Sometimes it’s Just About Getting the Job Done

I know I know – It’s Friday and I’m only just posting my blog from last week! I apologise ten fold!

My excuse is that I spent the second half of last week, and the first half of this week, in Melbourne and so I found myself completely out of my running routine (and blogging routine).

Anyways, enough about that and more about last week! This was another week of firsts for me – The first time I’d run 26km’s (I managed to drag a friend along, poor Eliza!), the first time I consumed two Gu Gel’s in one run, and the first time I had to “fit in” my runs rather than it be part of my daily routine. It was a challenging week nonetheless, but it was still important that I stuck to my routine and got the job done!

The highlight for me was running 26km’s last Saturday… Two and half hours of running (and chatting) through Melbourne city and along the Melbourne beaches. I let Eliza take care of the directions and found myself just going along for the ride. Sure there were times where I struggled, but this was more of a mental test than anything else. It’s interesting how your mind maps out the run for you:

10km  – the first Gu Gel to look forward to

10-16km – grind

16km – “only 10km’s to go!”

20km – the second Gu Gel to look forward to

20-26km – home stretch!

The view of Melbourne city along the beach was a sight worth seeing and so was the Port Adelaide football club at St Kilda Beach, warming up ahead of their big game that night!

The title pretty much speaks for itself – last week was all about just getting the job done, regardless of where I was or how I was feeling. The best thing was that I witnessed a change of scenery and experienced running in a different environment (a much cooler environment I must say!). And that’s the best thing about running – it doesn’t matter where you are or who you’re with, all you need is a pair of running shoes and away you go!

Scary to think there’s only 8 weeks to go until I run my first marathon, yikes!!

Until my next blog in a couple of day’s time please keep those donations coming!

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/exquc/sh/c4d7Wc

“Running has given me the courage to start, the determination to keep trying, and the childlike spirit to have fun along the way. Run often and run long, but never outrun your joy of running” – Julie Isphording

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First Race, First Half Marathon, First Medal

I’ve always loved competing – whether its been on the tennis court, inside the classroom, playing monopoly, or competing against others in my footy tips. Some may think I’m a little TOO competitive, but that’s just something that’s been instilled in me from a young age. Plus, what fun would it be without a little niggle here and there at your competition?

For the most part my competition has always been on the other side of the tennis court – an opponent whose looking to get the win just as much as me… Rallies going back and fourth, score lines fluctuating, momentum shifts, the controllable and the uncontrollable, but at the end of the day the scoreline determined whether I won or lost.

Running, on the other hand, is quite different. For me, I’ve found there’s two things I’m competing against – myself and the clock. A perfect example was my first race last Sunday – the Bunbury Half Marathon. Yep 21km of just me and a footstep at a time. I’d only entered a few days prior, but thought the race would be great test of what to expect when the Perth Marathon comes around (only 9 weeks to go, yikes!) and in terms of preparation it was the perfect race to run. Initially I had planned to just the run the half marathon as part of my training and not worry so much about “the time”, but of course the competitor in me came out and my mindset quickly changed to “GAME ON”! I had a time frame I wanted to complete the half marathon in so I set myself three goals – 1) An easily obtainable goal 2) A realistic yet moderately challenging goal and 3) An ultimate goal.

For the most part it was a flat course (although there were a couple of hills) but BOY did I learn a lot about myself and about racing in general. I had the nerves (I was soo nervous, I can’t imagine how I’m going to feel pre Perth Marathon!), the adrenaline, the excitement … pretty much every feeling you get before a big match! The challenging thing for me was knowing that I was racing against myself and not knowing how my body was going to react (I had never run that far in my life!). On top of that I had a time I wanted to run but everything was up to me – making sure I didn’t go out too hard too soon, pacing myself well enough that by the 16km mark I could kick it up a notch, making sure to take sips of water at each station (I learnt the best way to sip is to hold the cup in a V and to take in about 100ml), and then making sure to take my Gu Gel at the right time and close enough to a water station. You can plan it all in your head but the only way of figuring it all out is by actually doing it!

I’m not going to lie – the half marathon definitely had it’s challenges and at times the mind started to play games. For me, the 12km-16km was the hardest because you’re in “no-man’s land”. You’re neither near the start nor near finish and it’s simply a grind. But once I reached the 16km I somehow found another gear –  the adrenaline kicked in again and I was able to pick up my pace and found a really good rhythm . I finished the race in 1 hour 45min (happy with that!)! but I don’t think I would have been able to achieve my goal had it not been for the volunteers and other runners cheering me on. Those little comments of “great job, good rhythm, nearly there, keep going” go a long way when your mind may possibly thinking otherwise!

