Slow Runner

Lately, I have really been struggling with my runs. Starting, completing, they all seem so hard. (heavy emphasis on the whine!) It has become a little annoying. I know part of it is that I am not sleeping well at night, so I’m just plain tired. But part of it is I am struggling to maintain a decent pace in the heat. Which is, of course, totally stupid. So, I decided to slow down, which bothers me in a I really need to get over myself kind of way. I liked being able to run a 9:30 and I loved when I checked my phone to see I was pacing around a 7:35. (For the whole two minutes it was there.)  I would tell myself to slow down, but really I was thinking “I’m fucking awesome!!! Look at me, I’m Shelly Athlete!” Okay, I didn’t say it to anyone, but I was soooooo proud! And I never ask others about their times, not that I think mine is better. I don’t want to know that it isn’t something special. In Shelly Land, I am rocking it.

By the way, I have spoken to real runners, you know The Boston Marathoner’s and their times are amazing. My husband’s cousin, who has run Boston twice, told me she ran the Philly Marathon and maintained a 7:25 or something ridiculous like that for the first eight miles or so. And then she bonked and by the time she finished she was pacing just under nine minute miles. For her that is bonking. Seriously? If I could pace just under nine minute miles for a serious length of time I’d anoint myself Queen Goddess of Running. (By the way, she wasn’t bragging, I did ask. I always like to know what Boston Marathoner Types are doing, and how I compare, so I can tint my world with a teeny, tiny speck of reality.)

So, I decided to slow down. And to work on what I am eating. I have noticed that in the past six weeks or so, my eating habits have really slipped. Part of this is due to a heavy schedule, part to more parties and such and part because I’m just not taking the time to maintain the healthier habits. So this week I worked on researching running foods and recipes. I am gathering them on Pinterest and creating menu plans for the week from them. Sometimes this is difficult, because not everyone in my family wants to eat this way. But, screw it, as long as I am doing, the planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning, they can eat like a runner.

And, I have slowed down. Recently, I have started to read more about the benefits of slower running.  I already knew it was important that most of your runs be easy runs. But, like any advice that doesn’t fit with my present point of view or what I want to do, I instantly disregarded it. My ego wanted me to run faster. You know, so I could feel like a real athlete. I crack myself up! However, as hard as it has been lately, I wasn’t going to finish even a five mile run if I didn’t slow down. And it is easier and more enjoyable when I run at a slower pace. But in addition to it being easier, it really does have benefits for your body. For instance, it helps your body create more capillaries around the muscles so that there will be more blood flow, which will bring more oxygen to your muscles. And it eases your body into the stress of the longer distances which helps to prevent injuries. Something I could use some help with.

So this morning, I ran on the treadmill, my old nemesis. For some reason, if I have trouble running outside, inside on the treadmill just seems ridiculous. Especially since not all of the sports channels have realized that football season is pretty much upon us, so they are talking about – well who the hell knows what they are talking about. I only check in when I notice football. But this morning I couldn’t even do that because my headphones chose not to work with the treadmill at the gym, so I just listened to my runner’s playlist on my phone. Something I really need to change by the way. Anyway, long story endless, I did slow down. Since I was doing it after thirty minutes of strength training (yeah, I know that it is backwards but it works for me.) I didn’t feel the need to warm up for any length of time. After two minutes of walking I picked up the pace to five miles per hour or a twelve minute mile. And it was fun. I was running, and bopping around to the music and singing, under my breath, and really just enjoying it. After about a mile and a half I cranked it up a little to an eleven and a half minute mile and then finally for the last half mile just under an eleven minute mile. The best part of the whole thing is that I was having a blast. I didn’t want to stop, which is saying something on a treadmill. But, I had to come home, so I let it round up to thirty seven minutes, right after Boom, Boom, Pow and went to cool down.

So, the numbers are ugly, but I feel great!

