Run, Roll, Ice, Rest, Repeat

As my long runs grow longer I’ve started changing things up.  Running 4-6 miles alone is not a problem.  The time is meditative and therapeutic and goes by pretty quickly.  Running 13+ miles alone can be dreadfully long and boring, at least for me.  After mile 7, when alone, I find myself mentally whining about everything.  I joined a running club last year but didn’t go to the meet ups to run with them. I was training for a half and the longest long run I had on the schedule was 10 miles.  I just didn’t feel the need to push myself to go into the city to run when I could run here and be done that much sooner.   This year is very different and boy was I missing out!  Every weekend when the long run rolls around I start looking for ways to make it more interesting and enjoyable.  Life begins at the end of your comfort zone is a saying I look at on my daily coffee cup.  Time to step out of the comfort of running in my neighborhood and join others who are on the same journey as me.

Today I got up at 4:00 to catch a 5:00 AM train to travel 2 hours by train, ferry, train to meet up with my running club.

An added benefit my childhood friend Helen who is running the marathon with me decided to meet me there also.  I can’t say that when that my husband woke me with – “Are you sure you want to do this?  You sure you want to travel 4 hours to run 2? You can run right here.” – I jumped out of bed eager to make the trek.  Really supportive way to open my eyes, but he is right it is a long way to travel to run and adding 2 hours before and after the run surely does extend the time I need to devote to it.  Luckily it’s once a week that the long run rolls around.

When I first arrived in the city, I was super excited to see Helen.  We quickly caught up and joined the club members gathering on Chambers and Centre Street in a small park.  We listened to the route plans and before we had time to think about it we were off running.  The city was alive with runners, bikers and just so many people out there getting fit.  Our group had a group of 8 women who all are training for the marathon.  For some it’s a repeat – one runner said this is her 6th time running it.  For us it is our first and we were so excited to be running with a group of like minded women.  It was so uplifting to share the long run with others and the time did go by faster than it would have had I been alone.

 

My running had become such a routinized event – run, roll, ice feet & legs, rest, repeat.  Each day the same, over and over and over again.  Sometimes you start to lose the fun of it all.  Yesterday as I ran with these beautiful women, I felt like I was enjoying myself instead of stressing over pace, time, distance, heart rate, etc. etc. etc.  I felt lighter and really enjoyed talking and laughing as I ran.  And when we finished I didn’t even mind running another mile to make the ferry to get home.  Maybe it was the change of scenery, but I believe it was the company.

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So this week, think about what you are doing each day.  If your workout feels like a chore, or an item to check off your list, think about how you infuse some fun into it.  What would make it less routinized and more carefree?  For me, infusing a group long run on the weekend has reenergized me and made me look forward to next week’s long run, rather than dreading it.  Yes, it is still HARD work out there, but as I said last week – I get by with a little help from my friends.

Let me know how it’s going for you, please leave a comment below.

Help From Friends

“I get by with a little help from my friends. I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.”

The lyrics of this song truly ring true in every way   No, I’m not getting high with any help from my friends, so let’s just leave that line out.   Anyone who has done something difficult most likely relied on some help from their friends.

It has been a daunting task getting my mileage in for the fast approaching marathon.   12 weeks from now it’s show time.   This week I had 16 miles in front of me and knew I’d struggle alone.    I knew it was time to reach out.    Thankfully a running friend offered to meet up with me on Sunday during the run.   Brilliantly  she suggested meeting halfway through the run.   She knew the second half would be the hard part, the part where a friend could pull you through.   While I fell 2 miles short of 16 I still went further than I would have alone.  I celebrated my 14 miles and look forward to the next one.

I’m really not sure why I hate to ask for help, but I know I’m not alone.   Most people just don’t want to be a burden, or admit they need help.   Yet, once they have it they quickly realize how great it is to have.    My running club has the belief – no runner left behind.   This gives me great comfort because it means that I am not doing this alone.    Yes, I primarily train alone, but on those hard long runs, I have a group of people there for me.

I watched a video of an elite runner carrying his competition to the finish when he collapsed.   He said that the other man deserved the win because he worked harder out there today.   Videos like this demonstrate what the running community is primarily about.   Supporting runners from all walks of like and encouraging others to engage in their sport are important.    I’m so happy I found a new club after my first experience.     I knew there were people out there who encourage and support each other.   Thankfully I found them and you can too.

Who are your go to people when you need support?   Please share your experiences below.

