Athens Marathon – Training log Week #3

Hello friends 🙂 – oh and happy Monday… I guess…. zzzzzzzzz

Mood of the day: I need ALL the coffee right about now!!!

Yes I do ❤ my little French press so much! Especially on days like today… You know that feeling when (stupidly) you sleep in on a Sunday, and you wake up at 11am?? And then Sunday night is a rerun of the walking dead for you?!?!? That… I didn’t manage to sleep till about 2:30am last night…and yes I was up at 6:00am (I confess, i did hit the snoozing button about 10 times ….)

Well, now i am all happy, sipping my coffee, writing this post and contemplating on my training this past week 😀 It was such a step up from last week’s training! Still struggling to fit a little cross-training in there but I’ll make it happen I am sure!

Wednesday: 5km Tempo run 🙂

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Thursday: 6 miles (almost 10km) running home from work 🙂

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Because honestly THIS —> was exactly what I needed after a 12 hour work day full of experiments! It’s like with every step I can empty my head and by the time I get home I am totally stress free! I mean come on look at my silly smiley face ——->

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Saturday: Long run #2 in the books 10.3 miles (17km)… Now this deserves a post on its own! It was one tough run… BUT it did give me some much needed perspective! Such as:

1.Apply sunblock E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E (oh and evenly)… No comment please… Ouch!

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2. Never EVER underestimate the heat (and humidity) in London. 78F (26C) feels like 95F (35C)!!!! I got so dehydrated I had to stop at a gas station and buy myself a two litre water bottle – half to drink and the other half to pour over my head….

3. IT IS OK TO WALK! I can stress this one enough…. Between miles 5-7 I swear I felt terrible. If I was anywhere near my home I would have just quit… I ended up walking a little bit more than 3/4 of a mile at this point! I felt like such a failure… but after some water and a 5 minute break (maybe a few tears) and a phone call to @mymamus,I decided to keep going! And I did finish it! My plan was to run to work (I had a few things to check on) from home and take the long route along the river, which by the way is absolutely stunning on a sunny (maybe too sunny) day…

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4. Be proud for yourself! I did see it through! Even though I made a lot of rookie mistakes and I seriously miscalculated almost EVERYTHING about this run, I still finished with a smile!

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5. Reward you say….. YUM! Well after all the ordeal I just mentioned I think a nice yummy brunch was well deserved 😉

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Sunday: just a little shake out run to get those (seriously) tired legs moving 🙂 1.8 miles, hang out with my friend who is still recovering from surgery, and then power walk back the same distance 🙂

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So there it is! This was more like a combination of a marathon training update and a weekend shenanigans post …

Weekly mileage: 21.03 

Total mileage: 45.12

Weekly cross-training session: 0

I hope you guys have an awesome week ahead 😀

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Morning Runs – Solving the mystery…

Hello friends 🙂

Ok, I am one of those people that does wake up early, like 5:30-6:00am. And I do work out in the morning sometimes too, like a spin bike session or some strength training. But when it comes to running I have to confess… I have never run in the morning – unless I am on vacation in Greece since it is too hot to run any other time…. I see all the runners in the morning on my way to work, smile on their face logging miles and I admit it I AM JEALOUS!

So this is why, I asked my friend Angela from Happy Fit Mama, to give me a few pointers as to how to do this. How to be this morning runner, with the AMAZING sun(run)rise pictures on my Instagram feed, and the smile on my face logging miles even before the world is awake…

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So here you have it 🙂

Q: Ok, first things first, what time do you wake up and what time you usually have to be out the door for work/errands etc?

A:Depending on how many miles I’m running that day, I wake up between 4:30 – 5:00 a.m. Three days a week I work outside of the home. I usually leave about 7:15 to commute to the hospital. Some mornings I need to be home before 6:30 a.m. so my husband can leave for work.

Q: What about breakfast and coffee? How do you fuel your morning runs?

A:Breakfast comes after my run. I don’t eat anything before my run. First off, I don’t have time to digest it before I head out the door and second, my body doesn’t need it. Unless my stomach is growling in the morning, then I’ll have a spoonful of almond butter and ½ banana to tide me over.

