I'm around

I'm around, just busy. And I'm running, and coaching, and I have a triathlon on May 3, and my head is spinning.

Some people are better at work life balance than others. I'm an other. I've taken on a lot since January so something had to give for a little while and this little blog of mine had to take a break. And truthfully I'm not really back at it but here's the snippet of life right now.

I coached one learn to run clinic from January to April and while it wasn't the most rewarding clinic I've taught I still had fun, and it kept me accountable to my own fitness.

I'm coaching another clinic right now and we're just getting into the groove of things and it continues to keep me accountable for my own fitness.

J is nine months old today! And getting two teeth. And crawling. And not really sleeping all that well at night.

M is almost four and she skips everywhere she goes. And wants everything for her birthday. And looks adorable in her New Balance kicks.

Hubby is still training with Coach Rob and is doing well. He's buying a new bike. Tri-specific of course.

I started a new business venture in January doing Interior Decorating & Design. A long time dream coming to fruition but taking a lot of time and energy. So much business in business as my friend Laurie would say. But I'm thrilled with how it's going. Check it out here.

I'm on a playground committee for our community. Which is very cool. And very time consuming. But it's going to be worth it in the end. And that's where I've been doing most of my blogging. So here's that blog.

Needing an update!

The weather is turning really nice here and I'm dreaming of planting our veggie garden. In fact, a trip to the garden store is on the schedule for tomorrow.

I had a fantastic trail run last week with my BRF (best running friend) and a couple of other really good running buddies. I hope to be doing more of that because the treadmill and I have been spending way too much time together.

So here's to being busy, and getting through, and making positive changes.


What the scale can't tell you

15x. It has said that for five months. Yes, five months of chasing the preschooler, ramping up my fitness, trying to be conservative with my portions, breast feeding. I haven't lost one single pound since I got home from the hospital with Coach J. And you know what? I'm totally ok with it. 

Because the scale doesn't know it all. In fact, it's the worst representation of how I'm looking, feeling, and what I'm capable of. The scale doesn't know:

  • I can run for 30 minutes, probably longer actually, and feel great. 
  • I can move from plank position through to chatarunga without dropping to my knees first. 
  • My belt is coming in handy (see photo)

  • I can see muscle definition returning in my legs and arms. 
  • People think I have lost weight (ha, fooled you!)

As we embark on a new year I will continue to measure my success not my the number on the scale but rather by my capabilities and achievements. I think you should do the same. And don't forget - you can win a free Learn to Run clinic by commenting on this post.

Schedule yourself healthy. 


Life Changing 2014

As the end of the year approaches and as my fitness is coming back I'm starting to look forward to 2014. Goal setting, race planning, life changing - that sums up how I envision 2014 and beyond. 

So often our goals are performance orientated, focusing on numbers and results. So I'm setting three non-numerical goals for 2014:

Run the trails more
Go on bike dates with hubby

Run more with friends

With hubby highly invested in his triathlon training and with two kids in the house, goals, plans, schedules are going to have to be expertly coordinated. One of the first things hubs and I discussed is not racing the same races - except 5k's - those aren't highly demanding when it comes to training. 

Hubby has yet to set his major goal race for 2014 so I'm waiting for that before I go ahead and plan anything major including an away race. I have plans to do a super sprint triathlon, the 5 Peaks sport series and the Blitz Duathlon in September. I would also like to run a half in late summer/early fall. See my races tab above for more and to follow my results as the year goes on. 

I really want to get back to blogging regularly as well. And, my goal this year is to also have a monthly give-away. Yes, I'm attempting to secure your readership loyalty with swag. 

Perhaps the biggest thing I'm excited for is my return to coaching. Starting January 11 I will be coaching a 10 week Learn to Run clinic  through Strides. Even better is that I've got one FREE entry to give away to one lucky wannabe-runner. I've tried to make the clinic as accessible as possible offering it Saturday morning at 9am. This means the sun will be shining so you an see where your feet are landing, your spouse will be home to watch the kids, and it's early enough in the day to still have some energy. How to win?

