Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rest: Day 2

Dear Diary, I think the depression has begun to sink in.  It's been two full days since I last ran on Sunday Morning.  This morning I'm wearing an Under Armor shirt to work.  Ever  so often I stop to pet the logo, reminding myself that I am a runner.  That and coffee are the only things getting me through each day.  And Candy Crush.  Will I ever see the sun again?  Will I ever run along a river dreading every step of my long run again only to feel unreasonably elated when I finish?

The above is pretty unreasonable, right?  I mean, yeah, I can't run and knowing that makes me feel a bit like someone has stolen my favorite toy, but they're holding it there, just out of my reach so I know it's still there, but I can't actually get it.

The worst part is that I spent the latter part of last week looking at races and planning my spring schedule, but this break feels like I might have to downgrade some of the events I was considering entering - like the half marathon at the 50th Calgary Marathon (longest running race in Canada) - which is in June.   I wanted to use the next few weeks to build up my mileage a bit before deciding whether or not to go for the earlier half marathon.

In reality, I know I wasn't going to do that half.  And then I have to decide how far I want to travel to do just a 10K or if I should do something closer to home a week or two later.

Anyway, the reality is that I'm not dealing with forced rest all that well.  I'm bummed.  Thankfully there is an end in sight.  Sure, I was (unrealistically) hoping it would all be better today and I'd be left with a gigantic bruise on my elbow and endless energy for running.  Sometimes I don't get what I want, but I still have that hope for tomorrow.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The importance of rest

Have you ever had ART done?  I did on Saturday morning by an awesome chiropractor who isn't remotely near me so I can't even go back regularly.  Adding to the awesome, he even direct billed my insurance company so I don't have to save the paperwork and submit on my own - which I rarely do.  I left his office feeling amazing.

You see, I have a desk job and had bad posture for about 15 years of that job.  It resulted in a twisted pelvis and a functional leg length difference.  These things weren't really a problem until I decided to start running.  Any kind of imbalance in your lower body will cause problems when you run and, as you can imagine, this particular imbalance can be rather harmful.

That afternoon, we decided to walk down to the frozen yogurt shop.  It's not a particularly far walk, but the icy sidewalks this time of year can make it somewhat hazardous.  And in an unexpected twist, I actually slipped on the ice and landed hard on my hip and elbow.

I'm quite certain this undid any good the ART did for me that morning.  The good news was my yogurt landed right side up so all was not lost.  I didn't even lose an almond or a piece of pineapple.

I did, however end up with some pretty good bruising and a need for some rest based on yesterday's run.

And that's the hard part for me.  I'm actually kind of angry at the homeowner who couldn't be bothered to even salt or sand his icy sidewalk.  Because as a runner, I don't like to rest.  From what I've seen in some online groups, this is pretty common among runners.

When we rest, we feel we aren't making progress.  Our mileage isn't increasing.  Our speed isn't increasing.  And we lose that wonderful feeling we get when we run - even if it is just some twisted sense of accomplishment after finishing a particularly difficult and painful run.

Which I felt on Sunday morning after walking and running my way through 2.5 miles on the treadmill with tight calves and a wonky stride and more anger than is really warranted toward a homeowner who couldn't be bothered to deal with the ice problem caused by the snow problem he ignored earlier in the season.

But the reality is that the fall is just helping me realize that my body was already calling for a rest.  It started in Vegas and I blamed it on all of the walking, but I started getting a shooting numbness into my left heel when walking up/down stairs, but at no other time.  Back in the gym, that continued into my running and the first ten to fifteen minutes had that shooting numbness (tingling?) at every step.

It probably had been resolved by the ART, but falling on that hip undid the good he did and it's questionable whether or not it would've been effective beyond a run or two.

Continuing to run is clearly not the answer.  I'll take a couple of days of active rest, although what the "active" part of that entails I don't know yet.  I'll see if I can get in for a massage or some more ART.

And in the meantime, I'm going to be frustrated and upset by my lack of running.  I'll be sad that my mileage for the week is low and I'll be bummed when I fall in my Fitbit group standings (I WAS IN SECOND PLACE BEFORE THIS!)

Who knew that resting could feel this awful even when I know it's something I need to do?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Back from Vegas

"You aren't having fun if you ain't running!"

We were walking down the Las Vegas strip in the early evening when we were passed by a guy running (while not spilling a drop of the beer he carried) down the strip.  When I smiled at him he said some version of the above quote.  It's Vegas, I may be able to direct myself to any part of the strip with very little thought, my memory for actual events may be shorter term.  Blame the vodka.

