Monday, September 8, 2014

How Runners Are Like Toddlers...

Courtesy of this weekend's 15 mile run I had a random thought. Runners are like toddlers.  Bear with me...

Gravity is both our friend and our enemy. Ever watched a toddler run? They are perfect little Pose Runners lifting a foot, tilting forward, and then catching themselves with that same foot, over and over again. Until of course, they inevitably fall down and go boom. A love/hate with gravity. It helps a toddler run, until it becomes too much and they fall. Similarly, gravity helps us run. We love the downhill. But every now and then, it’s all too much, and we go ‘boom’.

We put everything in our mouths. Toddlers explore the world with their mouth. “What’s this toy/hair/shoe/whatever? I’ll put it in my mouth!”  Runners are a little bit smarter about what we put in our mouths, but let’s face it, mid-training, we’re still stuffing anything we can in there. Rungry, anyone?

We awake freakishly early for reasons unknown to anyone else in the house.  I’m not a parent yet, but I’ve heard the endless stories about being awakened at obscenely early hours to find your toddler in bed with you/staring at you/getting into something in the kitchen/shrieking from their bed or crib. WHY are they up so early? No one knows. Similarly, runners get up at obscene hours, usually while it is still dark out so they can dress, fuel up, and go out to either train, or race, long miles. WHY??  I do this every morning, and I’m still not 100% sure...   (credit to @HenryHoward for this one)

We randomly pee/poop/vomit on ourselves. Yup… dirty little secret… runners will every now and then pee while running, barely make it to the restroom, get betrayed by a fart, and vomit. Hopefully not all at once. Toddlers, are obviously tiny tornadoes of pee, poop and vomit. At least runners have some control over things.

We expect to be rewarded as motivation for doing things. Potty-trained a toddler lately? All I hear about is the rewards involved: M&Ms, stickers, toys, etc.  Likewise, we runners like rewards.  Run a race? Medal and T-shirt, thank you. Training run? Beer and cheat food, thank you.

We have mood swings, and occasionally become irrationally crabby. We all know toddlers can go from 0 to full meltdown at the snap of a finger, but have you ever observed an injured/frustrated/tapering/over-trained runner? 0 to toddler with no warning. Marathon training is a delightful display of just how irrational I can be. Thank God my husband is (usually) understanding.

We need sleep. Lots of sleep. When a toddler devolves into an irrational, tantrum-y mess, the first thing uttered usually is, “Someone needs a nap.” Mid-training, plenty of runners need naps. This runner goes to be awfully early as the miles increase, especially since they’re morning runs, and I’ve yet to meet a runner who couldn’t empathize.

We are easily entranced and distracted by electronics. We've all seen the exasperated mom who hands her cranky toddler an iPhone, or plops him/her down in front of a movie so she can have just a few minutes of peace. And it works. The toddler is easily distracted by the bright electronics in front of him. Runners have Garmins, iPods, phones, FitBits, heart rate monitors, and we are fascinated by them! We become reliant on their feedback, and ...  oooh, shiny!

Any to add?  How do you think runners are like toddlers?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Monumental Training, Week 9.5...

Because "Monumental Training" is more fun to say than "International Training"...
(if you're new, I have the Detroit International Half Marathon two weeks before the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon)

Why Week 9.5?  Well, A. It's Wednesday, the week is half over! Get with it!  And B. I'm just going to tell you what's going on up to now, including today.

. . .

I broke my ass.

I'm going to call that my theme of the week.

I repeated that several times over the last few days.

I didn't really.



I actually had this problem two weeks in a row. This week, I was just a touch smarter, and maybe a bit tougher, about it. Monday is squat day. Last Monday, I squatted heavy, did some box jumps, did some kettlebell swings, ran 5 miles on Tuesday, and couldn't walk by lunchtime. I'm pretty sure Wednesday ended up being bench press only, and then I waddled back into the house...

This Monday, I squatted heavy again, completed 3 reps each at 85, 95 and 105. Then I did 4 rounds of 10 box jumps, 10 walking lunges with the 45lbs bar, and 10 pushups on the box. Tuesday, I ran 4 miles (it was supposed to be 5, but I ran out of time).   Today though... I could move! Sort of. So I did bench presses and 4 rounds of 10 burpees, 5 ring rows, 5 shoulder presses each arm at 20lbs, plus some ab work.  I have weak shoulders and I hate burpees. But I got it done!  I'm quite proud of that.

