Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Just [Decide to] Do It

Last night, during my group therapy session, one of my groupies was describing a difficult thing that she wanted to do but wasn’t sure if she’d be able to do it. Our therapist asked, “What will make the difference between doing it and not doing it?” We looked around at each other and at her, stumped.

“When you decide to do it.”

We all nodded vigorously in agreement, and the conversation moved on. This morning, I woke up thinking again about those words and how powerful they are. That simple phrase takes out all the fretting and overanalyzing and second-guessing and other mind games that come when a difficult task is in front of us. I find these tasks are the most difficult when they’re part of making a change.

The word “should” gets plastered all over everything when I’m faced with choices or making change. I should get more sleep. I should push the pace in a race when it hurts. I should talk to someone about [insert awkward topic that makes me feel vulnerable]. I should watch portions and mindless eating. The “should” implies there is some outside pressure, telling me what to do and not do. It’s hard to own a decision and truly incorporate the steps it takes to make a change when it’s coming from an unnamed external place berating me for not being perfect.

Deciding to do it makes it internal. It’s coming from within, from something I want, from something I need.

“Decide to do it” is different that “just do it,” which is certainly a true and powerful sentiment, but it implies that there isn’t first an obstacle of getting your brain on board with whatever “it” is.

I’m thinking about how powerful it is: “I have decided to go to bed earlier” is a lot more powerful than “I should go to bed earlier.” It requires that I own the decision, that I take steps to make it a reality, rather than just some general feeling that I should do something without a clear idea of what that means. It empowers me to take steps towards a goal, rather than just hoping the goal-making will itself bring results. It makes it real. 

And then, I think and hope, that each time I verify this decision with my actions, it brings me a step closer to not having it be a decision anymore, but rather something I just do.

I don’t decide to run every day, it’s just something I do, after years of having it be something I decide to do every day. Just like I don’t decide to brush my teeth or wash my face before bed (flossing I could still use some work on). Years ago, I decided to stop drinking soda, and now it’s not a decision I make every day, it just happens. This isn’t to say that, some days, it’s hard to get out of bed to get miles in, or make a trip to the bathroom between the couch and bed. But deciding to do things means not dwelling on how hard it is, it means you focus on getting the thing done.

Which is so much easier than spending days or weeks mulling things over before taking action, or beating myself up when I don’t do a “should”, or conveniently changing my mind when things get tough.

What decisions have you made? What have you decided on so many times, that now it just happens? What decision do you still struggle with?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Apparently, I don't write about running anymore.

I can sum up the past two months (maybe even this year so far), I think, through the realization that I don’t have enough eggs to go into all the baskets I’ve been trying to fill lately. But, it’s ok, because a lot of those baskets don’t need to be filled. And I wonder: how many of us work ourselves into a tailspin, trying to hold ourselves up to impossible standards, do things we think will be the golden ticket to a happy life?

Let me explain (otherwise, this would be a lousy blog post).

Through my ongoing quest for self-improvement, self-awareness, and growth, I have been soaking up articles and Facebook posts and podcasts and blogs, all about how to “live the life I want” or to “be the x I’ve always wanted to be (where x = lover, manager, employee, runner, friend, daughter, sister, woman, human. It took three sentences for me to get an equation into this post. #nerdalert). Every day, I would have “inspiring” emails delivered to my inbox and posts to my Facebook wall. I would read them with gusto, hoping for tidbits to motivate me, to flip the switch on whatever aspect of my life I saw in need of improvement. I created all these baskets to describe the person I wanted to be, and if only I could fill them with even one little egg, even a quail’s egg, I’d feel fulfilled and whole and could check that box.

About a month ago, it occurred to me that, although my intentions were good, I had somehow started subconsciously judging myself anytime I couldn’t find an egg, get that egg into a basket, or lost eggs. If I read about a way to better manage my time, and I couldn’t immediately implement it, I had failed. If I read about how to have better mental fortitude as an athlete and didn’t immediately see a change, I had failed. Through all my sources, I discovered that, in order to be happy and connected with myself and a good human being, I have to get up early, do morning yoga, meditate, drink lemon water, journal, not check my phone first thing in the morning, get eight hours of sleep (but - don’t worry - there are examples of very successful people throughout history who basically don’t sleep), nap (anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours), write down what I’m grateful for, make goals, don’t use the word “should,” not sit all day, take breaks every hour,  spend an hour every day focusing on my team and not my own work, network, have coffee and lunch with people, don’t eat lunch at my desk, spend time every day “thinking and synthesizing”, not check email constantly all day, don’t bring work home with me, spend the first and last ten minutes of every work day scheduling and making to-do lists, not rely on to-do lists, eat vegan, eat vegetarian, eat local, eat organic, avoid sugar, avoid alcohol, drink one glass of wine every day (maybe even two is ok), drink tea, drink coffee (but not too much), exercise every day, take rest days, run a lot, cross train a lot, do core, strength train, foam roll, get massages, write, blog, play piano, listen to music, listen to podcasts, tell those close to me absolutely everything that’s on my mind, give those close to me space, put my legs up a wall for ten minutes every night, never go to bed with a dirty kitchen, never go to bed with a dirty apartment, always make the bed, set aside 10%, no 15%, of my salary for retirement (is that enough?!), go away on the weekends, stay in and get things done on the weekends, prioritize friend and boyfriend time, prioritize alone time, do what I love, love what I do.