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 9.10.24 AM

In the Heat

Four months ago I was longing for warmer weather, as I waited on Saturdays for the temperatures to rise so I could run. Lucky for me it is July now and I don’t have to wait anymore. Especially with the last two days being in the nineties with high humidity, I can breeze out that door the minute the alarm wakes me. And I do. I have to, or it will be so stinking hot I’ll just not make it.

Yesterday, I went to the track to run. I was scheduled to run five miles, and, since I have been struggling with three, I thought a nice flat surface would do the trick. Twenty times around the track, and I’m done.  It seemed like a good way to set myself up for success. And even though I promised myself I would walk if it became hard, I really didn’t want to. But I did. After mile four, which I promised myself I would get to, I walked, three different times for about ten to twenty seconds each time. And yes, it bugs the hell out of me. However, since I was still able to finish five miles in under fifty minutes, I feel pretty good about that. Also, probably the reason I had to walk in the first place. It is easy to feel good and go fast (fast for me) on a track, a flat surface. I realized around mile two that I was often pacing under nine minute miles, and even though I kept trying to slow down and bring it back closer to ten minute miles, it kept happening. Until I got just through mile four and then I really needed to slow down. And then walk. I was dripping and my legs hurt. I wasn’t able to put in more than a quarter mile without walking. Until the last four tenths and then I did. Nice and easy.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 8.22.41 AM

Over and over I keep wondering why this year is so much harder than last year. I tried to find the temperatures for last summer, thinking that maybe it is hotter this year, but I can’t find any evidence of that. So I looked at my runs from last year, and there it was. I may have been running further, but I was running way slower at around an eleven minute mile. Occasionally, I would hit a 9:40 mile but on the whole was pacing around 10:36. I am pacing right around a minute faster per mile this year. Which is great, except I am burning out. I need to slow down. Okay, I can try to do that. Annoying as it will be. I feel as though I am starting so much more slowly.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 8.45.09 AM

Another obvious difference is that nothing hurt me last year at this time. Today both of my feet are not in great shape, and I was planning on giving them some time off. But then, you know, this half marathon plan started so I guess it will wait until November. I am adding (eventually) into my work out routine some calf strengthening to help strengthen and stretch my calves to help this problem.

And then of course there is THE CHANGE. Dun, dun, dun, dunnnn! So here is a nifty new piece of information I have; as we get older we lose our ability to dissipate heat. Because God has a sense of humor. So not only is she giving you hot flashes, she’s taking away your body’s ability to deal with it. Psychotic Bitch that She is. Apparently, as we get older we sweat less, which, as you know is our bodies way of cooling ourselves. Although, I have to say here that since sweating seems to be my new super power, I’m not sure this is my problem. I mean, I can sweat with the best of them. Hell, after my runs I quickly transform from Hot Flash to Slime Girl. So, uh, sorry, God – just kidding.

So, I guess I’ll just keep looking for the magic charm to running through the change in the heat. Although, so far, they all say the obvious: slow down, hydrate, eat leafy greens, oh yeah and exercise. Hellooo!!! That’s what I’m trying to do!

By the way, track running still sucks.

Change

I’ve decided to change the name of my blog. Not that I necessarily feel that I accomplished my goal and achieved real fitness. (I don’t) But because I find the name annoying. Journey seems a little obnoxious. Besides, really what I am focused on now is just getting through this particular sweaty, tired time and not killing anyone. It’s not like it has a huge following, so this isn’t earth shattering.

Besides, even though I am limping through three miles lately I still want to try to run a half marathon. I believe it will come.  I like Hot Flash. If I’m going to have to suffer through it, I might as well own it. Seriously, who ever even wanted their own personal summer? I don’t even like the summer I have to share with everyone else, what the hell would I want my own for? And, from what I’m reading, if I gave up some of my favorite things, wine, beer and coffee, it would help lesson these lovely little sweat sessions. Because, it wasn’t just sucking enough all by itself. Now it feels as though there is something I could do, but really? does it have to be this?

