We help Alex break her running rut and get back on track to run a marathon

We help Alex break her running rut and get back on track to run a marathon

We all have a time in our running lives when life gets in the way or we get stuck in a rut. On this edition of RUN we help Alex Ilnyckyj get her running back on track.

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BB: Welcome onto this edition of Run with Coach Parry. I’m Brad Brown and a great pleasure to welcome you back. I hope you’re enjoying the new format of the podcast. We’ve got another guest on the podcast today. And we’ve got coach Parry with us once again. Lindsay, welcome back. Nice to touch base with you.

LP: Yes. This is a cool show for me. This is an old client of mine that I haven’t spoken to in about 5 or 6 years. We never spoke on the phone or on skype, it was all e-mail based because Alex is based in Canada, so I’m looking forward to the net couple of minutes.

BB: Let me just take your foot out of your mouth for you. By old client you mean a client who was with you a long time ago. You’re not calling your client old, just so we know. We just want to keep everything above board.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, if you’re looking for a training program whether it’s a 10k, half marathon, marathon, all you need to do is head over to coachparry.com/start. You can download a whole bunch of programs there and get all the help you need.

Let’s head over to Winnipeg in Canada right now and it’s a great pleasure to welcome, and I hope I don’t butcher your surname Alex, Alex Ilnitsky. Is that correct?

AI: Perfect!

BB: I got it. Excellent. Welcome onto the podcast. Thanks for joining us today. As we’re recording this it’s the middle of the day and you got up really early for us. You were saying before we started recording this, you’re not a morning person so thanks for getting up early. It’s great to chat to you.

AI: My pleasure.

BB: Alex, tell us a little bit about you. How long have you been running? Tell us your running story. What got you into the sport? What background have you got?

AI: I used to be a runner when I was in high school. And then as one got busy with university, we got sidelined and I always hoped to get back to it. So, after the 3rd child reached age 7, I said it’s about time or it’s never going to happen. So, I started running and that was about 12 years ago. Just started the typical 5k, building up to 10k. And then got carried away to the 21k distance. I had a psycholgical barrier to be able to go higher. So, with Lindsay’s support we came up with a plan of first doing a 30k,and then did a 42k. My plan at that time was to just carry on. Regrettably my daughter fell ill. My daughter fell ill with Bipolar Disorder and that was the first time I got this insight that I always thought I would limit me withinn my own body or my own physical injuries and the people around me were being sidelined with physical injuries, that’s why they went running. And I began to understand that you need the health of others around you to be at some level of stability to be able to focus and give the energy to running. Even though I understood intelectually the value of me continuing to run for my own well being and for the stability of others around me, it was very difficult to keep it going. So, instead it fell down to the fun 5k and 10k distance again, or pushing it to a half but not being well prepared for it. In a lot of unpleasant running experiences, yes, I could finish the distance but I hated it and would walk away rather than being inspired, dreading doing another one. I’ve improved since then as time went by with life challenges and bereavements and I’m looking to regain some degree of discipline and concentration to be able to be consistent with running regardless of the circumstances that are occurring in life around me. To stay committed to the running goal. Because it does serve one well as a life experience.

BB: Alex, thank you for sharing that. I think you story is going to resonate with a lot of people and it’s so true. It doesn’t matter what the issue is. We all have things around us and like you say sometimes it’s a physical injury that stops us from running. But many times it’s not something physical. It’s something around you. It’s environmental factors and it’s family. Life happens and unfortunately that is the case. I think you sharing your story is going to help a lot of people. I’m going to hand you over to the coach because Lindsy obviously knows a lot about your running background and let’s talk about how we can help you achieve those goals. One of the big up sides is, even though you haven’t been running longer distances, you have continued running throughout this whole process, which is half the battle won, is that consistency. Lindsay, I’m going to hand that over to you and let’s see how we can help Alex.