 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

I will freely admit that I picked up this book by Mark Manson simply because of the title.  You must admit it’s eye catching and makes you want to pick it up.  The vulgarity in the first few chapters was a bit much, but buried under all that were some important messages.  As I was out running long yesterday the messages were circling around in my head.  There were many connections to be found here to my life, including as a runner preparing to run her first marathon.

First, I believe under the tongue in cheek writing, sarcasm and vulgarity, this books is about finding what’s important to you and letting go of the rest. Manson advocates for limiting the amount of emotional energy you expend being concerned about things that have little to no meaning or value in your life.  An example would be worrying needlessly about someone else’s Facebook feed.  If you spend time thinking about how someone else’s life is seemingly perfect, or reading into everyone’s response (or lack thereof) to your posts, then perhaps you are valuing the wrong things.  Recently, I overheard a conversation on the ferry that speaks to this concept.  A woman was lamenting to her friend over someone she thought was a good friend.  She was saying that every time she posts something on Facebook this “friend” doesn’t comment, or even like her posts.  But, she noticed that whenever another mutual friend posts this “friend” not only likes and comments, she pushes the love button.  I remember thinking the conversation was ridiculous at the time, but after reading it made me realize that people really do overthink this Facebook stuff.

There are so many subtle lines in this book that will make you laugh and think.  For example, one is around the over emphasis on positivity.  While I agree totally with surrounding ourselves with positivity, Manson points out the cold, hard truth – “sometimes things are f***ed up and we have to live with it.”  If we set up this unrealistic expectation that life needs to always be positive and Disney like, we set ourselves up to feel like failures when it’s not.  This is exactly how I feel some days – my ankle and feet hurt most every day and it stinks!  There is nothing to be positive about, but I’ve learned to live with it and keep going.  Do I have to spout some positivity quotes and be thankful for this pain?  NO, it stinks and I’m dealing with it as best I can.   Rather than expending my energy spouting how lucky I am to have this problem, I’m expending my energies trying to overcome it.  Much better use of my time and emotional energy.

Instead of trying to be “perfect” all the time, Manson suggests asking yourself what problems you have.  Life, he writes is actually a series of problems.  He writes, that “Life is essentially an endless series of problems. The solution to one problem is merely the creation of another.”   If we spend our lives trying to get away from our problems, will we ever really succeed?  Will we ever be able to handle losing, or not being perfect?  Instead of focusing all our energy on figuring out “how can I get rid of my problems?”  we should focus on  asking ourselves, “What are the problems that excite me? What are the problems that I’m willing to work hard to figure out?”  In education, we equate this to being in a “learning pit”, deep down in there we are striving to climb our way out.  These are the problems that matter and are worthy of our energy, not whether or not someone liked our Facebook post.

Manson talks a lot about facing truths and not trying to always spin them into something positive.  Think – When life gave me lemons, I made lemonade. What if I don’t like, or want lemonade. He talks abut facing truths and being totally honest with ourselves and others “Once we embrace our fears, faults and uncertainties – once we stop running from and avoiding, and start confronting painful truths – we can begin to find the courage and confidence we desperately seek.”  As I ran along yesterday my darn ankle starting hurting, like always, around mile 6.  Instead of focusing on it I told myself, this is your reality.  It’s going to be uncomfortable running 26.2 miles so you may as well get used to it.  I could find no positivity in the discomfort I was feeling and didn’t feel like expending my energy on it.  It stinks but it’s my reality and I needed to keep on going.  There was no lemonade to be made from these lemons.  Rather, there was determination, perseverance and grit to be made.  Instead of aiming to have this perfect run I accepted that sometimes runs are not perfect.  Sometimes there is pain and discomfort and it just plain sucks.  But, despite this, I can and will continue because it’s important to me to finish what I started.

I realize the book may not be for everybody because the author does use colorful language.  For me, I liked the author’s refreshingly honest spin on self help.  I laughed out loud so many times and was eager to share the book with others.  It also reminded me that I’ve been focusing my energies in the wrong areas in my marathon training.  Reality and things I don’t give a f**k about – I will not win the marathon.  I will not finish in the top ten percent.  I am a slower runner.  I will likely have discomfort at some point in the run – hopefully toward the end.  Reality and things I give a f**k about – I will finish the run.  I will run with my running friends.  I will have a great time running through NYC and enjoy the crowds.  I will complete this bucket list race.  I will be proud of myself and my efforts to get this done.

What do you give a f**k about?  Please feel free to comment below.