Q: Where you always a morning runner? If not, how did you become one?

A: I wasn’t. I mostly worked out/ran after work in the evenings before kids. Unless it was the weekend, then I was a morning exerciser. It wasn’t till after I had kids that I started working out/running in the early mornings. I found that nothing got in the way of my workout at that time. I got it out of the way and had more time in the evenings for time with family and friends. Plus, I was usually exhausted and crashed on the couch after a full day of work and wrangling two babies once I got home.

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Q: What gets you out of bed and out the door those mornings when you might not feel like it?

A: Most days, I bound right out of bed. I just love running so much. When I don’t run first thing in the morning, my whole day is thrown off and I don’t feel like myself. I do have off days though. On days when I’m not feeling it, the hard part isn’t getting out the door, it’s finding the motivation to not just go through the motions and slog through my run. I usually will give myself the 1mile rule. If I’m still not feeling it after 1 mile then I will call it a day. But then that means I’m usually 1 mile from home so I have another 1 mile to run home!

Q: What type of running do you prefer in the mornings? Track style runs? Tempo? Long runs?

A: I like doing all kinds of workouts in the morning. Running on the track in the morning during the summer is extra special. The sunrise there is amazing. And the sprinklers are always on at the end of my workout for a nice cool down. Tempo runs seem the hardest to me in the morning. They intimidate me way more than any other workout. I usually allow for a little longer warm up when I do tempo’s. Probably because it’s my way of stalling!

Q: This is not much of a question but what is your step by step morning routine? (Your IG feed full of sunrise pictures tells me it’s working so I’d happily try it!!!!)

A: I wish I had a really special and unique morning routine. It’s pretty simple.

  1. Wake up – Never, ever use the snooze button!
  2. Use the bathroom, put my contacts in, change into my running clothes that I laid out the night before.
  3. Drink a glass of water and then begin my dynamic warm up.
  4. Head out the door!

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Q: Any tips for runners who want to convert to “morning runners”?

A: Give it time! If you are not used to getting up early and being active first thing in the morning, it’s going to really suck for a couple of weeks. But then your body gets used to it and it becomes automatic. Patience!

Q: Please feel free to add anything else you like, or anything I might have forgotten to ask and you know it is important!

A: I always want to remind runners to be safe. Creepers are out in the early morning just as much as at night. Run with a friend if possible, don’t listen to music at all and stay alert.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this Q&A with my Angela  🙂

So, here you have it guys! apparently there is no mystery or secret as to how to become a morning runner, apart from being patient, sticking with it and don’t give up! I think i will try it myself this coming week and see how it works out!!

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Athens Marathon – Training log Week #2

Hi friends!

Long time no post eeeh?? I know… I know 😦

Ok MAJOR confession time… This past week SUCKED! Like majorly sucked!! What happened? Life happened in all its glory… and threw quite a few curve balls our way… I promised I tried everything to stay positive, even forced my self into it but it just wasn’t happening!

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Work was an absolute nightmare, my very close friend (and I only got very few of those) was in the hospital feeling awful all week after a major surgery she had and I got some pretty upsetting news from back home… Lovely ain’t it? So last week was lab, hospital, home and dead asleep. A lot of junk food was included and almost no running… So here it is my quite embarrassing week #2 stats 😦

Weekly mileage: 1.85 

Total mileage: 24.9

Weekly cross-training session: 0

After speaking to a friend (one of my good running buddies) about all this and about how unhappy I’d been lately I have to admit I felt better. It’s good to know you have a few good people to lent you an ear to rant or a shoulder to cry on when needed.

Its true my motivation took quite the blow the past few days… but I am back and I am here to stay 🙂 Thanks to my awesome coach and her motivational emails and my good friends and @mymamus who are here right beside me ready to push and motivate me when need be!

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Also how about a little Q&A?????

  • What do yo guys do to stay positive and motivated, especially when life turns a little upside down??
  • I have been seriously toying with the idea of trying this thing called “morning running” ….. All of you runners out there who love running in the morning and take all those magical run-rise pictures… HOW DO YOU DO IT?????

I promise I’ll check in with you guys more often 🙂 no more MIAs!