This trip to Vegas was educational for me.  We went with friends (I should probably clarify that they're my husband's friends since I'm sure they want no affiliation to me after this weekend) who used to work out, but didn't seem to change their diets or once they stopped working out resumed old habits.

We had the breakfast buffet every morning.  The first morning, post run, I was a bit hungry so I probably ate too much.  I filled my first place (not heaping) and went to the dessert bar.  My friends ate two full (and heaping) plates and hit the dessert bar.

Each day at the buffet, I ate less than the day before, choosing healthier options each time.  While it wasn't my choice to hit the buffet, I'd lost 5 lbs between Christmas and the trip and I saw no point in losing ground, right?

The problem for me was I wasn't with similar-minded people.  They stuffed themselves at breakfast with high-fat, high-carb foods then wanted to eat junk food around 3pm because they didn't have lunch.  Then dinner was another high fat event.

I learned on the first day that would not work for me.  I don't eat like that anymore and my stomach revolted - this came as a complete surprise to me.  Then I tried to remember the last time I had french fries.  I can't.

My husband's friends, after hearing about the fitness center (fruit, water, towels, headsets provided) demanded we bring them a banana.  Ok, whatever.  I brought them a banana and they didn't even bother taking it so I think they were just trying to prove that we weren't going or we were lying about the amenities provided?  Basically, they thought we were ridiculous for paying the optional resort fee to use wi-fi and the fitness center.

I don't really care.  I thought they were high maintenance for requesting a different table EVERY time we walked into a restaurant.  The difference is, I came out and said it (thus why they may not want to call me a friend) one morning.  I also think they were jerks for using our wi-fi, the car we rented and not even buying my husband a drink on his birthday.  They did chip in $30 for gas though...


Here's what I learned in Vegas.

1.  I love running.  I ran a couple of times before breakfast and my husband also hit the gym at the same time.  It gave me so much energy for the day and for some reason walking the strip all day (33,000 steps in one day) didn't hurt at all - even after running.

2.  I don't binge anymore.  Overeating was painful and most meals I was unable to clean my plate.

3.  I love my alone time.  Likely due to my outburst calling my husband's friends high maintenance.  I got some "me" time.  To be fair, it was the plan before we left as my husband wanted to go to a gun range.  I have no problem with guns, but it's not something I cared to do - especially at tourist prices.  My plan was always to hang out by the pool with a book while they did that and the weather was good enough for that.  I did forget 1/2 of my swimsuit so I replaced that plan with finding my favorite bakery in the Venetian and indulging in some macarons.

4.  I feel like crap when I eat crappy foods.  Also when I skip meals.

5.  Vodka and water is just a better drink than pretty much anything else.  Mixed drinks now taste too heavy and syrupy for me.

6.  Even on a buffet, you can find fruit, steel cut oats and other healthy options.  But that doesn't mean you have to skip the bacon.  Just don't eat a PLATE of bacon.

7.  My eating habits have changed significantly over time.  It didn't happen all at once, but it has happened.  I didn't realize how much they'd changed until I watched my husband's friends eat like I used to.  And it made me feel ill.

Friday, January 10, 2014

I'm not sure what I'm happier about

Last night, I began one of my New Year's goals - I added a fourth run to my week.  Not that I ran far, I am trying to gradually (mostly) increase my mileage as is recommended, so adding another run is going to be a bit of a balancing act.

I ran a simple mile and then walked the rest of my workout.  I don't often run just a mile.  Maybe I should more often, because there is so much made of your mile pace in training.  Sure, I can use my last 5K race time, but you can also find information about training around your pace for a single mile.  Until last night, I didn't actually know what that was.

Now I know I can currently run a mile in fifteen minutes.

Not all that impressive when you look at other mile times, but for me, it represents some huge gains in the past few months - when running fifteen minutes straight seemed like the hardest thing I'd ever do at any pace.

The other thing that I'm pretty darned excited about is the scale this morning.  My husband and I set some goals for after Christmas and today was one of the first short term measuring points.

I've lost five pounds since Christmas Day.  Which means I now have to actually figure out what my reward for attaining that goal is.

So, I'm up to running four days a week (assuming I get my run in on Saturday which I will).  I'm running faster.  And that work is paying off on the scale.

Monday, January 6, 2014

On weight loss, speed and races.

When I was home over Christmas, I went for a run twice.  Once on Christmas morning and then again two days later.  When I returned from the second run, I immediately walked downtown with my parents to do a little shopping.  Note to self: in the future, inform the husband of decisions like this so he isn't driving around looking for me dead in a ditch...

