22 July 2015

Reconnecting with Running

So I have been quiet on the blog of late, I have been taking a mini break of sorts over May, June and 
July. Post TNF50 has been tough as far as running goes for me. This has been hard to digest as running has always been a big part of my day in the last 2 to 3 years. Not getting the satisfaction from my training has lead to less commitment to follow the plan and as a result the plan has been changed to accommodate these alien feelings. Lately the feelings I so regularly experience before, during and after a run are returning and so is the motivation to get back to work, challenging myself with each block of training.

Looking down on my Parkrun from our 
balcony at Mantra Salt Beach

So what has lead to this position? Why am I reflecting I such a manner?

There has been a lot thrown about of late in the ultra running world relating to Overtraining Syndrome (OTS), Hormone Deficiency and so on and this along with my wife Kellie's health issues (she has an adrenal fatigue issue which has hit her very hard and is a long process in terms of recovery) has lead me to think I was probably in the early stages of OTS or Over Commitment Syndrome as I feel it should be more realistically labelled. I am aware of the various symptoms and signs associated with OTS and looking at my life I believe there was cause for concern.

So why was I worried?


I got so sick just before TNF50 and this lead to my DNF there and my withdrawal from the Australian Mountain Running Championships in Brisbane (a race that I had been targeting to attempt to gain selection in the Australian Squad). Just 10 days before the race I completed a key run in record time so I was fit but the infection I caught hammered me for 4 weeks. It destroyed my immune system, I got a cold sore, required a week off work and 10 days of antibiotics to rid myself of the infection. This course of medication destroyed my gut and lead to 4 weeks of stomach issues that resulted in major gut problems on most days from around midday. This only just passed around 3 - 4 weeks ago after plenty of trial and error with diet and supplements. With this behind me I can now begin to train normally again, i.e. double days and high intensity sessions more often.
One of the few runs I enjoyed late last term.


I work full time as a teacher and I love my job and will never complain about my conditions. This said, it is very stressful at times and Term 2 is always busy with sport, reports, etc. I had plenty of time away with school sport, my illness added to this time off class and some unfortunate work issues led to days feeling as though I'd never get home or to the end of my work load. On these days it was always my run that got dropped, changed, moved or destroyed and towards the end of term I felt quite negative towards certain aspects of work and how they were affecting me. I was under stress and felt the best way to manage it was to lower my running expectations and put a bit extra into work hopefully getting things positive again. My only concern is that the majority of my stressors at work aren't within my control so I can only really look after my end.


I was working more, feeling ill often and generally being a cranky shit because I couldn't run as much. Lucky for me holidays were around the corner and I was able to take the time to move away from the problems affecting me personally and try to make the most of some good family time. This meant less running and trying to do as much together as we could. I am blessed to have been able to spend many hours with my family doing things like walks, bike riding, swimming, etc. and will continue to use this as a way to hopefully assist in my de-stressing.

Running on the beach @ Nambucca Heads
These signs were concerning both myself and Kel, having done a bit of reading (Kel more so than I), we felt as though I was on the rack so to speak. Rarely did I verbalise it, but Kel did, knowing all the warning signs that she had dismissed early on and so she asked the tough questions that needed to be asked at times. We have chatted about it and feel that it's definitely too much commitment, too much emphasis on backing up days of training, racing too hard too much and adding to that the pressure of a busy life.

OTS simply talks about the training, and I wasn't training above 65% load from May, I was averaging 65 - 80km a week with 7/8hrs of training so it can't just be training. It's the total commitment we have, work, family, etc. that cause the various issues that go along with training heavily. A bit like an alcoholic I was forced to cut down on my addiction (running) to steer the ship to avoid a more chronic problem.

Another great area to run - Central Coast NSW
I chose to run the Half at GWTM and only made the final decision to run at W2G at the 11th hour. Both of these performances were well below my capability, I ran 9min quicker in 2013 at Glow Worm and at the heli-pad in W2G I was outside of the top 10. But the results were reflective of what training I had done and even though performance wise I didn't achieve my goals I was happy with my runs, especially W2G and being able to finish strongly. They were both good long runs and up until the last 2 weeks were my toughest runs since TNF50 taper.

Glow Worm Half - my brief time at the front.
I have been able to complete regular short long runs and in the last few weeks have completed some good faster sessions including a 17:33 Kingscliff Parkrun. If I get into routine I can get back to where I want to be with some time. I'm having a week off and then I will start my build for the Hounslow 21km Sky-race in October. There are going to be several test runs in the lead up including the Glenbrook 34km, the Edgell Jog, STS Kurnell and Parkrun but my focus is going to be squarely on my training. It'll be simple but specific and I am again motivated, hungry for the desire to challenge and push myself. I want to get fast, strong and fit again running PB efforts and racing well. I run for enjoyment, fun and social reasons but I also am competitive and am driven by the challenge.

I have been a bit off my game of late but feel it's close to returning and with the right attitude I can reconnect with some form and the reasons why I run. So it's time to suck up the rest of the frosty Winter and push into Spring with purpose, meeting each challenge with the knowledge I have done everything I can to succeed.

The start, he sat in and got away in the last 1500m.
Finishing off @ Kingscliff Parkrun.
My 1st Parkrun and a surprising 17:33.