Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lessons from a Miserable Tempo Run

  1. Just accept that any intense run, done in the middle of a string of running days, is going to be hard.
  2. Remember to adjust goal pace for the heat.
  3. Forget sunglasses and just wear a hat. That way you can read your watch correctly.
  4. Corollary to above: Don't go out too fast.
  5. Gels or fluids only. No gummies, dried fruit, or anything you have to chew.
  6. Take more frequent walk breaks to compensate for the heat.
  7. And if you really can't do it, slow down, adjust your plan for that run, and forge on as best you can.
Grateful now for the foresight to bring extra electrolyte tabs in to work earlier this week, and a quiet schedule for the rest of the day. And ready for a decaf soy latte (carbs and protein for recovery, some caffeine for a little boost, and heat to combat the chill from the run + air conditioning).


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tech Talk

Some little updates on the tech front...

It took me a while to get used to the new watch - it has a more abrasive tone than my old one so I don't like using it as an alarm clock as much. And the buttons are slightly different, though now that I've figured them out for each function it's actually easier to use, mostly.

What has surprised me most about this new one is that I've found myself just wearing it as a watch during the day. I know, what a concept, but I hadn't worn a watch except for running for years. I've been using it as a timer throughout the day which I like being able to do (it's much easier to use than the timer on my cell phone), and now I can check the time when I'm on the phone more easily. I can check the time, period. Mind you, it doesn't mean I'm any more likely to be on time, but that's not one of the habits I'm working on.

Also on the tech front, not long after my previous watch died my iPod shuffle did too. Too much getting drenched in heavy rain. My previous one died this way too, which I'd forgotten, so now I'm not wearing an iPod at all when it rains. We have an old Mac setup and there's a lot it doesn't support anymore so I figured I was just out of luck and would have to get used to running without music or podcasts. Ever again. (I was not thrilled about this taking place during marathon season.)

But The Dude managed to find one last version that our computer system will support and bought two, one for me and one as a backup for him. It means I have to set it up on his computer rather than on my even older laptop - I imagine it will be months until I figure out all of the music I think he's missing and get that transferred - and again, it functions somewhat differently than my old shuffle and I will have to get used to that as well. But at least I have music again.

Every now and again I stumble upon the cabinet that the towel I wrapped my old watch in is in. (Our laundry room has lots of cabinets, most of which I don't use, so I end up forgetting which ones I do use.) I think about unrolling the towel to see if the watch could possibly still be beeping, but haven't actually done so yet - I think it would feel slightly creepy if it still were. So I just open up that cabinet, remember what's in there, and then close it again.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Not Happening As Planned

Well, I got through most of the first week of the "real" training (using the Hansons Marathon Method) and then went on vacation. I thought my time away would feel like a rest but quite the opposite was true - I came back feeling physically wrecked.

I had also started a couple of serious writing projects right before I left and was able to use the time away to really focus on habit-building around those - and came back not wanting to give those habits up or put them on hold.

So I woke up early on Monday morning facing the first of the Something of Substance runs for the week... and thought, Nope. This is not going to be sustainable.

I went ahead and put in the miles (though I pulled back on the intensity of it all) and that was fine, and then later that day I pulled up another possible training plan from the Runners' World SmartCoach program, which I've used before. And the next day I reviewed the concepts from Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald, a book I highly recommend to all serious runners. And then I just let things float around in my head for a while.

And then on Wednesday I made myself some tea and pulled out a pencil and a calendar and made up my own training plan, one that I think incorporates most of the essentials (and most of the mileage) of the Hansons method while having a greater focus on the kind of running I like best, and will therefore want to do, and being a bit easier on my schedule as well, so I don't need to give up any newly minted writing habits.

And if I don't hit the time goals I had set my eye on with the Hansons method, well, there was never a guarantee of that anyway. I have yet to finish a marathon feeling sure and steady throughout, and that is really where my first focus needs to be. I think I know what I need to do in training to achieve that goal and I think my new plan actually allows more room for focusing on my weaknesses (in-race nutrition, proper carb-loading and tapering, consistent and persistent pacing) while giving me more opportunities to play, to enjoy my running.

Because that, my friends, is what it is all about.

Happy Running,

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What We Do For Our Children

As usual, we spent the first week of July in Ohio, visiting my mother-in-law and making the annual trip to Kings Island. No running at all on this trip and not nearly enough hiking either - too many mosquitos, for one, and G is not such a fan of hiking as D was at that age (we have moved on from the stroller, much to his occasional regret). A lot of walking, though, and being tugged at - a lot of picking up and carrying. My shoulder is not happy with me - my PT will not be either. Sometimes it's tough being three-and-a-half.

I did have a new adventure. No stroller meant no stroller at Kings Island, either, which meant both kids were able to have their own experience of it. We split up most of the day, each taking one child, and while I was mostly with G, I did get to hang out with D for part of the day.

"We can do whatever I want?"

"Yes." (Within reason, of course, but he's such a reasonable child I didn't even have to say that.)

"I want to go on the Adventure Express."

O-kay. What have I gotten myself into? But okay. Must not show fear.

I should mention that I am not a fan of heights and have only slowly been working up to riding roller-coasters at all.

Almost no line. "Secure your belongings." Four sets of three rows of seats, two across. Strap on, restraining bar down. A sign before us says hands, feet, arms and legs must stay in the car. "Clear?" "All clear." And off we went.

