Thursday, June 27, 2013

Following the Schedule

If you are training, especially for a new distance, it's important to have a plan.    

There are approximately one zillion plans available for free on the internet.  For those who are just starting out...Couch to 5K.  For those who have been running, but want to step it up a notch...say to a 10K.  Here's where I started when I wanted to do a Half Marathon.  And here's where I found a basic plan.

That being said, rigid adherence to the plan may not be the best approach.  There are many reasons to injury being the most obvious.  Real life is another...sometimes schedules have to adjust to working late or attending school functions or vacations.  Less obvious may be the "wasn't really feeling it" reason.

Today was supposed to be a 7 miler for me.  Why? Because that's what my schedule said.  Went home, got changed, geared up for the longish run, drove out to the lake.

And after all that...I ran 4 miles.  It wasn't an issue of being tired, or fueling or having the right music.  I just wasn't really feeling it today.  It was humid, but not too hot.  I know I could have done it, but didn't.

So, now what?  Beat myself up for not running 7 miles?  Absolutely not.  I ran today and that's a good thing. I can get back on track this weekend.  I have plenty of time until my next Half.  And most importantly, I don't want to make running a miserable experience.  After all, we encounter bad run days all on their own.

For this run, I'll just ignore the schedule, celebrate that I did 4 miles, and call it a good day.
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Run for the Rainforest 5K

Emphasis on "rain".  Today was my first official 5K in about four years.  It was for a good cause, not too expensive, the weather was about 70 degrees, and I was meeting some friends there...seemed like a good idea.

It was humid, but not hot, and a little breezy, so felt like it would be a good run.  My goal was 27:00, which is about 8:45 per mile.  I was also hoping for negative splits.

What I ended up with was rain starting after the first mile and getting progressively heavier.  I was completely soaked by the time I got to the hills.  Yes, hills...from just before mile 2 through mile 3.

I didn't know if I could maintain a sub-9 min pace, but I did!  I finished the race at 27:04. Started out a little too fast (8:04), then each mile got slower.  But still, I'm happy with the results.

This is our group, pre-torrential downpour...that's me top right...

Sometimes it's seems like I'm doing this race thing first Half in May, my first 10K in Jun, this 5K in Jun and another in July...but it's working for me.  If I had done it in reverse, I would have run the risk of psyching myself out if one of my races went badly.  If today's 5K was horrible, I'd know it it was just a bad run...instead of thinking that distance is too challenging, and potentially impacting my mental readiness for the next distance.

Admittedly, I did do some shorter races before the Half, a 4 miler in March, then an 8K in April (about 5 miles), but there is a certain confidence going into a short race knowing you've already conquered longer runs.

Friday, June 21, 2013

You don't have to be Barefoot to Barefoot Run

It's pretty apparent that my focus on distance running since January has slowed my transition to barefoot running, but I'm still moving toward that goal.  Good thing, or I'd have to change the name of my blog.

My current running shoes, Saucony Kinvara 3s, are a transition shoe.  They have a padded heel, but the drop (i.e. difference in height) from heel to toe is only 4mm, which there's not a ton of padding in the heel.  Spoke to a Saucony Rep and the Kinvara 4s maintain the same drop, while improving the durability of the padding in the heel.  The shoe is light and the toe box does not constrict at all, making it very easy to run barefoot style.

The vast majority of my training runs have included some time running barefoot style. However, I can't emphasize this enough, it's not just about the kind of shoe.  It's also about where you land on your foot and stride...

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Some runners use a "run for a while, walk for a little" style for the specific purpose of giving their running muscles a break.  This is supposed to ensure that the runner can continue for the distance of the race.  It may be as simple as walking through the water breaks.

I think that moving back and forth between the barefoot and traditional style might accomplish the same goal.  I previously posted a graphic showing which muscles are doing the work when running barefoot and in a more padded shoe.

With a transition shoe, I believe you can run farther if you move between the two styles as you notice your muscles fatiguing.