Have an awesome Tuesday!

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Training with Marathon Team Greece by Maria Polyzou

[Dream came true ALERT]

Hi friends 😀

I have the best new to share today! One of my dreams just came true yesterday evening!

At about 7:30pm I was invited to join my coach’s team for training at OAKA Olympic stadium – yeah yeah i might have gotten a little lost, but I finally got there!

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It was an incredible experience! Meeting my running hero ❤ She is such a wonderful person, an amazing athlete and down to earth individual. She cares a lot about all of her runners and she is fully aware of their capabilities/injuries/strengths and weaknesses.

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I joined the team and we all run together! The team spirit and support was incredible! This team is like a family, and they are ready to welcome anyone who loves running as much as they do!

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Honestly, I have no words to describe how I felt when I met Maria… I was speechless (yes me… I know it almost never happens LOL 😛 )… Running along a legend!

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Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 17.46.59.pngMaria had a special Marathon team Greece t-shirt for me and a band so I can wear them and get motivated when things get tough… I immediately felt like I was part of the team, and this is a feeling that I intended on taking with me and keeping it my heart. I will know that I am not (EVER) running alone anymore!

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE! KEEP GOING! 

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Marathon ready in 7 … thoughts!

This was the original title for this post: Thoughts of an “about-to-be” marathoner…

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Not sure why I decided against it but I wanted to include it anyway.

So the other day I was waiting to meet a friend of mine, to got to a HIIT workout together. I was a little early – surprise there… – so I enjoyed a coffee in the sunshine for a bit while waiting for her. And then of course my mind started “running”, and calculating and planning. I did the “math” in my head and I realised that after we get back from vacation there are 18 weeks left till my marathon… My very first marathon. Needles to say I broke into cold sweat. I know that 18 weeks is plenty of time for training for an intermediate runner but still that doesn’t make it any less scary.

So while waiting, i made a -pretty long- mental list of all the things that I know will help me and motivate me to get through this training cycle and the marathon… And here you have it, the aftermath of all that thinking 😉

1. SUPPORT, SUPPORT, SUPPORT!

For me one of the most important things is one solid support network! People that you know they will give you both a kick in the butt if you become lazy or a shoulder to cry if fear and stress gets the best of you! I am so grateful for all the people in my life that support me through all my crazy ventures!

2. Buddy Up!

Get yourself a running buddy! Someone you know they will push you through the hard times and they will cheer and celebrate all your victories with! Try and find someone with similar goals as you, since training for similar things would really -really- help with your mindset!

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3. The more the merrier!

I admit that running by myself with just my music has a very therapeutic effect,especially after a long day. But there is nothing better to get me out of bed on a Saturday morning – i am convinced that no one is suppose to be awake at 7am on a Saturday – than meeting your buddies for a run in the park. Knowing what i ‘ll be missing out if I don’t get my butt out of bed would definitely get me moving… 😛

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4. Get inspired! 

Find people yo look up to and talk to them, seek their advice and guidance and get motivation from them! I am sure we all have our “running” heroes! For me, they are not star athletes, but they are everyday people like me, who manage to achieve all the things I am striving for! Such as Tina and Carly! These are people that will chase their dreams not matter what and I’ve learned a lot from them through the years of reading their blogs and also when I contacted them!

5. Get yourself a Coach!

Someone that inspires you…

Someone that makes you feel like you can achieve ANYTHING you set your mind on!

Someone who says NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!

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6. Visualize it and it’s yours!

Since I decided to do this, all I can think about every time I run (and not only…) is my goal! I can see me crossing the finish line in the ancient stadium where my ancestors run…Running the original course is such a big dream of mine. And the fact that this is my home country, makes it even more special. To know that you are running a path where your ancestors run before you. To know that  you are running a route which literally changed the world and made it as we know it now, and gave a chance to democracy and great values!

When my coach run 524km in 6 days all she said was.. “I had already run the distance in my mind before I even started! I knew I could do it!”

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Well, I have to admit that after all these thoughts (even thought i m still pretty scared about it, but come on who wouldnt be?!?!) I think I am ready to start my training once I get back! And of course last but not least…

7. Accountability 

I am counting on YOU guys! I will be sharing my training progress every week something like a little diary. To keep me accountable and to remind me my goal! Every comment would make a difference and would keep me going 😀

Have a great Tuesday friends!