Overall I loved the experience – except for this one guy that would literally blow out boogers from his nose every two seconds, seriously get yourself a hanker chief! But, and there’s always a BUT, I know I still have a lot of work ahead of me, and some things to address -blisters are one of them!

Anyways… First race down, first half marathon complete, and first medal received!!

Thanks to all those that have made donations so far – it’s very much appreciated. For more details on how you can donate to this worth cause please visit:

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/exquc/sh/c4d7Wc

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start” – John Bingham

The night before - bag all packed and ready to go!

The night before – bag all packed and ready to go!

First race! Number #459

First race! Number #459

First Half Marathon complete!

First Half Marathon complete!

Gadgets & Tips

Want to get really specific about your training and running? What to improve your split times and recovery? Well, as promised at the start of the week, I’ve provided a few tips and gadgets below that I’ve found work for me and which I’ve been using on a consistent basis. Now, the below can apply to anyone and everyone, but you really have to find what works for you. Remember, what might work for some may not necessarily work for others!

1) Running Watch

Everyone in my running group has one! I felt so out of the loop the first day I joined my group but TRUST me you’ll want to get one of these! There’s a whole bunch of different brands out there (so again it’s your choice) but I chose the Garmin  Forerunner 10. It tracks distance, pace, calories, identifies personal records, has a virtual pacer that compares current pace to target, has a rechargeable battery, and you can upload it to your computer and see and do all sorts of things (see your run on a map, get more detail on each km, share it with friends) and the list goes on… It’s definitely worth the investment and you’ll find you’ll never want to run without it!

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2) Energy Gels

This, I can say, is really an individual preference. I starting using Gu Gel years ago during my college years (by the way they’re made in Berkeley, whoop whoop!) and found they worked for me. I usually only take them on my longer runs, one every 10km, and it just helps sustain energy demands. If your stomach can’t handle these there is a range of other different gels, chews, or energy drinks as well as many other different brands. When it comes to Gu Gel flavours – my favourite is Vanilla Bean and I always get it with caffeine (just to get that little extra kick)!

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3) Foam Roller

My least favourite part about training! The more km’s run the tighter the quads, IT bands, and glutes! The worst for me are the IT bands and there’s been many times I’ve found myself curse at the stupid blue thing. But in saying that, as much as it hurts, it’s really helped keep the body in tact and help me back up my runs. I’ve used the tennis ball on the hips a few times as well – not fun either.

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4) Nutrition

This is something I’m still trying to work out! I’m no nutritionist but from what I’ve read and been told, when endurance training, it’s way more beneficial to be eating more protein (and healthy fats) than carbs. We can only store a limited amount of carbs in our bodies as compared to an unlimited supply of fat. Regardless of our body fat percentage, we have enough fat to fuel exercise lasting for many hours. So for me, I’ve cut back on the carbs and upped the protein and healthy fats (aka avocados!). in saying that though, I do up the carbs the night before my long runs – slightly confusing I know, but the pro’s have told me, so they have to be right! Right?

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Well there you have it – BB’s tips for the day. Stay tuned for my Week 3 update, I’ll have some exciting news to fill you in on!

Until next time please keep those donations coming through!

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/exquc/sh/c4d7Wc

“Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.”

Week 2 – Stick To What You Know

Another week down and a few added kilometres in the legs…

Last week I mentioned my first rookie mistake as an amateur runner… I thought it’d be fitting to share this with you now as the earlier you can learn from my mistake the more appreciative your feet will be!

Before I started training a few weeks ago I was due for a new pair of running shoes – so, as you do, I jumped onto google and typed “best shoes for marathon running”… After a little googling and research I found myself purchasing these new running shoes which I thought would make me run sub 4-minute km’s. They were light, bright, and most importantly it’s what the top marathon runners were wearing so I had to have a pair myself! Unfortunately what might work for some does’t necessarily work for others. After a couple of long running sessions I started to notice my feet pull up sore and with the injuries I’ve sustained over the years I took this as a warning sign. However, I thought I’d give the shoes a bit more of a chance and pushed through a few more training sessions. Clearly my feet weren’t happy campers as the soreness was still lingering around, so to my dismay, I had to let the Adidas Boost runners go. The Boost’s got downgraded into the “casual” pile and I went back out and purchased myself the old faithful Asics “Nimbus” (I have a neutral foot but there are a range of styles which cater to all so its important to know what kind of arch you have). Even though the Asics aren’t as light, they do have a lot more cushioning and support and the most important thing is that I’ve never had an issue running in them. So lesson 101A of running your first marathon – save yourself some money and go out and buy yourself some running shoes that your feet are actually familiar and comfortable with!