 

 

 

 

Your Body is a Wonderland

Your Body is a Wonderland

I just returned from my week down at the beach.  I feel refreshed, relaxed and thankful that I get to spend time there every year.  This year was especially good because my entire family was able to get down.  That doesn’t happen often so we enjoyed our time together.   I was able to get my weekly runs completed on some nice flat running surfaces, as well as do some strength work in a beautiful park.  I used the walk/run interval strategy for my runs as part of my plans to heal my aching achilles and feet.  My runs went really well, but I still experienced some pain in my ankles and walking stairs continues to be difficult.  I’m continuing this journey and will make an appointment this week to see a physical therapist or doctor to check in on this stiffness and pain.

Last week I talked about making the switch to a Galloway walk/run plan to ensure I am able to complete the New York Marathon.  I talked about my struggles in making this switch because my ego keeps telling me I’m less of an athlete if I have to do it this way.  This week I’d like to explore a little bit about how media and marketing have contributed to my feelings.  While I recognize this is a personal struggle, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the fact that many women are body shamed for not having the perfect runners body.  It may not be intentional, but there is that pause when you tell someone you are a runner and they look surprised and/or do the eyes up and down your body.  Yup, it happens often and leaves you feeling like you need to then say something in response.

Thankfully, I’ve never been body shammed publicly on runs (that I know of), but there are many women who have been.  Women who have been laughed at or had to endure comments from onlookers about how they “may need to up their mileage.”  Anyone who runs knows it’s hard enough just to get out there and when you don’t have that perfect runners body it can be even harder.  I’m very self conscious about running and always put myself down about it – not fast enough, not looking good today, etc.   It actually took me almost two years to be willing to put on a pair of shorts to run outside!  I’ve gotten past that at this point and truly just run and tune that inner dialogue out.

Looking at the Galloway method, I’ve come to realize that there are many misconceptions out there about using this walk run interval strategy.  I also realize that there are some underlying contributing factors to these perceptions.  I’ve actually heard some runners saying, “those Galloway girls are big.”  Newsflash, not all Galloway runners are large, overweight, out of shape or beginners.  This months Women’s Running magazine, dubbed as “devoted to beginners”, discussed the effective use of walk run intervals for beginners and beyond.  It was an interesting read and really outlined the benefits of using this strategy.  I think the cover was beautiful and I am NOT in any way personally attacking or body shaming anyone.  I’m really just wondering today about our perceptions of runners bodies and how media strongly impacts these perceptions.  The gorgeous cover model on this issue had a body very different from the models who normally grace the cover of this magazine.  I have a subscription and love this magazine, but wonder why.  Why is it that the magazine devoted to beginners and walk run intervals has a cover that is different from all the others?

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It’s very disheartening when you are trying to feel good about yourself when you are faced with these types of images linked to certain types of activities.  Runners come in all body sizes and shapes.  Go to any race and look around and you will soon feel better.  There are runners of all sizes and shapes and most are very welcoming and encouraging.    Women’s Running magazine is well aware of the feelings of women runners who do not have the perfect runners body.  Recently, they featured a plus size runner on their cover and she spoke candidly about her feelings of looking at magazines and not finding herself represented in any of them.   My question then is why does featuring a curvy woman runner became an “event”?  Why is this not the norm to include all types of running bodies on the cover of a running magazine?  There are many of us out there running and wanting to improve our health that do not have the perfect runner body.  Shouldn’t we be equally represented on the covers of running magazines and not seen as an occasional event.

Many women have body issues, this is a known fact.  Yes, we are personally responsible for our choices and how we deal with these issues.  Personally, I choose to recognize that fitness comes in many different forms.  There is something out there for all of us and as long as we are moving it’s all good.  This week I am proud of myself for using the walk run interval strategy to get my miles done.  I ran them proudly and got in three great workouts.  My long run on Saturday burned over 1100 calories and that’s nothing to sneeze about.  This week I choose to celebrate my work rather than beat myself up that it’s not what it was, or what others feel it should be.  It was actually exactly what I needed.

I’d love to hear from you about your journey to reclaim your health.  How’s it going?

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Want a Different Result, Try Something New!

If You Want a Different Result, Try Something New!

I’ve been going back and forth trying to get my training plan right.  I am working with a Marathon Heart Rate Training group plan which calls for me to keep my heart rate at, or under 140 bpm.  I also have been thinking about using the Galloway method of run/walk/run intervals to train.  I keep going back and forth with the benefits of each plan.  The heart rate plan builds my anaerobic systems and should keep me healthy and injury free.  The Galloway plan also keeps me injury free as I’m building in recovery and not continuously straining my ankle tendons.  I keep asking myself, Do I realistically expect to run 26.2 miles without stopping?  Do I want to train using run/walk/run intervals, or continuous running like I did for my half marathon?  There are so many things to consider and honestly my achilles is still not feeling great.  I’ve been trying to push through and modify as needed but the pain has not totally subsided.  It’s super hard to be motivated to train and run when it hurts.

