Sunday, May 31, 2009

Training session #6

60 minutes of running. That's almost 6 miles at the pace I usually run. That's what I accomplished yesterday morning. Am I sore? Holy cow am I!! Was I hungry post-run? Famished was a better way to describe it. Was it a good run? Absolutely!

This has been the longest distance/time I've run ever. Let me just say that this training program has been so worth every penny. I know I've said similar statements previously, but yesterday made it really sink in. I hadn't realized that it was almost 6 miles until one of the coaches pointed it out to us. Woohoo! And our favorite coach, Michele, was back! She said she definitely noticed that we're running faster and better. Everyone said my running buddy and I were going to kick butt at Peachtree. Yay!!

We also had a good session with a nutritionist post-run. We learned a lot about carbs, sports drinks, and other cool stuff that I will make a separate post about later. The short version is I need to eat a much better breakfast with more protein. Now I just need to figure out how to make that happen.

Btw, I think I need a cool nickname for my awesome running buddy. Her determination and positive attitude have kept me going when all I wanted to do was quit. I hope I've been able to do the same for her. Any suggestions?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

How to run underwater

That should have been the lesson for tonight's run since it was so humid. The whole thing about your heart working harder because it's hot outside is so true. The 45 minute run tonight was okay, but I really had to keep that motivating speech going in my head. It's so easy to let our minds declare defeat when you know your body can handle more. I haven't had to let my heart rest like that in a long time (had to take a break halfway).

A couple things that I think I've learned though...

1. By focusing on lifting from my knees and powering with my glutes, I have taken the strain off my calves and I think my endurance and pacing is better for it. Yay!!

2. By focusing on lifting from my knees and powering with my glutes, my butt now gets sore. Doh!

3. Longer runs are so much better with a buddy. You keep pushing each other when you want to give up, and you have so much more motivation to just show up to run in the first place.

Am I over the exhaustion? Sort of. I think ultimately I need to quit beating myself up for not being able to give 100% all the time. I'm only human, and it's okay to have an off day, week, but it lasts longer than a week something's wrong.

Too much soda??

Apparently according to some Greek researchers too much soda can cause a medical condition called hypokalemia. At first I was really concerned, because I love Coke Zero. I drink about a can, maybe two, a day. Then I read that the people studied drank at least 2 liters a day. 2 liters a day?! Holy cow! Those folks need some water as of yesterday. Sheesh! It just goes to show - everything in moderation!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Remember that part about being exhausted?

Yeah, so I decided to rest up this morning instead of going for my training run (decided last night, not when the alarm went off). I ended up sleeping for more than 9 hours! Do I regret skipping the run this morning? No. Am I wondering how I'm going to fit in a run today? Yes. If I can't, will I be upset? No.

See folks, there's something we all tend to forget about in our hectic lives packed with work, school, running, family, friends, pets, and anything else that might try to claim our time. Sometimes it's okay to just rest. After the attempt at running on Thursday, I still had to go to work on Friday. It was a half-day, meaning I got to leave at lunch, but boy was it hectic! I should have been named honorary firefighter because that's all I did - I put out fires (in the business sense, not for real). Then I had an appointment with a realtor to discuss buying a house. While buying a house is exciting, it's also stressful and eats up a lot of time. Normally I would say a run would be the perfect stress reliever, but with the energy levels at an all time low that was not an option.

Am I letting running decline as a priority? Not really. I just need to let my body recuperate. I have a feeling that the next time I write about a run I will be so excited because it went so well. So listen to your bodies and if you're exhausted like I am this week, rest!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

And the exhaustion has finally taken its toll...

After 3 months of grad school and adjusting to a new and better role in my company, I have finally begun to truly feel the effects of exhaustion. All this week I've barely been able to get out bed, only to have drunk so much caffeine or gotten my mental state so worked up that I can't sleep. Today was the last straw. I got home and promptly fell asleep on the couch instead of running. Upon waking, I realized that I had to get the run in or not run until Saturday, which is a long run. I drag my poor tired body to the Greenway, and sure enough didn't have the energy to continue running past a mile. It was a good 11:40 mile, but my energy was gone. I did try to run some more after taking a couple walking breaks, but after about 25 minutes I gave up and just walked. Some good things came from it though...