I had so many good suggestions for how to live a better life. None of those suggestions were “just live happy.” 

About a month ago, I had a thought (and I remember exactly where I was in GGP during a run, which is pretty amazing, because every time I pass that point, I think about this): what if I’m actually doing ok? What if I am “living the life I want?” What if I am the person I want to be? What if the struggle, then, is letting go of the picture that obtaining x will mean I’m done working or done growing or finished? That there actually isn’t a checkbox for me to say, “Ok, I am done being the best x I can be.” This realization was equally freeing and a tough pill to swallow. It means my work is never done, but it also means that I don’t have to hold myself to an impossible standard of being “finished.” The perfectionist in me hadn’t been serving me well, and it was a moment of actually believing the sentiment that life is about the journey, not the destination. I don’t have to solve everything. I don’t have to *gasp* be perfect. But “just live happy” seems to be a much better mantra than “just live by doing [all those things I listed above]” - it certainly rolls off the tongue a lot better. 

I unsubscribed from about 90% of all those “helpful” websites and posts and inputs. I have not missed them one bit. Most of them actually were filled with good advice; I just was tired of feeling like shit after reading them. The remaining inputs are truly healing and productive and the beginning of a conversation with myself, not a “do this or else you’re a failure” sort of a thing. I’m good enough at deciding I’m a failure (oh, therapy, how I love you, but you have a lot of work to do) - I don’t need it from complete strangers who don’t even know me. 

On a different, but related, note: over the last two months, I’ve also felt like I’m teetering on the edge of physical wellness. (This is the TMI portion of the post). My left knee started acting up; thinking it was bursitis, I went to the doctor, and it turns out I have an enthesophyte, which is a fancy word for bone spur. That doesn’t itself cause pain, but my imbalances (I’m a runner, I have a stupid left glute) means my quad pulls on it and gets irritated. My left hamstring and piriformis then decided to revolt, and it took a very large man to dig his elbow into my hip socket to get rid of that pain. I also spent a few weeks convinced I had celiac/lactose intolerance/pregnancy/ulcers/cancer/aliens (I should know better than to consult Dr. Google), because I would get waves of crampy, bloated, distended “situation” in my abdomen. I was also sleeping an inordinate amount of time - I mean, I like my eight hours but I spent a week sleeping 9-10 hours each night and feeling the proverbial bed magnet like I never have before - making it hard to actually get stuff done. Something was obviously not right. And if something isn’t right with my body, I know. Even if a doctor tells me to take Gas-X and give it a few weeks (!!), even if I’m not feeling acutely stressed, even if my heart rate and blood pressure and blood panels are fine.

Somehow, even just realizing that helped. But I knew I was searching for eggs for a million different baskets, and even searching for eggs for baskets I didn’t even need to be filled, and something had to give. I can’t prioritize absolutely everything. Realizing that my physical health was suffering from all the pressure I was putting on myself to do it all was a great and humbling sign for me to step back and re-evaluate. February and March are incredibly busy times at work, I am trying to prioritize time with Josh to build and rebuild, and I was trying to force training when my heart wasn’t really in it and my body was revolting. So I made the conscious decision to back off of training (not running, but I am running fewer miles) - it wasn’t fun to “have” to run when I got so busy and focused on other things. And you know what? Hiking 12 miles with Josh and a friend without worrying about whether I was going to run before or after… a 12-mile hike is a fucking workout. 

This, of course, isn’t to say I’m suddenly just going to coast and not want to improve myself. It just means I want to start doing things because I want to, not because I “have” to. In reading my previous blog post, I know that I have some really important things I want to improve at, and it won’t take a moment, but I’m not a failure if it doesn’t happen right away. It’s a good reminder of what is important, and a good reminder that it will take time.

Getting out of my own way and letting myself chase what I want (and not what I think I want, or what I want because I think others want that of me) will always, I think, be a struggle for me. I always feel like I have to explain myself, if not to anyone but me, for any decision - big or small - I make. And this is an exhausting, complicated, way to go through life. Life is not so fucking complicated. 

My friends, if any of you struggles with this and/or has any words of insight (just don’t say, “just do x and you’ll be cured,” otherwise I’ll know you didn’t read any word I wrote), I’d love to hear your thoughts. Much love xoxo.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Time to get Uncomfortable

I’m about to tell a bunch of people what the voices in my head are telling me. This is scary stuff. How did I get to this point?

It all started with a run. A shitty 5k race that I ran this morning, to be precise. Ninety percent of the reason it was shitty was because I was sick at the beginning of the week, following a long weekend up in Reno/Tahoe spent snowshoeing rather than running, so by the time I felt good enough to lace up my running shoes on Wednesday, it had been nearly a week since my legs had moved faster than a brisk walk. 

After a mile I started coughing and wheezing, probably scaring everyone around me (maybe I helped them run faster – running away from typhoid Erin). I obviously wasn’t back to my healthy self, and from then on every time I tried to push, I felt like I was having an asthma attack. Not a recipe for 5k success.

But you’ll notice I said that was 90% of the reason. A part of me is 100% sure that there was a part of my lackluster performance that had nothing to do with my lungs. It had to do with my brain. If you do that math, there is less than a 100% chance that I competed to the best of my ability today (TB and all). I can get over the numbers on a clock, but not that pit in my stomach that thinks I gave up when things got hard. And that made me sad.