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NEW Personal Best & London 10,000m race recap

Hi friends 🙂

Finally I managed to write the recap for my race on Monday, the London 10,000m 😀 Apologies it took me a while but life has been a little crazy around here these days! So, first things first, NEW PERSONAL BEST at 10km WooHoo!!! -shaved 2 full minutes from my previous one!! Hopefully a sub-50 minutes is coming soon!

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This was my May race, in my “One race per month” challenge. – I did miss out on April since my foot wasn’t 100% after my half marathon but I still did a 5k with park run. So even though no bling there, I’ll still cheat –a little bit- and count it as a race since it was timed. So back to this race, I run for the first time with #TeamSpinal from Spinal Research! What an amazing group of people that was! Everyone was so nice and friendly and we hit it off in no time!

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And we definitely “put our backs in it” 😉

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We had some really awesome runners, most of us did a time between 47:00 to 55:00, but Jimmy was the absolute best!! He did an incredible 38 minutes and change (chip time) and when he told us we were like “WOW that’s jaw-dropping!”

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The race had 12,153 runners – we are talking A LOT – of people, and four different time pens, I was in the second one. So in reality there were four different start lines after the initial gun went off. The course was flat as a pancake – I will defiantly NOT complain about it LOL! The course was very pretty, running through most of the city’s centre, along the landmarks such as Big Ben and Westminster, so no not boring at all.

I felt really good up until 6km but then a few problems started (apologies in advance for the tmi LOL)… First of all I needed to pee, like desperately 😦 Why don’t use the porta-potties you ask? Well, I passed the last set without realising it and by the time I figured it out it was already too late… So I knew I had to wait till the finish line. And then next thing you know, by 8km for some unknown reason my tummy started to hurt, quite a bit actually… It went away after I crossed the finishing line but especially during the last 800m I thought I would have to stop and walk it… But somehow stubbornness got the best of me and not only I sprinted towards the end for the last 500m but I also crossed the finishing line SMILING! – I am usually to busy stopping my watch to actually smile or @mymamus can’t find me, but this time he got some pretty cool shots!

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After the race I met up with the rest of the time for some post-race photos and chat and of course show off our bling and talk times! We were all very happy with how we did, and also I am proud to announce that through my fundraising page for this race I raised £71 towards spinal research – not a huge amount but every little bit counts! Thanks to everyone who donated!

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And of course my bling 😀 – the medals were pretty cool AND heavy!! No point running for not cool bling right!?!?!?

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The post race plans included drinks at the local pub but I decided against it since my tummy was still in bit of a turmoil so we hang out with a friend of ours instead eating Hawaiian pizza (it has pineapple on it –> pineapple is a fruit –> pizza = fruit! That’s my excuse 😛 ) and ice cream – yes that might have happened LOL – chilling on her humongous couch and watching a movie. Have you guys seen the 12 Monkeys?? As I was told it’s a classic! I quite enjoyed it actually… Pretty wacky movie!

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Yeah I did eat right out of the container… AND loved it! Did I share??? Well, maybe… like a little bit! Hahaha! Or maybe not…. 😛

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See you soon! I hope everyone is having an awesome day so far! 😀

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RUNNING AROUND THE WORLD #3 – Greece

Hi friends 😀

I am beyond excited to share with you today my “Running around the world” series post #3! I am so so happy with how much everyone liked these series!! It was an idea in my head for so long and i am so excited to finally be able to see it happening! (Many many thanks to my favourite ever blogger Carly from Fine Fit Day for all her advise on how to make this a reality :D)

This time we are traveling to a very special place, my home country Greece, and I am sharing a story of a very good friend of mine that I have known since I was a little kid… Our parents are from the same place (a little village around 3.5hrs away from Athens called Krokilio) and we both used to spent every summer there! – fyi I did want to put up a picture of us as kids but i don’t think he’d forgive me for that 😛 😉 LOL!

  • Today we are travelling to my home country!

