A year in a runner’s calendar

You know that I’m a runner so when I think about my calendar my mind often goes automatically to races, preparation. Still, when I think of these events they’re not the most important ones. They are part of my framework and discipline. Yes, I’m boring, thank you for noticing.

Spring

I’m supposed to be ready for a spring marathon because I’ve been training hard in the winter. Well, I always run but the extra weight I carry on after xmas is not helping as well as all the layers of clothes I wear until it’s boiling hot outside. Yes, I’m one of those people you see running in old fashioned tracksuits trying to sweat the fat out. The only difference is that I’m genuinely cold when I start running that’s why I dress like a moron.

Usually my spring marathon is a bit of a failure because I train during cold months and spring starts a day before my marathon. That’s Murphy’s law for runners and it never fails.

Summer

I finally switch to shorts and I develop a runner’s tan that means I have white feet and torso and a garmin white stripe on my wrist. I’ve already gave up on having a real even tan, there are worse things.

I suffer a lot running in the hot weather but I love hot weather so I suck it up but for the first two months of summer I can’t believe I’m slower because of the heat, I’m convinced it’s me losing my fitness. Once I get that it’s the weather the summer is over. Damn.

Autumn

Probably the best moments to run: colors, temperature, the smell of falling leaves. All the summer training is paying off, the running is easier and more often than not the fall marathon is amazing.

Winter

Not my favourite time for running: I hate cold, snow and dark and wither gives me all of that and more. Like flu and nonsense sales. I lose my mojo for everything and my favourite activity in winter is sleeping and staying warm. Maybe I’m a bear? That would explain everything.

Anyway, I’m cranky and almost always injured in winter but I overcompensate by signing up for a lots of spring and summer races. It’s easy to imagine yourself running all those kms while sitting under a blanket drinking tea. I’m still running, training, dreaming of spring.

What’s yours running/training year? Any patterns?

Anything different this year? New race or routine?


Pre race stress

Weeks of preparation (or not), looking forward to the date that seemed so distant and here it is.

Only few days to your (or mine) race day and you start to go mad…

Ok, I exaggerate a bit but we all know that taper week and pre race madness is real!

Stress is your friend

Just like with training:a good amount of stress help you grow as an athlete. When it’s too much you get injured.

A mental stress gives you the right amount of adrenaline kick and keeps you going like a Duracell rabbit. When it’s too much you lose all your special powers. So get the best from stress but don’t overdo it.You know, like with coffee.

Pre-race stress is understandable and quite normal. All those months come to one day, a final exam. Some of us prepare diligently with great or less great results, others are less fortunate and can’t prepare or refuse to go by the plan. Either way you can’t really do much in the last few days. Try not to waste everything by eating poorly or not sleeping or running all the miles. Apart from that: relax.

Doubts

Am I ready? Will I be ready? Have I done everything right? Would would Jesus do?

The answer is one:you can never be sure and it really doesn’t matter. Sometimes I think people ask the wrong questions or even waste time asking questions at all. We ask questions about the past: how we could have done better training, prepare better and they are valid questions before preparing for the next race, project etc.

Analyzing is good, dwelling on what’s been already done is not.

Doubts are normal thing because few of us have the certainty to be flawless. What you can do is to switch doubts, that uncertain state of things into excitement. If you think of it they are quite close to each other. Race is this d-day when you’re not sure what’s going to happen but it can be super fun and amazing. Usually it is. Unless you have diarrhea. Then it’s not that amazing. #notapersonalstory

What would Meb do?

I have no idea, I haven’t read his book (yet) but I heard he thought of dropping out of each marathon he did. Which makes him a drama queen. C-Mon Meb, you got this! Every single time!

What you can do and what I do the days before the race is rest, hydrate, do yoga, take care of my nutrition. Basically what I should do normally but I’m too lazy.

I try to take a special care of myself, treat myself better. I mask, do my nails, visualize what I will do after the race #celebrate

Do you go mad before the race?

What’s your strategy for pre race madness?

Do you have a pre race ritual?

Lazy runner

Days are getting longer and warmer.

Races are approaching.

And all I want to do is stay on the couch, read and watch films on YouTube.

I know, that’s the motivation you’ve been looking for.

Honestly there’s no reason to be lazy: the weather is great, running is going well and I no longer have those pains in the left quad that were making me so anxious.

Have you ever experienced this state of laziness? Partially I blame the weather for this, spring has come early (not complaining) and now is playing hide&seek with us

Once I’m out running I still enjoy it but I find it so difficult to get out! On the other hand, on the rest days I can’t wait to be running again!