Sad enough to cut my planned extra miles and laze around in bed the rest of the morning. But as I did that, I thought about why I can push through 26.2 miles of intensity and not 3.1. I thought about how there is so much of a marathon that is actually comfortable – most of it, really, in a good race. I’m also comfortable training for marathons, as without a high school and collegiate distance running career, my first introduction to a training plan was Hal Higdon’s Novice Marathon Training Plan.

Still in the safety of my bed, I started Googling things like “switching to a 5k from a marathon” and “how to gain speed after a marathon,” which only got me so far. I then Googled what I was really thinking: “I’d rather run a marathon than a 5k.” I found some blog posts and general articles, but I came across the phrase “getting out of your comfort zone.”

Light bulb moment.

I need to train to get out of my comfort zone that, for me, is the marathon. So I started searching “training to get out of comfort zone 5k” and such things, when I came across the phrase, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Epiphany moment.

Reading this phrase made me realize that I have never in my life really trained for anything shorter than a marathon (even if I’ve done shorter races, it’s always been along the way to a marathon or kind of as an afterthought, and I’ve always brushed them off – “only” a 5k). No wonder I haven’t gotten better at running anything but marathons!
But then, almost immediately, I realized this phrase hit home for me in almost every aspect of my life. Running, work, relationships, food.

I suck at being uncomfortable.

Comfort. It’s, well, a comfortable place to be. But no growth comes from comfort. Growth comes from instability and change and things needing to be thrown into the air in order to fall into a different arrangement. Which is all inherently uncomfortable.

As I ruminated on this, instead of getting depressed and down on myself for having something “wrong” with me (my usual MO), I immediately got excited. This one simple phrase may have ramifications in all the parts of my life that I want to improve? Sounds too good to be true.

And maybe it is. But I want to try to improve my threshold for discomfort.

Writing this is absolutely the first step. Well, the writing is Step 1A. Step 1B is posting this. Step 1C is letting people know I posted it. Admitting weakness and sharing goals = uncomfortable.

But what are these goals, you ask? I am a huge goal-setter, but I usually never tell anyone what they are. I will let my therapist figure out the why (and you can imagine how well that works for me), but for the time being, I’m going to address how I think being uncomfortable will help me in aspects of my life. This in itself is risky, because this may not work. And now it’s in writing. On the interwebs. Where nothing ever dies.

So, about those goals...
1.     Running
I guess I’ve painted the picture here: my uncomfortable place in running is running shorter distances fast. Luckily, I have coaches and teammates and a race schedule that does not include a marathon for me to use this spring to prepare for a goal 10k in May, with other races along the way.

2.     Work
I’m in that lovely place of mid-management: I am responsible for a team of people on top of a to-do list a mile long. I’m enjoying learning about leadership and management, and have great opportunities to do so. One thing that keeps coming up is – networking.

Me = introvert. Me = fear of rejection. You see the problem.

My current uncomfortable place in work, then, is the seemingly simple act of reaching out to people to have a cup of coffee.

I’m so bad at it. I feel so awkward. I think I don’t have time. But I have to make time – it’s one of those big-picture “Quadrant II” activities. My goal is to start making a list of contacts and reaching out to them.

3.     Relationships
Well, this is awkward: you’re all reading this!

My current uncomfortable place in relationships (friends, family, significant other, etc.) is being able to speak up for what I want and how I’m feeling. I’m really good at pushing “bad” feelings down and going with the flow so as to not upset anyone (just ask my therapist), so my goal is to first identify what I’m feeling and what I want (which is a huge task for me in and of itself), and then say it out loud (Exhibit A).

4.     Food
Oh boy. I am a huge emotional eater. I eat what’s in front of me no matter what. I eat at parties when I’m uncomfortable. I bust out the peanut butter and a spoon when I’m home and bored or anxious about something. Food covers up whatever I’m feeling uncomfortable about.

So my uncomfortable place is my uncomfortable place. And not being so afraid to be in that place that I need to cover it up with something else, like food. Or wine. Or whatever. My goal is to think about why I’m eating, and see the emotional eating as a symptom of something bigger.

The biggest tools I think I have are mindfulness and writing. Mindfulness is something I’ve been working on by meditating and journaling and doing yoga, so is an ongoing practice. Writing it down here will I think be a way of motivating mindfulness – if I “have to” record what progress I’m making, I’ll think about things more and be able to hold myself accountable.

So, even if no one reads this, that’s not the point. At the end of the day, I like structure and having this blog will give me that. Here’s hoping, anyway!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Week in Review: 03.05-03.11

Total miles: 69.33
Average weekly pace: 8:30
Total running time: 9:51
Total swimming yards: 0
Total swimming time: 0
Walk/hike distance: ~4
Walk/hike time: ~1:00
Strength training time: 1:50
Total workout time: 12:41

M, 03.05: 8.5 miles in ~45:00 - I left my Garmin in my teammate's car after Saturday's race, so this was weird. I also forgot to write down the time, so I'm just guesstimating on the time it took. Oops. This was a good run to start off what turned into a crazy week! I had to do it at the crack of chickens due to my new part-time job that requires me to be a normal person with normal hours 2 days a week. And of course, had time allowed, I felt like going farther. Le sigh.