1.Comment on this post and tell me your running goal, or
2. Tweet me (@kourtbranagan) and tell me your running goal. 

Pretty simple. I really want to help you start running. And to be fair to those who also want to win, make sure you can attend at least 90% of the clinic days before entering the contest. The goal race for the clinic is the ever popular St. Patrick's Day 5km. This race sells out but I am hoping to get guaranteed entry for clinic participants. 

The draw for the free clinic will take place on January 9 about 10pm. Good luck!

Schedule Yourself Healthy


How to Survive a Run Streak

Day 16. 50% of the way through the Strides Run Streak. There have been some amazing highs and some (s)lows. All in all I am surviving, not thriving, this run streak. And that's to be expected. As I'm still really getting back into the swing of things fitness wise I'm just happy I'm doing something daily. Here are my tips for getting through December one mile at a time.

1. Make a plan
The original plan called for two days of one mile each followed by a day of increased mileage. Something like 1-1-2-1-1-3-1-1-2 ...

2. Ditch the plan
When a high number day coincided with a yoga day, I switched it up to doing a mile instead. And the last four days I've had zilcho energy so doing a mile at an ambling pace on the treadmill is what's working for me.

3. Set some loft goals
My goal is to run a) 10 minutes continuous and b) a sub 10 minute mile. These may or may not happen consecutively. Already I've run my furthest run (4km) and I hope to get up to 5km if I can by the end of the month.

4. Be realistic
It's Christmas. Life is busy. A mile is plenty.

5. Get creative
Do some intervals, hills, switch up the scenery. Stimulate your brain and your body. On day two I walked the ramp at Southland Leisure Centre for 22 minutes while Coach M danced.

The loaded down stroller while Coach J napped.

6. Be consistent
There is nothing wrong with running the same one mile loop. It's easy, predictable, and requires little planning.

7. Indulge
Have that extra cookie, chocolate, drink, candy cane. Seriously, it's the holidays. Reward yourself and don't feel the least bit guilty.

8. Rest
I have had many lazy one mile walks on the treadmill. Give yourself those easy days so you can have fun on those creative days.

9. Take credit where/when due
Two laps of the zoo, that qualifies. Carrying the baby while pulling the preschooler in the sled too and from school, though two separate trips; that qualifies.

I ran outside! For the first time in over a year. Felt. So. Good.

Ultimately it's your streak and you get to set the rules, goals, and define how each day is going to look. Streaking is hard. But we will all be better humans and runners when we're done this thing.


Coach Wifey vs. Coach Rob

Actual conversation in our house:

Hubby: So I told Rob in my email about the slight twinge in my calf that I got towards the end of my run. I thought he should know due to my previous calf problems blah blah etc etc.
Me: mm hmm and what did he say?
Hubby: hydrate
Me: *serious look of death being delivered as he is being spared verbal fury because the mini coaches are in the room* Oh really?

I have only been saying for I don't know, years, that hubby's pee is way too yellow and that he needs to be drinking more. But of course that was just nagging obviously, not any sensible coaching or anything.

You often hear of many elite athlete/coach couples but most often it's the husbands coaching their wife. I mean if my husband has some sound advice to offer me - 'go take a nap', 'rest days are allowed', I'm pretty sure I listen. So why then is it so hard to reverse this role and for me, the wife, to coach my husband? Or at the least, make some athlete minded, goal orientated observations. After all, I have put in the time training equally hard for some of my events. After all, I'm only looking at him every day. After all, I'm only listening to him talk about triathlon 24/7.

A bit of history:

I suppose it's my fault. It all started when I bought hubby a triathlon book with training schedules in it to help him train for his first Olympic distance tri (June 2013). And sure, the author has far more experience than I do coaching. But let's face it, Coach F wasn't living in our house with a three year old and a husband who works shift work. There is no chapter on adapting the training to an eight day work week that includes two 12 hour day shifts followed by two 12 hour night shifts. After much nagging hubs allowed me to take his training program and let me plan his final six weeks of triathlon training based around what was actually happening in our life.

