Saturday, April 21, 2012

10 miles!

This morning's run was 10 miles! I know that's not news, but it certainly is an accomplishment.

Just a few things:
-I remembered my compression sleeves so my calves feel great.
-I sweat buckets.....that always amazes me. How much can a woman sweat? Let me show you....
-I need a nap.
-The Gu with "2x caffeine" was good. No odd effects from any of it today. I must be used to it now.

The weather in Chicago today is about 20 degrees cooler than it is here in Atlanta, so I hope it stays that way when I head up there. I'm anticipating the weather to hit mid-80s here on race weekend, so I am assuming the highs will be in the 60s for Chicago. That works really well in my favor.

One final note: Body Glide is amazing. I've used it for years, but I thought I'd mention that. =D

Friday, April 20, 2012

Forced to take a break

So work was crazy last week. I had a huge conference to attend, which threw off my training schedule a bit. Last Thursday's run was cancelled, and I forgot to wear my compression leg sleeves on my long run last Saturday. Let's just say I paid for my forgetfulness.

Here's what happened. So I forgot my leg sleeves. No big deal, right? Yeah, my calves are dealing with the biggest adjustments out of all my muscle groups, and the leg sleeves help with the swelling. Why is that important? Shin splints. Because I have been properly fitted for the right shoes and they're fairly new, I know that's not the cause. My form has improved, which has helped significantly in many areas. What gets my calves is the increase in mileage. And since muscles swell a bit when they're used, that can sometimes cause some discomfort. I had a lot of discomfort during and after the long run. Sometimes even my left foot will go numb, but it does get better as I run. The leg sleeves decrease the amount of time I'm bothered by soreness, tightness, and numbness, and they also help recovery. I'm not saying everyone needs compression gear, especially since it can be kind of pricey, but I love it.

So anyway, because I was hurting I skipped the recovery run Sunday. Then it stormed Tuesday, and since I don't like to run back to back during the week I didn't run again until Thursday. My run yesterday went well, but I have noticed something about myself over the years. If I take a break, I often have to break down a lot of newly built mental blocks. Yesterday, I just didn't feel like running. I finally had to tell myself about half a mile in that I needed to get over my self pity and just run, damnit. Funny enough, once I picked up my pace (I was dragging) everything went fine. It's like I have to prove to myself again that I can run. Note to self: after the half marathon don't stop running! I've got to keep up some regular running or else I'll fall off the wagon again.

Long story short, take care of your legs and don't let the mental blocks get you. Tomorrow's long run: 10 miles!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Gu Reviewed

So I had a fantastic run yesterday. 8 miles, 1hr 37 min. That's slow for a lot of people, but that's pretty darned good for me so I'm taking it. It was a little cool when I started out, which helps a lot since I quickly become a furnace when I'm running. Midway through I tried a pack of Gu since it was about time to fuel up (I had a banana before the run and drank water throughout). What did I think?

First of all, I'm not used to eating gels so it took a second to get over the texture. It's not bad, but again - if you're not eating gels all the time your natural instinct is to chew it. I had to chase it with water because my mouth was dry. The flavor I had contained some caffeine. I thought that since I drink coffee almost every day and also have the occasional soda I wouldn't feel the effect of the caffeine so much. I was wrong! Right after finishing up the gel my teeth started chattering. It was the caffeine! I got a little lightheaded too, but I think that was the sudden spike of sugar. Those two feelings died off very quickly, and I felt like my energy stores were totally restored so I'd say the product works!

A couple things to remember:
- If you are sensitive to caffeine, get the flavors that don't contain caffeine.
- Try to swallow the gel without chewing and chase it down with some water.
- Be respectful of your surroundings and either toss the empty wrapper in a garbage can if possible or hold onto it to dispose of properly later.

I'll continue using the product through the rest of my long runs. Very cool stuff!