My long run on Saturday was a hot (literally) mess.  The schedule called for 12 miles. I didn't rush out the door, and knew it would bite me in the ass, but at about 9:00 a.m., I loaded the Camelbak and off I went.  Heading out the door, it was a perfect 68, and I was on mostly shady neighborhood streets. I was clipping along at about 10:20, which is faster than my normal race pace, but it felt good. I knew I was going a bit fast, but didn't stop to reign it in.

By mile 5, I was hurting. I was out in the sun. Nothing but the sun. It was hot. I could feel the heat in my face, and wanted nothing more than to quit already.  I slogged through the next 5.5 miles. At around mile 10.5, I had to pause and stretch, hiding gratefully in the shade under a tree. I even texted my husband to tell him I was struggling. "Finish it. You don't quit."   I beat myself up a bit, because, yes, I sometimes do quit. But I am not proud of quitting, ever. So I kept going. It was not pretty. In fact, it was agony.

I trudged home, collapsed, and promptly checked the weather. In the 2 hours I'd been running, the temp had gone from 68 to 78, with not a cloud in the sky. Considering the mild summer we've had, and the very cool mornings I usually run in, 78 was HOT. (I know this sounds ridiculous, but mornings this summer have been in the 58 - 62 range, and obviously no sun.) Also, my early splits were 10:28, 10:25, 10:02, and 10:38.  The early speed showed in the late slow.  But! It's done. Another long run in the books, and 12 miles closer to the Monumental Marathon!

Feeling buff post-long run. And showing off my new Inov-8 tank top, which performed beautifully!

What are you training for?  How is training going?

My Whole 30 Experience...

I promised this post a few weeks ago, but here it finally is. My thoughts on my Whole 30 experience.

As I mentioned when I started this, I recently read Chris Kresser's Personal Paleo Code. The book resonated with me for a number of reasons, and I really liked his acknowledgement that Paleo is not a 'one-size-fits-all' lifestyle. After all, I often argued to my husband, I can eat corn without problems, so why not have it as an occasional treat?

Kresser's plan has you do essentially a Whole 30. He calls it a Reset Diet. But you eliminate grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol, butter, white potatoes (which are now Whole 30-approved), and take a few other important steps for 30 days. After this point, you can test various foods to see if and how your body reacts.

I posted earlier about the biggest hurdle I encountered, an accidental lack of carbs! We sorted that out with sweet potatoes and plantains and felt much happier and better able to perform while working out. So, a few things I learned:

  • I actually can't eat grains. I'd argued to my husband all along that I could handle corn, and I didn't see any reason why I shouldn't be allowed to eat it. For 30 days, I craved tortilla chips. All I wanted was chips and salsa. So, against the recommended plan, that was the first food I tested.  Chipotle chips and medium salsa? Down the hatch! Best lunch in a long time. 6 hours later while walking the dog? Sharp, painful stomach cramping. The corn wasn't completely out of my system until almost 24 hours later, and I missed my morning workout.  I actually still have not tested rice, though I did have rice noodles. Reactions haven't been quite as bad, but I generally don't feel good on grains.
  • Sugar is simply a habit. I found it very interesting how easy it was for me to give up sugar and move on. I've never had a big sweet tooth, and the Whole 30 made it very clear to me that visiting the candy bowl at work was simply a habit.  Again, I've had cheats here, but I am much more aware of it. Sugar is a conscious choice now, not a mindless "oopsy".
  • Dairy is iffy. I didn't get a clear answer on dairy. I haven't gone back to yogurt, and I'm very conscious of the cheese I choose to eat, but some days I feel perfectly fine, and others not so much. The obvious answer here is yummmmmmmm, cheeeeeeeeese!
  • Stress = Alcohol. I enjoy drinking. There, I said it. I also drink when I'm stressed. A glass of wine after a long day of work is delightful. Abstaining for 30 days really drew my attention to this correlation. But I still don't see it as a big problem. I understand the potential drawbacks to drinking, but also don't think a single glass after work is a big deal. I am glad to have seen the correlation clearly though so I can be aware if it becomes an issue.
  • Stress is a big problem for me.  My whole life is a big ball of stress. It's who I am. It seems like every management method, every supplement, every attempt to control stress simply fails. I am a sensitive person. I'm learning to embrace that. But it means I internalize and feel responsibility for, well, everything. And this is holding me back.
On that note...  a few things I didn't learn, or, my disappointments with Whole 30:

