Marathon week begins!
I’m really unsure about how the marathon is going to go. I honestly have no idea how fast or slow I’ll run it. In the past, I’ve had an idea of what I’m capable of & have usually hit the target (or close to it). Now I vacillate between being excited to go see what I can do (sans watch) and feeling like I’m going to be so slow it won’t even be worth my time. I’m sure the actual race will fall in between somewhere but the buildup isn’t going very well.
It doesn’t help that I feel sick. Worn down, exhausted, breathing issues, and all-around sense of ickiness. Let’s hope the visit to the doctor tomorrow will help my cause.
I don’t really remember the week before my previous marathons. I do recall that the few days before running Eugene I was relaxed, happy, content with my training, and feeling good. I don’t think I’ve ever started a race feeling so relaxed. Hopefully that feeling will wash over me on Thursday or Friday this week!!
I’m listening to Eckhart Tolle’s Art of Presence (recommended!) and he is speaking about dimensions. He’s talking about the retreat where the recording was made….how the talks don’t build and give more every day; rather, they go deeper each day. The retreat participants don’t get more and more information with each session. Instead, they work toward the deeper meaning of what has already been presented. It’s a matter of going vertical instead of horizontal. And I realized this is how I feel about my running these days.
Instead of going along a horizontal line of constant improvement in either distance or pace or some other stat, I’m going deeper. I’m delving into why I run, what it does for me, how it can be integrated into myself. And I suppose this is why I feel content & satisfied with it these days. How can I be discontent when I’m just enjoying the moment without thinking of how this moment will serve the next moment and the next to culminate into one big race moment? If I don’t focus on & enjoy this moment then the chance of disappointment, discontent and anxiety about the big moment just increases. When working towards something instead of being in the moment, I lose the joy of each moment. And end up losing the joy of the event I am working towards.
Instead of thinking how this moment is going to serve me in the future I want to think how this moment is serving me right now. For example, if I’m running a hard tempo run, I can think this moment is building my muscles, making me feel strong, engaging my mind & body in an integrated task. I find this comes more naturally on trails. I tend to think, wow, I’m so lucky to be moving through this space. Look at the grasses, the sky, the wildflowers. Feel the wind, the sun, my breath, my muscles powering me up or down the trail. And I feel free. I also find it impossible to suppress a smile and sometimes I even burst out laughing at the pure joy of it all.
I want to take those feelings to the road. Or just do trail running. We’ll see where the journey takes me. But, for now, I’ll try to just focus on this moment.
Yep, that’s my new goal…to run an ultra! This summer, after my May marathon, I’m going to switch my focus to training for the Foothills Frenzy 50K. It’s a local race, I’m already familiar with a lot of the trails, and it looks like so much fun!
I’m happy to finally make the leap. Ultras have fascinated me for awhile now…they embody what I enjoy most about running: being outside, running trails, challenging myself, and no concern about going fast (not at my level, anyway). Finishing is a victory & that will be my goal. No pace goals, time pressures, or qualifying times to meet. Just me, the trails, and other trail loving runners.
Looking forward to it already!!
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the choices each of us make, from small ones (what to eat for breakfast, what to wear) to life-altering ones (where to live, careers). Everything I do boils down to a choice. Sometimes I make positive ones but sometimes, of course, I make ones that are not in my best interest. When I struggle with a decision my biggest struggle is figuring out which side of the line each option falls on.
I’m considering “breaking up” with my trainer. He’s led me through my biggest life transformation, been my support system in making healthy choices, my encourager to improve my running, and all around cheerleader for switching from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one. He was the first one to tell me I could qualify for Boston and made me believe it, too. But I feel like the time has come for me to do it on my own. Of course, it’s scary.
It’s scary for a few reasons but mostly the fact is that I’ve never led a healthy, active lifestyle without him. Can I do it on my own? Will I slip my way back to inactivity and unhealthy habits without accountability to someone? Will I give myself so much leeway that I’ll eventually look in the mirror and not recognize myself? I do know that it is very easy to let good habits go and little slips eventually result in a body and lifestyle I don’t want.
I battle the scary thoughts with the idea that without trainer I have complete freedom to try new things: yoga classes, mixing up strength work, trying new running workouts, and not being so scheduled. But it also gives me the freedom to not do anything and nobody would call me out on it. But, deep down, I trust myself to continue on this healthy path. I trust that I will make good choices for myself and my health. And I will continue to run. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll run better without stressing about what trainer would think of the workout/pace/race.
It’s time to leave the nest!
Took the next step towards getting a healthy mindset back about food, my body, & weight: I moved the scale from the bathroom to a closet. I’m going to do my best to only get weighed by my trainer every two weeks (instead of my current 3 to 4 times a day!). I think it will really help with normalizing my thought processes. As long as I don’t get anxious about not knowing my weight, I’ll be good.
Back from my blogging hiatus. Not a planned hiatus but a hiatus nonetheless. I’m hoping to update this blog more regularly.
A quick update about where I’m at in my training. As noted in earlier posts, I took a break from training after the Pocatello marathon. Starting in January I started official marathon training again. I’m training for the Famous Potato marathon on May 18th. It’s local, on the Greenbelt where I run all my long runs, and flat (or slightly downhill). I’m hoping..or should I say I’m going…to qualify for Boston with this one. January training went well, February was a daily struggle, and March has started very positively.
So, the subject of this post is tracking food vs. not tracking. There are pros & cons to both and I struggle between the two. I believe some of my training struggles in February were due to my food struggles. I tracked my food and became obsessed. It wasn’t good. I was constantly anxious about everything I ate, found myself binge eating and feeling awful about it, worrying over every almond to pass my lips, and measuring to the last bean. It’s giving me anxiety just writing those words.