Full disclosure: I have not been paid or approached by anyone to write this review. There are many fuels available to runners that are excellent. Try them all and see what works best for you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Breaking the Mental Blocks

So this week I focused on two things: trying to get more sleep during the week so I wouldn't be so exhausted on the weekends and trying to remove the mental stumbling blocks during my runs. The first really meant just getting to bed earlier and not goofing off so much in the evenings after work. That was sort of accomplished. I did go to bed earlier, but I'm finding I'm still tired so I need to do a better job of getting my butt to bed. The second is also a work in progress, but I wanted to share a quote that inspired me this week.

"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired."
- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Have you ever experienced that? When you know your legs could keep going but your heart just isn't up for the run so you walk or cut the run short or decide to skip the run all together? I've done that plenty of times. We all have. If you haven't I think you're lying to yourself. Our minds are both our greatest strength and greatest weakness. How can that be? Have you ever been so determined to accomplish a task that you do anything to make it happen? Where there's a will, there's a way. And it's our minds that make that happen. The same goes for runs (or bike rides, or making it to the gym, or whatever fitness goal you're after). 

How did I use this to fuel my training this week? I quit letting my mind tell me "oh you've run far enough, it's time for a break". I stopped looking at my watch for pace and mileage so often. I still looked, but not nearly as often as I used to. I decided to just go. Let my legs do what they know how to do. Run. Breath. Relax. Let go. Once I stopped the negative thoughts from forming, they were replaced with positive thoughts. Funny how that works out. 

The end result was I had two fantastic runs, and not because I wasn't tired or tried any cool tricks. I was actually pretty tired yesterday, but the run was still good. I told myself I could run, and so I did. Will every run be that awesome? No, but that's okay too. Focus on what's positive about your runs. Quit letting the internal demons take over. Easier said than done, but it just takes practice. 

I'm hoping I can carry that momentum into tomorrow's long run. We'll just wait and see. A couple things that will be different for tomorrow: I bought some Gu (energy gel) and restocked my supply of Accellerade. The Gu came at the recommendation of a coworker who also runs a lot. The Accellerade is what I drank last year, but this year I will save it for post run only. I'm just drinking water on my runs and ingesting the gel. I'll give an update on what I think of Gu after I try it. 

For Rex running seems to be helping him a lot. He says he feels better overall and has maintained his motivation, which is really cool because he hated running before. We bought him a hydration belt so he can keep his hands free on his long runs. Evidently he hates my handheld water bottle. I might look into getting a belt that holds the water bottle on the small of my back so my hands are free too. Running is such a simple sport but the accessories are amazing! 

Tomorrow - 8 miles. Phew! We've crossed over the halfway mark towards that 13.1 goal! 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Mental Hurdles

So I'm excited that I'm progressing well with training and that I'm losing a little weight, but I'm finding that my biggest problem is inside my head. I was out last Thursday for a 3 mile run, and I was so opposed to the run I found I was walking more just because I didn't feel like running. Then the 7 mile long run went okay but it started shaky. I ended well, but I've got to keep those internal demons at bay. Today's recovery run went pretty well, but I did focus on positive thoughts.

Long story short - I have to keep reminding myself to hit the small goals in the runs and that not every run will be spectacular. These are things I've probably mentioned before, but I always find it interesting how those same issues keep creeping up on us. Stay positive! I've developed a new mantra for those tough moments (usually going up a hill) - Conquer that (insert obstacle here)! It seems to help, so I'll keep using it.

A couple other issues about the long run: around mile 5 I got really hungry, and my left calf is tightening again around mile 3.5 but loosens up by mile 4. I have an easy solution to the hunger issue: go get some running fuel! For my calf issue, I think I might need to incorporate some calf strengthening drills. I tried some of the drills today after my recovery run that help with form. Note to self: don't try them around the dog. He thinks it's play time.

We will see how this week progresses, but overall I'm still very excited about my progress. Rex has been showing a lot of improvement as well, and I hope his momentum keeps going. It's always so exciting to see others succeed :)