T, 03.06: 3.5 in 30:30 (am); 30' PT session with chiro; 8.6 in 1:07:56 (pm) - The morning run was just a typical shake out the legs run in anticipation of the evening workout. I was so busy all day that I didn't have a chance to do more than glance at the prescribed workout, didn't get a chance to calculate the pace for the 600 repeats we'd be doing, and then when I showed up to practice, there was the option for 3x10 min at LT pace with 2 min rest between efforts. Obviously, this seemed like a much better marathon workout, so Pam, Heather, and I headed to the park for these repeats. I was still without my Garmin and had no idea how my body would feel after Saturday's race. Pam had also raced on Saturday, and Heather had done a killer workout over the weekend, so none of us knew exactly what we'd be capable of. I was running blindly with Pam, who announced after a mile that I was either going to be really happy or really pissed that I didn't have my Garmin. After the second repeat, she said, "Ok, Miss I'm-scared-of-sub-7-pace, we're hitting 6:45s." And I felt amazing the entire time - not like I was struggling to keep up or to push the pace; just strong and solid and in control. I don't think I'm going to be going Garmin-less as a rule, but it just really solidified for me the mental debris I'm sifting through right now. It was a great workout to redeem myself for my crappy race and move on to the next stage of my training.

W, 03.07: 5.56 in 56:30 (am); 4.1 in 35:49 (pm) - Body felt good in general today. The morning run was a gorgeous but early run in the park. The evening run was with my beer-drinking running club through the Mission - so some killer hills were involved, but I felt good.

I met for my second appointment with the sports psychologist today. We talked a lot about finding focus and a routine. My goal between now and our next appointment is to find a mantra that I can use when the negative demons start entering into my head during workouts and races. I'm also going to start scheduling even more about my day - including runs, email and Facebook time, etc. - so that I'm not so scattered all the time. I'd already been working on a pre-run routine, which I haven't quite flushed out yet, but at the very least I'm trying to be more focused on just the run, rather than checking email a million times while I change and getting distracted by other things.

R, 03.08: 11.4 in 1:32:58 - I finally hit the road just before sunset, and spent 2 miles trying to figure out what kind of workout I wanted to do: mile repeats at LT, longer LT repeats, hills at LT effort... I finally did 2x2 miles at LT, 15 min easy, 10 min uphill @ LT effort. The first LT split was a bit slow (7:10), but I was running on a dark-ass path with unsure footing for half of it. When I moved over to the road, things got better, and the second 2 miles were at 6:54. I felt pretty solid, and I'm glad I pushed things rather than just doing an easy MLR. I also played around with a few mantras, and I think I found a good one. I followed the run with 15 minutes of hip/glute exercises.

F, 03.09: 5.57 in 50:58 - A nice, early, easy recovery run. Followed by 25 minutes of core work.

S, 03.10: 22.1 in 3:07:49 - Long runs like this are the reason I train for marathons. After a few miles of getting into the groove, I was hitting low-8s for pretty much the entire run. I felt smooth, strong, was breathing easy, and my heart rate stayed well below 160 until I ran uphill for the last mile or two. I haven't had as many super long runs this cycle, between racing and doing some longer quality workouts on the weekends, so it felt good to get a solid one in the books.

U, 03.11: SRD - After realizing my mileage for the week was at the 70 mark, I thought a rest day was called for, as I was feeling a bit creaky. As the day went on, I debated going out, but a good kettlebell session and a long walk through Lands End was more than enough.

Next week:
I'm racing the Emerald Across the Bay 12k on Sunday. I'm going to juggle things around a bit and do a long-ish run on Thursday (16-17 miles) so I don't have to worry about missing a long run for the race. That gives me a full two days to recover before the race.

I'm also really going to focus on the mental training aspect and see how I can implement some of the things I talked about with the psychologist into my training runs and races. Tuesday's workout on the track should be a good test, as the workout's a tough one!

My schedule has suddenly become a lot more rigid due to a new part-time job that has me on "normal-person" hours two days a week. I still need to readjust my routine to make sure I can still get to the pool and do strength training. I have a few exercises from my PT/chiropractor that take about 15 minutes to do, so that's been good to do immediately after runs, but my regular weights and kettlebell routines are still important for me to fit in.

On that note, it's an early morning tomorrow, so in the interest of sleep (another thing for me to get better at this week), that's all for now!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Week in Review: 02.20-02.26

Total miles: 44.58
Average weekly pace: 9:07
Total running time: 6:47
Total swimming yards: 5200
Total swimming time: 1:50
Walk/hike distance: 3.2
Walk/hike time: :58
Total workout time: 11:02

M, 02.20: As mentioned previously, this is the run that maybe shouldn't have happened. Especially now in hindsight... I also did my 3.2-mile "sunset loop" walk and some core work in the evening.

T, 02.21:
I did an easy 3 in the morning to test everything out. My hamstring was tight, but certainly not painful, and seemed to get better as the run progressed. After a killer session on the foam roller and some diligent icing, I didn't feel anything the rest of the day. I figured I was good to go at the evening's track session. I figured wrong. I was ok during the warm-up - again, tightness but not pain. I was really excited about nailing the workout: the infamous Michigan Miles. This workout is as follows: 1600@10K pace, 1600@LT, 1200@5K, 1600@LT, 800@3K, 1600@LT, 400@1500, with the only rest being the jog from the track to the path that encircles the top of the stadium for the LT miles. As I started at my 10K pace, which was feeling strong and solid, I felt my hamstring a bit but then it seemed to settle down. Until the 300m mark, at which point it seized up and told me to stop. After a few minutes of cursing and some frustrated tears, I talked to the coaches, and got a recommendation for a chiropractor/sports medicine doctor. Upon getting back home, I left them a voicemail, iced, and had a pity beer.