I saw 6 deer! Holy cow that was cool! And they were really close too. The sad part is that they must be so desensitized to humans to have come so close to me, but they were beautiful. I also saw a cute little squirrel about two feet from me. Again, sad that he let me get so close, but he was cute!! I realized how awesome it is to run outdoors today. You don't wish you had brought your camera running inside a sterile gym.

I think I have discovered the cause to my post-long run headaches. I don't know if I've mentioned them yet, but after my long runs on Saturdays I have been getting killer headaches. They're not dehydration (as long as I'm mindful of my water intake) and they're not migraines (I get an aura before migraines start). Turns out they're tension headaches. I figured that out last week. Now I think I know why I'm so tense. Not only do I have a tendency to be stiff with my upper body when running (thanks to Coach Jim for pointing this out), but I think I'm lifting my head too high in an effort to not look down. I've had it in my head so much to stop looking at the ground that I think I'm overcompensating. I guess it was good that I was able to walk today and have some time to figure this out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New shoes reviewed

I've said this a million times, but if you haven't gone to a running store yet and you're serious about running, go now!!! I had no idea that these shoes would as awesome as they are. I mean, they felt great at the store and around the apartment, but running with them was a totally different experience. These shoes have given me more motivation to continue running. Keep in mind that my old shoes weren't bad. They just didn't give as much arch support as I needed (they were neutral shoes).

So let me tell you about the run today. I was supposed to run 25 minutes, and it was supposed to be challenging. Since I went back to the Greenway, which is nice and flat, I decided to try to run really fast. I ran the first 12 minutes covering about 1.5 miles. You wanna talk about hard! I don't think I've ever run that fast! That's an 8 minute mile! Needless to say the next 13 minutes were a bit slower. Overall I think I covered about 2.5 miles in 25 minutes, maybe a tad more. It's better than my race pace in 5ks, although I don't know if I could have kept it up for another .7 miles (maybe I could have, but I don't need to know right now). Because I pushed myself so hard my exercise-induced asthma kicked in post-run, but it was worth it. I now know that I have improved with speed (although that's not my focus) while I've been working on endurance. It takes longer I think to work on distance, however it's truly worth it. The rewards are greater in the long run. Speaking of long runs, I think I've come to really appreciate them. You really get some good training during those runs, and you can really focus on things like form and pace.

So lessons learned? Go get real running shoes that have been fitted by professionals and while speed was fun, it really sapped my energy fast.

Inflated portion sizes

We've all heard that portions are bigger now than they were a generation ago, but actually seeing the pictures is mind-boggling. No wonder obesity is a problem now! We're just so desensitized to portion sizes these days that we think we're bring ripped off if we don't have more than is humanly possible to eat on our plates. The key to eating, and even to life, is moderation. Enjoy yourself! Have dessert occasionally. Enjoy that mac 'n cheese. Just don't overdo it.

If you don't believe me, check this article out. Wow!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Awesome training run and new shoes!!

Let me just say that a change in scenery and the right running buddy make all the difference. We went to the Greenway this morning, which is a flat, shady, and beautiful trail that follows a creek in Alpharetta GA. Anyway, our mission this morning was to run 50 minutes, and we did! What made it so great was that the weather was good, if a little humid (this is Georgia, it's always humid), we ran a consistent pace, and because we didn't have hills to contend with our energy levels stayed consistent. In fact, we ended up running the last part of the run faster than the beginning! What a great way to start the weekend :)

Since I had some time and I've been meaning to get new shoes for a long time, I finally made it to the running store. After having my stride analyzed (I roll my feet in a bit as I run), it was determined that I needed some more core stability. I tried on three pairs of shoes, and I decided on a pair of Asics. I'm wearing them around the apartment to get a better feel for them, but I think I'm sold. The arch support is great, they are light and flexible, and they're blue! I would have bought them in any color, but the fact that they're blue is really cool. I love blue, can you tell?

So today has been a great day as far as running is concerned. The only downside? Homework! GAH!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Coming to terms with training

You know, even though I say things like you should take training easy and it takes time to improve, I find myself sometimes pushing myself really hard because I feel like I should be doing more or faster or longer. Here's what prompted this post....