I have some suspicions to why it happens

  • I sleep poorly these days, melatonin helps but I still wake up too early
  • Changing weather makes me moody
  • I lost my morning routine which makes me procrastinate in the morning
  • I eat more sugary stuff
  • The last dentist visit resulted in taking a lot of painkillers which I usually don’t take and my body feels ‘out of normal’

Out of that list I think that poor sleep is the most aggravating of all and the most difficult to manage for me. I can more easily deal with other issues but sleep. Damn, sleep is so powerful mood boosting and recovery tool. Sleep is my favourite.

Packing for a race

I normally pack in one bag but by normally I mean not for a race.Do I even travel anymore if not for a race? Anyway..if you have this problem I think I might have a solution

What you actually need?

Make a race list and if you don’t have an app for this download a…grocery shopping list, mine is called MyGroceries (#shocking) and it works just fine both for shopping and for race packing.

Take no more than 2 sets of clothing for the race, it’s not a beauty contest. If the weather changes drastically you might get something from the race expo. Hint: check out if you have everything once arrived at the hotel and before heading out for the race expo.

Recap: you need your running clothes, energy gels, of course your shoes and other gadgets like cap, gloves, chafing gel, gps watch and charger for it.

And of course your shoes. My personal advice if you take plane for the race: always put your shoes in the hand luggage. If your main luggage gets lost you can always buy running clothes but buying and running in the new pair of shoes is a bad bad bad idea.

Imagine them gone..

What should be on your ‘emergency list’?
Ahhh, emergencies. Don’t we love them. All the unplanned problems like gut issues, flu, sore throat. You might notice that I mention all possible health issues. The thing is all the other running related emergencies you can resolve easily aka buy stuff. If you, on the other hand, have fever, something you ate made you puke, ecc. it’s better to have something on hand. I know, I sound like a grandma. Call me running grandma.

Things I put on my emergency list? Painkillers,pills for urinary infections and anti-fever pills. You might say that if you need those you shouldn’t run and you’re probably right. Sometimes you’ll decide non to run and it’s ok, sometimes you take one pill and your ready to go the day after . No matter what will be your choice you still need a pill

A ‘nice-to-have’ list

Not so important as emergency list but I would argue that you still need to think about it. It’s all about relaxing and feeling a bit less overwhelmed and more like at home when you’re away. You know best how to achieve it. For me it’s a herbal tea and a good book the night before, for you it might me and essential oil or your favorite good mood play list. Something to chill is easy to find, just remember to take it with you!

My go-to de-stress set before the race

What’s on your list to pack for a race?

Do you have an emergency list?

How do you relax before the race?

Confessions of an ex race junkie

My name is Hanna and I used to race every weekend.

Or every other weekend.

Ok, I wrote every other weekend just to make you think I wasn’t a junkie. I was. Big time.

I don’t know where are you in your running history but for most of us it goes like this:

  • You start running, God knows why, and you suffer. No breath, crampy legs, the struggle is real
  • The struggle is less painful
  • You still suck at running but somehow you enjoy it and becomes your thing. You may even meet other people who enjoy the same type of masochism.
  • You sign up for your first race and even though it’s stressful the adrenaline, going for the race, all the rituals before and after, seeing your friends makes it the best thing ever.
  • You’re officially hooked

Maybe you’ve been there or maybe you’re heading there,I’m not in a Race Town anymore. I’m actually trying to get back but let me tell you why I don’t live there anymore

It’s pretty stressful. Even if you tell yourself it’s only just for fun and you won’t give your all, that the race is just a part of training. The adrenaline is contagious and there’s no way you won’t be at least a bit nervous. Your ‘fight-or-flight’ mode will inevitably kick in. Imagine living this every weekend. Waking up Sunday morning with that tingle in the stomach..You’re only racing against yourself but…

It’s not the way you want to train. Some runs are easy, some are faster. If you race instead of training you’ll always give 100% instead of taking it easy. Then if you race you should recover the week after.

Once you recover you race again which means you never train, you just rest and recover. You will have a wall full of medals but few PR’s.

Can I get a mortgage for this? You might race close to home but it will cost you money and time. Races are getting more and more popular and even if you plan ahead traveling for races can damage your budget.

Racing is a lifestyle. If  you want to live that way, that’s ok just bear in mind you have to organize everything around it. No more lazy weekend mornings, either you travel for a race or you wake up early to go on a start line. No brunch or Sunday roast with non running friends (do you still have non running friends?) Then you recover so Sunday afternoon is quite different as well: cold baths, foam rolling or legs up against the wall. But you decline most of the invitations for the weekend anyway, racing, remember?