W, 02.22: Rolling, icing, moping, repeat. I also swam an easy 2400 yd in 50 min.

R, 02.23:
The leg felt better when I woke up, and I had my appointment first thing in the morning. After analyzing my stance, I was diagnosed with a "classic case" of a twisted pelvis. My lateral stabilizing muscles - the gluteus medius - aren't strong enough to maintain a neutral pelvis, so it gets all twisty. The whole thing twists to my right, causing my right psoas and my left hamstring to be chronically tight. It was actually pretty cool how he figured this out: I lied on my back and basically wiggled my feet back and forth, together and apart. When I stopped moving and let them rest naturally, they both pointed to my right. Twisted feet = twisted pelvis. After some ART-type massage and some time hooked up to the stim machine, I could feel a difference. I was also given the green-light to run and "let the pain be my guide." I was also told to keep it between 4-6 miles, but that was contradictory advice, as it turns out. The beautiful, unseasonably warm weather that day was tempting, but I was good: I iced and swam (2800 yd in an hour, including 7 100-yd 'faster' with 25 yd of easy breaststroke in between).

F, 02.24: judgment day! I felt a bit tight when I sat up in bed and tentatively touched my toes, but a busy day ahead meant getting up and hitting the road first thing. And I felt great! Tight, to be sure, but I was able to do 5.6 miles at a super easy pace pain-free. Again, rolling and icing post-run like a good girl! To add to my good run, I was also notified that I am officially a member of the Impala Racing Team - I was accepted after my tryout period! I am so pumped to be getting to know these women and to be a part of a team!

S, 02.25:
My OCD kicked in. I didn't want to miss a long run in my training cycle. But, I wasn't going to force the miles and be out another week. When I left my house, I really didn't know if I was going to run for 2 miles or 20. I ran the first 5 miles very tentatively (read: paranoid). Again, the leg was tight but definitely not painful. I kept the first section on the flat path along the beach. Five miles later, I was feeling good and loose and decided to loop around Lake Merced, which would give me at least 14 for the day. Running back along Sunset to the park, I didn't want to just go home. I looped the park first! At any point in my run, I was willing to stop at the first whisper of pain (I know that's easy for me to say now that I didn't end up having to, but I swear it's true! I had my phone and my credit card for cab fare if I needed it!). But my leg actually responded to the miles by improving, and there were definitely some miles in there where I could forget about monitoring my leg and enjoy the nice day. If I got too greedy with the pace, which was anything under about 8:20-8:30, I felt tightness, so I just kept things nice and easy. It was definitely the slowest long run I've done in recent memory, but totally worth keeping the leg happy for a greater number of miles! After the run, I rolled and sat in an ice bath, and I also iced later in the day.

U, 02.26: I waited until the afternoon to run, after having some errands to run and writing to do in the morning (including jetting around town on my newest addition: Phoebe, my age-undetermined Specialized Craigslist find!) Again, I left not knowing how long I'd run, and to my delight, I completed 8.5 miles without pain, without tightness, feeling like my old running self. I still rolled and am currently sitting on ice, but this definitely bodes well for my upcoming week! I was feeling so much better than I even added on a kettlebell and leg-heavy strength routine, which I neglected the past week.

Next week:
I have another appointment tomorrow morning for some more pelvis-neutralizing fun. I definitely want to get some at-home exercises to get those stabilizing muscles into shape! My friend Chris already has me doing a bunch, so I can only imagine how bad they'd be if I hadn't been doing those! Yikes!

The scheduled team workout for Tuesday is 1000m repeats at 10K pace. I don't think I will be testing out the hamstring at 10K pace! I'd be tempted to do LT miles, but certainly not 10K. I will save myself for Saturday, when I am entered to run the NorCal 10-miler as an Impala. It will definitely be a game-time decision to race or guard the leg, but I'm excited to wear Impala blue and represent the team.

I also have a meeting with the sports psychologist I mentioned in a previous post. The free initial consultation can't hurt, and I think it could be a motivating conversation at the very least.

50 days till Boston!

Monday, February 20, 2012

7 for today's 7.36 in 1:07:01

1. My left hamstring is being a cranky asshatface. It has been off and on since I had to run 20 miles on a treadmill last weekend (F), followed by another 8 TM miles the next day (S). My legs always revolt from TM miles. On day 3 (U), I noticed it grabbing after a mile so called it quits and took the next day  (M) off. It didn't even whisper at last week's Tuesday track session, and was nice all week until Saturday, where it started protesting during the end of my last LT repeat. I cut today's planned 10 short because I want to do tomorrow's track workout. I found some nasty shit with the foam roller post-run - of course, I've been rolling it ever since it started squawking, but today was especially brutal. Between the rolling and icing, I hope to nip this niggle in the bud - it feels a million times better tonight than it did this morning.

For those of you who have dealt with cranky hamstrings before, I have a question: when I roll, the tightest point is at the top of my hamstring, near my glute, but the part that is cranky is at the other end, on the outside of my leg close to my knee. I'm sure the tightness is just manifesting itself there, but has anyone else had this happen?