By no means did I disregard the plans from very experienced Coach F. But by letting me do the schedule it I could put his key workouts on days when they are most likely to happen. And similarly schedule off or light days when life is hectic. I also chose three or four key workouts per eight day rotation that he had to do. This also meant that I must make sure I'm doing everything I can to help him ensure he got them done. The result: completed workouts and some successful training for the final six weeks leading to a pretty decent race.

A bit more history:

Early on in the training cycle for the above mentioned race hubby was emaciated and fatigued. He was eating less than I was (ok in some fairness I was pregnant) and he was so concerned about his weight I honestly thought he had anorexia athletica. I was hounding him to eat more for months. After again, much nagging hubby finally agreed to properly track his calorie expenditure vs. intake. Surprise! He was having nearly an 800 calorie a day deficit - no wonder he was struggling to complete workouts and was taking far more rest days than necessary. Of course this calorie tracking has now become slightly obsessive but hey, he's eating.  

I'm proud of hubs for letting me take the reigns. He is slow and sometimes resistant to change (unless he reads it in a book or apparently hears it from Coach Rob). It only took months of nagging and begging for him to start taking on some calories during his longer training sessions. The result - less fatigue near the end and wanting to quit and also more energy for the next workout.

And now we're here...

After his decent performance at his triathlon I asked hubby if he would ever consider getting a coach, someone who could properly write a program around his eight day work week and shift work. He said no. Enter Rob, fellow paramedic and coach to one of the country's best young triathletes. Rob also happens to have a small coaching business. So once again, my fault, as I say to hubby - 'Ok seriously, you are unlikely to find a better coach who understands the demands and schedule you have at work. Why not at least contact him and start the discussion?'

One email later Rob is now Coach Rob. One group workout later, Coach Rob puts the bug in hubby's ear that he could go to world's in his age group for 2015, which would mean qualifying in 2014. Hooray!? So ya. I'm about to become a triathlon widow again. 

Ultimately I get to veto workouts. Now some of you say pish-posh to this but here's the thing - the deal going into this (and always will be) was that family comes first. With a three year old and a three month old, I need him around to be a dad, and a husband. He is already gone two nights a week with work, so I'm not about to loose his other six nights to training. Group workouts outside of the house end up consuming two plus hours of his night. For example, he got home at 6:30 from work tonight, ate a quick dinner, helped get the girls down until 7:30 and then left while I finished getting the baby down. It's now 10:00 and I'm about to wrap this up and head to bed.

I'm also the one living with hubby. I am the one living with the effects of his training and watching him.     He never believes me but I can always tell you when he's overtrained, under-fueled, and generally not in a good spot with training - just reference the history section above. Now that we have a monthly schedule from Coach Rob hubs and I need to sit down and talk about the logistics and what is really going to work with our life. I am only willing to give up so many evenings to training. And I'm only willing to give up so many hours on his days off to training. Yes, there will be nights we can train side by side in the basement; yes, I might eventually be able to go to swim training too; yes, it's only temporary. It's a bag of mixed emotions for me. Hubby is really talented and I think he could be a fantastic age grouper. But what about when I'm back to full training mode? What about just sitting around drinking beer and watching tv together? What about leisurely family bike rides?

I know hubby hasn't fully committed to the whole training process and trying to qualify for world's. I know we're in an experimentation phase to see how this plays out on our lives. Calorie counting; triathlon geek-speak; the new equipment that I'm sure will be heading our way - bike, aero helmet, carbon blah-bitty-bah. But as I'm being honest and open, I know that this is going to happen. Mostly because I know how important this is to hubby and I want to enable this process the best I can. So while I'm trying to find a way to be settled with all this, finding a way not to struggle with the time commitment, I am excited to see hubby excel under some coaching as opposed to this nagging he gets at home.