Sunday, August 31, 2008

Easier the Second Time Around

On Sunday, I went out for my long run for the week. I told myself to just do one lap around my route, which would have been 3.3 miles. Instead, I felt too good and decided to go twice and then some, rounding out at almost 7 miles. Last week, when I ran my 7 miles, it was horrible and I felt weak. Although I was glad I had completed the distance, I wasn't really proud of anything else I had done. This week was different, I felt like I had actually accomplished something great for myself. I still feel that way. This time, it was definitely easier to run the 7 miles. But why?

I went earlier, so it was a tad cooler. We all know I run better in cooler temperatures. Was it the weather or was it the fact that I had actually done this before...and my body remembered somehow?

Body: What the hell is she doing?

Mind: Oh, she's just running 7 miles again. Remember? She did this last week?

Body: Yeah, I remember! That SUCKED!

Mind: Yeah, but you've done it once, so you'll be able to do it better THIS time, right?

Body: Oh, yeah. I guess you're right!

I think that has a little to do with it. But my mind definitely played a part in it this week. I have been talking myself into pushing a little harder over each workout. I tell myself "Ham Sa" or I play with my form. Sometimes I pretend I have little strings attached to the top of my knees when I'm going uphill, and there's some massive force above me pulling on the strings, raising my knees up so high that I can't help but keep running better, faster and stronger. It works for me.

One thing that bothers my good time out on these runs...runners trots. Usually occurring about 50 minutes into my sacred workout, I feel the cramping start deep within. I can push forward for about 30 minutes or so but it's not pleasant. I'm trying to figure out the best way to decrease the severity of these OR to eliminate them altogether. If anyone has any tips, please shoot them my way.

OH! Two good pieces of info to round out my post for the night. First, I had a nice run on Friday evening. I ran 3 miles, just played around to see what I could do. My first mile was 11:08, which for me, was actually pretty good because I wasn't putting forth a whole lot of effort. During my second mile, I ran 10:07, which was unbelievable to me. I've done that in the first mile before, but never in the second mile. After my 3 miles was up, I looked at my watch and it was 31 minutes and some change...which means I would have beat my PR for a 5K. This is a BIG DEAL for me, because my last (and best) 5K time was 36:49. Not only did I beat that but I did it in the horrid heat and humidity. I'm very proud.

Also, for the first time in my life, someone complimented me on my CALVES. I couldn't believe it. That is one body part that I've NEVER had anyone notice! Way to go, running!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Struggle Breeds Strength, No Point in Being Down

I woke up and thought I was going to be able to take it "easy" today but then it hit me..."Girl, you need to run today! DUH!"

So I did. I got up and got ready and hit the pavement (makes me want to sing that Adele song!). I pulled out a 3.5 miles in 40 minutes, which isn't good, no. But for me, it's okay. What's so bad about it is that I THOUGHT I was giving it a pretty good effort and going at a faster than normal pace. At the end, I just couldn't give anymore. I just calculated the distance to be a bit over 3.5 miles and I'm BUMMED! I thought for sure I had done a good 4 miles.

My pace for today's workout was roughly 11:19 and it didn't feel easy. I'm bummed but it's good to see reality. If I'm not out there giving it my best (even IF my best isn't good compared to others), I won't ever improve. So I can't be down on myself, I'm fighting through and with good reason. Like I always say, struggle breeds strength.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

7 Miles

I ran a full 7 miles for the first time ever on Sunday morning. It wasn't easy at all, especially being on a hilly path like I was. But I did it, and I kept pushing myself with thoughts of why I was out there, and a couple of personal mantras to keep myself going when I didn't feel like it.

What I noticed about my workout: it was actually easy during flat parts, so I know I was keeping a good pace. I never felt like I was going to collapse because I couldn't breathe, and I felt pretty steady for the most part. The hills were difficult to attack after mile 4, though. Once I leveled up, I reminded myself that it WOULD feel better after my body adjusted to the flat ground, and it always DID feel better.

My biggest concern: my leg muscles (and even my arm muscles, to a certain extent--partially because of my 100 push-ups workout making them sore in the first place) were not able to endure for anything more than about 6 miles or so. They were sore during the run and were concerns. I kept pushing through though because I knew I had to get my muscles the oxygen they need and train them to know that they can hold me up for longer distances. So hopefully, next time I run my LSD, it will go a little bit easier.

