Friday, August 26, 2011

I Feel the Need...

This week during my speed workout, I felt like I had a total breakthrough. It was probably the best speed workout I've had to date, although it was fairly short. I always struggled with my speed days during marathon training and, frankly, usually ended up doing an interval run instead of what was assigned. This time around, I've promised to follow Mr. Higdon's plan.

7x400. That sounds so easy, right? If not easy, I finally felt strong through my workout and I think the trick was that I'd been recovering for too long before. When I went to the track, I'd run a 400 then lollygag for a full lap until it was time to go again. And I hated every second of it. I also tried running up and down the main road in front of my neighborhood since it's fairly flat and I just felt like a tool. Nobody wants to see a chubby girl sprinting up and down the street, they just think you're mentally ill or fodder for sympathy.

This time I went to the trusty Y and stepped on the treadmill. Armed with a great playlist (Brittney, you may be one hot mess, but God bless you for your additions to my playlist) and a towel to sop up the sweat, I decided I would just look ahead and recover until I was just starting to breathe normally again and then I'd peek at how long it had taken me. Turns out, a tenth of a mile was just about perfect-almost a third less than the full quarter mile I was doing before. I was able to do each repeat a little faster than the one before and I felt great during my recovery portions. I left after a short cool-down and felt great and, dare I say, even excited about my next speed workout.

I signed up for a boot camp that will start next week, and I'm nervous. I've been exercising consistently, sure, but not in a group. Or with weights. With my jiggly bits on display. Aye aye aye, but I'm determined to get my speed up and I've heard that strength training is key, so here goes.

I've been super conscientious about what I eat lately, along with drinking tons of water and I think that may have played into it as well. We'll see for sure tomorrow during my long run, but I feel better than I have in a long time and I've even cut out caffeine without really meaning to. Seriously, how did that happen?!
(Not so) Fried rice.
Wilt 2 handfuls of chopped chard in a non-stick pan, toss in grape tomatoes and some cooked brown rice, top with fresh cilantro and  1/4 c. non-fat feta, drizzle with 1T olive oil and you've got all your food bases covered!

If you've never heard of the Game On! diet, it's a fun way to get in the habit of eating healthfully, sleeping adequately, exercising regularly and instituting good habits. All while competing with your friends for a prize at the end of a four week period. When I say eating healthfully, I'm not kidding; no white sugar or white flour, the only sweeteners you can use are honey, pure maple syrup or agave nectar, at least 3 liters of water consumed daily, 5 meals a day spaced 2-4 hours apart, and at least two of those meals have to have 2 heaping handfuls of greens. So, basically, everything you knew you were supposed to be doing anyhow, but now there's a prize involved so you do it.

I don't love that it's called a diet, really it should be called the Game On! Lifestyle Challenge, because that's what it is. There are no crazy powders or potions that you have to buy in bulk, no frozen meals that are packaged and processed, no high fees (except your grocery bill when you adjust to buying what should have been in your pantry all along), just good old fashioned will power and a little tush movement every day.

It reminds me of this Mad TV skit...still one of my favorites!

What are you doing to switch up your workouts or tweak your training for more challenges?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Coffee Talk

This morning as I sit to type, enjoying my coffee, I am feeling very well-rested because my entire family slept until 8am. This has literally never happened. I logged on to read my daily dose of inspiration on Another Mother Runner and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Tonia Blanchet was today's guest poster on the topic of 'Why I Run' and it really hit home.  Running gives you a sense of accomplishment that's so personal.

I cannot underscore enough the impact running has had; Becoming a runner changed my life. Not only because of the connections I've made with people, but because of the way it's made me feel about myself. Sure, I'd still have weight-loss goals, but I no longer look with a hypercritical eye. Instead, I try to find the things that have changed. My legs, chubby white girl's legs that they may be, have taken me almost a thousand miles in training over the past year and a half. A thousand miles.

I'm ecstatic about the fact that on my last few runs, I've hit sub 11:30 for the last mile because my usual average is in the 12's or 13's. Most people would cry at that time, but not me. I come home feeling energized and ready to take on the day. I am the stinkiest, sweatiest girl you'll ever meet, but now instead of feeling self-conscious about it, it just lets me know I've worked hard. Hit the shower and go about your business. Get over yourself.