The point of this coaster - and why D loved it - appeared to be to throw you around, very fast, in tight turns. One slow rising and a view of the park from up high, then down and immediately into a turn into another into a tunnel into a turn. Then I lost track. I wasn't expecting all the being thrown about and was holding myself too tightly, bracing myself - my shoulder hurt, my neck hurt, everything hurt. But the boy was loving it. We came into the landing. "Can we do it again?" Almost no line. "Okay."

So we rode it again, and again, and again, and would have snuck in one last time for lucky #5 but the line suddenly swelled and we needed to get back to the others. After the first time through I cradled my shoulder and let everything else get very loose, relaxing myself as much as possible so it wouldn't hurt and I could enjoy myself.

But mostly, I enjoyed D.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

No Más

I've started physical therapy for my shoulder, and the first thing the therapist told me - after listening to what I do and what I did and poking me and measuring muscle strength and range of motion and that good thorough physical therapist stuff - was, no boxing. At least, not until I was allllll better.

I had slowly started doing some again - only what I felt I could do without pain - but my PT said even this was too much. That if I continued I would only be wasting our time.

So we're looking at a couple of months here, minimum, and by then I will be well and truly in the thick of marathon training and unable to fit anything else into my schedule, so that effectively means no boxing until after the marathon. Which is why I was trying to integrate a little bit back into my schedule, even 5 or 10 minutes a few times a week, so that it could remain just part of what I do.

But now, three weeks into that command, I find I'm surprisingly okay with it. (For now.)

As I read more accounts of the study of fighting the more I come to think that for me physically it's all about refining my running anyway. (Developing more strength and explosiveness. More guts.).

And that in the rest of my life it's about sharpening my focus and strengthening discipline and developing fearlessness.

I have no desire to hurt or be hurt, even if I like to hit. But there is so much to learn from the study of fighting.

From my favorite writer on the martial arts: "We are all fighting something."

What am I fighting?
What might I accomplish in that fight?

Seems like a good time to pick up meditation again.

Always striving -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Pushing Things (Just a Little)

Monday morning was steamy and dark and I was tired, despite Sunday having been my "rest day". And not very excited by the prospect of six miles before breakfast. So I did what I do when I just have to get through some miles and it's a distance I can manage - I play. With speedwork. I figured it would make the time go faster along with the miles, and it would make me feel more confident about the start of proper speedwork next week. So I did five quarter-mile repeats, not trying for a certain pace but just to pick the things up a bit - get my legs and head used to the idea of working that way again (it's been about a month now since I did any).

It felt good - and it was fun - so much so that I decided to make my Thursday run a tempo run. Maintain marathon pace for 3 miles in the middle of a longer run into work. Not a lot compared to what I've done in the past or even what I'll have to do next week - but something to get myself used again to doing these more intense workouts. And again, it felt good, stretching and challenging myself and taking away some of the fear of what will come next. Because, you know, I start every speed or tempo run not knowing if I can do it, afraid that I can't.

I train to push my mind and my heart - my guts - as much as my body.

I've done a lot of comfortable running this past month - pushing myself with changes to my schedule and with increases in my total weekly mileage - but each of the individual runs have been easy. At a comfortable pace and with no real doubt that I would be able to do it, even if I was tired or if things got harder by the end. I am stubborn and determined and it's been a long time since I didn't finish a run. So just putting in miles doesn't scare me.

I am ready to be scared.


Bring it on.

~ Annie

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Two Weeks Now

Warning: Technical training stuff ahead.

On this new training plan (Hansons Marathon Method) I will eventually be training six days a week with three easy runs (still up to 8 miles, though) and three runs that they call "something of substance" (SOS): a long run, a tempo run, and a speed or strength run. Typically I've run 3-5 days in the week with only two "SOS" runs, for an average of 18-24 miles per week, so this is definitely a step up for me.

(I am used to working out 5-6 times a week, just not all running.)

The first week of the plan starts with only three days running for a total of 10 miles, increases mileage slowly over the first month, but then jumps from 21 to 39 miles within just two weeks. That seemed like a recipe for injury to me. Since I'd already been running more in preparation for my race, I decided to ramp up my schedule within the earlier weeks so Week 6 wouldn't be such a shock - to my routine, to my mind, to my iliotibial band.

(The plan does call for those who have already been doing higher mileage to start where one is and let the plan catch up - not exactly what I'm doing but in the same spirit.)

So over the last four weeks I've been adding in more runs in the week, keeping them short to start, and also doing as many early morning runs as possible, as that's been a huge mental shift to adjust to. I've also been scheduling my longer runs to mimic the schedule I'll have once the SOS runs start, also in Week 6. That way once Week 6 comes I'll already be familiar with as much as possible - the schedule, the time of day, the mileage - and all I'll have to adapt to will be the higher intensity of the SOS runs. As if that weren't quite enough of a shock.

I need to get serious about stretching too.

I've now finished the second week of six-run weeks, and while I'm tired, for sure, I can feel myself adapting. At first the early morning runs seemed hard and now they feel normal; at first the idea of running every day seemed impossible and now I look forward to it. So I'm excited to start the "real" training in a couple of weeks. It also helps that I'll be taking vacation right in the middle of that first week so I know my legs will catch a break between this initial phase and when things get really serious.

I'll start posting my training plan for the week once I get into the thick of it so you can see exactly what I am doing (or failing to do).