Saturday, May 29, 2010

Getting it over with early

When left to my own devices, I generally sleep until 11 or noon. Today, however, I was up at 9:30, wide awake from the sunlight streaming throughout the house. It was still somewhat cool and the humidity was low, so I grabbed a muffin and headed off to run before it got any hotter. The park was nearly empty, half the route was in the shade and the wind I complained about weeks ago was a nice gentle breeze today. I felt so great that I hit the Y immediately after for a few miles on the bike then walked a mile on the treadmill at a 9% incline.

Later in the day it got ridiculously hot and now I'm flipping between the Tigers game and Harry Potter so I'm glad I got it over with - it would be hard to give up either in favor of running :) I know later in the summer the morning will be my only option and this was a great way to start the morning run! (of course it's all relative. In a few weeks 10am won't be cool but once the schools close I can wake up with the sun then nap in the afternoon...)

I had been worried about getting dehydrated with running so soon after waking but it wasn't an issue. Even better, I went 3 minutes faster than I had on Wednesday. It was all good today!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

85 degrees? No sweat!

How did it get to 85 degrees overnight? More than half of my outdoor running has been in a hooded sweatshirt and gloves so this heat wave was a major surprise. I thought I'd be gradually easing into hot weather running, not making an immediate switch.

Last Thursday I planned to do my first 4-mile run in the heat. I thought mind over matter would solve everything. I made it to 1.6 miles when my brain got lazy and said that was enough. Monday was even hotter so I compromised by going back to the Y. Even though it's air conditioned, it's still in the upper 70s and the glass wall lets in sunlight and heat. There is also no breeze, so it was a good compromise. The first 1.5 miles were great, the next I thought I was going to throw up at every turn. Once this feeling subsided (and my lunch stayed in place...) the last bit was great.

That wasn't enough acclimating though, so I went to the park and walked in the heat, just getting used to the weather. That night, however, I took out the trash and discovered it was cool enough to run outside. I know it won't stay cool at night all summer and I'll have to start running with the sunrise, but I'm not ready for that quite yet. Let me baby step my way into it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Better than nothing

My motivational problems continue and the dreary flat gray sky didn't help any yesterday. After I slept in late, watched the Tigers game, read a chapter for grad school and did basically everything I could to procrastinate, I finally dragged myself to the gym. I've gained a few pounds over the past weeks and I went to combat that weight if nothing else.

I got there after 5, which is the busiest time of the day, but my favorite bike was available - out of the ten or twelve bikes they have, I like exactly one - so I made a beeline for it lest someone beat me there, turned on my iPod and isolated myself from the world. 56 minutes later I was pouring sweat but I had finished 15 miles and burnt 950 calories (according to The Daily Plate which is based on my weight, unlike the bike's counter which is based on a 150-pound person).

It's pretty bad that I'd much rather bike 56 minutes than do the run, which was only scheduled for 3 crummy miles. I would have finished the run in under 30 minutes, but it was somehow easier and more enjoyable to bike double the time. Too bad I can't bike my way through the marathon :) I worked my heart and legs for almost an hour so it wasn't a total wash, certainly better than anything else I had done all day.

After dinner (a subway 12-inch baked chicken on 9-grain bread with lots of veggies, but no cheese or dressing) I watched The Biggest Loser (I dvr it then fastforward all the drama and the entire episode gets condensed to about 35 minutes) and they were "training" for a marathon. I generally like the show's message about eating right and taking personal responsibility for the success or failure of one's weight, but this marathon was awful! It appeared to have been sprung on the contestants and they had 30 days to prepare. 30 day?! Don't most people train for 6 months? or longer? One of the contestants said he was outside walking 20 miles every day. One of the trainers should have interjected that walking 20 miles every day is too much! Every training program I've found has exactly ONE 20-mile day and mine is September 25. I can't wait!!! < / sarcasm >

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Taking it to the streets

All my outside running thus far has been a continuation of laps, whether at Council Point Park or at Trenton's Elizabeth Park. Yesterday, however, was scheduled for five miles and I didn't want to do that many laps, so I went to Mom's house where I know the street route for that distance. After hours of procrastinating and grazing on candy, I finally hooked my can of mace on my waistband, turned the iPod to a moderately low volume and headed out. I felt like I was going impossibly slow - it felt like I could have walked at the same speed, yet by the time I made it back to her house, I had averaged 10:10 over five miles, which is just about what I hit at the Y when I run there. It was even a little faster than I've done a few times, not to mention I had to stop for a few traffic lights and didn't bother to pause the stopwatch for those few seconds.