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So, without anymore delays (and lengthy introductions even though you know how much I like them…)! Here is Dimitris’s story!

———-

My name is Dimitris Zografos,I am 26 years old and I live in Athens, Greece. Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 15.38.35I am a field hockey player, a sport that I love but is not very popular in my country. Even though I was always heavier than average, that never stopped me from doing what I truly love, which is playing field hockey. Being part of the same team and playing the same sport for all these years I developed one goal, to become even better at it! To be the best I can! What motivated me was the fact that my team (Zeus Chalandriou) would be taking part in one of the biggest European meetings for field hockey that took place in Athens in 2013. My goal was not only to be part of it but to also change myself and become healthier and more fit.

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Within 3 months, following a strict meal plan and serious exercising, and through a lot of hard work I finally manage to drop all of my excess weight. In the beginning of my journey I was 115kg (253.5 lbs) and when the time came for my team and I to compete I was down to 85kg (187.3 lbs). After seeing those changes in me and realising my mind’s and body’s abilities, my entire mind-set changed completely! My thoughts and dreams became my goals through a lot of work and sheer determination. This is when I decided to include running into my life. I was already in a good fitness state due to field hockey, so I started incorporating runs around 5-6km long into my everyday routine. Then after a while I felt more confident and I increased the distance to 9-10km 2-3 times a week. This is how by 2014 I was in the best shape of my life! I was 79 kg (174.2 lbs) with 11.8 % body fat.

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All the things I mentioned above, along with some encouragement from my friends was more than enough to motivate me to run the Athens marathon in 2014! Unfortunately, due to an injury in my right knee and hamstrings and also the fact that I was completely inexperienced in running long distances, my finishing time was 4 hours and 46 minutes. But this was not the end for me! I entered again next year and I did much better… My finishing time was 4 hours and 20 minutes in the marathon distance and 1 hour and 40 minutes in the half marathon distance.

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My personal opinion is that running is not just a form of exercising, or a way to lose weight. Running is a way of life. And everyone evolves differently through it, and not everyone would like running after trying it. I am one of the people that running didn’t only changed my body but also my way of thinking and my way of living. I believe that once you become part of this “culture” is very hard to let go and quit… You ‘ll always want to push your limits and become better and better!

So don’t forget, Greece is where it all started! This is where the idea of the marathon was born! That being said there are so many places to run in Athens (especially the amazingly beautiful and historic city centre), Greece 🙂

  • The national garden
  • The Zappeion Park

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  • The pedestrian street from the beggining of syngrou avenue (apostolou pavlou) to thission (dionisiou aeropagitou) about 2 kilometres and back walking up philopappou hill which is quite difficutl 🙂
  • And last but not least of course … around the Acropolis

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  • And finally if you are feeling adventurous you can always go in the north part of the city or the outskirts and run part of the Authentic marathon route! 😉

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Thank you so much Dimitris for sharing your story with us!

If you are looking forward for more “all around the world running” stay tuned to my series every other Tuesday 😀 For anyone who wants to share their story, from their part of the world shout me an email to taleoftworuns@gmail.com or make sure you follow me on InstagramTwitter and Facebook and give me a shout there😀

Have an awesome day everyone!! And don’t forget… GET OUT THERE AND RUN!

RUNNING AROUND THE WORLD #2 – Australia

Hi everyone 😀

So excited to share with you today my “Running around the world” series post #2 😀 No idea what i am talking about? Check it out here. Today we are travelling literally to the other end of the world!! Before we get there I just wanted to say a HUGE thank yo to everyone who wanted to be part of this worldwide round up, your responses made me so happy!

  • So where are we travelling today???

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Everyone, meet Emma from Melbourne, Australia! She will share all about running in Melbourne with us 😀

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My name is Emma and I am 25 years old and have lived in Melbourne Australia my whole life. I work as a clinical Dietitian in an acute hospital providing nutrition education to patients with a range of clinical conditions. I have always been an athlete but my main sport growing up was swimming and Surf Life Saving. Surf life Saving is an iconic Australian sport, which involves ocean swimming, board paddling and surf ski paddling. When I was growing up I always did a little bit of running as some cross training for my other sports and to help make up the school cross-country team. When I was 20 years old I joined my first running group. This group is made up of runners of all ages, all abilities and those training for all different kinds of events. Some are training for track racing and others for Ironman triathlons. The coach is Anthony DeCastella and his brother Rob DeCastella is one of Australia’s all time best marathon runners!