My solution was to stop tracking. The vast majority of the time I make healthy choices. By stopping tracking I eat less often, enjoy my food, worry & think about food a lot less, and just try to create balanced, filling meals. My mental health has improved greatly. But there’s that little voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m not getting enough protein or fat or iron or calcium or….
I’m trying to quiet that little voice. The greatest silencer is that I’ve had my best training runs since I stopped tracking. I happily ran a tempo run, kicked ass on my long run, and am actually looking forward to next week’s training. All three did not happen in February when my mind was whirling with food, calorie counts, and protein grams.
Since my running and attitude has improved I’m going to continue not tracking my food. Hopefully the scale and my measurements don’t go haywire. But I’d rather weigh a few more pounds than obsess over food. I think.
Since my horrible experience at the Pocatello Marathon my trainer has encouraged me to take it easy, not stress about my paces or runs, & to get back to enjoying running. I embraced this philosophy for awhile but then started to get anxious about slowing down, losing fitness, and not being able to reach my 2013 goals (namely qualifying for Boston). So, about a month ago I went out and did a warmup mile and then did a tempo mile. It didn’t go too well. I hit 8:06 when I was supposed to hit a little under 8:00. Besides the time difference, the mile was HARD. I was panting, using mantras to endure, and all around felt like I did when I first started picking up the pace a couple of years ago. It didn’t feel anything like a tempo pace and yet, it was still slower than it should have been. It was disheartening.
My trainer was unswayed by my lamentations on my slowness. He reaffirmed the plan: keep running, have fun, don’t worry. My training won’t officially start until January so he wanted me to continue on our planned path. So I did (I fully trust the man). Last week he gave me a workout to go do 8 400s with equal rest at tempo interval pace. I decided to do them on a stretch a road without stop signs, etc. I programmed my Garmin and went. I didn’t know what times I was hitting while running. I just focused on enjoying the run and why I was out there (for myself, because I like running, I want to workout, etc.). When I got home and checked my paces I was faster than my target! It was awesome. They were quite a bit faster than I was expecting which was amazing.
And now with the gait analysis and my focus on cadence, things are looking up. I went for a 6 mile run today and hit 180 footstrikes at each mile I checked. I was going faster than normal and felt great. It was an easy run and my average pace was 9:06 (which is about 30 seconds per mile faster than I felt).
I’m excited to start training in January. I don’t feel any of the negativity I was feeling over the summer (when I was burned out). I’m focused, excited, and feeling strong. I’m fully confident that 2013 will be my year. And I owe it all to taking some time off from training. Running trails, feeling good, reconnecting to what I love about running and giving myself a mental break has all paid off. I still have a couple of weeks of unplanned running and I intend to fully embrace it. Once again, my trainer was right!
Last night a local running store offered a free 15 minute session with a physical therapist to evaluate running form. I went, ran on a treadmill for a couple of minutes while he took video and then we analyzed it together. Seems like my stride is too long which overextends my hip which is no good. As he described it, it’s like having a gas pedal and a brake pedal going at the same time. I told him I want two gas pedals!
So, he gave me a hip strengthening exercise, a great stretch and advice on working on my cadence. I know 180 steps per minute is ideal but I’ve never focused on it. But now I will. My goal is to get to 180 by the end of December and be ready to start training more efficiently in January.
I talked to my trainer about it this morning and he gave me exercises, a drill, and more advice on how to reach 180. I’m feeling good about it all. What’s not to like about using less energy, being more efficient, and running faster? That’s enough motivation for me to finally concentrate on form.
My favorite day of the week….Sunday. It’s a day of no plans. Instead, it’s time to relax, recharge, and get ready for the week ahead. I love waking up when I want, watching football, and hanging out with my husband and pets.
To top it all off, I don’t run or track my food on Sundays. It’s a breather from measuring food, considering paces, scheduling meals and runs, etc. Besides being a physical break from these “tasks” it’s a mental break from it all. I still try to eat healthy but I do tend to eat a little more chocolate, grab an extra handful of nuts, or have an extra serving of a dish. I find that doing this makes me wake up on Monday with a new energy and commitment to eating right & getting my exercise.
So, cheers to Sundays! And may the Vikings win every week!
All I need on a Sunday: Moe, water, couch, football.
My last post on going vegan was a bit tangential so I thought I’d write one focused on the reasons I’m vegan. As I mentioned, I’ve been trying to find a healthy way of eating that feels good both physically and mentally. And I think I found it in veganism.
What it means to me to be vegan:
1. I’m living compassionately with respect for all beings.
2. I can look at my plate and know that nothing had to suffer or die to provide my nourishment.
3. I think more carefully about what I’m putting in my body and why.
4. I know the food I’m eating is making me healthy and energized.
5. I’m at peace with my choices.
The last one is the biggest. I’ve been struggling for over a year about what I’m eating. I’ve had numerous conversations with anyone who would listen about what food to eat and the reasons behind it. I’ve done countless hours of research into different meat, dairy and fish brands to see if I could justify eating any of them. I thought being vegan would be too difficult with a omnivore husband. I tried different combinations of vegetarian, fish eating, poultry eating, etc. I agonized endlessly over what was on my plate.
I realize that not everyone thinks so much about their food. But for some reason, I do.
But now I can stop, breathe, and enjoy my food. I’m still not ready to give up my favorite pair of leather boots but who knows….someday I may get there.