Starting Over…AGAIN!

So it hasn’t been a banner summer as far as personal fitness is concerned. My milage and speed have both dropped off, as has my strength training. And what the hell happened to biking? Every time I try to get something started, something happens. I don’t know what. But my overwhelming sense of this summer is one of just a non start. So, while other areas of my life shined, much more travel and family time, this area took a solid hit. Oh well. It’s my relief, not my job. So, time to re-evaluate and start over. Again.

I think one of my biggest stumbling blocks was trying to relive last summer. I thought once I was done with school I would be able to transition to outside and oh how joyful that was going to be. But it wasn’t. There were definite times of fun and pain free running. But there were also plenty of times getting to three or four miles was a true accomplishment. Like this morning.

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Last week we went camping in Grand Island, right outside of Niagra Falls. (Branches of Niagra was the campground and I highly recommend it). This was the second time we went away in a three week span, so I knew my running program was going to take a hit. Just like when we went to Ocean City, I planned to run at least one day. But, like Ocean City, that idea just evaporated. I had plenty of excuses: I didn’t sleep well, I didn’t want to eat into family time, I hate to run on gravel, my feet have been hurting, we walked around ten miles in Niagra, blah, blah, blah.  But really I just didn’t have the desire. And I wanted to. Mostly because I wanted to try running in the cooler humidity free temps. It was around sixty in the mornings. But I was so stinking tired, part of me didn’t want to fail in such perfect running conditions.

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So, in the last six weeks or so, between vacations, colds, random periods, heat and humidity, I have had a series of shitty runs. All come equipped with excuses, but still it has been a while since I’ve run and felt strong. As far as biking, I just haven’t gone in awhile. When I started the training plan to run a half marathon, it left little time for both biking and strength training. I am trying to run four times a week. I’m not sure this really works for me.

Speaking of the half marathon, I’ve decided to hold off signing up for it until I see some type of improvement. Because I don’t want to walk any of it. Period.  I’m hoping that with a weather improvement and a return to consistent strength training I will recapture some of the strength and power I appear to have lost. If not, I’ll wait for another one.  Last year I would have taken this as a major setback. This year, I am just going to think of it as part of the process.

There are things I miss, like having a few beers with my husband and staying up past nine o’clock on weekends. I’ve pushed most of this aside to try to keep up with a training plan that may not suit me. Or maybe it is just the yucky heat and humidity. Time will tell. But in the meantime I continue to seek balance while still trying to push myself a little harder every day.

Taking A Break

Taking a breath.

Taking a breath.

Last week I went away to Ocean City, Maryland with my family. Originally, I was planning on running at least three times, early in the morning on the boards. And then I decided to take a break from running all together. And then I felt guilty so I went back to my original plan. And then I remembered how much I love a cold beer or two when I come off the beach. Damn that tastes great! So, I ran once. Three killer miles on Monday. I had envisioned breezing along a flat boardwalk with lovely beach breezes a sure cure for all my summer running complaints. But hells bells it was hot. Okay, it was only seventy six degrees or so, but it was still hot. And it was flat, but it still seemed hard. I go back to my original theory that whatever the distance I am planning on running it always seems a challenge. So, after a brief argument with myself, I was able to convince myself that a break would be just what I needed.

And, I think I was right!!!! ( Good job, Self!!!) This morning I ran – early, before the crack of dawn- and it felt great!!! And even though I didn’t sleep so great last night, which is another problem in and of itself, I still didn’t feel like death. I have been sort of dreading going back to running because I knew this week was going to be a hot and humid hell. But, at least today, the weather was perfect. For the first time in a long time I felt as though I could keep going.

So, tomorrow I go to the gym. I have come back with a renewed sense of vigor. I am ready to plunge ahead with more strength training and finally get my eating back on track. Maybe it is fall, or the feeling of success, or maybe a break really does help. Either way, I have found my missing running joy and I plan to to take better care of it this time

On Giving Up…Or Not

Yesterday capped a string of hard runs, that for the most part have left me feeling frustrated and disappointed. I was scheduled for a six mile run at race pace, whatever that means for a half marathon and once again struggled to complete it. And, as has happened for any run over four miles lately, I needed walk breaks to finish. Hell, I needed walk breaks from the start. This run had become enormous in my own mind because I made it my proving ground. This run was going to show me that I could still run.  Or not.

The night before I went to bed early, made sure all of my running gear was at least easily accessible, and planned out my route while waiting to sleep. I always do this. Because I am truly a weirdo. I start with what I want to be able to accomplish, with hills and such and then plan back up routes, exit strategies in case I can’t do the dream route. All of this is completely forgotten the minute I walk out the door and I almost always go by habit. I was set up for success.

