Rest is Overrated

Running twenty miles a week in November was tough.  Twenty miles a week over the holidays was almost impossible.  Turns out I actually do need serious and legitimate study time for this class I just started.  So as I was doing my weight lifting today I was trying to figure out how I can get back up to my 15-20 miles per week.  I looked back and reconsidered why I had the goal of this mileage in the first place.  The whole point was to build running back into my life on a regular basis in preparation for actual marathon training which will require 40+ miles per week.  Goals need to be realistic and I need to face the music that right now 20 miles a week, with this particular grad course also on my plate, isn’t actually realistic anymore.

However, 15 miles may still be doable.  My lifting program is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday.  That leaves 3 days.  15 divided by 3 is… yup, 5 miles.  So it works out perfectly if I run 5 miles on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday each.  I’ll only have to get up early or sacrifice one evening a week (more likely) to exercise on Wednesdays.  The rest of my evenings can be devoted to this finance course for the remaining 7 weeks.  Weekends are easier to flex in a run around kids hockey practices and games.  (If it’s nice out, a run from my house to the rink is actually about 5 miles on the nose.)  Only minor down side to this plan is that leaves 0 rest/recovery days.  That said, I’ve had plenty of weeks without an official “rest” day before and have lived to tell the tale.  I think this will be fine.  This will also put me at 10 this week, and then back up to 15 starting next week which is a nice ramp up.  Once I’ve got this down I can look at increasing back up to 20 miles per week and beyond.  And if this doesn’t work… I can always re-evaluate again. 🙂  The important thing is to not throw in the towel and give up.

Measly Mileage

Type the word measly into google and here’s what you get: paltry, meager, scanty, miserable, inadequate, insufficient.  This perfectly describes my running mileage this past week.  Reviewing my mapmyrun app I put in about 5 miles.  That’s generous, let me rephrase: barely 5 miles.  5 miles on a goal of 15-20 is not so hot.  Rest assured though, I was not napping all week!

Here’s what did happen while I wasn’t running those additional 10+ miles:

  1. Started my finance class.  Put in at least 15 hours on this class this
    IMG_0682

    Hubs watching our 8 year old’s game with our 6 year old.

    week just reading and putting together my outline.  I still have a little less than half the paper left to write later tonight/tomorrow.

  2. Started my new weight lifting routine.  Managed to get every work out in.  Had to cut the last workout of the week short because my 8 year old had a stomach flu so I couldn’t go to the gym as planned and I don’t have all of the equipment at home.  So I got in what I could and called it good.
  3. It was our first week on a new initiative at work.  Crazy busy with lots of new meetings and activity.  Definitely well over the 40 this week but am very excited about this project.
  4. I did get my 2 HIIT sessions in without issue – yay!  Felt good to meet with my trainer again.
  5. Went to 5 hockey games for my kiddos.
  6. Went to my monthly book club meeting with my girlfriends, went to my husband’s company party and we also had date night tonight at the Minnesota Wild Game.  (Yes, the fun stuff counts too!)
Date night!

Date night!

Here’s the good news.  I still have 8 months or so before the actual marathon.  5 miles is better than none and next week will be better. 🙂

Fastest Mile in a While

I wanted to get in a quick warm up before my strength routine today so I figured I would get in another mile on the treadmill to contribute to the weekly total.  I ran it in 9:08.  That is the fastest I’ve been in a long while.  My fastest mile ever was a 7:06 during the Sioux Falls half marathon this past September.  I must have been somehow magically (and briefly!) possessed by a cheetah.  I’m still not sure mapmyrun wasn’t experiencing some sort of technical glitch.  But I haven’t run anything under a 9:30 in about a month and a half.  I’m so excited to start to get some speed back!

Weight routine was good.  It took some time to figure out what to set the machines to for the assisted dip and pull up exercises but otherwise it was fun and got a good burn in.  So far the first week on the Simply Shredded has been going really well!  Today was incredibly busy at work.  One of those back to back meeting kind of days and I needed the good sweat to clear my head.  I notice I always come back sharper after working out over lunch than if I had stayed at my desk.  However, what I do not recommend is an appointment with the personal trainer for a strenuous HIIT routine the same day as weight lifting.  Let’s just say I’m glad I survived.  🙂

On another note, I’ve been excited to find some simple meal ideas that are incredibly quick with few ingredients and minimal clean up.  They’re not fancy, they’re not pretty, but they’re fast and nutritious.  Here is one but I think I’ll start a new page and keep some ideas there so I don’t forget them when in a pinch.

Turkey Cheeseburger with Peas
Calories: 405
Protein: 23, Fat: 28, Carbs: 20
wpid-wp-1421376314603.jpeg

Told the hubs I would write at least 3 pages of my 9 page paper tonight.  It’s due Sunday.  I should probably get on that. 🙂

New Year, New Class, New Gym Schedule

wpid-wp-1421189740810.jpeg

The lawn mowing sneakers.

