The end of the year is typically a time of reflection for many, and the same applies for me. One of the things I’ve been reflecting on lately is a question I’ve been asked a lot in the past couple of months: “what’s your secret?” or “what did you change in your running to get to where you are now?”. Honestly, I have no secret when it comes to running. For awhile, my response to those types of questions was “I have no idea”.
After really reflecting on it, I’ve started to piece together when things started to change. When Odin was born near the end of 2012, we lived in a very rural area with no sidewalks and only one streetlight. It was not the idea place for running. We lived roughly 45 minutes from Ottawa, and due to daycare, work and commuting, if I wanted to run, it had to happen at 4:30am. Running on the street in our neighbourhood at that hour, especially in winter, was not really an option. We bit the bullet and purchased a treadmill. I was very picky during the process, and ended up with one that gets put in small gyms. Once I was back to work (December 2013), I set my alarm for 4:30am each day and went downstairs to run.
The treadmill provided me with something I never had before – consistency. Before Odin was born and we lived in Ottawa, I didn’t have a gym membership and if the weather was too bad in the winter, or too rainy in the summer, I simply chose not to run. The treadmill meant that I didn’t have any excuses. It didn’t matter what the weather was like. In September 2014, I ran my first half marathon after having a baby. My finishing time was 1:34:01. I ran that same half marathon as my last race before trying to get pregnant back in September 2011, with a finishing time of 1:47:XX. To me, that was a fairly significant drop in time. During my running life between 2006-2011, I managed to take my half marathon time from 2:00:00 to 1:47:XX.
During those years, I would get really frustrated. I’m assuming that I thought I would just get faster each year. But looking back on it now, I wasn’t changing anything to improve as a runner. I would run the same 9.5km route each day at roughly the same pace, skip my run if I overslept or the weather wasn’t favourable, and would only do long runs when a half marathon was on the horizon.
Following a plan and running year round made a significant impact on my running. After I had Lennon in 2015, I spent more time learning about recovery, proper fuel and the importance of different workouts. Speed work = important! Long run = important! Recovery = important! Strength training and core = important! These areas were ones I took more time to learn about and begin to put the information I gained into practice. I think that combining these pieces with the consistency of running all year, were the pieces I needed to put together my puzzle for improving as a runner. For 2016, I plan to build on the foundation I put in place this year, continuing to challenge myself, learn more about recovery and strength training, and see which other areas I can improve in.