Sunday, December 29, 2013

The start of another year - January 2014

Happy New Year and a toast to all the opportunities that 2014 will bring.

The start of a new year is such an exciting time and full of so many possibilities - a new beginning and a clean slate.

As we start this new year, I am making a list of things that I want to accomplish during 2014 such as beginning yoga classes to increase muscle flexibility, joining the gym for strength training, looking for some exciting events to see if the yoga classes and strength training make a difference and I will also be thinking about next steps career wise as my current contract is due to conclude in June.

There is also nothing like the shock I got a few days ago to help get things back on track after I found out that what I thought I was eating on my Paleo low carb / high fat diet was in fact a high carb / high fat diet.  High carbs and high fat do not go well together when the aim is weight loss - in fact weight gain is a guaranteed outcome (I am sure we have had this conversation before - but I am a slow learner).  It wasn't until I sat down with my good friend Clara who started punching the 'carb' numbers that reality set in - an apple has HOW many carbs?' oh dear, no wonder the weight loss isn't happening!

I then spent the rest of the afternoon making a list of what I can actually eat so that I am all ready to stock my pantry with low carb / high fat foods for the new year.  It was a surprise to see the number of carbs in things like dates and grapes which I thought would be fairly low in carbs.  I also found out that the number of carbs I need to aim for is approx 50 grams each day (for weight loss purposes).  Its always advisable to know what the goal is (how else can you achieve it)!  The good news is that as a result of this 'understanding carbs' exercise, there will be a lot of cream, avocado and full fat cheese filling my shelves in 2014 - all these yummy items have no carbs at all (or less than 1 gram) - I can't complain about that.  

Anyway, enough about carbs.... I have had an awesome 2 weeks spent in my beautiful little home in sunny Takapuna over the holiday season enjoying being able to spend time with family and friends and enjoy the beautiful beach and clear blue skies - it may sound strange but hanging the washing out in the garden with the sun shining on it has been quite a highlight - its so humid in Singapore that the washing can take a week to dry.  But like all other great holidays, this one is now coming to an end.  As always its been an amazing time and a real bonus was getting to meet Clara's triplets who were born a little earlier than expected on New Years Eve.  They are absolutely gorgeous.

I have tried hard to catch up with as many of my nearest and dearest as I possibly can - but for those of you that I missed this time, I will be back in early April for Soph's 21st birthday, so will look forward to seeing you then.

I fly back to Singapore at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning so will be making the most of my last few days in Paradise (on this trip anyway).

Here is to an awesome 2014 - may all your dreams come true.  Until next time -

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lessons Learnt

Well what a weird weekend - after three months of working towards a goal it seemed a little strange not to have to head out for three plus hours pounding the pavements. Instead I downloaded four great movies and barely moved off the couch.  Bliss.  Time for some R&R before I decide what is next on the race agenda.

However, whilst lounging on the couch, I have been reflecting on the lessons I learnt during the marathon build up that I will take forward for future events and thought I would jot them down for reference - I hope one of them (or all of them) might be helpful to you to!

The first lesson was the most significant for me psychologically - for this build up I didn't have a set routine that I stuck to the night before a long run, or a set meal that I ate the night before a long run, or a breakfast that I ate on the morning of a long run, or a particular electrolyte drink that I drank along the way.  For me this was hugely beneficial as if one of those routines didn't eventuate leading up to race day then I would second guess every ache or pain during the event and put it down to my routine being broken.  The longer the race the more important it is that I don't panic if things go wrong.  So I continuously changed things along the way and built confidence knowing that whatever I ate or drank it would work for me.  I told myself that I had a cast iron stomach - and thats exactly how I felt on the day.

The second lesson was that when I found myself injured I still exercised for the same amount of time that I was scheduled to run for.  So if I had a 3 hour run scheduled then I walked for 3 hours instead or for the shorter run times I would aqua jog.  This really didn't impact on my race day at all - I still ran the best pace that I had planned given the heat and humidity experienced here in Singapore (although to be fair I did do the shorter event).   Thinking about this lesson led me to the next lesson...

Lesson Number Three -  I felt very comfortable turning up to the half marathon event given I had covered 23-24 km distances on three previous occasions in the weeks leading up to the event.  I knew without doubt that I would have no trouble completing the 21 km distance.  If I decide to take part in future marathons then I will consider 50km training events so that psychologically I feel as comfortable as I did turning up to the half marathon.  It is very liberating to feel so confident to the point that I was really excited about the day and enjoyed every minute of the run.  It was over before I knew it.

The last lesson comes from having for the first time (after many many years of completing running or more recently triathlon races) had an absolute blast in a half marathon.  Usually I am so stressed out thinking of the time that I want to run the race in - hoping I will run faster than the last race, wondering if I will be able to do it - and from all this anxiety/stress I burn up so much energy that there is nothing left for the run.  I want to change that and train well, be confident, relax and savour each moment.

So those are the lessons I learnt.

I am now looking forward to heading home to Auckland for Christmas - its been a long year living so far from home - but I am very lucky to have an opportunity to live here in Singapore and experience living and working in another country.  However,  trust me when I say, there is absolutely no place like home.  11 sleeps to go and then I get to see my gorgeous girl who I haven't seen for 15 weeks (I will never leave it that long again) and my extended family and friends - these are the most important gifts  in life and for which I am truly grateful.