Training this week was tough! It was my first real challenge running on tired legs and on top of that I had to complete three running sessions on my own thanks to the Easter break (I now realise what they mean when they say once you join a running group you never end up wanting to run on you own!). I spent the long weekend in Bridgetown with family which meant no flat running – rather up and down hills and running through rocky trails. It was back to just me and my ipod… fun fun! Here’s a glimpse of what this past week looked like:

Monday – 9km of hills

Tuesday – Rest/Light Gym

Wednesday

AM: 8km Pyramids (mix of 500m, 800m, 1km, & 2km runs) with burpees in-between each set

PM: 8km run (1 minute slower than race pace).

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 10km trail run

Saturday – 18km trail/road run

Sunday – Rest/Recovery

Total km’s run: 53km

This week definitely presented itself with its challenges – I experienced running on heavy and empty legs, had to back up a tough morning session with an afternoon run, and then had to run 18km solo though an unknown trail and road which really tested the mental toughness! Lets just say I’m looking forward to getting back to my running group this week!

Well there you have it… two weeks down and ten to go. You know your legs are starting to feel it when you find yourself sleeping in your skins! Oh well, anything to help recover those legs! This week I’ll be posting a few other tips and gadgets that I’ve learnt along the way so stay tuned in for that (there’s been no other rookie mistakes… yet!).

For now though grab yourself some comfy runners, join a running group, and remember to please keep your donations coming through!

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/exquc/sh/c4d7Wc

“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about” – PattiSue Plumer

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What’s Easter without Hot Cross Buns?

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Beautiful morning run in Bridgetown.

Week 1 – Learning As I Go

Well my 12 weeks of training officially got under way last week and it was all about getting the km’s in the legs!

I’ve been running consistently for the past six or so weeks (just me, my iPod and an early morning) with the occasional 10km thrown in on the weekend, but I’d never had as much fun running as I did this past week. You may ask why? Well here’s my secret tip and its simple – I joined a running club!

Don’t get my wrong there’s nothing wrong running by yourself, however for me (being that little bit competitive and ambitious) I felt I needed a little extra challenge. It’s not just about “running with people” – it’s about finding a group of people that challenge you to keep up with them. There’s a range of runners, all at different levels, and it didn’t take me long to work out where I fit in and who I was to keep up with (trust me, it’s not the same pace that you’d run by yourself, it’s harder!). There’s also those extra few that take off and are miles ahead, and you envy them, but what fun would it be if you had nothing to work towards?

Not only was I challenged from day one, but I’ve also learnt so much about my training and the do’s and dont’s – I felt like I was the new kid at school asking everyone 21 questions! How to train, what to eat and what not to eat (and you’d think I would know about nutrition being a professional athlete? How very wrong was I… I’ll save this for my next blog), when to drink and how much, types of training methods, running times and split times, what gadgets to buy, and I’m sure the list will continue to grow each week! I won’t share everything at once (I have to keep you interested somehow don’t I?) but I will say the most important thing for anyone wanting to run a marathon (or any other type of running goal) is the importance of a well planned and structured program. Its been through my running group that my program was written (by the guru himself, thanks Mark!) and I’ve quickly learnt that training for a marathon isn’t just about long distance running – there’s hills, intervals, shorter runs, and of course the long ones! It’s important to build strength, speed, and endurance – so that by the 32km mark you don’t conk out! Here’s a glimpse of what this past week looked like for me:

Monday – 3x 1.6km with 3min recovery

Tuesday – 12km (easy)

Wednesday – 1x 5km (time trial) + 3x 1km

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 10km

Saturday – 16km (30sec – 1min slower than race pace)

Sunday – Rest/Recovery

Total km’s run: 50.8km

Not only have I found a great bunch of people to run with but I’ve also loved the early morning runs – 5am wake up calls and 5.45am start times. You might think I’m a little crazy but there’s nothing better than running in the dark, watching the sun rise, getting a good work out in, and then know you have the rest of the day to tackle life. And what makes it even easier is knowing that you have 15-20 other committed people doing it with you!

