Category Archives: Journey

First Week Of Run Training At Cape Woolamai

My first week of run training went well. The first day of training started with an interval session:

3 x 4 minutes hard with a 2 minutes recovery jog.

Performed over undulating terrain this was my first real run. It was a struggle. So much slower than hoped. I’ve got a long way to go.

Finally back into my first week of training. I’ll tell you it feels good to be back running. I’ve lost a lot of fitness. If I’m really honest it’s not just since the melanoma that I’ve had time off. It’s more than two months with the injury before that. I hadn’t really put together a good training week for over four months.

Cape Woolamai

Bonus for the first week of running we went down on holiday to Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island. It’s a beautiful location with amazing beaches, nature park, wallabies and views that are fantastic. I highly recommend spending some time down here. Click here for even more details.

First Week Of Running Principles

Truly back at square one. I’m keeping easy at super easy. This means feeling way too slow. Sometimes faster running feels easier. If I was running with someone I would definitely be able to hold a conversation with no trouble.

The training format is intervals followed by three days easy running. Then back again for intervals and another three days of easy running.

Smoke Haze

Getting a lot of the smoke haze coming in from the bush fires. With a bit of hindsight I probably shouldn’t have run. Starting a couple of those runs just as the sun was coming up I didn’t appreciate how bad that smoke was. Not until I got towards the end and had enough sunlight.

For the first week those easy days were all about 60 minutes. Limited to just covering some distance to get used to running again. No worry about pace. In fact I set up my watch so that all it showed was time. No pace, no heart rate, nothing about effort or even distance. That way I wouldn’t have to worry about how fit I used to be versus how fit I am now.

Running Intervals

For the intervals. Starting with three by four minutes with two minutes recovery. That recovery is just a super easy jog. Those four minutes on are definitely not easy. The aim here is to run at a pace that I can maintain for all intervals right to the end. I went out too hard and couldn’t maintain that pace anyway.

The first week of run training went well. It’s so good to be back running.

The beauty of Cape Woolamai comes out better in video than it does in word…

Before The First Step Of Running: Returning After Time Off

They say a journey begins with the first step. But it begins before that. Getting back to running after injury, melanoma, skin graft and rehab I had to rebuild back up to that first step.

This 2020 journey begins with a less-than-ideal 2019. The main event was finding out I had Melanoma skin cancer: click for details

No Running

After injury, melanoma, a skin graft, time off work and rehab I was happy with moving a little closer to normality. The skin graft was my main limitation.

Weeks of bed rest. Weeks of no running.

Surprisingly I didn’t miss running all that much but I was getting frustrated at not being able to move like I used to be able to. More details here: 5 Weeks After Melanoma Surgery

First Run

Eventually I was able to go my first run.

It was for ten minutes and it felt awkward.

The idea of running felt great. I was happy to be out there again. But I wasn’t smooth. My body had forgotten what it was meant to do.

Bit by bit I built my running back up. The skin graft still provided limitations. I had to get creative to improve my running. Finding ways to prepare my legs without risking the healing.

Not Just Running

Those creative ways included:

  • step ups with a high knee lift
  • calf raise with a deep drop
  • directional hopping

These exercises appear in the video above. They are simple, but sometimes a visual makes it easier to understand.

The hopping was actually harder than it should have been. It’s amazing how much of the skills and coordination you lose after being bed down for four weeks.

The aim was to get back to where running felt good. Over the weeks I eventually got there. Running feels good again. That’s step one. There are many more steps to take.

Skin Graft Update: 5 Weeks After Melanoma Surgery

Just had the week five check up on my skin graft. Here’s the update…

It’s healing well but not perfectly at this stage. A couple of days earlier I was a little concerned. There seemed to be a bit of splitting around the edges. I wasn’t too sure if this was anything to be worried about.

I took it easy and they did heal up a bit. Better, but after having a chat with the surgeon he would have liked the graft to be completely solid. Which it’s not quite there yet.

Young For A Skin Graft

The surgeon suggested younger people like myself can take an extra week or 2 around this stage. Which is quite good that at 42 I can be considered young. My kids keep telling the opposite.