Today was an 8 mile day...the first one since the Half in May.  No stops, and  I maintained a reasonable pace of about 10:15 per mile (1:22:03 total run time).  I'm guessing that about a mile of that was done barefoot style.  But I am certain that giving my quads a rest by periodically running barefoot style definitely helped me go the distance.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weight Gain and Running

I'm not an expert in anything weight loss related.  I keep an eye on what I eat, but there have been times when the number on my scale did not make me happy.  To drop the pounds I generally cut calories (Step 1 - NO french fries with lunch!).  Then when I plateaued, as always happens after a quick 5 lb or so loss, I would start working out again.

I haven't tried South Beach or Atkins or Zone.  However, I have paid (too much!) for low calorie meals that were delivered to a gym near my house.  Expensive, but tasty real food that worked for a 10 lb weight loss, but the biggest draw back was that I had to eat dinner at home 5 days a week!  Sometimes I prefer to go when I had to start tossing meals, I dropped the plan.  When I went back to my regular eating, I gained a few pounds back.  This should be no surprise to anyone and is the primary reason diets don't work.  Unless you are changing your eating habits FOR LIFE, you will end up going back to where you started.

My solution (mentioned in past posts) is "clean eating".  By that I mean staying away from processed foods.  Eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies, organic when it makes sense like with strawberries and cauliflower and not when it doesn't (things that get peeled before you eat them).  I also eat protein - chicken, pork, beef and some carbs, but I don't eat gluten...wheat, barley, or rye.  The no wheat thing is the hardest part, it's in everything! Sauces, pasta, thick soups, beer, meatballs...everything.  After over a year of this, I can tell you, it's definitely worth the effort.  However, that is not the point of this post.

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When I began my Half marathon running journey in January, I was at my Happy Weight (what I weighed in High School).  I assumed that by the time the race came around I would be super lean and lose at least 5 lbs.  It was four months of drastically increased running, how could I not lose weight?

I'll tell you how.  Running makes you hungry...all the time!  Not "oh, I guess I could eat" hungry.  Ravenously in, if I don't eat something right now, my stomach is going to eat a hole in itself and may go on to bore a hole through the earth!  So, I rather quickly gained 5 lbs, much to my annoyance.  Muscle?  Maybe...I was lean and my measurements didn't change, but the number on my scale was going up and that concerned me...just a little...

Image Source:  Woman Around Town blog

Now here it is about a month after my Half.  I am still running, but 1 - 3 times per week instead of 3 times with increasing mileage every week.  Got on the scale last week and to my surprise, the extra 5 pounds were gone...along with one bonus pound.

I worked out less and lost weight?!  How is that possible?  Easy, I lost the "in training" hunger, and am still eating "clean".  Without really noticing, I just started eating less.

So, my non-scientific conclusion is...*drum roll* ...your body needs extra calories when you're training!  Your stomach will get them (and you thought your brain was in charge...) and will store them for later use (like during your race).  But here's the important part...that's perfectly OK.

Don't deny yourself.  Plan for those moments when you're so hungry that you are eyeing small children in the parking lot.  Have healthy snacks on you, and in your desk drawer at the office, and in your fridge at home.  And don't worry about a few pounds on the scale.

I think in this case, your body probably knows what it's doing.  Keep an eye on the quality of the fuel you're providing your body...and just run with it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Still Running, Just Not Posting!

A couple of Half Marathon pics courtesy of my friend, Janice.  The head wrap was a last minute addition to my run gear.  Probably won't make that mistake again...but it did stay on and controlled my desperately-trying-to-revert-back-to-curly hair (due to the early morning drizzle).

Looking so serious...                                              Happy to be done!

Just ran my first 10K on June 1st (Sat)...that one turned out to be closer to 6 miles even due to a race snafu that shortened the course by .2 or .25...  But, my trusty Garmin says I ran 6 miles, and my official race pace was 9:37 per mile. VERY happy with that.  Even  happier that I didn't run it in the brace (cleared that with my foot doc first!)

Here's a picture of the bling I received at the end of the race...not as substantial as the Half Marathon medal, but a little more daily wear friendly.

Have also incorporated 1 mile of barefoot style running in all my training runs since the Half.  Feeling some familiar aches, so stretching and icing and massaging, and staying at 1 mile...for the moment...

My next scheduled race is a Half in Sept, pretty sure I'll have to find another before that. And I plan to work on my speed, and work on increasing my barefoot running distance, and find a good running skirt...and... and ...the list goes on.