood.  It was a perfect, hot and sunny summer's day - who would ever have guessed that the week got off to such a wet and shaky start...?`

So that's two out of two for my Pile on the Miles 2016 goals for November - one week to go!

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Linking up with the lovely HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap again today.  What an amazing community of women!

Have a great week, everyone!