And, I am also changing the way I approach running and biking. I’ve decided to add it some walk breaks. At least during the summer. Every trainer I’ve read or listened to, (yes I’ve actually been listening to running webinars I’ve crossed the great divide to running total nerd), recommends them. Of course these people all toss around terms like under a twenty minute five k, so maybe I need to find someone a little closer to my level. Which, while I’m thinking about it, I think the Running Community really does a lousy job of representing. There’s a whole group of us out here slogging along and thrilled to death just to finish a five k around thirty minutes. Just saying.

Anyway, change is good right? Even sweaty, tired, yeah I hate most people all the time right now, change.

Flipping The Switch

I have waited a year for this time. This chance to have some free time to work on the pursuits and interests that swallow me into their depths. In two days, I will be officially done working and have some time off. I will be able to read all the books I don’t have time for over the summer, find all the new pieces of the curriculum I want to investigate and piece together, write, bake and of course run and bike. The closer the time comes, the harder it is to concentrate. I feel like a student who knows summer vacation is on the brink, so being in school seems somehow inauthentic and a charade. I think summer break is the reason most teachers understand the need for students to play, to structure their own time, to imagine and to do nothing. Because it is in this time that we as teachers do all of these things, which makes our curriculum stronger and our teaching better.

Part of my play, my imagination and my doing nothing is running and biking. It is a constant push to keep me interested and motivated. This year, I am signing up to do a half marathon. Back in the early spring, I thought I would also do the Seaside Heights Duathlon and the Covered Bridge Ride. I still want to do the Covered Bridge Ride, but don’t know that I could do the Duathlon. I just don’t know if I can train for both events at the same time. I am not an athlete. But…I am thinking about it. Wish they weren’t so clustered together.

Anyway, I have spent a lot of time recently comparing my workouts from this year to last summer. I would have thought that I would be somewhat improved, and I guess I am. Maybe it isn’t really the workouts, maybe it is how motivated I remember being. I mean, I remember humming in the morning and getting up at four thirty. Now I struggle with five. And on top of that, I am really pushing myself out the door. Once I am out there is no telling how it will go. Some days I start out feeling really slow and then feel as though I can go for miles. And others I think I can run forever and hit a wall before I even make four miles. How can this be?

I know I have been through this before, and I know a huge part of this is mental. But some of it is where I am in life. Getting a full on seven hours of uninterrupted sleep seems to be a thing of the past. Waking up feeling tired, headachy or nauseous seems to be able to occur at any time. And hot flashes are just a regular occurrence. It feels as though I am always pushing through something. It is a continuous Groundhog Day, and that day is the day before my period. Over and over again.  At first I just kept thinking that I would do my best, and go easy until it passed. But, I’ve come to realize that this could go on for years. So, I just have to get use to this as my new normal. Okay, I can do that. There are plenty of people out there probably running or biking through the same thing. And to be honest, it doesn’t really bother me when I’m biking. Thank ye, Jesus for the constant wind that creates.

What I am going to do is try to follow the RunKeeper Plan religiously. If it says run three miles easy, then I try to run three miles easy. I’m not going to try to outdo myself. Although I have already personified the program. I was ridiculously happy when the program texted me to go to bed the night before my first run. Someone cared!!!! Of course the text was timed to go out and it was just some binary code in some random super computer doing its thing. But still…. it made me happy. It motivated me! I had a great workout on Tuesday. This morning I was out by five thirty and doing my three miles, smiling because I wouldn’t get the text at six thirty to go out and run. But I did, even though I had posted my run. I was a little let down. I mean, I tracked my run with the same program so you would think it would know I had finished my run. Geez! Crazy! I thought RunKeeper would be so proud it didn’t have to remind me. (Only sort of kidding here.)

So, I am going to keep doing it. And I do still love it. I love it a whole lot more now that I am sitting here. And I am worried that I won’t be able to do it. But I will. It will come. In the next few weeks I’ll have more time to fit in extra strength workouts, craft a better eating plan and plain just dig in. Besides, I can already tell that I have flipped the switch, so to speak. I knew this Tuesday morning at the gym when I was really enjoying my run and even this morning. The run was harder, but I was motivated to keep going. (When did three miles get to be hard?) And now, I am excited about biking tomorrow. Even though it is not part of the training program. RunKeeper will be so proud!