  • I can't lose weight. There, I said it. I went to a doctor, who figured I had adrenal fatigue, or just need to stop eating bananas after 4:00 p.m. (seriously) (I don't). I took supplements for my adrenals and had more energy, but not a single budge on my body. I took before and after photos on my Whole 30. Nothing changed. I will not post them. I changed how I work out, adding more strength and such. I can see a little more muscle, and my butt is bigger, but otherwise, yeah.. nothing changed. 99% of people have Whole 30 success stories of losing weight and being otherwise amazing. I do not.
  • I didn't feel 100% awesome, or find the fountain of youth of energy. The stabbing stomach pains I sometimes get are generally gone. I know my gut is healing. But, I still felt bad a decent amount of time. And I didn't have all the energy I thought I would. My workouts aren't easier, my runs aren't easier. I know part of this is stress-related, but....
  • In general, my joy toward food was gone.  Doing Whole 30, I felt discouraged about food. I saw it as fuel, period. This was good and bad. I am much more conscious about what it's doing to my body. But, I am discouraged by the high cost of eating the Paleo way (holy F meat is pricey). I am depressed by my inability to lose weight, look good, perform well athletically.  I still feel much more guilty about anything that isn't Whole 30. 
I refuse to make food a source of stress, which has led to a relaxation of my diet. But I often feel guilt over that relaxation. I know many of my issues are probably beyond diet, but in terms of Whole 30, I am a bit disappointed. I expected to see more and better results. I don't regret it, because I think the things I learned far outweigh the inability to drop some chunk. I would encourage anyone to do a Whole 30 to explore some of those cravings and connections within your diet. 

I do think when it comes to food there is a fine line to walk between health and stress.  While I'm discouraged that I didn't lose weight, I also feel like joy in food is more important. I have made many amazing meals that are Paleo. Dialed-in Paleo even (Kinda like 80% 30 instead of Whole). Diet didn't solve everything for me, nor can it. And with that in mind, I want to take the good lessons I learned and move forward without making food a stress point. I am conscious of what I eat, but I am dropping the guilt over the occasional cheat. I want to live the healthiest life possible, but I'm also aware that I'm only living one life, and I'm going to enjoy it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monumental Training, Week 8...

Week 8 was a bit eventful...  I wrote myself a pretty intense workout Monday, still cranked out my miles Tuesday, and regretted it by lunchtime Tuesday!

Monday, I did a 3x5 of squats at 75, 80, and 95, did ab work, and did 3 rounds of 10 box jumps, 10 push-ups on the box, and 10 kettlebell swings at 35. By the time I was getting up from my desk that day, I was hurting! I managed to crank out my 5 miles Tuesday, and well, can't even remember the rest of the week! I felt pretty badass until about Tuesday afternoon though!

This weekend the schedule called for a 5K race instead of a long run, and I was happy to oblige. Dear Husband decided to run with me since he started a new strength program this morning. Usually, he runs "with" me, and leaves me in the dust within a half mile. But, he decided to stick with me and push me along. We ran a 29:29 5K... my PR is 29:25. I'll take it!

Things have been extremely hectic at work, so I keep meaning to write more, and just, well, not. In the grand scheme of work/life balance, I have to work, I have to marathon train, and I have to find time to relax for my health.

What are you training for? How is your work/life/training balance?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Monumental Training...

So, uhm, last week was.. well, terrible.

On Monday, the 14th, I headed out to the garage to do my 1-rep max testing..  I had really high hopes after the gains I saw last Wendler cycle.  Did my warm-up, and started loading on for the squats.  The warm-ups with the bar (45) were pretty easy, the next few progressions OK, and then we put on my previous PR of 95. I went down into the squat, and...  panicked. Me: "I'm stuck!"  Husband: "No you're not, push." Me: "Get it off, get it off!" (I have a weird fear of 'bailing'... gotta fix that.) Then my mood got stuck right with me. Everything was negative, spiraling down, and I couldn't stop it. I rallied to try a deadlift, and a light weight felt hard, and I was done.

But then, I took it out on my husband with a few snide comments. Here I am, feeling beyond negative at myself, and he's swinging my weights around like nothing....  guess where this is going? Yup. A few minutes later, I got yelled at. Laid into. And my mood was down for a week.