I won't lie and say it was fun, but I'll admit there's a certain sense of accomplishment in running 52 minutes without keeling over. When I was in college I went to church with a girl who was training for a marathon. One day she was so excited about running 18 miles in 3 hours. I didn't understand her excitement - I could come up with hundreds of other things I'd rather do with three hours, but perhaps I'm beginning to understand it. There's a definite sense of empowerment in pushing your body beyond what your mind said was possible.

Lisa, I hope you found your inspiration on Friday! Here's an ad slogan you might like: (Sound mind) x (sound body) x total physical exhaustion = ALIVE!

Friday, May 14, 2010

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

I've realized that running a marathon is a decision I have to make several times a week. It's a goal I need to recommit to almost every day. It's pretty rare that I wake up and think "I am not going to do any exercise today!" This happens almost every Sunday, but otherwise I just don't get around to running unless I make it the priority from the time I wake up.

By choosing to not make a decision, however, I have decided to not run or do anything to advance the marathon training. It's so much easier to watch the Tigers game or take a nap or do laundry. Some days I'd rather clean the bathroom than run. Yet if I want to cross the finish line in October, I need to decide affirmatively more often, not have the notion that I'll run "after the Tigers game..., after work..., after I do the laundry." Once I start, inertia keeps me going but getting into my gym clothes and on my feet is the absolute hardest part.

Starting training is new and exciting, showing up at the starting line will be exciting, but this in between is a grind. To be perfectly honest, it's boring. I don't regard running as fun, I see it as the means to the end of losing and keeping off weight. Let me remind myself of a quote from Jillian Michaels: "It's a commitment you have to renew every single day. But the payoff is worth it." Tomorrow is another day, another chance to start over, another chance to log another five miles. I can't waste that chance!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Motivational Problems

I've been having serious motivational problems this week and weekend. It's not even that I'm busy working or sick or anything, I just don't want to run! I dragged myself back to the Y today - I know I'll need to run in the rain at some point but after a 7-hour work meeting, today was not the day. Once I got started, inertia got me through 4 miles, but it wasn't fun. I wouldn't say I hated it, but I definitely would have preferred biking or pretty much anything else. The endorphins felt good and I'm glad I went but I really wasn't feeling it. It would be easy to blame the weather, but then what's my excuse for Sunday and Monday?

Please share any ideas for getting motivated to run when you don't want to.

Protecting the girls

Before it became a fashion magazine, Women's Health was a good health and fitness publication. One of their early stories was a review of the best sports bras. For high impact sports, they chose Under Armour's Endure style. REI sells it for $45 and while expensive, it's worth every cent.

The article noted that sweat breaks down lycra (or elastane in this case) so sports bras need to be washed every time they're worn (not sure why you wouldn't...) The best combination is Woolite and the gentle cycle then line dry. Don't use the dryer!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How fast are you gonna go?

I've been asked several times how fast I plan to finish the marathon. I have no aspirations of qualifying for Boston or New York, so the time is ultimately immaterial. I do, however, have a plan.

At first I thought 4 hours would be a good, feasible goal. It was fine until I worked out the math and realized this is a 9-minute mile. I can absolutely do 9-minute miles, but 10-minute miles feel a lot better and a lot easier, especially as the mileage increases. If I can maintain a constant 6 mph I'm looking at about a 4.5 hour marathon. If it becomes 5 hours, that's fine too.

In the end, regardless of whatever time I'm aiming for, the only thing that matters is finishing. If I get to 18 or 22 or 26 miles and my body shuts down, it's ok to walk to the end. My goal is to cross the finish line by my own power, regardless of how long that takes.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stepping Outside

This is an easy training week (3, 4, 3, 4 miles) so I had to make the change to outside running. No more excuses. After eating a stack of Oreos (the breakfast of champions) I went to Lincoln Park's Council Point Park for a transition to outside running. I love the continuity of lap running and they have three different tracks: .4 miles, .55 miles and .75 miles. The surface is blacktop so I had the comfort of doing laps combined with the surface training I need.