13.1

I am going to run a half marathon. I say this with more confidence than I should, since I gave up on my five mile run this morning before I reached four miles. From the start it wasn’t going well, as my legs were feeling week even before I started running. I had to coax myself to two miles and then finally to three. Normally when this happens I can squeeze out five, but this time it wasn’t happening. My legs were shaking. This was a new phenomenon (bop beee bedeedee! – sorry couldn’t help myself). So at 3.77 I called it and walked home. I was hot, my back was aching and my legs were shaking.

Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 9.28.31 AM

I know that I didn’t set out to do what I wanted, but I don’t feel as much like a failure as I normally would. Why? Because I know I can do it and although this is another in a string of crappy and hard runs, it will pass. I know I have been eating poorly for about three weeks, and I know that I have peri-menopausal pms (sorry if it is too much information) and I know that I hate to run in the heat. Although honestly, this morning it wasn’t so hot and the humidity was lower than it has been in days. But add some hot flashes and, well, it’s hot.

And two out of three of these things is not really going to change. So what makes me think I can run a half? Well, first of all I started a Pinterest Board and nothing screams commitment like a new Pinterest Board. Second, and maybe more important, I am excited about it. I haven’t been excited about training for anything in a really long time. And finally, I am gong to be realistic, well try anyway. For instance, I chose to follow the training plan for people running their first half as opposed to following the plan for runners who want to complete it in under 2:30. Because it is my first half, and the other training plan just made me tired. Which isn’t to say I don’t want to finish in under 2:30.  I am going to add some speed workouts to this one. But hey! why not try to rock the easier one as opposed to dying in the more challenging? And by the time I get to the longer runs, it isn’t going to seem so easy.

Working Through

So, I’m pretty sure my left foot is not well. I can tell by the way when I step on it, pain runs up my heal. I know this is a sign of planter fasciitis, and I know that I have been ignoring it for awhile. It hurts a lot when I first wake up but once I hobble to the bathroom, things tend to be okay. However, this week I jumped from a bench. Long story, basically, I was too lazy to go around the long bench in the city, so I thought I would go over it. Once I stood on top, I realized down was a lot further than I thought. Also, I was in open toe slip ons. So as I hopped down, I tried to keep my shoes on my feet and felt an immediate burst of pain through my heal. Ouch! Since I was wearing crappy shoes, I sort of limped around the rest of the day, and in doing so, believe I managed to hurt the top of my foot.

Anyway, long story endless, I have not been running for over a week. This always worries me because I fear that it will go away. It’s not like it came easy, but I’m not really sure how I went from being non-runner to runner. And there are absolutely days I wish I didn’t. But I did. And I am so ridiculously proud of it, that it’s hard to explain. The thing about running is it is so hard. For me, anyway, I can’t speak to anyone else’s experience. So to be able to do this thing, and keep trying to get better at it, that I never really believed was something I could do is a big deal for me. As recently as last year, I really didn’t believe that I would ever be able to run. And then I did. And then I started adding real milage. And I am so proud of that. Because it is me, my shoes and the street. Well, and a good running bra, that’s pretty important. But there are no excuses. Either I can or I can’t. Either I do or I don’t. And when I can, and when I do it gives me a confidence, a newfound belief in myself that I just never had before.

So there is no way that I am going to give it up. I hope. I still worry how easy it is to slip into bad habits. This was the reason I pushed through last winter even though my right leg was killing me. But, I was able to keep running, research, strengthen my hips and now it doesn’t hurt at all. But it did hurt for about three months. So, if I would have stopped running while I waited for it to heal, well, holy shit, that would have been three months. No.

Well, now I have this and I did, after a good bit of research, find an article that said I can run through it. So that is what I am going to do. I will back down on my running milage and bike more, and I will listen to my body. But I don’t want to deal with all the emotional bullshit if I actually stop running. The way I would feel about myself. So, wish me luck.