When I returned to running this spring, I was using intervals to build my stamina back up.  I always felt the time went faster and it was a great workout.  Yet, I still thought of it as a temporary measure, one that was meant to build me up and then taper away.  As I continued, I had the goal of increasing the intervals until they were gone.  A few weeks ago, I began continuous running and worked up to 6 miles on long runs. If I’m honest with myself, my feet were crying from mile 5 on.  After the run I had difficulty walking and my day was pretty much left to roll, soak, elevate and rest.  Clearly, something had to give and that something was my EGO.

Last year, I joined a running club in Manhattan – The Galloway Club.  I never went to one run and just decided it wasn’t for me because after all, I was a runner.  This year, I joined the club again and told myself I was going to try it, but didn’t.  While I did try intervals, I didn’t go to join the club for the long runs, which by the way are geared to training for the marathon.  This week I had a long, honest talk with my EGO and decided that if I am going to make it through this marathon I need to do what my body needs, not what my EGO wants.  Wednesday morning I met with Filicia, a local Galloway club member and we ran 3 miles at the park.  We did 45:30 intervals and I noticed that my pace was much quicker than when I run continuously.  I also noticed that my feet didn’t hurt quite as much.  The rest of the day I didn’t need to recover and elevate, ice, etc my feet.  Listening to her tell me about the three marathons she ran successfully really helped me make my decision.  I am officially doing run/walk/run interval training and plan to run the marathon using this strategy.  Thanks Filicia for talking me through this and for running with me!

Today, we met again and ran 7 miles, the same route I ran last week.  Last week by mile 5 my feet were pretty shot and I wasn’t sure if I could finish.  This week, though I had some soreness, I finished the run and didn’t feel finished for the day.  I’m super excited to feel like I WILL complete this marathon using this strategy.  I also am excited that perhaps my achilles will finally begin to heal.  When I compare how I felt this week recovering from the run to how I felt last week it is really a no brainer.  I feel much better and more able to go about the business of my day.

In reflecting on why this decision was so hard for me to make, I know my ego is the cause.  I didn’t think of run/walk/run intervals as “running”.  I felt that if I needed to use this strategy, I was weak.  I am fully aware that the man who created this method, Jeff Galloway, is an Olympian, but I just couldn’t get past feeling like a failure.  A funny thing happened on these last two runs – I felt like I worked hard.  I wasn’t slogging along slowly, praying for the run to end.  I actually felt invigorated and more athletic than before.  It’s hard to explain, but I felt very accomplished and know in my heart I made the right choice.  The reality is, whether I walk, run or crawl, a mile is a mile and I’m out there moving forward!

What are the bullshit stories you tell yourself when you workout, or run?  Please share below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Slow Ride Take it Easy

Slow Ride Take it Easy

Today’s tip is to slow down your run to increase benefits to your heart and body!

As I obsessed and worried about not being able to run faster, I did a lot of reading about the benefits of running vs walking and of running slow.  According to some research I read, the best workout for people of all ages is running but, there’s a catch to this research which really made me feel better.  One group of researchers followed a group of runners over a long period of time.  They found that the runners who ran in moderation showed more gains than those who ran more often and faster!  This made my heart sing.  When you are out there jogging along wondering why in the world you can’t go faster without taking the joy out of running, research like this gives you new purpose.  It also aligns with the work of Phil Maffetone and Jeff Galloway.  All I have to say is keep it coming!

According to what I read, the runners who ran 3-4 times a week at a slower pace had the most long term health gains.  Currently, I’m doing 4 slow runs a week (3 short, 1 long) with the goal to get back to 5 runs in the coming weeks.  I’ve been debating on the 5th run as my achilles is still a little tentative so reading this almost gave me permission to cross train instead that day doing something that doesn’t require me to be on my feet.  My husband is getting my bike road ready for use this summer and I’ve rejoined my yoga studio.

After experiencing two major injuries, I worry about the toll running might take on my body.  Slowing it down has kept me on the road injury free.  I’ve been dabbling with Galloway running, but like the slow, steady run better than the start and stop of interval running.  Galloway himself though has continue to run long after his 50th birthday and remains injury free, so I believe the slow, gentle philosophy rather than the focus on speed is in line with where I am at right now in my running life.  Right now my focus is on building up my distance to cover 26.2 miles.  If I get tired on the long run, I can switch to interval running and add more miles.