Someone said: injury? Recovery and steady training makes you less prone to injuries, needless to say racing all the time is not. Plus after the race you body is weaker also in term of immunity and you can get sick quite easily.

I think the main reason I quit compulsive racing was stress and being exhausted all the time. Plus I wanted to bring my running on the next level and constant racing wasn’t helping at that. Instead of getting faster I started to become slower and irritated.

I’m not sure if there are a lot of addicts like I used to be, for sure not having a family on your own can limit the damage in the first place, I mean you want to and have to spend time and money on your loved ones as a priority. Otherwise you can slip quite easily into the new lifestyle which is being away every weekend and collecting bibs.

Are you addicted to racing? Maybe you used to? Why dis you quit?

What do you love about racing?

Any race on your calendar?

A week in the life of a runner, winter edition


If you like me, movement and running are a very important part of your life. Thankfully it’s not all of my life and I try to live a balanced life although there are times all I’d do would be running, hiking and biking.

But life is not an Instagram feed and we all have to squeeze sport to sometimes busy schedule. Here’s an example of my winter week of running

Monday rest day,

Maybe the one and only rest day. God had a free day on Sunday but who am I to rest on the same day as God? I’d rather take Monday as it is hard enough for million different reasons. Monday is when I recover after a long Sunday run. I’d like to tell you I go for a massage or sauna but let’s be real. My osteopath is on sick leave and I don’t trust anyone else plus I have a lot of races to plan so the budget is tight so..I’ll go for foam rolling and tumeric tea (and some tiger’s balm for aching muscles, it’s the best!)

Tuesday easy run

run in the fog and since it was also a short one I’ll do and abs or legs workout afterwards. I’m sweaty anyway so why not take advantage of that?

Wednesday speed work

That run left me unsatisfied but hey at least I have a goal to reach for…a quick strengthening workout for legs and I’m done. Shower!

Thursday rest day

so I’m squeezing in a longer session of mobility and strength exercises. Honestly: I hate them, at least part of them but I guess these are the ones I need the most.

Normally I prepare some falafels or veggie burgers in batch to freeze and have them ready for those days I need to have a quick lunch.

Thursady gives me a breath of fresh air, I needed a day off. I promised myself to foam roll this year..I’ll do it tomorrow.

Friday I feel the air of weekend and everything looks brighter on Friday so I do my quick’ish run in the park and quick abs at home. TGIF!

Another run, another breathtaking view

Saturday is kind of rest day but I fit in a yoga session if I can and it’s quite demanding one but I’m on a break up terms with yoga nowadays so one class a week is better than nothing, right? So yoga it is. A walk around town to relax, carbs for dinner thinking ahead of my long run tomorrow. What’s your carb of choice before long run? It used to be pizza for me but somehow in the past year my legs are so heavy the day after that I decided to go for risotto

Sunday runday funday which means long run. In winter I stay longer in bed because heading for a long run early in the morning means cold air and my hand and feet suffer a lot in winter..Plus I need a bit of sleep and laziness sometimes, right? I like long runs, they are like a treat for me and on Sunday I don’t need to be nowhere.

Then a good lunch afterwards, trying to put in some proteins #teamtempeh and later in the day…foam rolling finally! I should do it more often, right? But it hurts!

If I’m in a right mood I’ll go for another yoga session, maybe a yin yoga, my latest discovery and I have to say it’s the best after a long run. Steady and focusing of different muscle groups.

That’s it! I’d love to hear your week in sports or whatever you do to keep moving! Isn’t that amazing what we can do in a week?

5 podcasts you should know

I rarely listen to music when I run (ultimately I rarely listen to music, I have to change that!)

but I always listen to podcasts.

This is the last post of the year so instead of hammering you with New Year’s resolutions which I kind of did last week I’d like to share my favorite podcasts of the 2018. I have a lots of them but I give you 5 because it’s a perfect number for Friday.

Check them out and take them with you on your walk/run/commute.

At the end of each show description you’ll find a type of run I’d combine:

For those who are interested in nutrition explained by a specialist  

The Funk’tional Nutrition. Don’t despair, it’s not an academic podcast. Erin and Kyle are both nutritionist who know how to explain the most burning issues about nutrition and understand that nutrition is not only about food but how we approach both life and our health.