So, Week 5 of marathon training was pretty rough. I missed a workout, and cut some others short. I could rally myself to get a workout in and then feel numb by lunchtime. My approaching 30th birthday wasn't helping.  Luckily, my 8 miler last Saturday went very well. Pace came out to an 11:00 average (my normal Half Marathon pace is 10:40).. but I had stopped to help a dog that was lost, and forgot to pause my Garmin, giving me a 13 minute mile in the middle. So, probably pace was right in line.

We're all good now, don't worry. (Hey, real talk, marriages take work... there are two people involved with their own moods, drama, and issues. But there's a whole lot of love in ours too!) Monday was my 30th Birthday! I ended up taking the day off, and my husband and friend put together a nice little surprise dinner at a wood-fired pizza joint I love. It is my fave cheat food!   (I'll have some thoughts on 30 in a different post).

The rest of this week has gone OK as far as training. I've finished the Whole 30 and been testing foods I used to eat regularly, with mixed results. Tuesday was a planned 5, but I woke up with tummy issues from my birthday dinner, rallied, got in 2.5, had to stop by the house to pee, and developed stomach cramping when I stopped. So I did some light lifting.

Wednesday, I ran a mile for a warmup, and then did 5 reps at 45, 50, 55 (15 total reps) of bench press, and then hang cleans, 1 shoulder press into back squats, 1 shoulder press to put bar back, then 4 rounds of 15 second planks on front and each side with no rest between rounds. Yesterday was 4 miles, and they came in right at HM pace.

I'm feeling decent about tomorrow's planned 10 miles. I used Tailwind last week and will try that again.  The stomach issues are frustrating, but I guess I just have to eat really clean this marathon!

What are you training for? How is your training going?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Random Thoughts While Running...

"Take it easy. Yeah, that feels good."

"I like the colors I'm wearing today."

"Oh, that mile was fast, guess I should keep pushing."

"Come on light, turn red, turn red, turn red.... guess I have to keep going."

(Looks at bushes while running in the rain, notices it's dry inside)  "If I was homeless, I would hide out in there. I could sneak in."   ...  "Who thinks that?"

"My shorts are riding up. I wonder if I've reached inappropriate height yet."

"I wonder what I'm eating tonight. Crap, I didn't thaw anything. Meat won't thaw in time. I have to buy something. Steak. Could I eat steak every night? Yes. But not tonight. So, what am I eating tonight? Ok."

"I hope I don't have to fetch lunch at work today."

"Hey dog!    Woof."

.........   "Oh man, did I just finally experience runner's high to One Direction??"

"Yup. Forever my song..        worth it."

"That house is cute."

"It's hot."

"Wow, I really like that porch. So cute. I wish we had money to build a bigger porch. I'm sweating."

"Ugh. Why do people sweat?"

"Do any girls actually glisten? I have salt in my eye now. Ow."

"Holy F, a marathon is really far."

"I like my shoes. I wonder if it's silly to have the wings on them.  Who cares?  ... I love Inov-8."

"I wonder what random people think about my calf sleeves."

"That is a weird looking car.  Loud engine for no reason.  Oh, heyyyyy small penis."

"I need to change my music. Sometimes this shuffle does an awful job picking songs. (click) Ugh. (click) ugh. (clickclickclick) Oh, finally."

"It's just the 4 mile wall. I hate this thing. Maybe it's not it. Maybe I don't have it today. No... just the 4 mile wall."

"I need more shorts."

"Whoa, they tore that road up."

"That lady is dressed weird."

"Glad it's not snowy anymore. Those sidewalks were slick."

"What should I eat when I'm done? Should I fry my egg?  Yup. Fried eggs."


"Almost there. Kick it in. Drive home."

Friday, July 11, 2014

What Running Should Teach Us About Life...

I meant to make this be a funny list. I kinda went with the opposite... but it was still fun.  Runners are great at teaching themselves about running, and never realizing that we're teaching ourselves about life. Here are just a few things I think running should teach us about life...