LP: Alex one of the things that I picked up in your mail to Brad, in the initial communications between the two of you, is that you’re not quite getting out of the half’s what you want to. As you said now a part of it is because you’re running them unprepared which then takes away from the experience completely because it’s not enjoyable. But on the other side of that is that the inspiration or motivation to run a 21; it’s not providing the inspiration or motivation to get out and do the consistent and regular training that’s required to perform well at that distance. Often the reason why a marathon does that is because you also know that a marathon is a long way to run. You know that if you go into that unprepared, it’s not just the question of it being unpleasant, it’s going to be extremely painful and there’s a high degree of failure of not even achieving it. That is why marathon running is quite a powerful motivator. It’s that fear of failure as well as the satisfaction of achieving the goal. With a marathon you’ve got the stick and the carrot that makes you get out there perhaps on Sundays that you don’t really feel quite motivated to do so. Whereas the 21, you’re like ok, I’ve had a few bad experiences but you know you can finish a 21. So, when you’re having those day of I don’t know if I really want to go out and run, it’s easy to opt out not to go out and run. I think what is quite important is to set that goal and to say right, I want to do this marathon again. Know when it is, where it is in the future so that you can plan around it. But it’s still going to be difficult. I don’t how stable your home situation is now but obviously for the rest of your daughter’s natural life there will be times when you will have to drop what you need to drop to be there for your daughter. You’re always going to be mindful of that but as you rightly point out, if you can get that goal, you can get yourself on the road, at least running makes you a better version of you. You now want to get out there and do something about it. A few questions for you. In terms of what  kind of structure have you put in place now inn terms of your running. You’ve made this decision now. You want to go ahead and run this marathon but what sort of structure is there in place? How many times a week have you committed to running, or can you commit to running? And do you have a bit of a plan in mind so that we can help you to build that plan.

AI: I’m currently running 3 times a week. I can run 4 times a week. I have a committed running partner on the weekend and I have a running club that have both Tuesday and Wednesday runn options. I’ve joined the clinic there so that I’m more committed with a bunch of women, to show up on a Tuesday. It’s a 30 to 45-minute run. Everything from progression runs to repeats. Whatever they’re into, that’s what they do that day. Wednesday’s they do an easy, you just show up for whatever you want. And there’s people doing different distances, different paces. And it’s 1km from my home, so I can easily go there. That’s a very good thing. And then the woman that I’ve been running with, she’s so nice. She supported me through my first marathon as well. She’s done 15 marathons herself and getting older and is having foot problems. So, she’s doing 5 in 1’s which on long runs she has to do 5 in 1’s. So, I’ve been doing 5 in 1’s for the past month with her but I still need to get better yet and then go back to 10 in 1’s. But she’s always been there, she’s somebody that’s very stable. So, every weekend I have half a day of her time. I’ve always had those supports it’s just it’s sort of been, she’s signed up, I’ve signed up, and then I drop out. Like at 6-week pace I’m like you know Erin, it’s going to be a really unpleasant race for me. I’ll show up and I’ll run with you for the first 10-miles and then you carry on and finish and I’ll just walk the rest. That’s how I feel. I’ve done like 70% of this training so I don’t want to be nauseated or last.

LP: I think that’s where a marathon will push that next bit. I quite like the idea of having your little group there that will push you along once a week and also on that Wednesday having again your group that you can run with  but on that day i t’s not really about being pushed. It’s just about having some comaraderie. And the question there is to just then make sure that we get the volume, or that run, to be long enough. Probably around 6 to 10 miles at most, but 6/7 miles to me would be a good number. Your long run, you may have to do extra or something else but again, it’s a good idea to have that person there to meet with and work and hopefully her feet problem will also get better so she does improve. Those 3 things I like. Then taht 4th day I think is a good idea. You don’t really need more than that. 4 Days a week is enough training if done sensibly to get yourself back to that marathon distance. And that 4th day will again be somewhere in the region of abut 7 to maximum 15 miles that you do. If you’re getting close to 10 miles or a little bit more in a group run then you can afford to do the run on your own a little bitter shorter and then obviously the long run will then steadily and gradually build up. Much the same as we did a couple of years ago where we literally chip away and build up until we get to about that 30k. Once you’ve done a 30k, mentally and physically, you are ready to push onto the next step. To move from 20 miles to the 26 miles, physically you can do it. Particularly once you’ve done one or two of those. But certainly in the short term, to be pushed a little bit on the shorter runs and if you then just get the consistency going with a marathon in mind, you will also start to do better in the half’s, or 10 milers local races. Which in term should then kick start that motivation process where you start to feel better about your running. The running is going well. So, really for you the biggest thing is to plug into that consistency and get that week after week after week. And if you can fix the consistency then as you feel fitter and better and start to perform better, it becomes  a circular motivation. You’ve got the fear of the marathon on the one side but you’ve got the improving performance on this side that will help you to run better and better.