Recommended run: uphill or sprints

For my ladies (and gents) who love cruelty free beauty products and a good laugh

Natch Beaut, a podcast by Jackie Johnson, a comedian passionate about all things beauty. What’s different about this podcast? This podcast is about cruelty free products and Jackie is a personality! I’m always for a good laugh and I’m quite sure that even if you don’t care about cosmetic industry you’ll love the show!

Recommended run: intervals

For those who love cinema and a good interview

Off Camera with Sam Jones. Sam Jones is a photographer who worked with many celebrities. Thanks to his unique talent to connect with people he manages to make great photos and great interviews. I discovered that many people I wasn’t interested in have a very interesting things to say (#life).

Recommended run: long run with steady pace

For those who love sports, adventure and new ideas

The Rich Roll Podcast. An old favorite that never fails to bring an inspiring content. Rich Roll is an athlete, speaker and author who talks to other athletes, doctors, scientists and inspirational figures. You’ll be inspired and amazed, trust me on that!

Recommended run: tempo run or broken miles

For those who want to change the world one step at a time

Ways to change the world Maybe it’s the Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s  soothing voice, wide array of guests (writers, musicians, politicians, actors) or in depth, meaningful questions but every time I listen to this podcast I feel compelled although every episode is a quite easy listen.

Recommended run: steady relaxed run

What are your favourite podcasts? Do you listen do podcasts or prefer music on your run/commute?

I hope you’ll find my suggestions interesting!

Once you’ve decided..new goals you should put into practice

New Year’s resolutions

Wait, what? Aren’t we supposed to give up resolutions? You’re right, resolutions sounds so 2010, let’s call them running objectives that is much more athletic and professional.

We run for new PBs, we run to be in shape and most of all we’re running because we like it, we love it, it keeps us sane. Our running objectives change throughout the year and we can have as many as we want. Let’s make a list and draw a simple plan so all this won’t seem so unachievable.

Run/exercise regularly

Not all of us are fitness junkies (WOOT?!) and we just can’t make it. Or can we? It’s a matter of priorities.

HOW? Make a small, humble and doable plan. I know, we all want to feel like a superheroes and that means running a half marathon like it was a piece of xmas cake but the TRUTH is that everyone focus on that big race, huge medal and pain is temporary and other glory related quotes.

Nobody tells you that squeezing 15 minutes every day into your schedule to do the strength work or 20 minutes run is the fabric that superheroes are made of (make a t-shirt with that phrase. Or pyjamas).

Once you’re no longer suffering doing that add minutes to your walk or run or add another session.

Getting fitter is all about controlled suffering. Once your body adapt you must make it suffer some more so it will adapt even further and you will become a badass.

Oh, you can’t do that?  I apologize, I thought it’s a fast course to become a badass.

Dat DIET thing

OMG, don’t make me even start on that, you should eat cabbage and drink only water with apple cider vinegar all day long! What do you mean you like pizza and fries and beer? Stop!

HOW? In a ideal world I’d told you to throw away all the junk food from your pantry (and give it to me, no food should go to waste). In real world I’ll tell you that if you really want junk food you’ll find a way to get it. Get that chocolate, one piece of chocolate and make it a good quality, same with peanut butter or premium quality chips. Which doesn’t mean you should have it all the time, just as an emergency. Before the emergency occurs, prepare. Get the whole bunch of fruits and vegetables you like, not that fancy kale nobody knows what to do with. Everyone likes potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, apples, bananas. Buy those and buy good spices or soy sauce, something that will make it taste better without a load of calories.

Don’t plan elaborate recipes, cook a batch of good rice or quinoa (it’s good, I swear, you probably cooking it the wrong way!) to have it in the fridge.

Supplements

Let’s face it, it’s hard to survive in this world without some support (wink, wink). And supplements, at least the ones you should care about, are still legal. Consider including some into your diet.

HOW?

Don’t throw yourself on million things before blood test cause some supplements might be bad for you (like iron) and you can spend this money on junk food (joke: spend it on kale or beer). What you can experiment with (all drug related conversations starts with this phrase) is (drumrolls)

vit D3 combined with vit K2 because there are high probabilities you’re not having enough of it. D3 means healthy bones and vit K2 put that calcium only into your bones and not into your veins (horror story, just take that vit K2 with D3, okayy?). Anything else? If you’re an athlete try carnosine monohydrate that will help your muscles recover and stay in top form or build muscles if you’re a gym junkie.

Cross training

I don’t mean only abs. But abs are a good thing to look at so..your choice.