So excited to start some new things this week!  I started a new strength training routine this week called Simply Shredded.  (Here’s a link to the program website: http://www.simplyshredded.com/the-ultimate-female-training-guide.html)  I’ve also just updated my site with a new Training page that outlines my training routine.  I’ve been mostly winging it thus far so I’m looking forward to working through an actual program.  I also got some new lifting shoes!  And by “got some” I mean found in my closet and by “new lifting shoes” I mean my super old canvas lawn mowing sneakers.  My awesome and super supportive SIL suggested using a flat shoe for lifting and man have they made a difference!  Squats are much easier in these shoes than they were in my running shoes.

It’s also back to school week!  My Higher Education Finance class starts this week.  Finance is not my strong suit but anything is better than Statistics II (the course I just finished before the holiday break) so I plan to learn as much as I can and enjoy it.  Friends and family say “I don’t know how you do it” in reference to the busy lifestyle my husband and I lead.  Here’s the big secret: enjoy it!

This is yesterday: Got up early (only snoozed twice!), got myself and the kids ready and out the door, full busy Monday at work (hit the gym on the lunch hour), left work to pick up the kids (hubby beat me home and had started dinner – yay!), ate dinner/packed

Waiting for Dad to get forgotten the jersey.

Waiting for Dad to bring the forgotten jersey.

the car for hockey, watched my eldest’s game (was a nail biter, they lost 7-8!), pack gear back in the car, drive home, boys were showered and in bed by about 9:30, hubby left for his hockey game and I hit the treadmill for some speed work, took a quick shower, logged into my grad course by 10:30, reviewed what was due for the week, prepped my gym bag and snacks for the next day, watched an episode of Downton Abbey and hit the sack.

It was a pretty typical day.  Not without some hiccups.  I spilled the gallon of water I usually take to work and we forgot jerseys for the game, but it was overall a good day.  If I felt like any of this were drudgery, “work”, or if I hated it, I’d be a miserable person.  But I don’t.  I love my husband, I love my kids, I love my job, I enjoy working out.  Now I just need to take the next 8 weeks and learn to love finance. 🙂

Mind Games for the Long Run

Some Back Story
I haven’t been running for very long.  I started in May of 2013 when a friend of mine encouraged me to run a 5k with her.  The very thought of running any distance at all sounded like torture let alone slightly over 3 miles.  Thing is, I love a challenge.  I remember it vividly.  I immediately got on the treadmill at the hotel I was staying for a work trip and walked/slogged through 3 miles.  It took me almost 50 minutes but I knew I would be able to at least finish a 5K.  I registered for it.  I ran it.  Let me say that again… I ran it.  The whole thing.  At the time I had never run continuously for that long.  I crossed the finish line and was hooked.  Here is a little known fact: I don’t really like running that much.  I’ll do it and I have those runs that are just incredible and give me the euphoric runner’s high.  Most of the time though, my training runs are just okay.  I don’t love running.  I love racing.  I live for race day.  I know race day is going to be awful if I don’t get my training runs though so I make sure they happen.

The Long Run: Mind over Matter
Even better than a race day is a long race day.  I’d call the 10 miler my jam.  It’s the perfect distance for me right now.  It’s challenging, it’s long enough to feel like a major accomplishment without the pain and next day soreness of the half marathon.  I’m easing into those feelings about my half marathon but those extra 3 miles make a world of difference.

IMG_0284Total honesty – anything over 5 miles still feels like a long run to me.  I dread it, I get psyched up for it and eventually push through it but I rarely look forward to the long training run.  I’ve learned through trial and error that running is as much about the mind as it is about the muscles.  When I get that feeling of I’m too tired, I can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to do this anymore, I give myself a quick check up.  Legs: Are your legs sore/hurting/injured?  Heart: Are you gasping for breath/heart rate too high? If the answer yes I will slow down or take a walk break.  But usually the answer is no for both at which point I know it has to be in my head.  I need to bring out my mental tool box and fix what’s broken.

For me at least the very worst thing I can do is think about how much is left.  How big of a bummer is it when you’re tired and bored and just don’t want to continue and all you can think of is I have 4 miles left, that’s 40 minutes if I’m lucky, which is almost an hour, I’d really rather be napping for almost an hour, so how much is left now? 3.8 miles, ugh this is going to last forever!  I found myself in that exact predicament 3 miles into my 6 mile easy pace run last night.  I really had to dig deep to keep focused.  Here are some tricks that I use that have worked for me.

