Running Geek

Saturday I pushed past the seven mile mark. That was exciting for me. But also stupid. My legs still hurt, but I don’t think it was the distance. I think it was a series of events leading up to the run and the blowing snow I so stubbornly persisted through. Had I waited just one day, I could have run in forty degree sunshine instead of  twenty degree blowing snow. Stupid. Also, I spent the night before standing while I watched my daughter at gymnastics. I like to move around so I can watch her at each station, but my legs were getting really tired so I should have sat. I didn’t. And then, instead of my usual Saturday where I wake and have a leasurely breakfast, I had to rush out of the house without eating. I did eat about thirty minutes before my run and was rewarded with a ticked off stomach for the rest of the day. So my spinach and egg special really does need time to digest.  But I am a stubborn person and like to keep to my habits. I try to do my long runs on Saturdays and that’s where I want them to stay. I want to keep running Saturdays so I can take off on Sundays  (or go for a bike ride if Spring ever returns), and have legs for a Monday treadmill. Although my legs Monday morning were still hurting on the treadmill.

I was so wiped out when I came back on Sunday, I literally took a hot shower -because I was also freezing- and crawled into bed.  Where I lay feeling sorry for myself and wondering what went wrong. I kept rejecting the idea that the distance was too much, mostly because I didn’t want to believe that. Besides, the weekend before I ran a measly five minutes less and felt fine the rest of the day and even better on Sunday. So really? A half mile can make that much difference? Could it have been the cold? Does cold make that much of a difference? I was cold. I can’t remember my legs feeling so cold for so long during a run ever.  Could it have been the lack of food? Was it because I stood for so long the night before? Am I becoming this ridiculous?

Yes, yes I am. I have even purchased a Running Log. Because keeping track with Runkeeper just wasn’t enough! Ha! Now I have a place where I can plot out my runs and then comment on them every day and even rate them. Some people spend too much time peering into their mirror, or the psyches, I like to peer into my feet. Where can they take me? Why aren’t they doing what I want them to do? How do I make them move farther? How can I make them go faster? Why won’t Brooks Ghost 7 make the really pretty blue go to neon green shoes in sizes bigger than 6?

But my running log is fun. And it was only like $12 so not a huge investment. It lets me plot out my upcoming year, and then month and then a place to store comments on each individual run or work out session. One of the chapters is titled An Experiment of One, which I really like. The idea is that by tracking your runs along with some other variables such as weight, diet, weather, etc. you can see what works and what doesn’t. This fascinates me and makes me happy in a way that only a real running geek would understand.

I also, on a whim, decided to sign up for the online Runcoach. That was also only $12 and seemed like a good idea.  I made the decision as I was watching this woman work out at the gym. She is amazing and I keep thinking, she must be an athlete. She must have serious goals. So while I’m siting there on all fours trying to remember how to do donkey kicks, and forgetting, (really, how hard is it? sometimes I am a true moron!), I decided that I would try that online running coach after all. Nervous, because what if I can’t do it? But my legs have been really hurting since I tried that crazy Iron Workout, and I thought, “Hey, maybe I could use a little real guidance.”

At first I was not impressed. For $12 it wanted to know my last race, my next race.  There was no place for me to explain to the data input box that my last and only race was a duathlon. There was no space for me to explain that I haven’t even been running for a year. And there was no place for me to whine about my hopes and fears. They must have seen me coming. And then it produced my new training plan which went something like this: Monday: Run 1 mile easy pace; Tuesday: rest; Wednesday: Run one mile easy pace; Thursday: rest.  Seriously? I could do way better on my own. I contacted them via email to cancel explaining that the plan was just not challenging enough for me. Ashley immediately emailed me back and apologized and then asked for more information about my current training program. Lucky her, I gave it to her in minute detail. And a new plan was born. And now I’m not sure I can do it. But, I am going to try. Here is what I like about it, although I have only been doing it now for a day. It sets out real challenges that somebody else (I hope) has figured out and knows something about. You know, beyond what they read in Runner’s World. And here is another interesting thing, I don’t feel the pressure to do more. I am doing more, but in a guided kind of way. Running only six miles this week as my long run is okay. Because it’s all part of the plan. Interesting, right?  Well, it is if you are a running geek.