I must admit I do still look at the end of each run to see if my pace was faster than the last run, but don’t get discouraged about it any more.  I’m more excited when I see my training index on my watch and it says – moderate, not “extreme workout” like it used to. I’m also excited by the fat burn index which is much higher following a long slow run than a fast run.  For example, todays 2 mile run fat burn index was 25% compared to a faster 2 mile run fat burn index of 12%.   Not sure about the science aspect of that but I know it means an increase in fat burning at the slower rate!

If you have slowed down the run and felt the benefits please share below.  I’d love to chat with you about the impact it has had on you.

 

 

 

 

 

Regain a Love of Running

Regain a Love of Running

When I started a heart rate training plan last year I was excited to be able to run without injury.  That was my goal.  I didn’t care how slow I ran, or how boring it was running for hours on end, I was happy to be able to finish what I started – a half marathon.  But shortly after, a funny thing happened to many of us in the heart rate group.  We seemed to have lost our running mojo.  Disappointed with our lack of measurable progress we began to feel defeated.  Running by heart rate is a long process, not a quick fix and many of us had thought we’d be further along a year in.  Some of us, myself included, were never able to get back to our pre heart rate pace.  This perceived failure to grow as a runner led to lack of motivation to run.

After spending the winter months training with broken toes on a treadmill to keep my fitness going, I was bitch slapped when I began running outside again.  I totally felt like the winter running was a huge waste of time.  I couldn’t even run a mile without feeling defeated.  To top that off my weight was up about 15 pounds and that didn’t help my running one bit.  As I struggled to get those first outside runs in I began to have pain in my achilles.  To say I lost confidence in my ability to run is a huge understatement.

This past week, I read an article in my local newspaper about a woman who is running her first marathon (NYC) this year.  She spoke about feeling overwhelmed by the task and how it caused her to lose her confidence and question why she was even attempting to do it.  Right! That’s exactly where I am at right now.  On each of those struggle runs I talked at myself and said, why in the world are you doing this.  You don’t need to do this.  You can’t even run 3 miles right now how in the world will you run 26.2.  Reading this article really helped me understand that it was completely normal to feel overwhelmed and scared of the daunting task I am taking on.

Running a marathon is a huge undertaking and one that can’t be taken lightly.  Thankfully, I have now given myself a break and accepted that my feelings of being overwhelmed are completely normal.  This week I was able to do a 3 mile run without using intervals.  Hope springs eternal and I feel like I may be over the hump of getting started.  I’m still suffering from pain in my achilles and have been trying to use intervals to not damage it as it heals.  These last two runs I completed without intervals and while I had some pain afterwards it wasn’t too bad.  Maybe, just maybe I can do this marathon after all.

When confidence is lost, the first step on the road back is to identify what is causing these feelings.  For me it was fear of failure – not being able to complete the marathon I’ve signed up for.  Recognizing that and giving myself permission to feel this way was a huge help to motivate me to at least get out there and try.  Like any other obstacle, the first step is admitting the issue and then creating a plan to deal with it.  My plan is pretty simple right now – take it one day and one run at a time.  Here’s my current plan to regain my running confidence:

  1. Set a goal – My goal right now is to complete my training runs each week and not get too far ahead in my thinking.  I’m going to focus on just one week at a time and follow my plan without skipping workout sessions.  This week so far I’m on track with this morning’s long run ahead of me.  Hoping to be able to get 6 of the called for 8 miles in.  Not sure I should jump up to 8 miles too fast as the achilles has prevented me from running more than 3-4 miles.
  2. Stay connected – I’ve been reaching out to other runners and trying to find someone to run with at least for long runs.
  3. Change or scenery – I always run the same route day after day.  I’ve decided to try to vary my routes to spark some interest.  I’m seeking out new places to run that might prove more interesting and break the monotony of my routine.
  4. Cross Train – I’ve decided to get back to the yoga studio.  I loved, loved, loved hot yoga but when I started running I gave it up.  I couldn’t figure out how to fit it in.  I signed up for unlimited yoga classes this summer and hope to get yoga back into my weekly routine.  I also think it will help my achilles and other muscles a lot!  Super excited about this.

The long and short of my musings today is give yourself permission to feel scared.  It’s completely normal to be nervous about new challenges you are taking on.  Just don’t let those nerves steal your motivation to do the work.  Break it down to smaller, more manageable tasks and keep on going.  One day, one workout, one run at a time – just put one foot in front of the other.

Have you lost your confidence, or motivation to work out?  What helped you get back on track?  Please share below, I’d love to hear about your struggles and successes.

Great memoir for anyone running their first marathon –