A bit of Kenacomb cream has been added to assist the last bit of healing. The skin graft should be considered solid within 2 weeks.

I still have to give the graft plenty of TLC. Keep it protected and that means I am well off running. I’ve got to get through another stage of healing before I even look at beginning the process back.

I don’t think I’ll be out for a run before the end of this year.

It is what it is is. Still at least another 2 weeks before I can get back to a normal-ish life. Even though there will still be limitations.

For the extra details on where this all started this post: Melanoma skin cancer: now bed bound and no running. covers it.

Be sun smart out there.

Super Slow Reps: Training When You Can’t Train

How do you training when you can’t train? Making use of super slow reps while I’m limited in the exercise I can do.

Limitations

At 3 weeks post skin graft I’m finally allowed to do a very small amount of exercise. Even though the graft is healing well, it is far from mature. I still have to protect it. I’m not allowed to do any leg exercise. Plus the stitches at the front of my right hip limit plenty of movements.

Limited in how much time I can spend up right before having to elevate my leg. I also have to avoid sweating. All training will be well within these limitations.

To stay within those limitations I am performing some upper body strength training. The session will be under 30 minutes. Weights will be kept extremely light.

How do I get the most benefit from this?

The answer is make each repetition super slow.

How Slow Are Super Slow Reps?

Well, super slow reps are way slower than is comfortable. As slow as 10 seconds up, and 10 seconds down.

Slowing the exercises down this much increases the time under tension which may provide an increased stimulus, Plus it provides the opportunity to improve the mind-muscle connection. Make those adjustments to technique to target exactly the movement and muscles that I’m aiming for.

The slow speed keeps the whole body effort lower, reducing the likelihood of a raised core temperature and sweating.

Taking the opportunity to work on something different and some corrective work. So I’m performing some work on my shoulders and upper back. Aiming to open them up. Remove the feeling of being closed and rounded forward from all the sitting and lying with my leg over the previous weeks.

The Training

2 sets of 2-10 reps, with a rest of 2-3 minutes in between.

The key is to keep some difficulty in maintaining in the final few reps, but not working hard through my whole body.

Exercise selection:

  • Pull up
  • Bench press
  • Rear deltoid raise with supination
  • Seated dumbell press
  • Later deltoid raise
  • Dumbell preacher curl

These exercises are better demonstrated in video, than in words. So I cover this in my following vlog:

Not the most extensive or intense training. This at least has me moving while keeping well within the limitations I have with a skin graft. Now I can actually start doing some exercise I feel happier.

Melanoma Skin Cancer – Now Bed Bound and No Running

Bed bound is a change of pace. But when you find out you have Melanoma skin cancer, it’s a starting point.

That mole on my leg that I’ve mentioned previously. I had it removed. Then after a wait the pathology results came back.

Turns out it was more sinister than first thought and hoped. It turned out to be melanoma. Lets break down exactly what melanoma is.

What Is Melanoma?

  • Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer
  • It makes up 2% of skin cancers, but is responsible for 75% of skin cancer deaths
  • Australia and New Zealand have highest melanoma rates in the world
  • 1 in 17 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma before the age of 85
  • Most melanomas are caused by prolonged and repeated exposure to UV radiation in sunlight
  • More than 90% of melanoma can be successfully treated with surgery if detected early

These facts were collated from Melanoma Patients Australia. Head over to their website here for more information.

Levels of Melanoma

The Clark Scale has 5 levels:

  1. Cells are in the out layer of the skin (epidermis)
  2. Cells are in the layer directly under the epidermis (pupillary dermis)
  3. The cells are touching the next layer known as the deep dermis
  4. Cells have spread to the reticular dermis
  5. Cells have grown in the fat layer

Life In The Sun

I have spent so much of my life in the sun. I have chased the warmth and love the outdoors. Running, cycling, swimming, beach, hiking, camping and just being outside. Sunburnt way too many times.

It all adds up.

There is no such thing as a healthy tan.

Diagnosis

Lucky for me my melanoma is at Level 1.