Something that made me happy: Other than the fact that I actually DID it, I haven't been sore. I stretched before and after as I always do with every workout. But I also came home and had a shower. After tough workouts, I take a hot shower and toward the end, change it to cool/cold. That always helps my soreness too. Also, I stretched a couple of times later that day. I also had a great meal after the run at Havana Rumba, which was DEFINITELY beneficial! :) The Cubano Vegetariano is my favorite dish there so far. But I have some more experimentation to do there. I wonder how much a mojito would help? LOL

Yesterday was definitely a rest day after my LSD on Sunday and today is a rest/X-Training day. I might ride my bike a little bit after work today to get in a little bit of a workout, and it's going to be NICE out today. YAY!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Running for the Border and Why I Run in the AM

Just finished dinner, which was surprisingly DE-LISH! Drove past Taco Bell on the way to the Park to run and got the idea in my head to have that for dinner. I thought about it during my run too, so as soon as I cooled down and stretched, I hit the car and ran for the border. LOL I love their 79 cent, 89 cent, 99 cent menu. Sure, the food is high in EVERYTHING you can imagine that is unhealthy for you but it was a cheap meal and it sure tasted yummy!

Better than that low sodium V8 I drank earlier. Now, it wasn't HORRIBLE, I've had worse (like my brussel sprouts last night) but it definitely wouldn't qualify as a pleasant experience. The after taste was bearable, as long as you can deal with the taste of tomato soup. What was so nasty was the taste when you FIRST take a sip and it hits your tongue. I'll try it again, in a glass and with something, as my mom suggested.

The run today was murderous. I ran 3.5 miles, doing intervals and ended with some plyometrics. Prior to my workout and during my stretching exercises, I was very aware of how strong I felt and how ready I was to run. This all changed after I ran about a mile, it didn't feel so good at all and the humidity in the 90 degree weather was something that I could do without. I actually ended up walking a few times during my workout because I just couldn't deal with the heat. My legs felt heavy and a passerby told me she couldn't exert any energy today because of the heat, so I didn't feel so alone. During the entire workout, I kept thinking "This is why I do this at 7am, this is why..."

A young boy ran by me, ready to collapse at any moment and I just worried about him so much. It was far too hot for him to be running that hard in that heat. When I passed him again (or should I say when he passed me, because his pace was much faster than mine) he looked even WORSE than the first time I saw him and I just wonder why he was out there this evening, killing himself like that! I hope he got enough liquids when he finished!

I'm about to go do my Mammoth Workout, one of my favorite workouts, in case you didn't know! Here it is for any of you runners that want to know what it is...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why You Don't Buy Junk Food

Because you eat it.

Granted, I've had a valid excuse for the amount of junk food I've inhaled today, which is actually none of your business, thank you! But that doesn't make it RIGHT. So I've totally eaten like a piggie and it hasn't even been good food like a pizza or a Blizzard or anything, but just bits and pieces of empty calories (with the exception of dinner, which was a veggie plate with garlic bread) that do nothing to promote my health or advance me in my fitness goals. WAY TO GO!

Today was a day of rest for me too, which makes the intake of junk even worse. The Fair was lots of fun yesterday but all that walking ended up being a X-Training day (what? I can do that) and I gave myself today off. I will let you know if I hit the pavement tomorrow, which I so desperately need to do. I'm off schedule, my house is a mess and I feel totally off balance! NOT COOL!

Why Perfectionism Won't Work Here

Since discovering a local Half-Marathon earlier this year (scheduled for this fall), I decided it would be a great training motivator and a great way to push my running fitness to the next level. Part of me worried that I was jumping the gun, as the longest race I've ever run was a 10K, and my first ever race was recent in the history of my running experience--March of this year. But the other part of me wanted to have this to strive for and I figured that I would have enough time to get my body (and mind) totally prepared for the 13.1.

I'll be honest here--I haven't been diligent in my training. Now I wonder if I should even attempt the race. I COULD participate, finish it and move on, but I know that at my current fitness level, I wouldn't do WELL. And because of that fact, I feel like I shouldn't do it at all. I don't have any delusions, nor have I ever, so I never believed I'd finish with a sub 2:00:00 or anything like that but I just don't want to be out there for 3 or 4 hours. I'm afraid that's what will become of me, so like a good perfectionist, I procrastinate on the training (which REALLY helps the cause) and tell myself to wait for the Derby Half-Marathon, which is a noble goal but just another EXCUSE!