  1. Try to think of anything else other than the run itself.  I think about things I want to get done for the week, things that have happened at work, what I might snack on when I’m done running etc.  Usually that will keep me occupied for a little while but if not I proceed to #2.
  2. Look at things going on around me.  Try counting trees or look for interesting people to watch.  Try to remember everything as if there’s going to be a test when I’m done.  If I’m on the treadmill try different music or watching a movie.  When this isn’t enough it’s time for #3.
  3. I visualize that I’m playing a game and I’m collecting “points” (fractions of miles).  For some reason getting something feels better to focus on instead of thinking how much is left.  Focusing on what I already “have” and trying to increase some virtual high score that doesn’t exist helps me avoid thinking about how much distance or time still remains. If you’ve played the Temple Run app, that is a great visual.  In the game you get more points for running longer.
  4. This one’s a little weird so bear with me.  I call it “God’s Thumb”.  If I need to speed up a little (which I probably need to do if I’m considering stopping) I picture a giant thumb applying gentle pressure to my lower back.  This simultaneously fixes my form and speeds me up just a little.  It also prevents me from speeding up by sprinting which will only lead to an energy crash later.  If I try this and still feel like I have nothing left, am super bored and not enjoying the run I move to #4.
  5. This is when I start pulling out the big guns.  This is my last big mind game and I only use it when I really need it.  I visualize my running friends are right next to me.  I imagine my trainers and coaches are yelling at me to push forward.  And these trainers and coaches are sometimes people I have never met!  Dolvett from Biggest Loser and Chalene from BeachBody are just a few.  If they motivate me, they join me on my little mental cheer team.  I also picture my family waiting for me at the end of the big 26.2 when it happens.

These have worked for me although I know I’ll need to add to my mental repertoire as my training runs get longer  Share in comments if you have some of your own!

The Six Mile Sacrifice

Sometimes having it all doesn’t mean doing it all.  Six miles on the training calendar today along with a full work day and an evening out with the girls.  Easy peasy right?

Here was Plan A:
4:00 am – wake up and hit the treadmill for a 6 mile tempo run before work.
5:00 am – get in the shower
6:00 am – get on the road to work
7:00 am – work
5:00 pm – grab a drink with my buddies

Plan A was pretty much thrown in the mental shredder when my alarm went off and I remembered I hate getting up that early and that I also hate working out in the morning.  Snooze, snooze, snooze.  Argued with myself for another 20 minutes and finally negotiated that I would sleep in until 6:00 if I promised to run later after going out.

After work I met up with K and N.  K and N are some of my best friends.  We have known each other for years, work in similar level roles, have shared some amazing memories over the past 4+ years.  Unfortunately we haven’t been able to get together very often due to life, schedules etc.  I can’t tell you how long over due tonight was.  We laughed, they sang (I can’t) and just generally had a great time.  I am so appreciative to have these women in my life.  We left with a pinky swear vow to make the time for each other more often.

10921621_10100436297743786_8163562867677501425_oSo what happened to the six miles?  After the eating, drinking, (singing!) and selfie taking I just didn’t have it in me to lace up the sneakers at 10:00 pm.  Do I have any regrets?  Not a one.  It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day, making sure goals are met and things get accomplished.  Get the run in, get the laundry done, write the term paper, get the kids to hockey, make dinner, (make sure dinner is more than Doritos and cheese sauce), check the homework, clean the house, blah blah blah.  Sometimes it’s okay to put it all on the back burner and make time for fun and friendship too.  I’m so glad I did tonight.

Tomorrow is Saturday.  A brand new day.  Those six miles will happen and I dedicate them to K and N.  Love you ladies!

Treadmill Vs. Cupcake

So you may wonder what lead to this epic battle of treadmill vs. cupcake.  Lets rewind to two days ago.  Monday I hit a personal record on my deadlift of 40 lbs.  Left the gym with shaking legs feeling pretty proud of myself.  Decided to hit the treadmill for about 2.5 miles later that evening.  No big deal right?  Wrong.  Major DOMS the next morning.  Spent all day yesterday trying to move as little as possible.  Walking was almost unbearable.  Stairs?  Forget it.  Yesterday evening after work I threw everything at it I could think of: foam rolling, ibuprofen, epsom salt bath.  Results?  Still really sore all day today.

Other factors at play: I track all of my calories and macro-nutrients pretty religiously and a few work eating events today lead to an over indulgence in fats.  Aforementioned work events also happened to put me on the side of town where my favorite cupcake bakery is located.  Coincidence?  Maybe not since I planned the event. 🙂  So since I was there anyway may as well pick some up right?

Super sore legs?  Cupcakes in hand?  Sounds like the recipe for a rest day to me!

Until I remembered I have a 5 mile run on my training calendar.  Bummer.

Thus begins the epic war in my brain.  Take the night off and eat the cupcake?  Hit the treadmill and hope the legs can take it?  Can’t fall behind on my training.  Can’t just NOT eat the cupcake!  So I could maybe run AND eat the cupcake right?  But then end calories would basically balance out so what’s the point of the run?  This is the time I had to really dig deep and refocus.  What are my goals?  Lose some pounds to get to my ideal running weight and run a marathon in 9 months.  How important is my goal?  Extremely.  Is the cupcake going to help me achieve my goals?  No.  Is the run going to help me achieve my goals?  Absolutely.

So I fired up the ‘mill with the plan to just do as much as I could stand with my sore legs.  Just get walking a little and then see if I’m up for jogging.  Even if I don’t get in the 5 miles, 1 mile is still better than zero miles.

0107152130It only took 45 seconds to fall into a rhythm and the soreness started to dissipate.  I worked up to my easy I-can-run-at-this-speed-forever pace and kept at it for the full 5 miles.  Sometimes all it takes is a reality check and a healthy dose of motivation to get what we want.

Breakfast tomorrow?  You better believe I’m eating that cupcake.