2. Today was probably a "do as I say, not as I do" run. I think I should have cut it even shorter. I know I would have given that advice to anyone with a niggle. So, I will berate myself for running and promise (with crossed fingers) that it will never happen again. I blame the fact that I was 3.5 miles away from home when I realized I should probably not do 10 miles and that returning was almost all downhill, which didn't stress things out too badly, and that it doesn't really "hurt," but just feels like it could be very easily convinced to turn into a monster.

3. Tomorrow morning, I'll evaluate things and see how the leg feels about a 3 mile easy run. I don't want any surprises at practice tomorrow night. But, as per post #2 above, I'll be smart!

4. Last week, I got to join the team for a clinic/presentation by a sports psychologist. A lot of what she said really resonated with me, and it's been making my mind churn a bit, both about running and other stuff. She talked a lot about breaking bad patterns and gaining confidence and turning off negative self-talk. I'm not going to expand any more now, but I think some mental training blogs are forthcoming. It also made me realize that, even though I'm not really a believer in "fate," per se, the universe sometimes brings people into our lives at the exact moment you need them. The trick is to recognize you need them.

5. I am trying to not feel guilty over not setting my alarm and waking up at 8 naturally every day. I work from home. I should not have to get up at 6 just for the sake of having a long morning, especially when I can't usually get myself to bed before 11 no matter how good my intentions are. So what if my work day begins at 10? Sleep trumps forcing myself to be a morning person!

6. I'm going to be very, very cranky if my hamstring sucks tomorrow.

7. I will be smart - I will be smart - I will be smart.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

6 for 6

6 for today's easy 6 in 57:05

1. I am writing this from my balcony, where I am sitting in a cozy chair in a bikini top and floppy sun hat. The sun is hot, the breeze is cool, I can see the ocean, and it's days like this that make me have to pinch myself to realize that I'm here, that I'm here because I want to be and for no other reason, and that makes me happy. I told my mom the other day that on each of my runs, I still have a moment that takes my breath away, be it a view or a passing "I'm lucky to be here thought." I hope I never lose the ability to count my blessings.

2. I normally go long on Saturdays, but I'm doing the Kaiser Permanente half marathon tomorrow, so I still have one more hard workout this week. I won't be racing it, but rather doing it as a MP run. I'll do approximately 3 miles to warm up, then do the race in 1:35 (7:14 pace). This race is right in my backyard, on the roads I run nearly every day, so it will be a fun way to get in my first official MP run of the training cycle. It is actually an ideal course for a PR race, but as I mentioned last time, that's not what I need right now in my training.

3. Even though I still have one more workout to go this week, I have felt really great all week long. I think I'll be able to bump up the mileage a bit next week while keeping the same amount of quality runs. I think increasing the mileage and holding it steady for a few weeks is letting me adapt to the addition of some intense workouts. Hopefully this will continue over the upcoming weeks as the long runs get longer.

4. On Thursday, I'll be heading to Cancun with some of my best girlfriends for a long weekend. I will have to do some adjusting, but I don't think I'm going to be able to avoid a long run while I'm there. This will probably mean heading to the treadmill in the fitness center of the resort, as I'm not really sure I should be trying to run 20 miles along a highway in Mexico. It's crazy to think that Mexico is now on the "do not run in strange places alone" list, but I'd rather load up my iPod with episodes of This American Life and Marathon Times podcasts than be looking over my shoulder for 20 miles. Unless, of course, anyone has recently been to Cancun and can suggest a good running route :) Of course, once I get there, I may be able to find a little loop around the grounds of the resort to run around millions of times. (Note to the girls: I'll wake up early enough and won't let the run lessen my fun the night before, so you won't even know I've done it. This is vacation, after all, and I'd rather have a crappy run than give up any fun!)

5. Ok, males (and anyone else who doesn't want to hear girl-talk), skip to #6 (and don't say I didn't warn you). Since Houston, I've been really diligent about counting calories and trying to get my diet back in check. And the scale Has. NOT. Budged. And it's super frustrating because it makes me want to just give up. I had an epiphany the other day: that the time over which I've seen the scale creep up coincides exactly with a change in my birth control pill prescription. And sure enough, this week I'm on the placebo, and I dropped a good 5 pounds almost overnight! Holy crap! I have an appointment on Monday to get a new prescription, and I hope I can go back to something without this terrible side effect. I've been on several pills and this is the first time I've had to deal with weight gain. Any other ladies have this problem? How annoying is that? My clothes really aren't fitting any differently, but I'd rather not have to carry around the extra pounds on my runs, especially when I'm trying to lean up and slim down. Stoopid hormones.