I thought I would go slower without the constant time feedback but I actually went slightly quicker (I shaved off 31 seconds from my normal 3 mile pace). It was windy and I always seemed to be running into the wind. I also always seemed to be continually running uphill. Why did I never go downhill? Ah well, I need to learn a little about running hills for crossing the Ambassador Bridge (the coolest part of the marathon) and the tunnel (the worst).

My knees felt fine, my right hip is occasionally sore but that was fine today too. My breathing was fine. All in all it was a pretty smooth transition. Let's hope it's always this easy!

It was 75, sunny and a moderate breeze. Can I bottle this weather? If it's always this nice I can't complain too much!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Round and Round and Round I Go

My absolute favorite place to run is the YMCA track. It's climate controlled so I never get too hot or too cold, I don't have to worry about sunblock or dogs, I can safely listen to music without needing to hear the environment. I can go late at night without giving my safety a second thought. Water is always available (I leave my water bottle on the railing or in the window ledges so I can drink without stopping). For distraction, I can watch children's basketball games or climbing wall parties and every so often I can catch the Tigers score on tv.

Is it boring where ten laps equals one mile? Sure, but isn't running boring regardless of where it's done? I like using the track because I don't have a clear sense of what a 9-minute mile feels like, versus a 10-minute mile, etc. I use the stopwatch on my iPod and track every lap so I find out every 54 seconds if I'm at a good pace, or if it's 1:04 I know I need to speed up.

While I would be quite comfortable running 262 laps and calling it a completed marathon, I know that the actual race is outside, so that's exactly where I need to be. My knees need to start pounding concrete, I need to figure out what to wear for the weather, which sunglasses fit the best, everything I don't give a second thought at the Y.

Why do I feel like I'll be restarting the training? I do pretty alright at the Y but my brother likes to remind me that running outside is a completely different game. Thanks for the vote of confidence, bro!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

1 year 26.2 pounds - I love the synchronicity!

My friend took me to Gatlinburg Tennessee for my birthday last year and we took plenty of pictures of both the city and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. When I saw the pictures, I was horrified. I knew I had gained some weight, but I always had an image of what I looked like and the pictures did not reflect that image.

A few months earlier (maybe it was a year - I have no idea) my brother had sent me a link to a website that keeps track of calories consumed and burnt. I wasn't too interested until I saw the pictures from our trip and realized something had to be done. First, though, I had no idea what I was actually eating so I ate what I normally did for a day then logged it on The Daily Plate. I realized the baggie of cookies I had at lunch exceeded my recommended daily fat for the entire day and my total calories consumed were somewhere in the 2100 range. No wonder I had gained almost 30 pounds in three years!

From their website, "TDP doesn't endorse any one diet over another; we're simply about holding yourself accountable for what you weigh as a means to smarter, healthier eating. People who try us out and stick with it lose weight -- it's as simple as that!" And yes, it is that simple, if you can spare the few minutes to log everything you eat over the course of a day. Over 300,000 foods are already listed and members can submit their own recipes and meals. Buy something at the store that isn't listed? Get out the nutritional label and add it to the database! Make a batch of muffins? You can enter and track the recipe.

In addition to total calories, The Daily Plate keeps track of my fitness goals (my goal is to lose 1.5 pounds per week, but in reality I've had stretches where I lost 5 pounds in 4 days, and other times where I lost 1 pound all month) and how my food breaks down. I know, for example, that I can have 51 fat grams per day and once I hit that, it's time to consume only raw carrots or all natural fruit popsicles.

Users can also track their physical fitness. Yesterday, as an example, I ran 6.2 miles, which burnt 1074 calories and meant I could eat pretty much anything all night, so long as I stayed within the fat range.

After one year with The Daily Plate, I've been staying within my daily 1574 calories for weeks and I'm not really changing my weight which leads me to believe I've reached my body's set weight. Sure I could lose more, but I need to maintain strength to complete the marathon. Maybe it's time to listen to my three friends who all told me to not lose any more. A coworker was blunt enough to say losing more weight would make me lose my figure. Who wants to have the body of a 12 year old boy anyway?

In the past my brother and I did the Abs Diet, developed by David Zinczenko of Men's Health. That works too, but my entire life was revolving around food. The main premise of the Abs Diet is to eat every 2-3 hours and consume protein at every feeding. It worked, but left little time for anything else. Give me the Daily Plate instead. Not only does it keep me accountable for my food choices, it works! Another great feature - it's free! If you're an app user, it's available in that format as well so no more excuses. IT WORKS! TRY IT!

Here's the link!