Melanoma Clark Level 1

Treatment

Treatment is surgery.

Cut it out Cover with a skin graft and nothing should have spread elsewhere.

Prognosis is good.

Right now my treatment includes looking after the skin graft. Which is bed rest, compression and elevation of my leg.

There’s an element of boredom in there. Maybe some frustration at not being able to move. I don’t want all the work of surgery and the efforts of the surgeon, nurses, anaethestist and everyone else involved to go to waste.

The Biggest Lesson

We often don’t like to admit it. The biggest lesson I have taken from this is…

I should listen to my wife.

My wife told me to get the mole checked for 18 months. With no good reason, I put it off.

Lucky I didn’t keep waiting.

Melanoma Vlog

For the video version of this post click here

, melanoma removal, skin graft, youtube, vlog, bed bound and no running for 6 weeks

Running Blog To Running Vlog

Adding a running vlog onto my running blog.

Running is a big part of my life. I have taken running seriously for over 20 years. I’m not an elite. Far from it. Very much an amateur. Yet running helps me feel alive.

Why A Running Vlog?

Last year for my birthday my birthday my family got me a GoPro. They’ve said it has been one of the best presents they’ve ever given me. It’s had so much use.

I’ve been filming family videos. The kids in their sports. Putting together videos for my son’s footy team. I’ve loved making these videos.

Naturally this has moved into how I document my running. Venturing into the world of vlogging.

I hope to make training processes clearer. Bring you into how I fit running in among family, life and shift work. I will be able to capture more thoughts as they happen.

I’ll be featuring the videos on my Running Alive Youtube Channel (here).

What About The Blog?

I’ll be continuing the blog in conjunction with the vlog. They will support each other. Some topics are better shown through video. Others are better for writing.

The change in approach will allow for a more regular and consistent blog than I have achieved so far.

This running vlog is a new concept for myself. Let me know if anything is helpful or if there’s anything you want to see.

To follow along subscribe here!

Running And Skin Checks

In the harsh sun of Australia, running and skin checks should go hand in hand. Interrupting my running to have a skin check. I was actually a little bit nervous. 

Take Good Advice

I finally listened to my wife and got a skin check. Make sure everything’s all right. Check all the moles and make sure that none are cancerous

This check should have been performed earlier. Living in Australia and spending plenty of time in the sun means I’m at risk.

The doctor managed to find some moles which were a bit concerning. He wasn’t particularly worried about them. But they still met the criteria to be removed. So that’s what I did.

I have to admit I wasn’t thinking much it until I arrived. There is something about having a piece cut out of your body. Even though it’s superficial. It still makes you think.

Skin Checks And Skin Cancer

Head on over to the Skin Cancer page of the Cancer Council for more detailed information.

Running And Stitches

Good news is after the moles were removed, the doctor was confident they won’t be a problem. Of course they are sent off to be properly tested. To get that 100% piece of mind.

The process has put a gap in my running. The cut has needed 4 stitches on my lower leg. Running puts a strain on those stitches. So a few days off running and a gentle return back in as the cut heals.

In some way it’s a little frustrating. My rebuild back from a toe injury is delayed. Importantly I prefer to put health before fitness. It comes back to knowing your why.

Running Vlog

Jump on over to my vlog on this at youtube about running and skin checks.

For further running updates and tips don’t forget to subscribe

Consistency And Fitting It All In : Prana Running Podcast

I was privileged to be interviewed on the new Prana Running Podcast. We cover consistency and fitting it all in.

Delving into fitting in marathon and ultramarathon training around shift work, children’s sporting commitments and everything else that comes along with life.

We cover running, nutrition, when things go wrong on race day and plenty more.

You may find some nuggets of wisdom and tips for runners at every stage of their journey.

If you’re a runner of any level I recommend you check out the other episodes. Mel takes a different approach than the most other running podcasts. She has a way of extracting usable tips and information we all can use to improve our running and health.

Running Goals: Macro Versus Micro

Are your running goals defined by times and race distances? Or do you have other criteria?

Falling short of a goal forces us to re-evaluate.