I found a running partner that is going to push me, and it's just what I need. She's a new runner, but she's picked it up kind of annoyingly fast, and I'll have to work really hard to keep up with her. Her goal was a 10k (remind you of anyone?), but I've just about got her convinced to run the half with me; wahoo! I have big goals for my next two half-marathons, and they don't include just crossing the finish line. If that were my goal, I could just dink around until race day because I now know that I can finish, it's all in how I want to finish. Some of the little things I've committed to are drinking enough water every day,as in 3 liters at the minimum, and I've instituted a bed-time. Best gift I could have given myself, as I've had no problem rising with the first chime of my phone at 5:40 on those few mornings a week when I run with the sun's rising.

It was a struggle post-marathon, but I feel like I'm finally back. Each run is a challenge, and sometimes I feel like I'm starting all over again, but I do it and I feel a thousand times better when I walk through my door to find my family rising than I would if I were just starting to stumble around with my first cup of coffee.

Are you struggling to regain inspiration? How have you overcome a slump? New music or a mantra that replays itself in your head? Here's to just getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other.

*Cross posted on Sex and the Knitty

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Girls Who Climbed Up A Hill and Ran Down a Mountain

Headed back down Ramo (taken in April).
This weekend we went over the mountain and through the woods to Grandmother's house in order to celebrate H's birthday and have the annual Granny/cousins camping trip. My mom sleeps out in the tent in the backyard with all the cousins (4 kids aged 3-8 spells good times for granny!) They each get to tell a bedtime story, they traipse back in the house no less than four thousand times, and then they're down for the count. All while my sister and I get to sit inside and watch a movie, visit and sleep in blissful childless beds.

It's now officially a habit that when we go to my parents' house, we get Sunday morning to ourselves to go running while granny makes endless batches of pancakes and generally entertains the kiddos. A girlfriend of mine, who will be running the Walla Walla Half with me in October, has also been joining us on several runs. On Easter weekend, I posted about our run at Ramo (Not so) Flats and this was my first weekend to re-visit that road.

My friend D joined Mrs. V and I with the goal of going up 3-4 miles and then turning around to enjoy the fruits of our labor with a downhill jaunt. I was a little nervous because I've been flitting around the 2-5 mile distances for awhile and this would be my first 'real' run in a long time. I loved it. On the way up, we walked for the most's a pretty wicked hill the entire distance with a couple short spurts of flat-ish relief. My goal is definitely to be able to run more than I walk on the ascent. Really, I'd love to run the whole thing in the not-so-distant future. There is zero shade, but the bliss of Eastern Oregon is that your sweat evaporates with the dry breeze created by your movement, allowing your body to cool itself in the way it was designed. This was, of course, felt more on the way down than on the way up.

But the glorious part comes on the way down; you just cruise and chat the whole way. Because it's a rutted out dirt road, it's almost like a trail run, so you're really concentrating on your footfall and before you know it, you're at the bottom of your 3.5 mile climb. I honestly thought I'd be taking a lot of walk breaks on the way down, but almost without thinking, we'd covered a mile when I first glanced down to reference trusty Pam.

I also had the chance to try out my new Nathan fuel belt, (it looks like this one, except there's a smaller bottle tucked in beside the large bottle) and it was the first time I was able to successfully drink while continuing to run, it didn't slide up at all and fit my iPhone in the zipper pouch. I filled the bigger bottle with water and dropped a tropical fruit nuun tab in, and then let the smaller bottle be just plain water. When we finished, I was incredibly sweaty and a little bit tired, but mostly I just felt awesome. I had been feeling pretty discouraged about running for about a month now, because I felt like I'd finished a marathon but then was right back to square one. Each run I went on until now seemed to be abnormally difficult. It's good to know that my muscles were suffering only a temporary amnesia. With that great run under my belt, I'm renewed in my resolve to beat my prior half-PR, with a time of 2:56 or better.

What are your current goals? Have an upcoming race? If you're in the Walla Walla area, I'm always looking for people to do long runs with, especially as they creep into the double digits!