1.       Eat right, drink water, wear quality shoes, avoid chafing.

Let’s start with the basics.  So obvious, right? Take care of yourself! Even as runners, when this basic tenet should be obvious, I think many of us neglect ourselves. Running becomes one more thing to jam into our day. It’s our “stress relief”, but sometimes it’s also a stressor. An obligation. Even if you enjoy it, you are physically stressing your body by running.  So, eat good, quality food.  Sleep. Good, quality sleep. Wear the right shoes. Really. Support yourself.  Avoid chafing? Well, that’s just common sense.

2.       Go at your own pace.

No really, I mean it. Too often, we’re told to hurry, get this done, get that done, be aggressive, chase down your goals and tackle them, etc. And that’s fine when you want to push. When you can sustain it. Or when you feel like pushing your limits a bit. But pace is such a deeply personal thing. What is pushing the limits for some could be a crawl for others, or impossibly aggressive for some.  There are times that I want to be flat out, driving hard, and gasping with exhaustion when I’m done. Other times, I want to preserve myself, settle in for the long haul, and choose comfort.  The same goes for life. We have to choose our own pace, and embrace it. Work toward goals or through situations at your speed, in your way. Marriage, work, having children, buying a home, etc. Don’t let the way someone else handles a similar situation dictate how you handle your situation OR how you feel about the way you handle your situation.

3.       Find a plan, and stick to it. But don’t panic when things go awry.

When you  choose a new distance for the first time, or want to get better at one, what’s the first thing you do? Look for a training plan of course!  And how many of us have missed a run or two, completely panicked, and found out in the long run, it didn’t matter? Probably 95% of us.

Life is like this. If you want to achieve something, anything, in work or your personal life, you have to have a plan. A logical, reasonable chart of how you will reach that goal. But you also have to be prepared. Life doesn’t always follow our plans and schedules. And it’s important to be flexible, to be able to re-route, to get derailed, and realize that you’re never truly off track, you can still reach your goal.

4.       You need support, and you need to support others.

Think about your favorite moments racing vs. your least favorite. For me, the best moments have come when there is a fun crowd cheering for the runners, or when I’m running alongside my running buddy, or a random fellow runner. The support energizes you. It keeps you moving forward. My favorite moments come when I give that support back, high-fiving other runners, cheering for other runners, or joking with the crowd.  Even waving and smiling to another runner in my neighborhood gives me a physical boost. Seek support and give support. You’ll gain from both.

5.       Tomorrow’s another day. And if it sucks, tomorrow’s tomorrow is another day.

Ever have a terrible run? Ever have two terrible runs in a row?  Ever just get in a funk?  Yup. It happens. When you have an awful run, or a bad day, sometimes an aborted run, what do you do? Tell yourself, “I will try again tomorrow.”  Sometimes, you’ve had a few bad days. Sometimes, it takes all the courage and willpower you can muster to try again. But if you try, try, try, you will find a tomorrow that is wonderful. I’ve had terrible runs followed by unbelievable runs. I’ve had weeks of OK runs to finally get a “good” run.  Life is just like this. Days will beat you down. Getting out of bed to face tomorrow will be hard. It will take courage. And sometimes, “tomorrow” will be just as bad as “today”. But if you continue to try, if you never give up, eventually, you will find a “tomorrow” that is good, and eventually one that is stellar, and eventually one that is a personal best.

6.       It is the journey AND the destination.

Be present in the moment with an eye to the future. Enjoy the moment, but be prepared for how the good and bad of now can prepare you for the good and bad in the future.

I recently ran my first marathon, and I’m currently training for my second. I trained for my first marathon in the middle of what was officially named Michigan’s Most Miserable Winter. Coldest, snowiest, most days without sun, you name it. I did long runs mid-snowstorm, ran in ski gear, including goggles, during a -22 wind chill morning, and bought trail shoes just to survive the snowy sidewalks.  I raced on a day that ended up being 70 degrees and sunny. Some days, I was fully present in that run, that step, that moment. Some days, my eye was toward the destination, coaxing myself out the door with the knowledge that this training run would get me to my goal.  

Training is such a combination of things, it’s hard not to be a metaphor for life.  You are always learning, from the good and the bad. You’re always moving forward, even when moving backward. Sometimes, you get “runner’s high”, and you’re so fully present in that moment you’re not thinking about anything else. Everything builds toward the destination, the race, and when you get there, you’re so grateful for the journey because that has colored how you experience everything else.  

Enjoy it.  Enjoy where you’ve come from. Enjoy where you’re going.  Enjoy where you are. 

What do you think running should teach us about life?