Thursday, June 20, 2013

Week four in the Trenches: Burying the weight demons and Learning

You know, this marathon training business is so demanding and so difficult that you have to be crazy to be doing it in the first place. Hence the first requirement to be a distance runner is you must be crazy first. The following cartoon says it all:
And so I completed week four in the trenches yesterday, or tomorrow. My shins have moved from screaming, sulking, wincing and keeping quiet. But they are alright. I have targeted them with strength exercises and they are alright. I tore my iliopsoas muscle at some point and its the only thing bothering me now. If you don't know what the iliopsoas muscle is, you are very lucky. At any rate, I am working on stretching it. I have tried massaging in through the side of my tummy without success. But I intend to run through it and I hope it gets better with time.
So its cold as hell and on Saturday and today, for the first time, I wore my body armor and needed to wear it. I should also have worn gloves because my hands are bitten by the cold mightily. But it is what it is so I have stuck to my training plan. As I went down the trenches, boots tied tight, cigarette butt dangling precariously at the corner of my mouth, torn overalls wrapping my body and a torn hat perched on my head, I targeted my weight and mileage and aerobic fitness but I also knew that I had to find a way of doing hills and speed.
And I found a way. So I do hills on Saturday and Speed on Thursday and I think its all settling in.
It gets very tough at times like On wednesday this week I was attempting an 18K in sub 4:30 after doing an 18K in 4:32 pace on Monday and the Wednesday workout went well until 9K then I started struggling. By the time I reached 18K I was a shell. When you feel like a shell, every step you take, you think your leg will collapse and your body will crash on the ground and your hands are so tired they cant keep your head from slamming on the pavement, you feel like the next wind that blows can blow you away. You feel you have nothing left. You are not even 100% sure that you exist. In fact, you are at a loss as to how to find yourself again and how to be a somebody again. And you are so hungry but you are not sure your hands can manage to take a morsel through the long journey from the plate to your mouth, whose location you are not 100% sure of.
Have you ever felt like a shell?
Well, if you haven't, you are very lucky. Stick to whatever it is you are doing and thank God for the mercy he has on you.

But it was ok. I was down to 74Kgs though too hungry. I have since eaten and misbehaved and now am 75Kgs but that is also fine. I have decided I will go to about 71-73Kgs.

I have lost 5Kgs this month alone.

I am a bit surprised that it has been easier than I expected but what I needed was knowledge, assertiveness, discipline and zero-tolerance to the demons that surrounded me.

One major demon that I killed this week was groundnuts/peanuts. They are a no no for me. In fact, they are a major contributor to my failure to lose weight in the past. Imagine 35grams of peanuts=200 calories and yet 1,333grams of tomatoes or cabbages will give you 200 calories.
I have started taking one spoonful of sugar in my tea but before I eat anything, I mentally note how many calories it contains and also commit myself to losing it at some point. Running for 15minutes burns about 200calories for me, so I do the math every-time I eat.
One thing that has encouraged me, especially in days like yesterday, when I was feeling tired, torn and spent, is the following:
 So I go to the field and just take one step and another, and another. And each of them is victory and I get encouraged. Also, when very tired and not able to run fast with all the pain in my legs and body, I remind myself that the body does not know how far you run: the body only knows how long you have run. So like yesterday, I just went and did an easy 8k and then started speedruns after that. It was a blast! I walked away feeling strong. I remind myself:
Another thing that I have learnt is that on the days you feel wasted, you can be surprised that those turn out to be the days when you have your greatest workouts. That is what happened on Monday for me. I had done a 27k (easy) the previous day and yet I ended up doing a fast 18k the next day at 4:32 average.
If you have a weakness, work on it. I am now getting to my race weight. Then I will tackle my next weakness.
I have also learnt that you dont need to wait for perfect situations, or wait to have what someone else has, before you can reach for your goals. Everyone's circumstance is different: use what you have. What you have is often enough. Just do it already.

Four of my colleagues (all females) approached me this week. One came alone, three came together: One is very thin, youngish and spends time on her laptop with headphones. She dons an Eric Omondi-like hairstyle though she is a bit better informed than your garden variety idiot-generation young adult.