Photos: Above Left: a photo when I used to do Surf Life Saving. Top Right: view from Xavier College Oval. Bottom right: Ferny Creek trail.

Over recent years I have been running fairly consistently and have entered into a number of big running events including four half marathons, Victorian cross country races and even tried my hand on the track. This year I am putting all my focus in to training for my first marathon, which will be the Melbourne marathon on October 16th.

The things that I love about running the most are the wonderful friends and group of people the I train with, the amazing sights you can see that you wouldn’t if you weren’t out running, plenty of post run coffee and breakfasts and the sense of accomplishment after finishing a tough training run or race. But the one thing that I absolutely love most about running is that post run runners high!

One of the things I dislike about running is the constant battle to avoid injury. The amount of time you have to put in to injury prevention – strength work, stretching, massage and ice baths ends up taking up nearly as much time as running time itself. Coming from a relatively low impact sporting background I could always get away with not putting as much time into these small things. Not sure whether that is a good thing or not! The only other thing that I dislike about running is running in the dark. But unfortunately this is inevitable at times in winter when working full time. It is however always made much easier when running with other people.

Photos: Above Left: a photo of Aami Park (Soccer stadium) from Olympic Park running track. Above Right: part of The Tan track.

Living in Melbourne I have sought out some of the best running tracks and trails. A typical training week for me sees me running at about 4-5 different locations. When running from home I am lucky that there is a bike path about 500m from where I live that goes for more 30km. This path goes along a freeway and I often run different lengths of the path depending on the distance I am planning on going. My first group session for the week is usually held on a high school oval (Xavier College). The grounds of the school are beautiful and we do our fartlek or speed training around the ovals.

Thursday night training for me is held at one of Melbourne’s most iconic running locations

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View of Yarra river when running along the Tan

– The Tan. The Tan is about a 3.85km track around Melbourne’s botanical gardens. Running this track you run past the Shrine of Remembrance, along the Yarra River and up Anderson street hill – not fun! There is always heaps of people running around The Tan and it is also well it up at night which is handy. My Sunday long run is usually held at two different locations – either Yarra Flats, which starts in Eaglemont or up in The Dandenong Ranges at Ferny Creek. Ferny creek is my absolute favourite place to run. It is about a 45minute drive from Melbourne up in to the mountains but it is well worth the drive. Up there I run through the forest nearly all the way and up and down long steep hills, which really give the legs a good workout.

 

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Ferny Creek

For any running travellers out there that are looking to come to Melbourne and hit up the tracks I believe The Tan and Ferny Creek to be the spots to head to. The advice that I would give to runners coming to Melbourne would be to be aware that we drive on the LEFT side of the road, so always look both ways when crossing roads. My other key recommendation is to always plan for a brunch date afterwards. Melbourne has the most amazing cafes and what better time to enjoy a brunch feast that after a hard run. My favourite Melbourne cafes are Top Paddock in Richmond, Wide Open Road in Fitzroy, Mr. Hendricks in Balwyn and The Piggery in Sherbrooke Forest. Lastly, if anyone ever is in Melbourne please don’t hesitate to message me on Instagram – @irunmelbourne to meet up for a running tour of Melbourne!

Photos: Right: Top Paddock breakfast. Left: Wide Open Road breakfast.

———

Thank you so much Emma for sharing this with us 😀

If you are looking forward for more “all around the world running” stay tuned to my series every other Tuesday 😀 For anyone who wants to share their story, from their part of the world shoot me an email to taleoftworuns@gmail.com or make sure you follow me on InstagramTwitter and Facebook and give me a shout there 😀

Have an awesome day everyone!! And don’t forget… GET OUT THERE AND RUN!