Still if you’re an ambitious athlete you can’t just do your sport without well shaped abs, glutes and legs (ok, add shoulders as well) because flappy muscles are the reason you get injured and not training sucks and we get angry and hungry. And abs.

HOW? The tactic is quite similar to the running regularly plan with the small twist: it’s completely different. If you make time for running you should get time for doing your abs or legs exercises. But probably you don’t like it or you think that running will solve everything, even the world’s peace issue. The solutions for you cross training phobia are two: you make time for abs (see the first point of this post) or you take up a new sport. Swimming, cycling, judo..anything that will make you happy and make that muscles work! Choose your happy path, that’s an advice that will get you far, my friend.

I hope I gave you some ideas for getting better, happier and putting that resolutions into practice! At the end of the day it’s your will to change and some strategy to put things into practise that make that resolutions work!


Downtime! No malfunction, just relax.

My marathon went great and I can enjoy my downtime! Good news, you can enjoy it too!

Seriously, can we ease into the new year slowly? New year will surely have another challenges for us.

‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’ so let’s give these words some meaning.

Self care

Are you one of those people panicking during the Christmas time? Presents, polishing the house, preparing the dinner, traveling to find your family? In theory this should be the most amazing time of the year, in practice it’s a source of anxiety for many of us.

Let’s face it, we don’t need presents as we probably get what we want ourselves and probably your family don’t need luscious gifts as well. But if your loved ones are different and require something expensive…honestly you shouldn’t fall for it. Take a look at some charity websites and see how much you need to pay for a Christmas dinner for a homeless or elder person, how much it costs to feed a homeless dog for a month. I don’t want to seem a Mother Teresa here but it puts things into perspective and doing good (make that donation!) makes you feel really good.

If you want to make a present I would suggest giving an experience (travel, race enrollment, dinner or drinks together) rather than an object. We all have too many stuff but not enough great memories!

Training

I know some of you are doing ‘run every day in December’ project and if it makes you feel good, let be it. Me, myself and my two legs are taking some easy time. Training for a marathon has been tough for me mentally because I love logging miles but the pressure of great performance wasn’t easy. That doesn’t mean I won’t be running, I love it! Possibly I’d like to maintain my pace if not getting faster but I’d like to dedicate some time to strength work and yoga. My right tendon is begging me for some attention and I’ll do my best to send away the inflammation I have.

And of course I’m dreaming of next year races, I have something big planned for the second half of the year but springtime is free in my book…Send me some race suggestions, I love to plan!

Are you having some downtime? How are you using it? Are you loving Christmas or you just can’t relax in December?

Few random Q&As on running

Are you on Quora?

Quora in an online platform where people can ask questions and other users who deem themselves experts or just think they know the answer can reply. I like to read and comment on Quora and reply to questions about running. I’m not an expert, I just ran a few marathons and running is a passion of mine. I thought it would be fun to post a few questions from Quora I replied to. If you like them please follow me on Quora  https://www.quora.com/profile/Hanna-Gierzynska-Zalewska or just give a look on the website!


Why do people pay to run a marathon? Why not just run the 42 km on any other day?

Because you want to measure yourself on a given day on that distance and have a proof of that. And a medal. And photos.

You want to test your luck, maybe you’ve trained but on that day you will suck anyway.

Travel: you want to run where you’ve never ran before. Sometimes running a race is a cherry on top of your training.

The best way to know is to run a marathon or watch a marathon in person.

What it means to ‘hit the wall’ in the marathon?

When you finish your physical and mental energy. I would argue that it’s mainly your brain because when it senses that your finishing glucose it just goes on energy saving mode to save itself. There’s enough glucose for the brain so it says to your body to shut down. Which sucks cause you mentally and physically feel like you can’t go any further BUT

You actually can, you just have to tell your brain ‘I know what you’re up to, you’re not fooling me’ and go on.


Will anyone ever run the marathon under two hours?

Humanity is getting there and the latest record in marathon (Eliud Kipchoge 2h 1 min in Berlin Marathon) shows that we’re close.

I’m quite positive that it will happen.


Is it important to monitor the heart rate while running? If yes, why?

It could be very useful as it gives you a feedback on intensity of your workout or your overall health. If you don’t have a special heart condition it’s just something you might use not something that is necessary. Many runners look at heart rate monitor too religiously.

When I would strongly advise running with a heart rate monitor? If you’re running while pregnant as you must keep your heart rate way lower that before pregnancy.


Should I treat life as a sprint or a marathon?

Orienteering but without map and compass.