Colleague 1: I hear you have a running club.
Me: No. (I begin to walk away. She is looking around desperately for support and some colleagues start laughing so I look back and she is looking at one fellow who is looking at his keyboard and trying his best to avoid my eye contact)
Fellow: Don't look at me. Dont ask me anything.
Colleague 1: But he told me you have a running club...
I walk back like I have just been insulted.
Me: There is no running club.
I look pointedly at her. The fellow is now staring at us and I am eyeballing her looking for signs of a runner in her. I dont see any. She has this awkward walking style that makes me doubt whether she has a core that can be called strong, or whether she can even run three kilometers.
Fellow one decides to be helpful and help her out of the awkward situation.
Fellow one: Its a men only running club.
Colleague 1: Is it a mens only running club?
Me: Yeah, but I wouldn't call it a club.
Colleague 1: (Excited) Can I join you?
Me: We dont exist, so you cant join us.
Colleague 1: But am told you meet and run...
Me: Yes, we meet for races. We dont meet to train.
Colleague 1: That's ok. When is your next meeting?
Me: 7th July
Colleague 1: Where?
Me: Umoja
Colleague 1: How far are you running?
Me: 26k
Colleague 1: Thats ok. I can hack it.
Me: How far have you run?
Colleague 1: Uh...I...
Me: What is the farthest you have ever run?
Colleague 1: 26k
Me: How long did it take you?
Colleague 1: three hours
Me:  Where?
Colleague 1: Karura forest
Me: When?
Colleague 1:  Why am I being interrogated?
Me: (eyeballs)
Colleague 1: Three months ago
Me:  I don't believe you.
Anyway, let me not bore you with the details. She later said she runs on Mbagathi way but would like to join a runners club because it would make her more disciplined. We will see. Our conversation was inconclusive.

Another was a bunch of three ladies. Two overweight, one average. They were desperate to lose weight. They wanted to join our running club and they were told I am the chairman. I told them there is no running club and gave them diet tips. I also told them running is so hard and that they are better off focusing on diet because diet is way easier and more effective than running. I told them I am tired of hearing people who want to start running and I will wait to be told by people, not by themselves, that they are running. They even showed me new unpackaged running shoes they had just bought from Nairobi Sports house. I told them that if they are not just talking, we will see.

They took notes as I spoke. Hang onto every word.

So maybe I should start a running club. They all said they are willing to pay to join. They thought that because nobody pays, nobody is committed. Hmmmm......
Aaanyways, speed is catching up. I think I will do one last week in the trenches next week, then I do Sotokoto on 7th July (this is doubtful though because I have an official function in Egerton University then) and 26K race on 21st July (targeting sub 2hours). Then on 23rd July, I go back to the trenches for another six or seven weeks then focus on Ndakaini and Stanchart. In between, we will repeat the 24.6K race on 18th August.
 This is my 18K progression since I came down the trenches:
The highlighted one (1:21:44) was done in 4:32 pace. I am aiming at sub 4:30 pace next week and alongside it, an 18K in sub 1:20. If we can do 18K in 1:18, we will be able to do 21K in sub 1:30 so that is what I am aiming for maybe by early July. That Wednesday run I lost the sub 4:30 pace after 9k so I have it on my crosshairs next. Yesterday, I reminded myself that its ok to run slowly, so long as you know what you are doing.

 For now, stay motivated because:

 And I have to remind myself to:

 And also, when I become too ambitious and unrealistic with my goals, I remind myself to:

 And when it hurts, like my shins and iliopsoas are hurting now, I tell myself:

At the end of the day, I love what running has done for me. I dont know what I would be if it wasnt for running. One day I will write about it. Now its 9:55 and I should take a glass of water then get a healthy snack. Eating clean is so much fun.
Keep running fellows!


mista maQ said...

I am proud of what you have done so far during the month - u r an inspiration from the discipline in diet. That alone means u can virtually do whatever u get ya head into. Looking foward to great races with you. That 18k in 81 mins is some good speed which u should follow thru again and again!

Running Writer said...

Thanks. Yeah, lets see what happens. I will definitely want to do my 26K in 2 hours on that Eastlands-Upper Hill route. Either 14th or 21st July.