Except for my daughter’s cough that had us both up every hour or so, cough medicine, honey, steam, nothing worked. But the sleep I had in between was good sleep. I had no trouble drifting back to slumber the minute she did. The alarm was set for six, but I was up at five-thirty and reset it for six-thirty. Because I was so stinking tired. And I checked the weather and saw it was around sixty degrees. It wasn’t going to go up that much in an hour right?

Okay, two hours. Because, in my devious little mind, I decided that I would also make sure I had something to eat and time to go to the bathroom before I left (one of which happened), so that I could have everything I needed. Success assured. By the time I headed out the door, because my running clothes were not where I originally thought, (the thing I though was my running shirt, turned out to be pajamas, and my shorts were not where I thought they were) it was around nine. Not so bad. However, it wasn’t sixty degrees anymore. Weather Underground declared it seventy seven and Weather Bug, on my phone, said sixty seven. I think they were both right because when I left it felt like sixty seven on my front porch but seventy seven in the street. Unfortunately, I don’t run on my front porch.

And we’re off. Up and around and up that hill, and time to stop. God, it was hot. Three songs, about a mile and I wanted to take a break. So I did. And then I decided I would take a very short break every mile. I think I even made it about a mile and half at one point. There was definitely a point in time where I felt that I was going to be okay. I thought about Fat Girl Running, a Running Blog I follow in which this woman always takes walk breaks in the beginning. Maybe I will be like her, and get better as I go further. Except walk breaks seem to kill me. Each one seems to shred my will a little more and make it harder to continue. This is the same with slowing down. I know I will be able to run farther if I go more slowly, but it feels harder. I don’t know why.

Around four and a half miles, not four and a half miles, almost four and a half miles I gave up.

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I had tried everything, walk breaks, water, going slowly and still I felt as though I was going die. Okay, not really. When I think back I wasn’t dizzy, or disoriented, I was just hot, dripping sweat and seriously tired. I felt as though there was a weight in the center of my lower back that pushed through my legs causing an ache deep into my calves. I wasn’t even doing runners math anymore, I was just feeling sorry for myself. I started to walk home. I thought about how I had been vegan for about fifteen months and I have been running for about fifteen months and wondered if this was going to be just another thing I tried to do and then just couldn’t. I thought about how I haven’t pushed through the harder parts of running in a while and I wondered about where my will, the will I can be so ridiculously proud of, went. I thought about walking in the door and telling my family I only did four and a half (almost) out of the six miles I told them I was going to do. They would tell me it was okay, and make excuses for me. They would tell me to give myself a break that it was hot. And then they would go back to what they were doing, because it really didn’t matter to them whether I run or not. Which is wonderful, but in the end means, the person that I needed to tell this to was me.

Fuck that! I turned around, reset my watch and Runkeeper and started off again, determined to run/walk my way through the last mile and a half plus that I needed to make up the six miles. It was eighty one degrees, I have definitely run on hotter days, and even if I couldn’t run the whole thing, I was going to try to finish. Some of my walks I counted towards the milage and some I didn’t. I wanted to run the whole thing, even if I couldn’t do it consistently. And maybe, just maybe not adding them was a form of pushing/punishing myself. (I’ll show me! Do it, until I get it right! Can’t help it, Catholic Schooling)

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It took me an agonizingly slow seventeen plus minutes to finish the last mile and a half. It was hot, and I was tired and I was feeling like a loser and seriously sorry for myself. I walked in my front door, (finally), sat down and cried. Stupid, I know, it’s just running. As I walked home I kept thinking of the advice from over the winter, if it isn’t fun, why do it? The problem is I love running. Or maybe I loved running. Okay, maybe not the whole time while I am doing it, but most of the time, Really. Even when I am doing it. And I want that back. The joy, the zest and the feeling of strength and confidence it gives me.

So now what?

This morning the first thing I did, was to look over my runs from this time last year. Yes, I was definitely doing six miles by this time. But, I almost never ran two days back to back and I never did six miles after six in the morning. Always, these were done when it was cooler. And many days I would take two days off in between longer runs. Right now, I am doing my longest runs on Sundays after a shorter three miler on Saturdays. Okay, not working for me. I know when I did my really long runs over the winter and spring I rested the day before and the day after. This is in my power to change. What else? I am not strength training as much as I did over the winter, but I really wasn’t strength training until the end of the summer last year. Still, when I started to really increase my milage over the seven mile mark, I was definitely hitting the weights twice a week. My problem with this, is that it will leave very little time for biking. And I am loathe to cut that back any more than I already have. Still to be figured out. I need to be more flexible. Which brings me to another point, I have strapped myself into this plan and really chafing under the restrictions. Running both days over the weekends leaves me little room for anything else (read having a beer or glass or wine). So, I need to change the days up. Instead of running Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I am going to change it to Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. This gives me more time around my long runs to rest my legs, which seems to work best for me.

So I am taking today off. And I am playing with the idea of taking off next week completely while I am on vacation with my family. Perhaps a full week of not running will be just the ticket. But, of course, I am going to pack my running clothes. Just in case.