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THE BLIND RUNNER – When will power can beat all odds…

Hello friends 🙂

I hope everyone is having a great Monday so far! I am so excited to share an incredible story with you today. Christos Zotos, is a runner, a BLIND runner! I connected with him through my coach, Maria Polyzou, and of course I asked him to share his story with us. I have to admit, when I logged in to my email the other day, and started reading his story I had tears in my eyes… It is incredible to see what humans are capable of when we want something really bad… It is amazing to see how far someone’s hopes, dreams and sheer will power may take him! I believe Christos should be an inspiration, an example for all of us! Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share your story, Christos!

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I really hope his story will “touch” you as much as it touched me…

Q: How did you decided to start running and when was that?

A: I loved running since I was a teenager. Running made me feel at peace and offered me aScreen Shot 2016-05-16 at 08.13.07 sense of balance. There is nothing better than running by the sea or in a forest no matter the weather. But running became an integral part of my life in 2001, when I was 41 years old and I turned blind! When this happened to me I lost interest in living my life and I got depressed. I refused to get out of my house for about 6 months and I became overweight at 297 lbs (135kg). After an intervention from family members and friends, I started looking into running for people with disabilities and I discovered that it was yet again possible for me to do something I loved so much, running! I started very slow, in January of 2002, with some walking and later on running. When I made it I felt like my love for running kept me alive and that running gave me my life back! “RUNNING IS LIFE”!

Q: When and where your first race took place? Will you please share your feelings with us?

A: My first race was in August of 2002, in a championship among different running clubs from all around Greece and Cyprus. I competed at 5k and came first with a PB of 23’40’’.

During my stay there and and on our way to the race track I felt great, everyone was inScreen Shot 2016-05-16 at 08.13.00 high spirits and we were all teasing each others (especially about our weight and the fact that we can see, by then I was 185 lbs (84 kg). But then when we started warming up for the race I started feeling different. My legs felt heavy, I started to get chills, and I could barely contain my tears.  I could see my whole life since I lost my eyesight like a movie, the depression, all the negative feelings that I had about life, and how I started  – very slowly – to come back to life… It felt like I fought and took my life back! But you know what? The moment the race started, everything disappeared, the moment I crossed the start line I felt like I was flying and my feet weren’t touching the ground. It felt like a lion woke up inside of me… My guide became worried because we were going way to fast and he tried to hold me back. But I was unstoppable, the more my own people, friends and family were cheering for me and the more I could here their voices the faster I would run. I felt like I HAD to finish, I HAD to win this bet that I’d set with myself, with my life! I felt like I could do it, that I was capable of not only finishing the race, but also winning, I had the willpower and strength to do it, I just knew it. AND I DID IT! I didn’t just finish and won a race that day, but I reclaimed my entire life back! I had to tell you the smile on my face lasted for hours… I was so proud of myself! Of course, I am fully aware that this wouldn’t be possible without all the people that supported me in this venture and especially my amazing wife who has been supporting me unconditionally since the beginning till this very day.

Q: Share with us some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a blind runner.

 A: One of my biggest challenges since I was a kid, was to cross the finish line of a marathon race. I always had the outmost respect for marathon runners, and I ‘ve always considered them heroes! But I never dared to think the possibility of me ever running a marathon, just by the thought I was terrified… That was one of the biggest challenges, to run 26.2 miles with someone else’s eyes as your own… But despite all the fear, I geared up with discipline, patience, stubbornness (if you will…) which are all features that a marathon runner needs to have and decided to go for it!!! I crossed the finishing line of the “Great Alexander Marathon” in Thessaloniki in April of 2006. If there is one thing that I learnt is that we can achieve anything we want if we have the will power to go for it, and that we can push ourselves to the limits! Actually, “there are NO limits, they are nothing but your mind’s creation to limit you…”!

Q: How do you choose your guide? And for how long do you need to train together prior to a big upcoming race?

A:  Initially I don’t get to choose, since any help is purely on a volunteering basis, but after a long time of being a runner people get to know me and they come to realize how important help is to me and many people want to offer their help and support. This is how I then decided who will be a better match in order to achieve an optimal result in the race.

We have a separate training plans and we match a few practices a week, and this goes on for 2,4,6 months or as long as it is necessary in order to be fully prepped for the race.

