Update and Goals

I ran the 8K Book’n It for the Library race yesterday. Going into it I was tired and my legs are still tight (this is my own fault) since the marathon, so I didn’t expect a great performance from myself. It wasn’t chip timed and I don’t think our times have been posted online yet, so I don’t know how it compares to the only other 8K I’ve ever run, the Turkey Day 8K. My big goal for the day was to beat Bob (our 86 year old local running legend), which I did. It was a fun race.

What I learned (or re-learned) from the race was that I don’t know how to run short races. Short races are actually more difficult for me in a way. By short I mean anything below a half marathon distance. When I run marathons or half marathons I know how to pace myself, but with a short 8K race I’ve got no idea. It’s a short distance so I should be able to go out faster from the beginning, right? But how much faster? And since I have so successfully avoided doing any speed work all this time, I really have no clue how fast I can run.

Which leads me to the giant jumble of goals I’ve got to sort out. I think I have too many to tackle all at the same time.

First off, I realize that doing some speed work would be good for me. If nothing else, it would help me in these shorter races. Second, I need to start training for the Blue Mountain 30K. I’m neither a trail runner nor much of a hill runner, so I really need to get on that. And since it’s a 30K I’d like to just keep a decent distance base rather than having to train back up. I have also had an idea in my head to start doing some back to back weekend runs to help improve my recovery. And I’m trying to decide which races to run this fall. I really like the Sweathouse Half, but does it fit into my training for Blue Mountain? And I’m registered for Diva Day this year, and have the most perfect costume. But it’s right after Blue Mountain. I will probably be very slow.

I feel really lucky to live in a community where one of my “problems” is that there are just too many races to choose from. That seems like a good problem to have.

Also, I need to find the motivation to do core and upper body strength work. I was so good for the first 1/2 or 2/3 of Marathon training last year, but since then I’ve been terrible and that needs to change.

So to recap the goals:
Speed work
Hills and trails
Maintaining distance base
Back to Backs
Upper body and core strength

It doesn’t look that overwhelming on the screen, but I haven’t yet needed to draw up my own training plan, so I’m not sure where to start.

Additionally I’ve decided that at some point I’d like to run the Missoula Half Marathon, but I don’t want to do it unless I’ve done or have registered for a full somewhere else that same summer. (Apparently I have to do at least one full marathon each year. Or so my brain tells me.) So I’m looking for affordable marathons in other cities, particularly cities where I have friends who might be willing to put me up for a night or three.

So as you can see, I have no shortage of goals at the moment. This may be why I didn’t experience the blues after the marathon this year.

I’ll probably be tracking some of these goals here, as I go along. So check back if that sort of thing is of interest to you. In the mean time, enjoy running!

Change is Good

I had a crazy week.  I had a report to generate that gives me fits every year.  I did my best to compile all the right data and handed it off to my boss, at which point we realized there was a problem and I had to re-do the second half. I got it done but my brain is fried.

When I got home this evening I just did not feel like doing my workout.  I argued with myself for a while and realized that part of my issue was that I just wasn’t in the mood to do push-ups.  So I decided to try dumbbell flyes instead.  As soon as I made that decision, I realized that my biggest problem was that I was bored with my workout, so I changed it up.  I did the dumbbell flyes, side planks, reverse crunches and hammer curls.  So clearly, change is good.

I’m really looking forward to getting out to run on Sunday.  It turns out that I was sorted into a faster training pace group than I should have been, because they didn’t know if I was doing the half or full marathon.  I am going to drop back into the 15 minute pace group on Sunday for our 7.5, but I’m considering staying with the 14 minute group on the shorter run weeks.  Regardless, I’m still focusing on fun, finishing and fitness rather than speed.

It’s 141 days until the marathon and I still feel like I can do this.  I wonder how I’ll feel on Sunday after my longest run yet.

Core Training: My Enemy, My Friend

My weekly schedule looks like this:  Saturday: Rest day. Sunday: Long run. Tuesday and Thursday, 30-45 minute maintenance runs. Monday, Wednesday and Friday: Core/Cross training.

