Saturday, October 22, 2011

Getting your head around a 'Mousdash'

They're hairy, scary, and can make your upper lip quiver. No, I don't mean a mustache. I'm talking about fun-runs that can send a tingle down your spine! 'Movember' 13th marks the third anniversary of one of Brisbane's newest running festivals - the Nova 106.9 Mousdash Mt Coot-tha Fun Run & Walk. Movember itself is a fantastic campaign and one that I wholeheartedly support. It is about raising money and awareness of men's health problems, specifically prostate cancer and depression. Working as a psychologist I have seen (and continue to see) firsthand how debilitating and consuming depression is, on both the person experiencing it and the people around them. Campaigns such as this one that have the support of organisations like Beyond Blue help people to realise that depression is real and is something that is OK to talk about.

So how do you tackle a mustache? I'm probably not the right person to ask about that. But a Mousdash - now that I can help you out with. If you choose to 'Stride It', you're up for 10.5km around Mt Coot-tha going clockwise

Before you get into it, remember to warm up the ol' rig before you get it into 'mountain conquering' mode. No need to reinvent the wheel here - do whatever has been working for you in training. Walking for a few minutes, some light jogging and then some basic drills like lunges and high knee run-throughs works for me. 

Given you are about to tackle a mountain, here are a few basic tips for running up hill:
  • Let your arms do the work for a change. No, not walking on your hands (although that would be impressive to the top). It's really difficult to run and swing your arms and legs at different speeds, so pump your arms a bit harder to propel you forward. 
  • Imagine a cable attached to your chest that is pulling you up to the top of the mountain. 
  • Keep your head lowered a bit, or looking forward, just not straight up the hill. It's OK to glance up to see how far you have to go, but by keeping your head down a bit you keep your back straighter and it encourages better running posture. 
  • Pretend the person in front of you is pulling a sled that you are on. You can even imagine that you are whipping them if that is your kind of thing. 

You start at Mt Coot-tha Rd and head up to the first intersection with Sir Samuel Griffith Drive. This is a bit of an incline, but it is over quick enough. Given you'll be caught up in the excitement of the event with thousands of others around you, you'll hardly notice. Focus on counting as many pairs of Mizuno's as you can until you hit the intersection; that'll distract you!

When you hit the 'welcome' sign, turn left. This is it - the steady climb to the top. The part you've been thinking about for the past few nights, waking you up in a cold sweat. Never fear! You just need to focus on breaking the 2km's to the Summit Restaurant up into smaller pieces. For example, a few hundred meters up and you have a great view to your left out over the Brisbane CBD skyline. The part you may find tricky is the fact that after the first 1km or so, the road starts to snake around so you can't see the end of it. For me, the mind games kick in because you start asking yourself "when do I stop climbing - I can't see it ending!". Remember it does stop going up. Trust me. Also, look for the positives - sure, you are still climbing but now you have the shade of the trees. 

Coming up the front side of the mountain, the road will plateau out for a little bit. Use this time to catch your breath and relax a bit if needed. There is one more short sharp push before you reach the Summit Restaurant. When you get there, let out a "Woo Hoo!" as you are (almost) at the peak. The road will curve around to the right, and you will find yourself going through a round-a-bout. A hundred meters further and the road flattens out. Two pieces of advice here. A) Soak it up and enjoy the view - it is amazing looking out over the rolling hills and towards the horizon. B) Don't be fooled. There is still a few hundred meters of climbing just around the corner! When you hit it, don't be scared as it is only a short section and a freckle compared to what you have already overcome. 

From here, it is rolling hills for a while. Remember to stay in the moment. Your legs might be hurting and your mind telling you to stop; the key is to thank your mind for these thoughts (that's all they are, thoughts) and then to take in what is going on around you; the people of all shapes and sizes conquering the mountain with you, like a bunch of marauding athletes! The sound of the wildlife and birds. Focus on finding something with each sense; the smell of the forest leaves, the sound of shoes on the asphalt, the colour of the sky, the taste of the sweat on your lip, the touch of the material on the person in front of you's bu... hold on. No, I don't recommend touching random people. But you get what I mean. Enrich the experience!

You will pass a few stations - first will be Channel 7, then Channel 9. As landmarks, once you have passed Channel 9 there is another slight rise for about 100 meters and then, in the distance, when you see Channel 10 - the downhill run! While it may be very tempting to think the quicker I run the quicker this will be over, it will destroy your legs if you are not used to running downhill. Plus it is a sure recipe for injuries and shin splints. Some tips for the downhill stretch:
  • Don't over-stride. While it will be tempting to take huge leaps to move faster, you'll hammer your quads and struggle for the last part of the day. 
  • Keep your feet low to the ground and try to stay light on your feet. Your stride turnover will naturally pick up as it now has gravity on it's side, so try to keep your steps short and quick.
  • Try to keep your shoulders just in front of you and your hips and feet under you. 
  • Don't lean back and try to brake yourself. Let gravity pull you as you glide down the hill. 
 Also, I saw this sign on the downhill which might provide some entertainment:

This tells me that at some stage some guy is going to try and jump over a man riding a horse while riding a bike! Yeah! If you're there when it happens, let me know because it sounds like it would be mind-blowing. 

Again, the downhill section snakes around a bit so you may find yourself wondering where the bottom is. Rather than focus on the end, focus on making it to each bend in the road. Count how many steps it takes to get to the corner, then start again for the next one. Consider this: if the iceberg that the Titanic ran into was made up of many ice-cubes rather than one huge chunk of ice, the Titanic would have sailed straight through them all. Treat the mountain the same. Break it into small pieces and you'll be through it in no time. Otherwise you may sink. 


So, at the bottom of the mountain you will hit Simpsons Falls. When you see that, you are almost home and hosed! A nice stretch of open flat road awaits your bouncing step (you're still bouncing at this stage, right?). If you're lucky you will be greeted by a couple of friendly horses that live in the paddock on your left. If you're thirsty then there is a water cooler near the car park on your right. Last tip: if you are feeling great still, gun it because you are nearly there. If not, or if you are unsure, keep a bit in the tank because there is one more mini-climb before the downhill strut to the Botanical Gardens. 

Congratulations! Once you've made it to the end, soak up the experience. You've given yourself ample excuses to pig-out on ice-cream and cake for the rest of the day; you've raised money and awareness for a good cause; and you've done something good for yourself. 


  1. I so want to do that journey! You so inspire me to give it a shot! I need those new Mizuno shoes right???

  2. It sounds like fun, right? I wish I could do it but it is on the same day as the Robina race. The Mizuno's and training combined will have you conquering the world for sure!