I've been running at my local park for some time now, and I've been using the trails as my main running path for a while. There are a lot of hills on this trail. Now that I'm building up my mileage with my training program, those hills have become really obscene. I think that's why I'm also seeing more problems with my shin splints. I am trying to push myself up those hills because I don't want to lose speed (even though we all know speed is not the game right now), so I push off with my toes a lot. This causes my calves to be tight, which causes shin splints. Poo!!

I had to miss my training run last night because I needed to finish up some stuff at work, but tomorrow morning I will be meeting my running buddy for a run at the Greenway. It's a really flat trail with lots of trees. I'm looking forward to it. Tomorrow is the only Saturday that the training group is not meeting, so I'm looking forward to sleeping in until 7:00. I usually get up at 6, so the extra hour makes a difference.

Anyhoo, all of this was to say please learn from my mistakes! I pushed and pushed and pushed and now I'm afraid I'm close to burn out. I've got to be careful so I can avoid injuries more severe than the shin splints I have now, and I need to keep my motivation high. I'll fill everyone in tomorrow about the training run!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Training Session #3

What a difference your surroundings make! The intermediate group coach (the fast coach from last week....I think my regular coach is injured :/) gathered us up and asked if another run at 9 min per mile was okay. Jennifer and I quickly spoke up and said "NO!". Getting additional help though was a great thing for us. Because of the size of our overall group, even more people were enlisted to help with the training run. We ended up running with a guy named Ron, who works at Phidippedes. He kept the same pace we did, was nice and friendly, and just wanted to have fun. He wasn't too serious, wasn't concerned about running fast, and because the faster group headed out first we were our own unit. I know that at races we have to know how to pace ourselves so we don't run too fast, but I can't have every Saturday be race-like. That's a sure fire way to get burned out.

Because the pressure was off, the run was awesome. I ran the whole thing, with the exception of a quick stretch break for my calves (more on that later). All 45 minutes! Woohooo!! The only problem I encountered were related to my shin splints. I've gotten them before, but it's been a while. Here's what happened...

Thursday I must have been pushing off with my toes a bunch, because I felt my left calf tighten up so much my foot became a little numb. This happened a lot when I first started out, but I think because I'm increasing my mileage through this training I'm running into a couple problems from my beginner days. Yesterday (Friday), my left shin hurt so bad that I wasn't sure how the long run on Saturday would go. I broke down and finally iced my shin before going to bed. That helped a lot with the pain, but I still had a lot of trouble going down the stairs to my car. About 3/4 of the way through the run this morning my calves tightened up again, mostly with my left one. I tried to stretch them out for a minute, but realized quickly that they weren't going to get better until I could finish running and dedicate some serious time for stretches. I kept going with a decent finish and then really focused on stretches. My heels just wanted to stay off the ground because the muscles were so tight.

A couple suggestions for what to do when this happens to you are in this link. In my experience with this problem, I prefer stretch #1. The podiatrist that came to speak to us today also suggested turning your foot in a bit to increase the stretch shown in stretch #1. Try to use your instincts on this...overstretching can be dangerous too. It may seem like no big deal that my calf muscles are so tight, but I'm at a crucial point in my training. The last thing I need is to tear my Achille's tendon because I pushed myself too hard. Learn from my mistakes!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Getting used to the heat

I love summer. I love the heat. It takes a lot to make me hot. Unfortunately running and heat just don't mix well until you finally get acclimated. Also unfortunatly....I'm not acclimated yet! I seem to do better in the mornings when it's cooler, but the afternoon runs (which 3 out of 4 runs a week are) become so draining. I can't even use my apartment gym anymore because they started charging for access. Whoever heard of an apartment charging to use the equipment?! This economy is really changing things. Anyhoooo.....

I went through this a bit last year, and I'm sure I'll be going through it every year. What I've learned so far:

There's not much you can do to get used to the heat except just get outside. Be careful during the cooler parts of the day like early morning, wear technical clothes, put on sunscreen, and (one of my favorites) wear a visor. Hats are cool too except you want something that will breathe. You don't want something trapping heat on your head. Visors give you the best of both worlds.

Hydrate!!!! I can't stress this one enough. After 25 minutes of intense cardio start drinking sports drinks. Drink enough water before the run too so you don't start running dehydrated.