AI: I’m doing a half on Sunday, the first spring half here locally, and there’s a 30k locally in September. Of course there’s several half’s and 10k’s one can do in the summer time here. I’m doing a 10k in 2 weeks. I sort of learnt the rule of trying to keep 2 things booked. So, I’ve got the half and a 10k booked for May, and then for September the 30k. That’s the next target. Then I’ve got the October marathon which is something I should commit to now.

I’ve been running all along. I’ve been off for a month or off for 2 weeks and then back running but not many with any kind of target of speed or number of reps. Just joining the group. Whatever you’re doing, I’m doing kind of thing. I think at the end of the day the base is there to continue from this half to a 30 by September. This summers got to be very consistent and structured. My summer.

LP: There’s plenty of time. If you look from now until September, you can really get some good consistency going. You should get a much more positive experience there. I’m not sure how this weekend will go but there’s nothing that can be done about that now. But certainly, between now and September is enough time to build yourself up to running 30 comfortably and then once you’ve done that, as I said, mentally and physically, you’re pretty much there for the marathon. So, another couple of weeks on from there is a good plan.I like that plan.

AI: I think many people keep that 30k here in Winnipeg where I live, as their long run before a marathon. I think that’s why they’re in September.

LP: I would still, in the short term, whatever the group is doing, isn’t perhaps necessarily targeting specific type of training. I would still tap into that so that it pushes you a little bit and your total workout there will be 45 minutes but I’d look in the short term to start doing a gradual increase on the Wednesday and then doing a gradual increase on the weekend, and then I would slot in another run somewhere in the week that’s convenient for you roughly around the 6/7 mile mark. That program will suit you well I reckon about 12 weeks from your marathon. Then maybe that group run on the Tuesday you would want to start doing something that’s a little bit more specific to preparing you for the marathon. Perhaps some slightly longer  intervals or hill work, because hill work is really great secret to speed training. But something that will be a little bit more specific and will provide you with strength that you need for the marathon distance. Then  at that same time you will just be progressing these longer runs that you get your weekend long run up to a fairly consistent 16 mile training run and that will then mean that you’re definitely ready to get 19/20 miles that you need for your 30k. Any other specific training question that you’ve got that you can think of?

AI: No other questions. I have to get consistent and I agree that I have to commit to that.

LP: It’s been an absolute pleasure. It really was cool chatting to you.

BB: So, are we drawing the line in the sand? Is that the plan Alex? A marathon in the fall in Canada? Is that a done deal? You just have to go and fill out the entry form.

AI: I’m doing a 30k. When I’ve finished that and I feel like I could probably have kept going for another 10k, then I’ll sign the form. But I think mentally I have to commit.

BB: And that is such an important point though Lindsay, isn’t it? It’s a mental thing. When any one starts running, your first 5k is tough and then you think there’s no way I can go on and do 10. Once you’ve done 10 you think there’s no way I can go and do a half marathon. And it’s the same feeling at a half marathon. You think to yourself that 30 is so far. And as you say, if you hit the 30k, physically you’re there. You can push on and do the marathon but your head’s got to be in the right space and the right place in order to push on and do that marathon.

LP: Absolutely and I think even though at the time you might feel that was hard, in the 3 or 4 days after races like that you start to process a bit and realise that although it was hard you did quite well. And you also know instinctively that in doing that distance you know you’ll be stronger and better prepared for it the next time.

BB: Absolutely. Well, Alex thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. Much appreciated. We look forward to following your progress and seeing how you’re going. Good luck for that half this weekend. Lindsay, once again, thank you for your time.

If you want to find out about those training programs, there’s a whole bunch of free ones on the website. It’s coachparry.com/start is where you can get all those details. And if you want some ongoing help we’ve got a very vibrant active online community. all you have to do is head over to coachparry.com/join. You can get in there and get access to Lindsay. You can ask your questions in the forum. You can also get access to getting onto this podcast as well.

Alex, thank you for joining us, best of luck. And Lindsay thank for your time.

LP: Absolute pleasure. Go well.

AI: Thanks bye-bye.

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