Time and distance goals are used to achieve my bigger goals in running. They are tools to chase moments where I truly feel alive. Goals can be differentiated into macro versus micro.

Micro Goals

Micro goals are simple and measurable. Examples are:

  • Run your first 5km
  • Run a sub 40 minute 10km
  • Complete 100km ultra marathon
  • Cover 80km in a training week
  • Run every day for 30 days

These goals give your something objective to aim for. Help guide your training and racing. Provide structure in what you do.

Does it matter if you hit these goals?

Reality of Running Goals

Most people don’t really care how fast your race is. That’s a good thing.

Racing 10km in 39:58 versus 40:03 may feel like a big deal to yourself. It usually doesn’t rate that much to others. Those who care about you tend to care more about what the goal means to you. Not about the specifics of the goal.

Will achieving the goal change your life?

It’s the process that can change your life. Not the goal. We can bring up exceptions to this. Such as having to run a certain to qualify for another race or gain team selection. This isn’t the case for most runners.

But don’t use this to down play the importance of setting goals.

What Are Macro Goals?

Macro goals are your ‘why

Your goal doesn’t have to be massively profound. It can be as simple as you enjoy chasing fast times in a race. Other examples can include:

  • You want to feel healthier
  • You enjoy the act of running
  • Running clears your mind
  • It just feels right
  • You chase the feeling of achievement

You can get more in depth and detailed. The important concept is this is truly why we run.

Understanding your macro goal means it’s easier to make choices. If your macro goal is about gaining a qualification time then you can choose to sacrifice some other aspects of your lifestyle. If your goal is to be healthy for your family, then you can be comfortable that running 10km is fine versus 15km. It comes back to what you really want.

My Own Macro Running Goals

I chase a certain feeling. That feeling is the moment when I feel truly alive.

Everything in my life is enhanced when I feel like this.

This feeling comes from moments. These moments occur when:

  • the noise is stripped away
  • the task feels impossible
  • time feels distorted
  • I am broken down to my core

Running provides me the opportunity to achieve this. It feels innately natural for me to use running to chase this feeling. Something special happens here. It is in this space where there is an interplay between success and failure.

This is why I run.

Not A Runner

Not a runner?

Lining Up

Thirteen years old and lining up for the school cross country. I pushed my shoe into the muddy ground. Rarely did we have the freedom to get covered in dirt at school. It was a brief thought, replaced with the worry of the race about to start.

I was not a runner.

The previous years had proven to me I was slow. This had been reinforced by the disinterest shown by my primary school physical education teacher.

It would be easier to join those who loudly didn’t care. Cut the course and walk. That way it wouldn’t matter how I went. No one else was concerned where I placed or how fast I went.

Yet I moved closer towards the front of the line up. Not in the first line. That was for the runners.

Running

Cold air had made it hard to breath at the start of the race. Now it was almost soothing. I wanted more, but couldn’t breathe in that much. A film of sweat obscured my view ahead. It was hard to make out the runners in front of me. They had started as a pack, but were now spread out in pairs or single file.

Thoughts of being slow dissipated. I wasn’t able to make my legs go faster. This didn’t seem to be a problem as I wasn’t slowing down. Some of the runners ahead of me looked like they couldn’t run anymore. A few started walking.

I kept running.

Amongst The Runners

Suddenly I was amongst the runners. This is where I stayed through to the finish. Exact placing and time didn’t matter. Mud obscured the finish line. I think I ran a little further than necessary.

Now I could suck in enough cold air. It felt good. Physically tired and sore, but not exhausted. My mind bounced around ideas and realisations. The race was more than fun. Without knowing it at the time I was experiencing the euphoria of the runners high.

To many it’s just a school cross country race. Most kids have run these. For me it set the seed that grew into a running future. I didn’t know it at the time, but over the years I discovered I was made for running.

I continued to stay with the runners over the years. It was and is an amazing community.

I kept running.

If You Run

Starting out thinking I was not a runner was misguided. If you run, then you are a runner.

For a little more on this running journey check out Starting My Running Journey.

Keep running.