If you are feeling woozy or dizzy or anything like that, stop running and start cooling down. Get in the shade, drink water, poor water on yourself, whatever it takes to cool off. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very real threats in the South, but it's possible to encounter them in cooler parts of the world too.

All in all, take advantage of the races during this time. Racing season is really kicking off, and they're great ways to meet new people and stay motivated.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

When it rains...

It apparently pours here! This has been a very wet spring this year. I got ready to go to the apartment gym even though I didn't feel like running since the weather looked like it was about to dump buckets of rain, and when I get there the access had been changed from punching a code to using a card that I am in possession of. So I come back home, decide to google my name (about half of the 6 hits were from race results LOL, the rest were from facebook or high school reunion stuff), and I hear this roar behind me. I look out the window and it's like a tropical storm has parked itself over my apartment. *blink* Well, I guess we're all allowed a day of extra rest LOL!!

In case any of you wonder what you should do about running in the rain, here are a couple pointers I learned along the way:

1. Cotton is rotton! This applies to any facet of running, but you wouldn't believe how much dry-wick material makes a difference until you're in the elements. This goes for your socks too. I finally decided after running the 5k in March (in steady and cold rain) that cotton socks stink because my feet just never got dry. Wet feet also cause blisters. I avoided blisters, but I was lucky.

2. Watch out for debris. With winds going, you may find yourself stepping over more branches. Puddles also hide holes, and the last thing you want to do is twist your ankle because you accidentally stepped in a hole.

3. If there is a severe weather alert out like we have in the Atlanta area right now, don't go out. Your safety is priority number one.

4. If you do go out, try to wear reflective clothing and tell someone what route you're taking and when you should be back.

I avoided the park because I usually carry at least one electronic device with me (my phone). I keep having this image of being electrocuted because of my desire to stay in touch with emergency personnel when I'm on my own.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Training session #2

Holy cow some people run fast! Last week I mentioned that there were some people in my group who ran significantly faster than I did. I guess my coach decided to enlist some extra help to cover the wide variance in speed so a couple extra coaches showed up this morning. The one who came to help with my group obviously became the "fast" coach when she announced that she would be taking the 9 minute mile group. Gah!! I don't think I've ever run a 9 minute mile! My running buddy Jennifer and I were a little floored. Luckily our coach Michele was awesome enough to stick around for us at the back of the group. Jennifer still ran faster than I did (which is normal), but by the end I think we had both blown our wads so to speak by starting at the same time as the faster group. I just could not keep up at all with them. My 12 minute mile pace, which has gotten really consistent lately, just wasn't cutting it.

The good news is that I wasn't struggling as much as I did last week, for which I can thank the running during the week. I stayed fairly steady not counting the early speeding. Michele kept reiterating that this is about endurance. Speed will come later. I really like that attitude, and the more I train the more I am looking forward to the Peachtree.

After the run we had bagels from Einstein Brothers (yum!!!) and a quick seminar on running shoes. I didn't stick around after wards because I had to run an errand, but I will be getting some new running shoes from the folks at Phidippides soon. I need to hurry on that if I want to wear them for the big race. Here's a couple things that were covered in the seminar that every runner should know:

1. Find the right shoe. Go to a specialty running store and have them analyze your running style. They need to see how your feet work to get you into the shoes that will support you the best. This will prevent injuries and take away any unnecessary hardship from running. Running is hard enough on its own, don't make it harder by wearing the wrong shoes (or clothes, or socks, or whatever).

2. Do not use your running shoes for anything but running. It seems simple and logical, but many of us just see sneakers as casual wear, not as a tool for working out. Simply put, if you wear out the cushion in your running shoes by walking in them all day, you've dramatically cut down the lifespan of those shoes. If you're going to be spending all that money on good shoes, make them last longer by treating them properly.

I think next week's run will be 50 minutes. I'm getting into some new territory here, so I'll be curious to see how I do. By increasing the time incrementally though it shouldn't be too bad.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hydroxycut Warning!

If you're taking this diet pill, please stop now!! Diet pills are bad news in general, but this one has been linked to liver failure and death. There's just no such thing as a weight-loss pill, and the sooner we as a society recognize this, the sooner we will be able to move on to healthier forms of weight loss.