My parents are both proud and baffled by my running.  Mom proudly and loudly) announced to a lady at the grocery store that I'm a marathon runner.  To which I immediately cleared up any misconception by saying, "HALF, HALF marathon!"

I was worried that people would look at my size and think to themselves that I'm delusional.  Because a half marathon is obviously so much more friendly to the overweight in the population.

Dad made a few comments about not understanding running.  He really doesn't understand how/why I do this and no matter what I told him to try to justify my love of running (even in the cold and the snow.  even on Christmas morning), he didn't get it.

Meanwhile, I know how running makes me feel.  I know that I started this to lose weight, not expecting to love it.  Instead, I loved it and didn't lose weight - which is quite common, the internet informs me.

And so, after a few years of working on regularly running a relatively short distance  injury-free, this year I realize I need to focus on other things.  Like proper weight loss (oh man am I hungry right now), as well as running further and faster.

I have one big goal this year - a half marathon with friends in September.  My entire year is a build up to that, to this event that came out of casually asking an online running friend about training for a half marathon - before I'd even ran a single step.  When I still believed I'd hate running.  (If that isn't crazy...)

In between then and now, several other online friends have also started running (and a cousin!) and this crazy plan was hatched for all of us, along with various additional friends and family members, would run a half marathon.  The same half marathon, at the same time, but obviously varying speeds.  I want this to be a PR for me - and given my performance in my first half marathon, that isn't much of a challenge.

But this half marathon has a pace restriction.  I have to maintain a (relatively easy) pace of 15 min/mile.  A "simple" 4 mph over 13.1 miles.  Yes.  That will be a PR for me - in my defense, I ran (walked, really) my first one with some injuries.

I've spent a bit of time this week (ok, this morning) eyeballing my race schedule for the spring/summer.  I have a couple of must-do races that I enjoyed last year as 5Ks, and then the tough part - deciding when I'll be ready to step it up to longer distances - finishing that 10K, for example.  It's always reassuring to finish a race knowing you won't be last across that finish line - some 10K participant is coming in after you at the very least!

So distance is a factor as I know I'm going to have to start working my way up to that 13.1 mile distance.  But in addition to that, I'm going to have to work on speed.

When I talk of speed, I have to address a significant factor that is holding me back from getting faster (and running further, really) - my weight.  So long as I'm overweight, my speed will be hindered by that as much as from a lack of training.

I don't want to frame this as a New Year's resolution, even if it is that time of year.  This isn't something I want to focus on for the New Year, even if a new year is a perfectly fine time to start making changes.  That makes it a bit hard to state an actual goal here, thanks to the proximity of the New Year.  So I'm going to look at my race schedule for the year.

Mar - One 5K race.
May - 9.11K race
June - 10K and either an 8 mile hilly race OR a second 10K
Sept - 1/2 marathon @ 15min/mile pace.

There are two additional races I want to participate in that do not have dates set as yet.  Based on last year, one will be in July, the other in August and I haven't decided yet whether I'll run them as 5 or 10K events.

And, in no way related to the new year, I have a goal to lose about forty pounds between now and that 1/2 marathon.

*nods* That's do-able, right?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Do you snowshoe?

I'm desperately in need of some good cross-training options.  Sure, I know I can go to the gym and hit the bike or the elliptical or even just walk on the treadmill, but I get there and I just want to run.  I know I'd get more benefit from doing other activities, but I do live in Canada and this time of year it isn't always pleasant or easy to do things in the great outdoors.

Yes, I know there are still people biking to work in this weather.  I applaud them, but nothing about biking in snow, slush and ice makes me think happy thoughts.

Yesterday, I went snowshoeing with my husband and some friends.  I was afraid it would suck - mainly because I've wanted to try it for so long.  My rental snowshoes were too small for my size so I sunk in the snow.  One of our friends knocked me over and I ended up covered in snow - which then resulted in me being slightly cold for the rest of the walk.  And our dog decided it was a great day to not listen at the off-leash park so we looked like those dog owners.

Yes.  We snowshoe'd at a dog park.  It's basically a big open field with a path around the outside and a bunch of pristine snow in the middle so it was a perfect place to try out a new bit of exercise AND the dogs got some exercise as well - they do love bounding through the deep snow.

I even did a little jog in the rental 'shoes and felt like it might be something I could get behind at some point.  They do make running snowshoes that are narrower and a slightly different shape to make it easier to run well in them.

It looks like we'll be buying some snowshoes in the coming months. If you haven't tried it, you might want to give it a shot.  And no matter how nice the day appears to be, dress appropriately.  My legs got a bit cold even with a pair of running tights under my jeans - a combination that's often warm enough for a walk in some of our warmer winter temps (around freezing).