6. Ok, welcome back males. Looking back on the goals I set for myself this week, I realize I should recap if I met them or not!
~ Nailing Tuesday's workout of 1200 m repeats at 10 K pace. That's about 6:30 for me, so I will just focus on not going out too fast so I can complete all the reps.* Met and then some! I was stoked about this workout! I hit splits at 5:01 (6:32 pace); 5:00 (6:28); 4:53 (6:21); 4:55 (6:22); 4:58 (6:28); 4:52 (6:21). And I felt fantastic - for as bad as I felt last week, I felt awesome during this workout. Hoo-yah!
~ I missed swimming last week. One good swim session, probably on Thursday night.
* Swam on Wednesday afternoon for 45 mins (2300 yds).
~ More kettlebell! Well, strength in general.
* Did one core session, two leg-heavy strength sessions, and three KB sessions. I really feel the difference on my when I get these workouts in.~ 8 hours of sleep per night. Which means getting over the "guilt" factor of sleeping in a bit. I freelance and work from home, why do I need to get up at 6:00 if I know I can't get my butt to bed before 22:00? Once a night owl...* Erm. Fail. 6-7 hours each night. But I am working on this!
~ One mid-week blog post in my old "list" format.
* Just in under the wire with today's post.

I'll be back tomorrow or Monday with a full recap of the week!

Monday, January 30, 2012

1 down, 11 to go!

Week 1 training: recap (70.2 miles total; 9:00 average pace; 12.6 total workout hours)

Mon: started the week off with a "whatever" run (whatever distance, whatever pace) of 8.75 miles.

Tues: ~4 easy in the morning, then an evening track workout with the Impalas. After a warmup, drills, and some strides, the workout was 3-5x1600 at LT pace with 1 min recovery. I did 3 in 6:37, 6:37, 6:46. The first two were definitely too fast, but they didn't feel like it - the benefits of working out with others. I don't know why I stopped after 3. I felt tired, but probably no more than to be expected, and I was honestly annoyed with myself for a good 48 hours for not doing at least 4, if not 5. It made me really think about my mental game and pushing myself when things get hard. It's been evident in my races, and I don't want it to come through in my workouts, especially those with the team. I want to push myself to the limit to see what I'm capable of, and that won't happen by giving up in the middle of a workout.

Wed: a double recovery day, and a bit more mileage than I planned, but my slow speed didn't make the miles very straining. 5.56 in the morning, followed by some kettlebells and core work. In the evening, I ran to the bar where my Wednesday night running/drinking group met to join them, for a total of 6.5 (3.5 solo, 3 with the group).

Thurs: I had written on my plan "20-30 min @ LT." When I left the house, I definitely felt a bit sluggish, and so thought instead to do a MLR without speed. But, as you may have noticed, I said I was annoyed for 48 hours, and it hasn't been 48 hours yet. I started thinking about my workout on Tuesday, not so much that I was "missing" LT miles, but that I felt like I had given up when I got tired. So, as I neared the flattest part of the park, I thought, what the hell - I will pick up the pace for 20 minutes. Not to LT pace, but at least to HMP effort. Those 20 minutes were ~7:19 pace, which isn't really even MP, but my AHR was 177 (high for MP) and my Garmin was a bit wonky, so I'm still calling it HMP effort. And I didn't die. Score one for the mental battle.

Fri: not surprisingly, my legs were tired! I called this run before 5 miles - I was glad to have gotten out for a few, because after the run and some stretching, I know I felt better than had I not run at all. But, no use adding miles just for mileage sake. I wanted to make sure I had lots of energy on Saturday (which probably was not served well by the number of beers I drank Friday night, but, I made it to Saturday, which was...)

Sat: the Impalas met at 8:30 am for a hill workout. Even when I went to bed on Friday, I wasn't 100% sure if I would meet them or just do a long run on my own. When I woke up at 7:30, I figured I might as well go, even if the beers the night before weren't so thrilled about the idea. It was an absolutely perfect morning, there were a ton of women at practice, and I was determined to score another for my mental battle and do all 8 of the 400 m hill repeats. I came as close to puking during a workout as I have in a very long time, but I did them! Number 6 and 7 weren't very pretty, but I nailed the others at a very consistent pace. And, as I was catching my breath and trying not to lose my pre-run toast at the top of Strawberry Hill, the crystal clear view of the San Francisco skyline helped keep my spirits up! After practice, I ran back home to collect my friend Richard, who was in town for business and crashed with me the night before (hence the beers). Together, we did another 6 easy miles to round out my 16.25 for the day.

Sun: After a lazy morning of sleeping in, reading the paper, and drinking a pot of coffee, I wrapped up the week with a nice 6.25 sunny, beachy recovery run followed by some kettlebells. My legs didn't feel too bad, and I did a leg-heavy strength routine a la Chris later in the evening.

Even with 3 quality workouts, I kept the rest of the paces slow enough that my average weekly pace was only 9:00! And I'm fine with that, if it lets me add in the quality without sacrificing too much mileage. I don't know if I'll hit 90 mpw like I did in my last training cycle, but since I want to emphasize quality, that's probably for the best.

I'm signed up for the Kaiser Permanente half on Sunday, and I'm 95% sure I'll be doing it as an MP run instead of racing full-out. Even though I could technically afford a mini-taper week this week and a mini-recovery next week, I think I want to train through it. My mileage already dropped a bit around Houston, and I just want to give myself the most appropriate workout at this point. I'm not sure racing another half is what I need right now.

This week's goals:
~ Nailing Tuesday's workout of 1200 m repeats at 10 K pace. That's about 6:30 for me, so I will just focus on not going out too fast so I can complete all the reps.
~ I missed swimming last week. One good swim session, probably on Thursday night.
~ More kettlebell! Well, strength in general.
~ 8 hours of sleep per night. Which means getting over the "guilt" factor of sleeping in a bit. I freelance and work from home, why do I need to get up at 6:00 if I know I can't get my butt to bed before 22:00? Once a night owl...
~ One mid-week blog post in my old "list" format.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Return to Boston

Since the end of December, I've been running plan-less. I've been trying to do at least one "workout" per week - basically a few tempo miles thrown in to my Tuesday evening runs.