So I'm left with a dilemma. Keep pushing forward and participate and run the best race I can, even if it takes me 3 hours...or...give up on the idea of the October Half-marathon and set my sights for the one next Spring. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reminder of Why Running IS Fun

So I went for my run this morning at one of my favorite parks--it's got a nice bunch of uphills that really make you work, and at the same time, make you appreciate level ground a whole lot more. But my run this morning was so pleasant, the weather was just right for me--a little chilly first out of the house, so a jacket is a necessity, but once you're running, it feels perfect! I was taking it easy out there on those hills, which made it easier to take in the greens, browns and blues and of course, the golden sun light shining through them all! I was about halfway through my run when I just realized how awesome the whole scene was, and how good I felt running. I usually feel pretty good when I'm running, or at least AFTER the run, but once every few months or so, that day just flutters in and reminds you why you run, why it's fun and how good it feels to be one with the pavement, the trails, the gravel, the was my day.

My only hope is that it doesn't flutter by too fast!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Radcliffe, Bolt and more...

Usain Bolt came with an outstanding performance in the 100m finals. With an official time of 9.69, he smashed his own world record by 3 seconds and did something no human being in history has ever done without tailwind aid--run the 100m in under 9.7 seconds. I don't believe that makes him the fastest man on earth, as many will say now. But it definitely makes him the fastest man on earth when running 100 meters.

The women's marathon aired this evening and I experienced a mix of emotions for Paula Radcliffe's performance. I wanted to see her run a strong and fast race but she just didn't have it in her. I was disappointed for her but at the same time, I felt extreme respect for her ability to not only attempt the marathon (how could she not, though, it is the Olympics), but to actually complete it. She should be proud, especially considering everything she's been through recently--from a broken femur to a spider bite to a typhoon. Her final time was (at current time) an unofficial 2:23:47, which is far from her personal best, but something that is still unmistakably amazing when considering her recent experiences.

I must mention Romania's 38-year-old Constantina Tomescu, who won the women's marathon with an unofficial time of 2:19:07, which I believe is a new Olympic Record for the event. She ran a strong race, and looked good all the way to the finish line. She even did numerous victory laps...where she got that energy, I couldn't tell you. But I imagine the run into the Bird's Nest and the roar of the crowd had something to do with it!

By the way, have you seen the Bird's Nest? It's very cool!

Gay Fails to Make it Out of Semifinal Heat

Okay, I was wrong. But it seems that Michael Johnson was probably right. And I must reiterate something. Bolt is a beast.

He JOGGED the semifinal race in 9.85, looking around casually, because he had time to do so. He made it look so easy. He actually looked like he was watching TV. The picture below is one of him NOT running...which looks about 75% more casual than I look when I'm doing a simple run around the neighborhood in the morning.

Gay's semifinal race was heartbreaking for me to watch. I felt only a part of his frustration and disappointment. He made no excuses for his performance (which is typical of the humble athlete) which wasn't good enough to qualify him for the final 100m race . But you have to wonder if his hamstring was fully healed. Is it possible that the false start was enough to throw his focus and concentration so much that it hindered his performance? Call me weak minded or easily distracted, but I think that would do it for me, especially in a high stress situation like that. And I don't think that it gets anymore high stress than the OLYMPICS!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Waiting for 100 meters.

Frankly, all I've been able to think about for the last few days is the upcoming men's 100m race in Beijing. And I haven't been able to discuss this excitment with anyone because, also frankly, nobody I know understands or cares as much as I do. This sprint has the potential to be one of the most exciting ever. The athleticism, power and strength of Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt, especially, is overwhelming. I do not intend to diminish the skill of the other runners, as they all worked extremely hard to get to this point and all deserve their spot but I believe we'll be watching a duel between Gay and Bolt.

I still find it amusing that Bolt's last name is...well, Bolt. And he's a sprinter. You can't make this stuff up. Just like a dentist named Kathy Crown or an emcee with the name Mike Kabel (yes, he exists.)

I digress. Apparently, Michael Johnson predicts Bolt to pull out the win because of Gay's recent hamstring injury (and his inability to train as consistently and effectively as possible). I don't agree but I'm not sure whether my opposing opinion comes from a place of hope or from something a bit more intellectual.

Again, I don't mean to belittle athletes like Asafa Powell, who is strong in this race to be sure. But I don't believe he is consistent enough to pull this off. My guess is that it will indeed be a duel between Bolt and Gay and I'm pulling for the Lexington, Kentucky born Gay. He's a humble spirit with a lot of power and I'd love to see him win.