Q: I can imagine there is a very special bond between you and your guide…

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A: Yes of course, it is a very special relationship between us. Even though we are only connected with a small piece of string tied around our wrists, in reality we are creating a bond that will last for a lifetime. The guide’s help towards me is invaluable and thought daily contact there is a strong friendship created. Through this person’s eyes and guidance I am able to achieve a personal goal, and make a dream come true. It is though his eyes and his words that I am able to see and perceive the world around me.

Q: What is the crowd’s reaction whenever they see you at an event, a practice run or a race?

A: Everybody is whole-heartedly cheering for me, and I can feel the people’s admiration for what I do and what I have accomplished though all these cheering, but also through talking to people. But honestly, in my opinion, I don’t feel like I am doing anything different or special… I am doing exactly what all my fellow runners are doing with a … slightly different approach to it. When you truly love something, and if you want it bad enough, you WILL FIND A WAY to achieve it!

Q: Where do you usually train? 

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 08.13.25A: I am usually training in the gym and in the track. I am currently part of two teams. One is the team of people with disabilities and also I am honoured to be a part of the Marathon Team Greece by Maria Polyzou.

My fellow runners and my coach, Maria Polyzou, have become an integral part of my life and they support me on all my goals and in every practice, not only on the track but even running on the road!

Q: Of course I couldn’t not ask about your beautiful dog guide. Please tell us about this amazing friendship between you and her.

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A: Oh but of course. Her name is Melita and she is a beautiful 4 year old blonde Labrador. She came into my life in September of 2013 and since then I felt like I got my eyesight back through her. She IS my eyes! Since day one she showed me that I can trust her completely and that she is capable of guiding me everywhere. I feel extremely safe with her. She is my very best friend and both my wife and I love her so much, she is our baby and definitely an irreplaceable member of our family.

Q: So what about the future, what are your plans for future races? I hope will get to see you at the authentic Athens marathon!

A: Yes, of course I will be there in November. I have already begun my training since this is one of the most challenging marathons in the world! My first goal is to cross the finish line and then hopefully a PB. Of course I always have my amazing coach by my side, Maria Polyzou. Now, one more goal that I’d like to achieve is to one day run an ultramarathon, 50, 60km, maybe more… and I’d like to run for a a cause. I ‘d like to run for children that they are fighting cancer. I am still working on this, and when the thought matures in my mind will plan it out with my coach. What I wish for is for me to be healthy, and able to KEEP Running!

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 08.13.16What I represent is very important to me. Disable people should not be left alone, they should be out there living life to the fullest like everyone else! Having a disability doesn’t mean someone can’t do something… it merely means that it has to be done in a different way! I owe it to myself and all the people who are looking up to me to keep fighting and never give up! All the help I get from my guides shows the world that there are still people who unconditionally care out there… And you know what? Only if there is love in our hearts we will manage to progress as a community and as individuals.

What I am trying to do is spread positive vibes, especially nowadays, when are country is facing so many challenges, I feel it is my responsibility (like everyone elses’) to offer and spread around only “LOVE”, “HAPPINESS” and help people to be optimistic about life!

BEING DIFFERENT IS WHAT BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER!

10 things that make running AWESOME!

So your alarm clock just went off or you just got home from work and you have a nice long(-ish) run planned for the day… well trust me when I tell you you are not the only one who will continuously press snooze or come up with a gazillion excuses as to why you shouldn’t go since you just got home from work…

Excuses will always be there, too tired, spent time with my family, hungry, raining, cold or just a plain ol’ “I don’t feel like it”… So here is some of the things I tell myself (or have @mymamus tell them to me if I am being extra stubborn) to get me motivated and out the door 😀

  1. YOU KNOW YOU ‘LL LOVE IT! All you have to do is start!
  2. Rain? So what? It’s so much fun to run in the rain…
  3. You just had a WHOLE tub of Ben’s and Jerry’s chocolate fudge last night… No more words are necessary, that would get me going for miles!Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 16.37.58.png
  4. Go run, cause punching people is frowned up – or killing people gets you jail time!!!

These are just a few of my “excuse busters” 😉

But really now? What is it with running that makes us do it in the first place???

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Let me know why YOU love running 🙂

Have an awesome day,

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