On those core/cross training days I do 5 sets each of  planks, kneeling push-ups, hammer curls (new!), weighted running arms, and a modified-for-beginners superman.  Until this week I was also doing 5 sets of crunches.  Now I’m doing 3 sets of crunches and 3 sets of reverse crunches.  Every couple of weeks I’ve been adding a new exercise.  I’m working my way up to side planks and more arm & back strength exercises.  As with everything I do, I’m going slowly and pushing myself only so far as I think I can manage without causing myself too much soreness.  I am still following the One Hundred Push-up plan, and it’s a good fit for me and my attitude I think.  To be fair, I am repeating a week since I flaked out last Friday.

I’m gaining strength over time, though more slowly in some areas than others.  The biggest problem I’m having at this point is with motivating myself to do these workouts, particularly on Fridays.  It’s not as easy or instantly rewarding as the running has been thus far.  I know that in the long run it will be quite rewarding, but some days it’s harder to really believe deep down.  Still, I’ve only flaked out on one Friday since I started doing this, so that’s probably a good sign.

I’ve hit a bit of a plateau in my weight-loss, but I trust that this is because of a combination of a temporary slowing in adding distance to my Sunday runs combined with building a bit of muscle.  I’ve been able to notice a difference in how my clothes fit, so I’m quite certain that positive changes are continuing.  Some people maintain that measurements are a more reasonable metric to use under these circumstances, and I’m sure they’re correct.  However, I haven’t been measuring myself so far so it seems somewhat silly to start now unless I notice really significant changes in my overall shape that do not correspond to reasonably similar changes in weight.

All other goals aside, it’s only 148 days until the Missoula Marathon.  I still think I’ll be ready.

Running, Walking and Sitting Up

Sorry about going dark for so long!  I’ve been keeping pretty busy.  Since I last posted I have attended the Tuesday running class, run on my own on Friday and missed this Sunday’s class due to insomnia.  Insomnia is a bitch, isn’t it?  I did manage to get myself out to run the same distance that our training schedule had listed (4 miles) after napping away most of the day, and I got the handout for the day emailed to me, so I think it will be alright.

I’ve been trying the 30s/30s split consistently, both on my own and with the class and I like it. I feel like I can run and walk a little bit faster than I was with the other splits I tried.  I got the fancy Gymboss timer, which makes it a lot easier.  The only problem with it is that the buttons are all exposed so I can’t put it in my bag without it getting switched on.  I could take the batteries out, but I’d need to reprogram it every time, which would be annoying.  So if you’re looking for an interval timer, keep that in mind.

I’m also doing my cross training 3 times per week, including the 100 push ups plan.  I’m only on week 2 of that and doing kneeling push ups.  It’s a bit sad to realize how weak I’ve gotten, but I’m fixing it.  At some point, after I get through a few weeks of the kneeling push ups, I’ll start back from the beginning with the regular ones.  Additionally, I’ll be adding a new exercise to my routine periodically.  Currently I do the push ups, crunches, planks, weighted running arms (sort of like this, but with hand weights), and I’ve just added the beginner version of the superman.  As with everything that I do, I’m adding reps slowly so that I don’t get too sore.  It might make for slower progress, but it just works better for me, mentally.

I continue to feel better physically and mentally and feel happier about how I look as I go along.  There is a lot of self reinforcement going on here.  I run and it makes my body feel good, so that’s reinforcing.  I feel better over all, so that’s reinforcing.  I’m happier with what I see in the mirror, so that’s reinforcing.  It all just sort of creates a big positive feedback loop.  When I take a moment to wonder why it never really worked for me before, the only answer I can come up with is that I was always trying to do the things that other people told me I should be doing, instead of just finding the things that work for me.  So I suppose if anyone comes across this blog looking for my advice on how to get up off the couch and get started on some sort of exercise plan, I would say, find what feels right for you and go at your pace.  If you’re like me and you get discouraged by being sore, then set your goals accordingly.  If you are someone who feels that sense of accomplishment from working out to a pleasant level of soreness for you, then do that.  I think it’s about finding the right fit for your brain and your mental makeup.

My friends, the folks at Run Wild Missoula, the other users at Fitocracy and the people in my Galloway class are all extremely supportive and I’m very grateful to have them.  I’m also working on getting myself ready for the mental challenges that I know will occur when we really start building up our mileage. But I’m excited about it, too.  My biggest goal is still to have as much fun as I can while I take this journey.  The marathon is in 159 days and I still feel like I can do this.