If you take anything from my blog today it’s to go out and join a running club. It’s cheaper than a gym membership, you’re guaranteed to be pushed out of your comfort zone, you meet some inspiring and wonderful people, you witness the sun rise, and you keep learning new things about yourself and about running!

I confess, I’ve already made a rookie mistake but hey, you live and learn! (I’ll explain more next week…)

Anyways there you have it – one week down and eleven to go… I look forward to sharing more next week, but for now please remember to keep those donations coming through!

https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/exquc/sh/c4d7Wc

“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” –  John Bingham

Watching the sun rise

Perks of an early morning run…

Well earned recovery

Well earned recovery.

Always hungry!

Always hungry!

Space Mountain

As athletes I think we sometimes forget how lucky and privileged we are to be involved in something that is so much bigger than ourselves. Something that we pick up and love from a young age, are lucky enough to have decent skills at, decide to fine tune these skills over many years of hard work, and then that somehow, in return, has the ability to create opportunities that shapes and paves who we are and where we end up. It’s like going to Disneyland as a kid and choosing to ride “Space Mountain” – something you’ve always wanted to do, scary as hell, has its up and downs, but when you get off you say to yourself “I’d do that again!”. For me, that ride I chose was tennis.

I’m not here to talk about myself or my tennis achievements (that’s what wikipedia is for!), but rather this is my space, time, and opportunity to give back and create this ride for other aspiring individuals, no matter how young or old. Tennis has, and will always be, bigger than who I am – I’ve just been lucky to have been a part of it for as long as I have.

As professional athletes we’re all striving for that no.1 prize and sometimes we can get so caught up in our own world that it’s not until we get injured, take time off, or retire, that we then realise how fortunate we really are. The life lessons and skills we learn, the family and friends that support us, the people we meet and the connections we make, the places and countries we visit, and the ability to make a living out of the sport, is only a glimpse of some of the perks of being involved in a sport like tennis. We are lucky to be able to call this our “job” and must remember that not every individual has the opportunity, or has had the opportunity, to experience this unique roller coaster ride.

So where am I going with this all? As a retired athlete I have found that it’s my time to give back (this is only one of many!) – it’s my time to promote the great sport of tennis, to encourage people of all ages to pick up a racquet, and hopefully inspire and create an opportunity for some other young kid to jump on and ride Space Mountain. As part of this endeavour I will be running the Perth Marathon, June 14th (yes that’s 42km!) to raise funds for two very important causes – Court Talk and the Indigenous Engagement non-for-profit charitable organisation, Murlpirrmarra Connection.

Court Talk (91.3 SportFM) promotes local West Australian tennis, drives junior and senior tennis participation, and creates sustainable long term awareness of tennis throughout Perth and the wider West Australian community. I’ve been lucky enough to have been a part of Court Talk (thanks to Patsy and Big D!) since November 2014, and have seen the work that goes behind making this show possible, and it’s all for the love of the game. I wake up every Sunday morning excited to be on the show – yes there’s banter, and a little controversy (what’s a show without a little controversy?), but the most important and the biggest drive behind the show is to keep promoting tennis in WA. I’m grateful for the support that this state and tennis community has given me over the years and I have many fond memories of my playing days in Perth. My way of giving back – raise funds for Court Talk so that it can fund more of it’s production, buy more air time (sometimes we get kicked off last minute due to the cricket), and be self sufficient so that it can broadcast more tournaments, broadcast the West Australian State League and the Asia-Pacific League, as well as any other West Australian related tennis events.

Murlpirrmarra Connection creates educational options, community programs and volatile substance rehabilitation for the Indigenous Children on the Martu lands and around Wiluna, Central Western Australia. Giving back is not just about giving back to the game – it’s about being able to use the game to give back to something even bigger. For me, that something bigger is raising funds for Murlpirrmarra Connection – to continue to create hope, inspiration, and opportunities for young children in the wish   that one day they too can jump on their own roller coaster ride.

I have 12 weeks until I run my first marathon and I’ll be keeping a weekly blog of my training and experiences. Whether you choose to read and follow is up to you – but just remember whether your a current player, retired, or just a pure lover of the game be grateful and find a way to give back yourself – no matter how great or small that may be.

 “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”  – Vince Lombardi

I look forward to seeing you at the finish line!

If you would like to donate to please visit https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/exquc/sh/c4d7Wc