Cold Runs and Silly Thoughts

I have taken to running once a week outside again. At first I was pretty wimpy about it and did a run walk routine because I somehow thought running in the cold would be just way harder. I learned that I really enjoy the run walk workouts because they leave you energized without feeling wiped out. And that running in the cold is mostly no different than running in the not cold. Mostly. Since deciding to sign up for some races with a distance focus I have been following a self designed training plan which includes one long run a week. I up the amount of time I run each week by five minutes. I am up to sixty five minutes.

Cold!!!!!

At first I dreaded these runs and circled the house as I tried to prepare. Layering clothes and then finding gloves and hat, feeling brave and only a lot silly. But I have come to look forward to them, even though I know the last ten minutes are hard. Also, trying to invent new ways to loop around the neighborhood sometimes makes my head spin. The biggest problem with running in the cold is the cool down after the run is over.  When it is in the lower twenties my legs start to cramp really soon after the end of the run, and I find myself jogging it out more than walking it out. And some days, like yesterday, I become so deeply cold, the cold that feels like it has traveled through the layers of my skin and made it into my bones. And yesterday wasn’t even really cold. What it means is that I don’t want to be far from home when I finish, so I don’t have to make my way back freezing.

To amuse myself yesterday as I ran, I started to think of alternative races for people like me. I have recently been reading some running blogs of some seriously fast women. Five months postpartum, (listed this way) and they are whipping out 5K’s in under twenty minutes. And then saying how they know it isn’t really a big deal, as they have done this many times but are happy to know that their running bodies are coming back. I’ve whipped out a few 5K distances under thirty minutes. A few. Maybe one. It occurred to me that I would never be on a podium. Maybe if I keep running into my nineties and outlive these people, but otherwise probably not. They’ll probably be there posting to their blogs: 5K time 12minutes (two days after hip surgery.)

So, since I’ll never see a podium in a real race, I think I should invent races for the normal people in the world whose superhero powers are getting out of bed and making lunches. Those of us who use the Internet and each other as coaches. My race would have categories by age group that were further broken down into additional categories. At first I thought of real life situations such as Runner for six months or less, Runner for one year, etc. etc. And then I thought there should be categories like: Use to run, but blew out knees, Ran in twenties and then discovered the bar, Ran in thirties and then remembered the bar, Never ran, but wants to go to the bar, Run but also love to drink red wine, run three days a week and drink two. And some others that really aren’t fit to print. You would be amazed how far through the run these somewhat sarcastic thoughts take me. I am my own biggest fan when it comes to my sense of humor. I do crack myself up.

However, even though I like to joke about it, and know that I am never going to be as fast as Boppy Blonde Girl running over eight miles per hour on the treadmill, I do want to get faster and stronger than I am now.  I believe that strength training is an important part of this. And it also checks my cockiness. See, if I were one of those constantly bright and chipper people, I would have written something like: “Offers new and and more challenging workouts that help me grow and become a better me!” But I’m not, so honesty it is. These workouts hurt. The first rule of thumb is if it looks really easy, it is probably going to be really hard.  Such as this little dandy, The Iron Strength Workout. See, the name should have been my first clue. But I guess I was starting to feel a little cocky. I have been getting to the gym earlier and getting in longer and better workouts.  For me, this means I work out for forty minutes or more and I come home in a full sweat. So, when I saw this work out for runners with the once a week recommendation I was immediately wooed. I want to add more consistent biking back into my routines and will eventually cut my strength training back over the summer. This seemed like the perfect fit. Till I tried it. Holy Shit this is hard. I was wiped out by the second set of jumping squats and had to pause by the time I got to eight or nine. The burpees at the end were what finally pushed me over the edge. Seriously? Fifty? And that’s for the beginners.  Planking at the end might be a relief if my arms weren’t shaking so much.  So, I’m not sure, for me at least, this is the answer. What I am going to take from this is the the jump squats, which I hated, but I think will make me stronger and the jumping lunges  because I love to flail around like an uncontrolled idiot. And because I think they will also make me a better runner.  I am also going to weave in some of the other “power sets” to my current workouts. I like to change things up. And then maybe in a little while, I’ll try the whole thing as a routine again. In the meantime, I’ll keep up thinking of races for normal people, or wanna be’s.