Then I ran the half marathon in Houston on the 15th. I decided on the 14th that I was going to try to race it - not expecting a PR but at least wanting an indication of what my current fitness was.

And my 1:34 time told me what I kind of already knew: that I'm fat and out of shape.

It gave me the motivation to actually want to train for Boston as a goal race. The race is 12 weeks from yesterday. Which, in cycles past meant I would crack open the Pfitz plan and get going. But I'm ready for a change, to mix things up a bit. I've been reading Daniel's Running Formula lately; I thought about using his plans for NYCM last fall and decided against it. Daniel's plan revolves around two quality workouts per week, and the rest of the days are easy or general pace runs. This seemed to be a good foundation to incorporate more quality and still be able to be flexible with the rest of the runs.

The other piece of this cycle is that I'm starting to work out with a racing team, and I want to participate 100% in the Tuesday evening track workouts.

So, taking all my basic goals - Tuesday night workouts, more targeted workouts, flexibility, getting away from Pfitz - my training plan looks like this:

T- track
R - Daniel's T-based runs OR a Pfitz-like MLR
S- easy long run OR a Daniel's targeted long run workout

The R/S runs will alternate each week. The weeks I do a T run on Thursday, I'll do a long, steady-state run on Saturday. The Saturdays I plan a Daniel's targeted run, I'll do a longer steady-state run on Thursday.

I have penciled in which workouts I think I'll do, but it also depends on what happens on the Tuesday. So, there are essentially no numbers in my plan yet. This is quite strange for me, but I think it'll allow me to be very good about running on the non-workout days as much as I can, trying to keep my mileage high, but not feel pressured to do so in case the quality days take too much out of me. And for as much as I'm a slave to numbers, there's something to be said for still being able to leave the house not knowing how far or fast I'll run and just listening to my body. This will be one big experiment, but it's making me excited about training instead of feeling "meh" about it, which is what I would be feeling if I was facing another cycle of Pfitz.

I also want to be better about doing weekly recaps and blogging more about how I'm feeling on my runs and workouts to get feedback and to keep myself honest about how I'm feeling.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Executive Decision.

Two list items for this blog post. 1 - an explanation; 2 - an executive decision.

1- Yeah, it's been a while. Between the editing gig and the job search, I've been spending nearly every waking moment on the computer. So, in my spare time, it's hard to sit down and write at the computer.

2- This past weekend, I made an executive decision about my race calendar. Most of this decision was made on my long run on Saturday. As you runners know, most internal debates that occur during long runs come in the form of a stream-of-conciousness, voices-in-your-head, back-and-forth random thoughts. I will do my best here to give you the transcript of this debate:

Ok, it's Saturday, I want to do at least 15 miles today.
But my legs feel like crap. Where did these shin splints come from?
Probably only because of the 300-ft decline in the last mile. I'll feel fine in a minute.
Ok, in 5-6 miles I'm sure I'll feel better.
I have to pick a spring marathon. Doing one in March means I have to start training, like, now.
Wow, it seems like I just finished training for New York. And, before that, Grandma's and a high-mileage summer. And before that, Boston. And before that, Tiberias.But it's time to run a spring marathon! And I want to do Boston for fun, so I need another goal race.
It's been 6 miles, and my legs still feel like shit.
And I've had time to "just run" without training.
So why do I have to run 15 miles today?
Because I have to start training. And I don't have much time, so I have to make sure the long runs are up high enough before I start my plan.
So I'm not "just running," huh?
Hmm, I guess not.
So, even though I feel like crap, probably shouldn't be doing a long run, I'm doing one anyway. Not because I "want" to, but because I "have" to because I "have" to start training again.
Erm... I guess... I have no good answer for that. Hang on, if I just stop (again) to stretch, maybe then I'll feel better.
Let's make a deal - double digits, but not 15.
Fine. Deal. I guess I haven't really had a lot of time to "just run." An maybe the reason it's been so hard to commit to a race and a training plan is because I'm not really ready to start training again.
There will be fall marathons. The 3:10 will be there. But I have had a long year of running. I need to "just run" for a while longer.
I give the same advice to everyone else. If it's not fun, it's not worth forcing. I do feel great running lately, though.
So I can continue to feel great not training. I can give myself a break.
Hey, I'm feeling a little better now. Not 15 miles better, but I think I can manage 12.
Why 12?
Because I WANT to. Might as well take advantage of the fact that my legs feel good now!
Sounds good to me.

So, long story short. I have decided not to do a spring goal race. I'll see how I feel in a month to decide if I want to train for Boston or leave it as a fun race - probably still the latter. And I will focus on just running for now. Maybe some shorter stuff, just getting into the vibe of the new running team this winter,  And pick a kick-ass fall goal race.

I have ALSO decided, to completely throw myself into this "just running" thing, that until the first of the year, I will not be logging or tracking my runs or other workouts. I will admit that I will still wear my Garmin and record the data (because, let's be honest, it will kill me to have blanks in my training log and especially not to know how many miles I run this year), but I will not be peeking at it until Jan. 1.

And hopefully I'll be writing more :)